“America’s back in the cold war and W.’s back on vacation,” writes Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, observing that as another global crisis begins, the president is again failing to take it seriously. After condemning Russia’s push into Georgia, Bush skipped off to his ranch—where he’s spent 469 days of his presidency. His trip to China, likewise, saw little work and a lot of play in a celebration of China's ascension on the world stage.
“I believe the big issues are going to be China and Russia,” Bush told Dowd in 1999, but instead, he got wrapped up in Iraq in a war that’s undermined America’s moral and military authority—even as those nations’ power grows. Bush, Dowd writes, will “go out as he came in: ignoring reality; misreading people; and handling crises in ways that makes them exponentially worse.”