When the eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency is over (2001-2009), I think he’ll most be remembered as similar to the eight years of Kennedy/Johnson (1961-1969) of 40 years earlier.
Both presidential eras had very bold policies. Kennedy/Johnson in taking the cold war into a hot way (Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, etc.) and pursuing the great society. Bush in taking over Afghanistan, Iraq, pursuing a Wilsonian foreign policy, and his push to reform social security.
Both got us into a quagmire war — Vietnam and Iraq. Vietnam defined the boomers. Iraq will likely define our generation.
Both eras initially massively cut taxes which was the centerpiece of their economic strategy (though Johnson eventually raised taxes to pay for the war).
Both eras initially strengthened their party but ultimately left their party weaker. 1964 was a Democratic landslide. 2002 and 2004 brought big GOP gains. But in the end, Kennedy/Johnson left their party weaker. It is too early to tell, but most indications are that the Republican party might have disastrous long-term consequences. Of course, Presidents often leave their party weaker. The Clinton era saw the greatest party decline in the history of modern politics.
And, of course, both presidential eras massively increased govt spending — to the tune of very long term detriment to the US economy. The 1970s were a disaster due, in large part, from over-spending. The 2010s might be just as bad.
(Note that this isn’t a knock on Kennedy/Johnson or George W. Bush … just an observation. If I was alive in 1960, I would have probably voted for Kennedy. And I voted for Bush in 2000 (but not in 2004 because I thought he increased spending too much). but I think the parallels between the two presidential eras are uncanny).