Exit Strategy: How to Fix a Post-Bush Nation

It's time to start putting the US back together. Herewith, our wide-ranging guide to the country's most urgent, yet fixable, problems.

Exit Strategy

The Bush legacy—where to begin? How about eight years ago, when we started chronicling the foibles and fiascoes of what many of our colleagues and even some conservative commentators would eventually recognize as the Worst. Administration. Ever. For us muckrakers, the Bush era has been a paradoxical paradise: The more dire things got, the more material we had. We've devoted hundreds of pages to the Iraq War, the war on terror, and the war on the environment. So aside from a hearty "Don't let the screen door hit you on the way out," what's left to say?

Actually, a lot. There are the scandals we've only begun to piece together—from the gutting of basic consumer protections (The Chinavore's Dilemma) to the destruction of the very records we'll need to assess the wreckage (What Was gwb@whitehouse.gov Really Up To?). Bush and Cheney may ride off into the sunset, but we'll be sifting through their debris for years. Iraq will haunt us for a generation or more, and the implosion of the economy could reverberate just as long. And even a President Obama might think twice about relinquishing the kingly powers amassed by this White House. But there are fairly quick and painless ways to reverse at least some of the damage—like giving the boot to the ideologues, restoring due process, and bringing science (and common sense) back to public policy. In this package, we've highlighted some of the most urgent, and most fixable, problems the next president can tackle. The true measure of the Bush legacy may be how much of it we're capable of undoing.