Of the 2922 days Bush was President he spent all or part of 1,020 on vacation (35% of his time in office). This includes 487 days at Camp David, 490 at his ranch in Crawford, and 43 days at his family’s compound in Kennebunkport. If there is one word which typifies this and Bush, it is AWOL. The man has been AWOL his whole life. You have only to look at his academic career or his lack of it. It nails his experience with Vietnam where he never took a strong position for the war and went, or against it and protested. It was the essence of his time in the National Guard (whether it was technically the case or not). It marked his approach to his business failures. As for the governorship of Texas, it looks good on a résumé and is a useful political springboard but it is a weak position, tailor made for an AWOL man. Unfortunately for us, the Presidency is a real full-time job. In it, Bush stayed true to form. He was not just physically absent from it much of the time. He was intellectually and morally absent from it all the time.
The results we can see all around us. He did not keep us safe from 9/11. He mired the nation in stupid wars he waged stupidly and interminably. He was not there for Katrina. He took a piratical financial industry and negligently set it loose on the economy to wreak havoc in the housing and oil markets and eventually bring the whole system to the point of collapse and the country to the edge of depression.
But the blame does not belong to him. It never does with an AWOL man. No, it belongs with us who, as a nation, for 8 years took a vacation from our ourselves and our responsibilities. We had not just an AWOL President with Bush but an AWOL age. Now Bush is gone, as AWOL as ever, and we are left to deal with his legacies.