Broken Government

Published — January 13, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Top 10 failures of the Bush administration

Former President George W. Bush Jae C. Hong/AP


In a break with precedent, when asked at his final press conference to name his administration’s biggest mistake, President George W. Bush rattled off a short list instead. He included posting the “Mission Accomplished” banner on an aircraft carrier and not pushing for immigration reform, and he mentioned the government response to Hurricane Katrina, though he stopped short of calling it a mistake.

He recognized, additionally: “There have been disappointments. Abu Ghraib obviously was a huge disappointment during the presidency. Not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment. I don’t know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were — things didn’t go according to plan, let’s put it that way.”

Visitors to the Center’s Broken Government project are willing to call those mistakes, voting the response to Katrina, the false premise for going to war, and the sanctioning of the use of harsh interrogation techniques, like those used in Abu Ghraib, three of the 10 biggest failures of the Bush administration.

The interactive ranking system allows users to choose 10 from a catalogue of 128 major failures of the executive branch over the past eight years. The Top 10 list to date:

1. False Premise for Going to War

2. 45 Million Americans Without Health Insurance

3. Controversial Assertion of Executive Power

4. Skyrocketing Deficit

5. Too close to the Edge on Torture

6. Politicization of the Department of Justice

7. No Robust, Sustained Alternative Energy Policy

8. Hurricanes Expose FEMA Woes

9. SEC Allows Investment Banks to Go Unregulated

10. No Child Left Behind: A Few Bumps in the Road

Read more in Money and Democracy

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