The thinking among politicians and historians is that two terms are required to vault a chief executive from the ranks of the good presidents to the ranks of the greats. But re-election is also a good way to go from good to terrible. Few presidents have enhanced their stature in their second term, and many have blown their reputations to bits.This can, somewhat, be said of President Bush. In his second term, he faced: the Dubai ports issue, Harriet Miers, fake "scandals" like the "outing" of Valerie Plame and the U.S. Attorney firings, losing the immigration debate (twice), an extreme downturn in the Iraq situation, losing both Houses of Congress, and now an economic hardship.
Bill Clinton would be remembered with far less controversy had he stepped down in 1996, with the nation at peace, the economy healthy and the federal budget deficit well on the way to erasure. Instead, he stuck around for the pleasure of having his sex life dissected in public and becoming the second president ever to be impeached.
Disgrace is a recurring theme of second terms. Ronald Reagan achieved the bulk of his economic program and defense buildup in his first four years, leaving much of his remaining time for the Iran-contra scandal—which involved the secret sale of weapons to Iran, with the proceeds going to rebels fighting the Marxist government of Nicaragua.
Richard Nixon, of course, had Watergate—which erupted because his aides mounted a break-in at the Democratic National Committee office in a crazed effort to ensure his, yes, re-election. He found that winning a second term doesn't guarantee you'll complete it.
However, he was able to install two incredibly competent strict constructionist jurists in Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Sam Alito. Also, while the writers and editors at Reason would disagree, the surge has been a success. I think those successes, and the added bonus of not having a President John Kerry, are worth it to Pres. Bush, and to the American people.