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Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of[…]

Bush promised to mend our country and simply did not deliver.

Matt Bai: Well I would say . . . I’ll tell you my own feeling about this. I mean you know you can . . . you can . . . you go out and go into the streets of New York and ask that question, you’ll get some people who are pretty fired up. I’ve never been a “Bush is the devil” kind of guy. I really take offense at sort of the comparisons to totalitarianism. Somebody sent me an e-mail recently and compared this administration, what it was doing, to what had been done in sort of communists . . . the early years of the communist Soviet Union. There was some comparison. And I just wrote them . . . I write these people, and I consider it my personal responsibility as a journalist to write people back – even when they’re praising me and being nice and I don’t need the fight – to write people back and say, “I have to reject this premise. This is not good.” There is nothing about this country today that was true in the early years of the communist Soviet Union. You know you say what you want about George W. Bush. He is not Stalin, so let’s not be ridiculous. Having said that, I think his legacy will be treated harshly. I’m not alone of course. That’s a majority . . . But my . . . If for no other reason, if you took all the policies out of it . . . Say you just took Iraq out of it . . . Let’s say Iraq is not the defining thing of his . . . defining issue we think it is now. Or let’s say it’s not foreign policy. If for no other reason than he entered office at a time of incredible, paralyzing division in the country, that he promised to mend it, and that he made it infinitely worse. That is his greatest disservice as a president. That alone makes him a failed president if nothing else did, in my mind, because he retarded the dialogue and the conversation in a country that desperately needed to advance it. And for that I think history will judge him harshly. And whatever else . . . You know whatever else comes out of his presidency will be judged beyond that.

Recorded on: 12/13/07