Not a positive evaluation at all, and from someone whom I've generally found to be quite fair-minded, thoughtful, and serious about the war on terror. I'm not sure whether Rauch is right — among other things, the article doesn't discuss how much credit Bush should get for the lack of other major attacks on American soil since 9/11, something that I suspect that few people expected in late 2001. But it seems an article that's much worth reading, whatever one's views of the Administration. Rauch's criticism of the Administration's actions on searches, detentions, and interrogations seems especially important (again, whether you ultimately agree with it or not), partly because it acknowledges that fighting terrorists may in fact call for searches, detentions, and interrogations beyond those we would normally endorse for fighting ordinary criminals:
If the country seriously intends to prevent terrorism, then spying at home, detaining terror suspects, and conducting tough interrogations are practices that the government will need to engage in for many years to come. Instead of making proper legal provisions for those practices, Bush has run the war against jihadism out of his back pocket, as a permanent state of emergency. He engages in legal ad-hockery and trickery, treats Congress as a nuisance rather than a partner, and circumvents outmoded laws and treaties when he should be creating new ones. Of all Bush's failings, his refusal to build durable underpinnings for what promises to be a long struggle is the most surprising, the most gratuitous, and potentially the most damaging, both to the sustainability of the antiterrorism effort and to the constitutional order.
One may agree with Rauch or disagree with him, but his criticisms can't, I think, be easily dismissed.