Newsmax bade farewell to President Bush in surprising fashion -- by heavily criticizing him and his legacy. From a Jan. 19 "Newsmax.com Editorial":
Today, Bush’s legacy to his successor is two unresolved wars, a global image that is deeply tarnished, and the greatest economic crisis in modern times.
Conservatives who backed Bush in two successive elections have little to show for their efforts. Bush, in fact, has decimated the Republican brand.
Bush oversaw the greatest increase in discretionary social spending in history as the federal government usurped new powers in its war on terror. He placed the United States on a global interventionist path for the elusive goal of “democracy.” Ronald Reagan would not be able to recognize the party he knew, which espoused limited government, protection of personal liberty, and the idea that the U.S. should lead globally by example rather than by force.
The best that can be said of President Bush is that he kept America’s homeland safe. During his watch, we did not experience another terror attack on U.S. soil after Sept. 11.
It is a laudable fact, but one that came at enormous financial cost and an erosion of personal freedoms. Still, for all the talk about al-Qaida’s weakened state, Osama bin Laden remains at large despite Bush’s pledge to capture him “dead or alive.”
And if a major terror attack were to take place under the new Obama administration, his supporters will be quick to pin the blame on the Bush regime.
This is followed by a lengthy diatribe against Bush's "dreamy plan of creating a democracy in Iraq," his "refus[al] to offer a practical exit strategy"and for refusing to withdraw troops from Iraq to boost Republican political fortunes at home. The editorial concludes: 'The bottom line is that Bush’s overriding focus on Iraq — and his refusal to readjust course as circumstances and facts warranted – became the touchstone of an administration that, in so many areas, seemed unaccountable to principles or good sense."
This criticism is not entirely surprising -- Newsmax chief Christopher Ruddy was editorializing in favor of a troop withdrawal from Iraq as early as 2005 -- but the strong tone of it is, given that Newsmax has historically been one of Bush's biggest supporters. It declared after 9/11 that "Real Americans support [Bush] 100 percent," and after Bush's 2004 re-election with a bare-majority 51 percent of the vote, Ruddy proclaimed, "Yesterday the American people voted decisively to re-elect President Bush."
And unlike Newsmax writer Ronald Kessler, which is still clinging to the idea that Bush "kept us safe" and whose criticism of Bush is much more tempered (unsurprising since he also brags that "I have written more positive material about Bush and the first lady than any other journalist"), there's no attempt to blame that dastardly liberal media for this situation.
That's a nice bit of evolution that other conservatives can learn from.