Miss him? Bush's reputation might be ready for a rebound

Is George W. Bush about to start a political comeback?

Written off as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history when he left office, the 63-year-old Bush has been keeping a low profile, fading from view as the country turned its attention to his successor, President Barack Obama .

Now, some events might be turning in Bush's favor just as he and his family emerge to tell their side of the story, first with the release this week of Laura Bush's memoir, "Spoken From the Heart," then in November with the release of his book, "Decision Points."

Most notably, the war in Iraq may not turn out to be the political albatross it was while he was in office.

While problems persist there — and the weapons of mass destruction that Bush cited in ordering the invasion never were found — democracy does appear to be taking hold, the U.S. is on track to withdraw combat troops by August and even Democratic Vice President Joe Biden now calls the war in Iraq a success.

At the same time, Obama already has overrun and overshadowed the soaring budget deficits and record debt that Bush ran up while he was cutting taxes, launching two wars and expanding Medicare to cover prescription drugs. Gross federal debt in fiscal 2001, Bush's first year as president, was $5.7 trillion ; it was $9.9 trillion in fiscal 2008, his last full year. Obama's budget projects that the gross federal debt will be $16.3 trillion at the end of fiscal 2012, the last full year of his first term.

Still, Americans blame Bush more than they do Obama, by about 3-1, for the weak economy and the deficits, according to an ABC-Washington Post poll this week.

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