Texas Monthly has an interesting symposium of historians and political hacks on how history will view the presidency of George W. Bush (assuming there's still anyone alive to write history after the presidency of George W. Bush). A notable essay is the one by Michael Lind, which provides a refreshing alternative to the conservative narrative wherein Bush's big spending represents a betrayal of a public that generally supports conservative economic ideas:
IF YOU LOOK AT GEORGE W. BUSH in a larger perspective quite apart from Iraq, you see him as the peak of the post-sixties conservative wave that began with the white backlash against the civil rights revolution. A lot of conservative white Southern and Northern ethnic Democrats who were alienated by racial and cultural liberalism broke away and created, first, a Republican presidential majority and, then, a Republican congressional majority. And yet under Bush, every major conservative proposal of the past thirty or forty years has died—with the exception of tax cuts—because these Reagan Democrats are actually Roosevelt Democrats: They actually like the New Deal. They like the Great Society. They have nothing against Social Security. They want their Medicare. The Republican Congress, in Bush’s first term, passed the Medicare drug benefit, so he presided over the biggest expansion of socialism in the United States since LBJ.Emphasis mine. As I've said before, the Republicans' ability to exploit populist backlashes (racial, religious, and anti-tax) should not be mistaken for the success of any actual conservative ideology.