I think Joe's evaluation suffers from an assumption that the Filipinos were automatically better off having been granted their independence.
No, that's not my assumption at all. Indeed, I'm sure that, in certain respects, the average Filipino was worse off after independence. My point, though, is that McKinley's reputation was enhanced when America followed through on its promise to grant the Philippines its independence -- a rather noteworthy achievement when compared with the records of other colonial powers.
I understood you to be saying that, and as regards McKinley's reputation (if that were even an issue in 1938), is a sound statement, insofar as the American public are concerned, and to whom i have already referred as being historically ignorant. McKinley, himself, however, was dead within three years of the invasion, and being replaced by Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., was very likely soon forgotten. People who do remember, and who are not historically ignorant, however, were not likely to have felt any greater admiration for McKinley because of events over which he had no control.
I wouldn't care to say if Filipinos were worse off after independence, although i think you might be right. McArthur is alleged to have said that if he were a Huk, he'd be a rebel, too (the Huks being the Hukbalahaps, who continued to fight for equitable land distribution right up until the 1960s; source for this remark is Manchester, The American Caesar
The question is what Bush's historical legacy will be. That can be seen on at least two levels. The first would be in the popular imagination. I suspect that whatever popularity he actually enjoys now will wane, much as Reagan's did after he was long gone from office. The other level will be that of those who are well-informed, or who attempt to inform themselves well. At that level, i doubt very much that McKinley's reputation was enhanced by Filipino independence, and i rather doubt that Bush's reputation would be enhanced, or his foreign policy vindicated if there is a quick resolution to the Iraqi mess.
I also will freely admit that my opinion is that any "resolution" to the Iraqi problem will probably be illusory, in that a truly democratic regime in Iraq will necessarily be Shi'a-dominated, and will therefore, if not sooner, at least in the long run, be a nightmare for the Sunni minority. If a Shi'a-dominated government were to seek to impose of the Kurds, they'd have a serious fight on their hands with well-armed and veteran fighters. At the same time, a Shi'a-dominated government would be obliged to deal with an increasingly bellicose Turkey because of the Kurds. Finally, a Shi'a-dominated Iraq would be the first state in the region after Iran with that complexion, and circumstance would probably drive them into the arms of the Persians, politically speaking. Their only other natural allies in the region would be Hezbollah, which alleges to speak for the Shi'ites of the Lebanon. The Muslims of the Lebanon are not a majority, but are the largest single confessional group along such vague lines, the majority of Muslims being Shi'ite, with those divided among the twelver and the sevener Shi'ites, the former being the largest Shi'ite group.
Regardless of how a possible McCain presidency might proceed, the future for Iraq will be complex and will be governed more by the relationship with Tehran than with Washington. Shrines such as the that to Ali in Najaf in Iraq put Iraq in the position in the Shi'ite world that Saudi Arabia occupies in the general Muslim world with the shrines in Mekka and Medina.
So, although you may be right with regard to a short-term, general attitude toward Bush on the part of those who are not terribly well-informed, i doubt that the same conditions apply to Bush's legacy over the long-term, or among those who are well-informed. None of that is to suggest that you are yourself poorly-informed. I make no comment on a subject about which i haven't much information.