George W. Bush Presidential Center opens in Dallas

The Obamas, former First Lady Barbara and former President George H. W. Bush, along with George W. and Laura Bush
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Former President George W. Bush was joined by President Barack Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush to dedicate the new George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas on Thursday.

Since leaving office as the nation's 43rd president, former President Bush has not been one to engage in talk about his legacy. With the opening of the Bush library, the debate about the impact of his years in office is far from settled.

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As he left Washington four years ago, the public sat in harsh judgment of George W. Bush with roughly two thirds of the country disapproving of his job performance.

The scars ran deep over multiple wars, the terror debate and a collapsed economy. Even fellow Republicans were rebelling over huge government spending.

"You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made, but I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions," said Bush.

As his presidential library opens, visitors are left to grapple with his record, from tax cuts to his role in our economic slide. Some feel he's made up ground in the public's mind and his record is viewed more charitably.

On immigration, his party has moved back his way. Many of Bush's post-9/11 counter-terror policies have been continued or accelerated under President Obama.

The Bush freedom agenda is viewed as, if not a cause, at least a precursor to the Arab awakening now roiling the Mideast.

Judgment has not softened, however, over Iraq. Whether it was a war of choice or necessity is the question that still lingers. The faulty intelligence and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction were the backdrop to criticism that the president and his team underestimated the challenges all along and grew stubborn in the face of mounting setbacks.

What grew into a reputation for incompetence stained the administration and the GOP brand after Hurricane Katrina.

Today, as the Boston bombing reminds Americans of the terror threat, supporters view the Bush administration's war on terror more favorably.

After 9/11, the country was not attacked again while he was in office, yet President Bush failed to earn sustained support as the country grew divided over whether the response to terror eroded our liberties.