George W. Bush

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George W. Bush
A portrait shot of a smiling older male looking straight ahead. He has short grey hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a blue styled tie over a white collared shirt. In the background is an American flag hanging from a flagpole.

In office
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
Vice President Dick Cheney
Preceded by Bill Clinton
Succeeded by Barack Obama

In office
January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000
Lieutenant Bob Bullock (1995–1999)
Rick Perry (1999–2000)
Preceded by Ann Richards
Succeeded by Rick Perry

Born July 6, 1946 (1946-07-06) (age 63)
New Haven, Connecticut
Birth name George Walker Bush
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Laura Bush
Children Barbara Pierce Bush
Jenna Welch Hager
Residence Preston Hollow, Dallas, Texas
Crawford, Texas
Alma mater Yale University (B.A.)
Harvard Business School (M.B.A.)
Occupation Businessman
(oil, baseball)
Religion Episcopalian (before 1977)[1]
United Methodist (after 1977)[2][3]
Website Bush Presidential Library
Bush Presidential Center
The White House Archived
Military service
Service/branch Texas Air National Guard
Alabama Air National Guard
Years of service 1968–1974
Rank First Lieutenant

George Walker Bush (En-us-George Walker Bush.ogg /ˈdʒɔrdʒ ˈwɔːkər ˈbʊʃ/ ; born July 6, 1946) was the 43rd President of the United States, serving from 2001 to 2009, and the 46th Governor of Texas, serving from 1995 to 2000.

Bush is the eldest son of President George H. W. Bush, who served as the 41st President, and Barbara Bush, making him one of only two American presidents to be the son of a preceding president.[4] After graduating from Yale University in 1968, and Harvard Business School in 1975, Bush worked in his family's oil businesses. He married Laura Welch in 1977 and unsuccessfully ran for the House of Representatives shortly thereafter. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before defeating Ann Richards in the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election. In a close and controversial election, Bush was elected President in 2000 as the Republican candidate, defeating then-Vice President Al Gore in the Electoral College.[5]

Eight months into Bush's first term as president, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred. In response, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan that same year and an invasion of Iraq in 2003. In addition to national security issues, Bush promoted policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. He signed into law broad tax cuts,[6] the No Child Left Behind Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors. His tenure saw national debates on immigration and Social Security.[7]

Bush successfully ran for re-election against Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004, in another relatively close election. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism from conservatives[8][9][10] and liberals. In 2005, the Bush Administration dealt with widespread[11][12] criticism over its handling of Hurricane Katrina.[13] In December 2007, the United States entered its longest post-World War II recession.[14][15] This prompted the Bush Administration to take more direct control of the economy, enacting multiple economic programs intended to preserve the country's financial system. Though Bush was popular within the U.S. for much of his first term,[16] his popularity declined sharply during his second term.[17][18][19][20]

After leaving office, Bush returned to Texas and purchased a home in a suburban area of Dallas, Texas. He is currently a public speaker and is writing a book about his presidency.[21]


[edit] Childhood to mid-life

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Bush was the first child of George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush (née Pierce). He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas, with his four siblings, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died from leukemia at the age of three in 1953.[22] Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut.[23] Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, served as U.S. Vice President from 1981 to 1989 and U.S. President from 1989 to 1993. Bush is of primarily English and German descent, and also has distant Welsh, Irish, French and Scottish ancestry.[24]

[edit] Education

As a child, Bush attended public schools in Midland, Texas until the family moved to Houston after he completed seventh grade. He then went to The Kinkaid School, a prep school in Houston, for two years.[25]

Bush finished his high school years at Phillips Academy, a boarding school (then all-male) in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball and during his senior year was the head cheerleader.[26][27] Bush attended Yale University from 1964 to 1968, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.[28] During this time, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, being elected the fraternity's president during his senior year.[29][30] Bush also became a member of the Skull and Bones society as a senior.[31] Bush was a keen rugby union player, and was on Yale's 1st XV.[32] He characterized himself as an average student.[33]

Beginning in the fall of 1973, Bush attended the Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA. He is the only U.S. President to have earned an MBA.[34]

[edit] Texas Air National Guard

Lt. George W. Bush while in the Texas Air National Guard.

In May 1968, Bush was commissioned into the Texas Air National Guard.[35] After two years of active-duty service while training,[36] he was assigned to Houston, flying Convair F-102s with the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group out of Ellington Air Force Base.[35][37] Critics, including former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Russ Baker, have alleged that Bush was favorably treated due to his father's political standing, citing his selection as a pilot despite his low pilot aptitude test scores and his irregular attendance.[38] In June 2005, the United States Department of Defense released all the records of Bush's Texas Air National Guard service, which remain in its official archives.[39]

In late 1972 and early 1973, he drilled with the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group of the Alabama Air National Guard, having moved to Montgomery, Alabama to work on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton M. Blount.[40][41] In October 1973, Bush was discharged from the Texas Air National Guard and transferred to inactive duty in the Air Force Reserve. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974, at the end of his six-year service obligation.[42]

[edit] Marriage and family

George and Laura Bush with their daughters Jenna and Barbara, 1990.

In 1977, he was introduced by friends at a backyard barbecue to Laura Welch, a school teacher and librarian. Bush proposed to her after a three-month courtship and they were married on November 5 of that year.[43] The couple settled in Midland, Texas. Bush left his family's Episcopal Church to join his wife's United Methodist Church.[2] In 1981, Laura Bush gave birth to fraternal twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara;[43] they graduated from high school in 2000 and from the University of Texas at Austin and Yale University, respectively, in 2004.

Prior to his marriage, Bush had multiple episodes of alcohol abuse.[44] In one instance, on September 4, 1976, he was arrested near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine for driving under the influence of alcohol. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150 and had his Maine driver's license suspended until 1978.[45] Bush's alleged usage of drugs is less clear; when asked questions about past alleged illicit drug use, Bush has consistently refused to answer. He defended his refusal to answer in a publicized casual conversation with a friend saying that he feared setting a bad example for the younger generation.[46][47][48]

Bush says his wife has had a stabilizing effect on his life,[43] and attributes influence to her in his 1986 decision to give up alcohol.[49] While Governor of Texas, Bush said of his wife, "I saw an elegant, beautiful woman who turned out not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time."[43]

[edit] Early career

In 1978, Bush ran for the House of Representatives from Texas's 19th congressional district. His opponent, Kent Hance, portrayed him as being out of touch with rural Texans; Bush lost the election by 6,000 votes (6%) of the 103,000 votes cast.[50] He returned to the oil industry and began a series of small, independent oil exploration companies.[51] He created Arbusto Energy,[52] and later changed the name to Bush Exploration. In 1984, his company merged with the larger Spectrum 7, and Bush became chairman.[51] The company was hurt by a decline in oil prices, and as a result, it folded into Harken Energy.[51][53] Bush served on the board of directors for Harken.[51] Questions of possible insider trading involving Harken arose, but the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) investigation concluded that the information Bush had at the time of his stock sale was not sufficient to constitute insider trading.[51][54]

Bush moved his family to Washington, D.C. in 1988 to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency.[55][56] He worked as a campaign adviser and served as liaison to the media;[51] he assisted his father by campaigning across the country.[51] Returning to Texas after the successful campaign, he purchased a share in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in April 1989, where he served as managing general partner for five years.[57] He actively led the team's projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans.[58] The sale of Bush's shares in the Rangers in 1998 brought him over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment.[59]

In December 1991, Bush was one of seven people named by his father to run his father's 1992 Presidential re-election campaign as "campaign advisor".[60] The prior month, Bush had been asked by his father to tell White House chief of staff John H. Sununu that he should resign.[61]

[edit] Governor of Texas

Governor Bush with wife, Laura, and father, former President George H. W. Bush, at the dedication of the George Bush Presidential Library, November 1997.

As Bush's brother, Jeb, sought the governorship of Florida, Bush declared his candidacy for the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election. His campaign focused on four themes: welfare reform, tort reform, crime reduction, and education improvement.[51] Bush's campaign advisers were Karen Hughes, Joe Allbaugh, and Karl Rove.[62]

After easily winning the Republican primary, Bush faced popular Democratic incumbent Governor Ann Richards.[51][63] In the course of the campaign, Bush pledged to sign a bill allowing Texans to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. Richards had vetoed the bill, but Bush signed it after he became governor.[64] According to The Atlantic Monthly, the race "featured a rumor that she was a lesbian, along with a rare instance of such a tactic's making it into the public record — when a regional chairman of the Bush campaign allowed himself, perhaps inadvertently, to be quoted criticizing Richards for appointing avowed homosexual activists' to state jobs".[65] The Atlantic, and others, connected the lesbian rumor to Karl Rove,[66] but Rove denied being involved.[67] Bush won the general election with 53.5% against Richards' 45.9%.[68]

Bush used a budget surplus to push through Texas's largest tax-cut ($2 billion).[62] He extended government funding for organizations providing education of the dangers of alcohol and drug use and abuse, and helping to reduce domestic violence.[69] Critics contended that during his tenure, Texas ranked near the bottom in environmental evaluations, but supporters pointed to his efforts to raise the salaries of teachers and improved educational test scores.[51]

In 1998, Bush won re-election with a record[51] 69% of the vote.[70] He became the first governor in Texas history to be elected to two consecutive four-year terms.[51] For most of Texas history, governors served two-year terms; a constitutional amendment extended those terms to four years starting in 1975.[71] In his second term, Bush promoted faith-based organizations and enjoyed high approval ratings.[51] He proclaimed June 10, 2000 to be Jesus Day in Texas, a day on which he "urge[d] all Texans to answer the call to serve those in need".[72]

Throughout Bush's first term, national attention focused on him as a potential future presidential candidate. Following his re-election, speculation soared.[51] Within a year, he decided to seek the Republican nomination for the presidency.

[edit] Presidential campaigns

[edit] 2000 Presidential candidacy

Bush in Concord, New Hampshire signing to be a candidate for president
Bush stands with supporters in Concord, New Hampshire after filing to run for the presidency

[edit] Primary

In June 1999, while Governor of Texas, Bush announced his candidacy for President of the United States. With no incumbent running, Bush entered a large field of candidates for the Republican Party presidential nomination consisting of John McCain, Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, Orrin Hatch, Elizabeth Dole, Dan Quayle, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, John Kasich, and Robert C. Smith.

Bush portrayed himself as a compassionate conservative. He campaigned on a platform that included increasing the size of the United States Armed Forces, cutting taxes, improving education, and aiding minorities.[51] By early 2000, the race had centered on Bush and McCain.[51]

Bush won the Iowa caucuses, but, although he was heavily favored to win the New Hampshire primary, he trailed McCain by 19% and lost that primary. However, the Bush campaign regained momentum and, according to political observers, effectively became the front runner after the South Carolina primary, which according to The Boston Globe made history for its negativity; The New York Times described it as a smear campaign.[73][74][75]

[edit] General election

On July 25, 2000, Bush surprised some observers by asking Dick Cheney, a former White House Chief of Staff, U.S. Representative, and Secretary of Defense, to be his running mate. Cheney was then serving as head of Bush's Vice-Presidential search committee. Soon after, Cheney was officially nominated by the Republican Party at the 2000 Republican National Convention.

Bush continued to campaign across the country and touted his record as Governor of Texas.[51] Bush's campaign criticized his Democratic opponent, incumbent Vice President Al Gore, over gun control and taxation.[76]

When the election returns came in on November 7, Bush won 29 states, including Florida. The closeness of the Florida outcome led to a recount.[51] The initial recount also went to Bush, but the outcome was tied up in courts for a month until reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.[77] On December 9, in the Bush v. Gore case, the Court reversed a Florida Supreme Court ruling ordering a third count, and stopped an ordered statewide hand recount based on the argument that the use of different standards among Florida's counties violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[51] The machine recount showed that Bush had won the Florida vote by a margin of 537 votes out of six million cast.[78] Although he received 543,895 fewer individual votes than Gore nationwide, Bush won the election, receiving 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266.[78]

[edit] 2004 Presidential candidacy

George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in 2004

In 2004, Bush commanded broad support in the Republican Party and did not encounter a primary challenge. He appointed Kenneth Mehlman as campaign manager, with a political strategy devised by Karl Rove.[79] Bush and the Republican platform included a strong commitment to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,[80] support for the USA PATRIOT Act,[81] a renewed shift in policy for constitutional amendments banning abortion and same-sex marriage,[80][82] reforming Social Security to create private investment accounts,[80] creation of an ownership society,[80] and opposing mandatory carbon emissions controls.[83] Bush also called for the implementation of a guest worker program for immigrants,[80] which was criticized by conservatives.[84]

The Bush campaign advertised across the U.S. against Democratic candidates, including Bush's emerging opponent, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Kerry and other Democrats attacked Bush on the Iraq War, and accused him of failing to stimulate the economy and job growth. The Bush campaign portrayed Kerry as a staunch liberal who would raise taxes and increase the size of government. The Bush campaign continuously criticized Kerry's seemingly contradictory statements on the war in Iraq,[51] and argued that Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the war on terrorism.

In the election, Bush carried 31 of 50 states, receiving a total of 286 electoral votes. He won an outright majority of the popular vote (50.7% to his opponent's 48.3%).[85] The previous President to win an outright majority of the popular vote was Bush's father in the 1988 election. Additionally, it was the first time since Herbert Hoover's election in 1928 that a Republican president was elected alongside re-elected Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress. Bush's 2.5% margin of victory was the narrowest ever for a victorious incumbent President, breaking Woodrow Wilson's 3.1% margin of victory against Charles Evans Hughes in the election of 1916.[86][87]

[edit] Presidency

Official portrait of George W. Bush

Bush was sworn in as president on January 20, 2001. Though he originally outlined an ambitious domestic agenda, his priorities were significantly altered following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.[88] Wars were waged in Afghanistan and later Iraq while significant debates regarding immigration, healthcare, Social Security, economic policy, and treatment of terrorist detainees took place within the United States. Over an eight year period, Bush's once-high approval ratings[20] steadily declined throughout his Presidency while his disapproval numbers increased significantly over the same time frame.[17] During 2007, the United States entered into the longest post World War II recession and the administration responded by enacting multiple economic programs.[89]

[edit] Domestic policy

[edit] Economic policy

Facing opposition in Congress, Bush held town hall-style public meetings across the U.S. in 2001 to increase public support for his plan for a $1.35 trillion tax cut program—one of the largest tax cuts in U.S. history.[51] Bush argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers, saying "the surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money."[51] With reports of the threat of recession from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Bush argued that such a tax cut would stimulate the economy and create jobs.[90] Others, including the Treasury Secretary at the time Paul O'Neill, were opposed to some of the tax cuts on the basis that they would contribute to budget deficits and undermine Social Security.[91] By 2003, the economy showed signs of improvement, though job growth remained stagnant.[51]

Under the Bush Administration, real GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.5%,[92] considerably below the average for business cycles from 1949 to 2000.[93][94] Bush entered office with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 10,587, and the average peaked in October 2007 at over 14,000. When Bush left office, the average was at 7,949, one of the lowest levels of his presidency.[95] Unemployment originally rose from 4.2% in January 2001 to 6.3% in June 2003, but subsequently dropped to 4.5% as of July 2007.[96] Adjusted for inflation, median household income dropped by $1,175 between 2000 and 2007,[97] while Professor Ken Homa of Georgetown University has noted that "after-tax median household income increased by 2%"[98] The poverty rate increased from 11.3% in 2000 to 12.3% in 2006 after peaking at 12.7% in 2004.[99] By October 2008, due to increases in domestic and foreign spending,[100] the national debt had risen to $11.3 trillion,[101][102] an increase of over 100% from the start of the year 2000 when the debt was $5.6 trillion.[103][104] By the end of Bush's presidency, unemployment climbed to 7.2%.[105] The perception of Bush's effect on the economy is significantly affected by partisanship.[106]

In December 2007, the United States entered the longest post-World War II recession,[14] which included a housing market correction, a subprime mortgage crisis, soaring oil prices, and a declining dollar value.[107] In February, 63,000 jobs were lost, a five-year record.[108][109] To aid with the situation, Bush signed a $170 billion economic stimulus package which was intended to improve the economic situation by sending tax rebate checks to many Americans and providing tax breaks for struggling businesses. The Bush administration pushed for significantly increased regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003,[110] and after two years, the regulations passed the House but died in the Senate. Many Republican senators, as well as influential members of the Bush Administration, feared that the agency created by these regulations would merely be mimicking the private sector’s risky practices.[111][112] In September 2008, the crisis became much more serious beginning with the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac followed by the collapse of Lehman Brothers[113] and a federal bailout of American International Group for $85 billion.[114]

Many economists and world governments determined that the situation became the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.[115][116] Additional regulation over the housing market would have been beneficial, according to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.[117] Bush, meanwhile, proposed a financial rescue plan to buy back a large portion of the U.S. mortgage market.[118] Vince Reinhardt, a former Federal Reserve economist now at the American Enterprise Institute, said "it would have helped for the Bush administration to empower the folks at Treasury and the Federal Reserve and the comptroller of the currency and the FDIC to look at these issues more closely", and additionally, that it would have helped "for Congress to have held hearings".[112]

In November 2008, over 500,000 jobs were lost, which marked the largest loss of jobs in the United States in 34 years.[119] The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in the last four months of 2008, 1.9 million jobs were lost.[120] By the end of 2008, the U.S. had lost a total of 2.6 million jobs.[121]

[edit] Education and health

Bush undertook a number of educational priorities, such as increasing the funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in his first years of office, and creating education programs to strengthen the grounding in science and mathematics for American high school students. Funding for the NIH was cut in 2006, the first such cut in 36 years, due to rising inflation.[122]

Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law, January 2002

One of the administration's early major initiatives was the No Child Left Behind Act, which aimed to measure and close the gap between rich and poor student performance, provide options to parents with students in low-performing schools, and target more federal funding to low-income schools. This landmark education initiative passed with broad bipartisan support, including that of Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.[123] It was signed into law by Bush in early 2002.[124] Many contend that the initiative has been successful, as cited by the fact that students in the U.S. have performed significantly better on state reading and math tests since Bush signed "No Child Left Behind" into law.[125] Critics argue that it is underfunded[126] and that NCLBA's focus on "high stakes testing" and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive.[127]

After being re-elected, Bush signed into law a Medicare drug benefit program that, according to Jan Crawford Greenburg, resulted in "the greatest expansion in America's welfare state in forty years;" the bill's costs approached $7 trillion.[128] In 2007, Bush opposed and vetoed State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation, which was added by the Democrats onto a war funding bill and passed by Congress. The SCHIP legislation would have significantly expanded federally funded health care benefits and plans to children of some low-income families from about six million to ten million children. It was to be funded by an increase in the cigarette tax.[129] Bush viewed the legislation as a move toward the liberal platform of socialized health care, and asserted that the program could benefit families making as much as $83,000 per year who did not need the help.[130]

[edit] Social services and Social Security

Following Republican efforts to pass the Medicare Act of 2003, Bush signed the bill, which included major changes to the Medicare program by providing beneficiaries with some assistance in paying for prescription drugs, while relying on private insurance for the delivery of benefits.[131] The retired persons lobby group AARP worked with the Bush Administration on the program and gave their endorsement. Bush said the law, estimated to cost $400 billion over the first ten years, would give the elderly "better choices and more control over their health care".[132]

Bush speaks at the United States Coast Guard Academy commencement, May 2007

Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to reform Social Security,[133] which was facing record deficit projections beginning in 2005. Bush made it the centerpiece of his domestic agenda despite opposition from some in the U.S. Congress.[133] In his 2005 State of the Union Address, Bush discussed the potential impending bankruptcy of the program and outlined his new program, which included partial privatization of the system, personal Social Security accounts, and options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments.[133] Democrats opposed the proposal to partially privatize the system.[133]

Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning vigorously for his initiative in media events, known as the "Conversations on Social Security", in an attempt to gain support from the general public.[134] Despite the energetic campaign, public support for the proposal declined[135] and the House Republican leadership decided not to put Social Security reform on the priority list for the remainder of their 2005 legislative agenda.[136] The proposal's legislative prospects were further diminished by the political fallout from the Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005.[137] After the Democrats gained control of both houses of the Congress as a result of the 2006 midterm elections, the prospects of any further congressional action on the Bush proposal were dead for the remainder of his term in office.

[edit] Environmental and energy policies

Upon taking office in 2001, Bush stated his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change which seeks to impose mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, citing that the treaty exempted 80% of the world's population[138] and would have cost tens of billions of dollars per year.[139] He also cited that the Senate had voted 95–0 in 1997 on a resolution expressing its disapproval of the protocol.

In 2002, Bush announced the Clear Skies Act of 2003,[140] aimed at amending the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution through the use of emissions trading programs. It was argued, however, that this legislation would have weakened the original legislation by allowing higher levels of pollutants than were permitted at that time.[141] The initiative was introduced to Congress, but failed to make it out of committee.

Bush has said that he believes that global warming is real[142] and has noted that it is a serious problem, but he asserted there is a "debate over whether it's man-made or naturally caused".[143] The Bush Administration's stance on global warming has remained controversial in the scientific and environmental communities. Critics have alleged that the administration[144] misinformed the public and did not do enough to reduce carbon emissions and deter global warming.[145]

In 2006, Bush declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument, creating the largest marine reserve to date. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument comprises 84 million acres (340,000 km²) and is home to 7,000 species of fish, birds, and other marine animals, many of which are specific to only those islands.[146] The move was hailed by conservationists for "its foresight and leadership in protecting this incredible area".[147]

In his 2007 State of the Union Address, Bush renewed his pledge to work toward diminished reliance on foreign oil by reducing fossil fuel consumption and increasing alternative fuel production.[148] Amid high gasoline prices in 2008, Bush lifted a ban on offshore drilling.[149] The move was largely symbolic, however, as there is still a federal law banning offshore drilling. Bush said, "This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil reserves is action from the U.S. Congress."[149] Bush had said in June 2008, "In the long run, the solution is to reduce demand for oil by promoting alternative energy technologies. My administration has worked with Congress to invest in gas-saving technologies like advanced batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.... In the short run, the American economy will continue to rely largely on oil. And that means we need to increase supply, especially here at home. So my administration has repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production."[150]

In his 2008 State of the Union Address, Bush announced that the U.S. would commit $2 billion over the next three years to a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change, saying, "Along with contributions from other countries, this fund will increase and accelerate the deployment of all forms of cleaner, more efficient technologies in developing nations like India and China, and help leverage substantial private-sector capital by making clean energy projects more financially attractive." He also announced plans to reaffirm the United States' commitment to work with major economies, and, through the United Nations, to complete an international agreement that will slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases; he stated, "This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride."[151]

[edit] Stem cell research and first use of veto power

Federal funding for medical research involving the creation or destruction of human embryos through the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health has been forbidden by law since the passage in 1995 of the Dickey Amendment by Congress and the signature of President Bill Clinton.[152] Bush has said that he supports adult stem cell research and has supported federal legislation that finances adult stem cell research. However, Bush did not support embryonic stem cell research.[153] On August 9, 2001, Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 71 existing "lines" of stem cells,[154] but the ability of these existing lines to provide an adequate medium for testing has been questioned. Testing can only be done on twelve of the original lines, and all of the approved lines have been cultured in contact with mouse cells, which creates safety issues that complicate development and approval of therapies from these lines.[155] On July 19, 2006, Bush used his veto power for the first time in his presidency to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. The bill would have repealed the Dickey Amendment, thereby permitting federal money to be used for research where stem cells are derived from the destruction of an embryo.[156]

[edit] Immigration

Bush discusses border security with Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff near the El Paso, Texas, United States-Mexico border, November 2005

In 2006, Bush urged Congress to allow more than twelve million illegal immigrants to work in the United States with the creation of a "temporary guest-worker program". Bush did not support amnesty for illegal immigrants,[157] but argued that the lack of legal status denies the protections of U.S. laws to millions of people who face dangers of poverty and exploitation, and penalizes employers despite a demand for immigrant labor.

The President also urged Congress to provide additional funds for border security and committed to deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexico – United States border.[158] In May-June 2007, Bush strongly supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 which was written by a bipartisan group of Senators with the active participation of the Bush administration.[159] The bill envisioned a legalization program for undocumented immigrants, with an eventual path to citizenship; establishing a guest worker program; a series of border and work site enforcement measures; a reform of the green card application process and the introduction of a point-based "merit" system for green cards; elimination of "chain migration" and of the Diversity Immigrant Visa; and other measures. Bush contended that the proposed bill did not amount to amnesty.[160]

A heated public debate followed, which resulted in a substantial rift within the Republican Party, the majority of conservatives opposed it because of its legalization or amnesty provisions.[161] The bill was eventually defeated in the Senate on June 28, 2007, when a cloture motion failed on a 46-53 vote.[162] Bush expressed disappointment upon the defeat of one of his signature domestic initiatives.[163] The Bush administration later proposed a series of immigration enforcement measures that do not require a change in law.[164]

[edit] Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina, which was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, struck early in Bush’s second term. Katrina formed in late August during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and devastated much of the north-central Gulf Coast of the United States, particularly New Orleans.[165]

Bush shakes hands with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on September 2, 2005 after viewing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina

Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on August 27,[166] and in Mississippi and Alabama the following day;[167] he authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to manage the disaster, but his announcement failed to spur these agencies to action.[168] The eye of the hurricane made landfall on August 29, and New Orleans began to flood due to levee breaches; later that day, Bush declared that a major disaster existed in Louisiana,[169] officially authorizing FEMA to start using federal funds to assist in the recovery effort. On August 30, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff declared it "an incident of national significance",[170] triggering the first use of the newly created National Response Plan. Three days later, on September 2, National Guard troops first entered the city of New Orleans.[171] The same day, Bush toured parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and declared that the success of the recovery effort up to that point was "not enough".[172]

As the disaster in New Orleans intensified, critics charged that Bush was misrepresenting his administration's role in what they saw as a flawed response. Leaders attacked Bush for having appointed apparently incompetent leaders to positions of power at FEMA, notably Michael D. Brown;[173] it was also argued that the federal response was limited as a result of the Iraq War[174] and Bush himself did not act upon warnings of floods.[175][176][177] Bush responded to mounting criticism by accepting full responsibility for the federal government's failures in its handling of the emergency.[171] It has been argued that with Katrina, Bush passed a political tipping point from which he would not recover.[178]

[edit] Midterm dismissal of U.S. attorneys

During Bush's second term, a controversy arose over the Justice Department's midterm dismissal of seven United States Attorneys.[179] The White House maintained that the U.S. attorneys were fired for poor performance.[180] Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would later resign over the issue, along with other senior members of the Justice Department.[181][182] The House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for advisers Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten to testify regarding this matter, but Bush directed Miers and Bolten to not comply with those subpoenas, invoking his right of executive privilege. Bush has maintained that all of his advisers are protected under a broad executive privilege protection to receive candid advice. The Justice Department has determined that the President's order was legal.[183]

Although Congressional investigations have focused on whether the Justice Department and the White House were using the U.S. Attorney positions for political advantage, no official findings have been released. On March 10, 2008, the Congress filed a federal lawsuit to enforce their issued subpoenas.[184] On July 31, 2008, a United States district court judge ruled that Bush's top advisers were not immune from Congressional subpoenas.[185]

In August 2009, Karl Rove and Harriet Miers testified before the House Judiciary Committee. A Justice Department inquiry into the firing of U.S. attorneys concluded that political considerations played a part in as many as four of the dismissals.[186]

[edit] Foreign policy

President George W. Bush, President of Mexico Vicente Fox and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper stand in front of El Castillo in Chichen Itza, March 30, 2006
Countries visited by President George W. Bush during his terms in office.

During his Presidential campaign, Bush's foreign policy platform included support for a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, especially Mexico, and a reduction of involvement in "nation-building" and other small-scale military engagements. The administration pursued a national missile defense.[187]

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bush launched the War on Terrorism, in which the United States military and an international coalition invaded Afghanistan. In 2003, Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, which he described as being part of the War on Terrorism.[188]

Those invasions led to the toppling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq as well as the deaths of many Iraqis, with surveys indicating between four hundred thousand to over one million dead, excluding the tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan.[189][190][191]

Bush began his second term with an emphasis on improving strained relations with European nations. He appointed long-time adviser Karen Hughes to oversee a global public relations campaign. Bush lauded the pro-democracy struggles in Georgia and Ukraine.

In March 2006, a visit to India led to renewed ties between the two countries, reversing decades of U.S. policy.[192] The visit focused particularly in areas of nuclear energy and counter-terrorism cooperation.[193] This is in stark contrast to the stance taken by his predecessor, Clinton, whose approach and response to India after the 1998 nuclear tests was that of sanctions and hectoring. The relationship between India and the United States was one that dramatically improved during Bush's tenure.[194]

Midway through Bush's second term, it was questioned whether Bush was retreating from his freedom and democracy agenda, highlighted in policy changes toward some oil-rich former Soviet republics in central Asia.[195]

[edit] September 11, 2001

Bush addresses rescue workers at Ground Zero in New York, September 14, 2001

The September 11 terrorist attacks were a major turning point in Bush's presidency. That evening, he addressed the nation from the Oval Office, promising a strong response to the attacks but emphasizing the need for the nation to come together and comfort the families of the victims. On September 14, he visited Ground Zero, meeting with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, firefighters, police officers, and volunteers. Bush addressed the gathering via a megaphone while standing on a heap of rubble, to much applause:

I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.[196]

In a September 20 speech, Bush condemned Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, and issued an ultimatum to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was operating, to "hand over the terrorists, or ... share in their fate".[197]

[edit] War on Terrorism

After September 11, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism. The Afghan Taliban regime was not forthcoming with Osama bin Laden, so Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime.[198] In his January 29, 2002, State of the Union address, he asserted that an "axis of evil" consisting of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq was "arming to threaten the peace of the world" and "pose[d] a grave and growing danger".[199] The Bush Administration proceeded to assert a right and intention to engage in preemptive war, also called preventive war, in response to perceived threats.[200] This would form a basis for what became known as the Bush Doctrine. The broader "War on Terror", allegations of an "axis of evil", and, in particular, the doctrine of preemptive war, began to weaken the unprecedented levels of international and domestic support for Bush and United States action against al Qaeda following the September 11 attacks.[201]

Some national leaders alleged abuse by U.S. troops and called for the U.S. to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and other such facilities. Dissent from, and criticism of, Bush's leadership in the War on Terror increased as the war in Iraq expanded.[202][203][204] In 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate expressed the combined opinion of the United States' own intelligence agencies, concluding that the Iraq War had become the "cause célèbre for jihadists" and that the jihad movement was growing.[205][206]

[edit] Afghanistan

President George W. Bush and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan appear together in 2006 at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

On October 7, 2001, U.S. and Australian forces initiated bombing campaigns that led to the arrival on November 13 of Northern Alliance troops in Kabul. The main goals of the war were to defeat the Taliban, drive al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, and capture key al Qaeda leaders. In December 2001, the Pentagon reported that the Taliban had been defeated[207] but cautioned that the war would go on to continue weakening Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders.[207] Later that month the UN had installed the Afghan Interim Authority chaired by Hamid Karzai.[208][209]

Efforts to kill or capture al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden failed as he escaped a battle in December 2001 in the mountainous region of Tora Bora, which the Bush Administration later acknowledged to have resulted from a failure to commit enough U.S. ground troops.[210] Bin Laden and al Qaeda's number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as the leader of the Taliban, Mohammed Omar, remain at large.

Despite the initial success in driving the Taliban from power in Kabul, by early 2003 the Taliban was regrouping, amassing new funds and recruits.[211] In 2006, the Taliban insurgency appeared larger, fiercer and better organized than expected, with large-scale allied offensives such as Operation Mountain Thrust attaining limited success.[212][213][214] As a result, Bush commissioned 3,500 additional troops to the country in March 2007.[215]

[edit] Iraq

Beginning with his January 29, 2002, State of the Union address, Bush began publicly focusing attention on Iraq, which he labeled as part of an "axis of evil" allied with terrorists and posing "a grave and growing danger" to U.S. interests through possession of weapons of mass destruction.[199]

In the latter half of 2002, CIA reports contained assertions of Saddam Hussein's intent of reconstituting nuclear weapons programs, not properly accounting for Iraqi biological and chemical weapons, and that some Iraqi missiles had a range greater than allowed by the UN sanctions.[216][217] Contentions that the Bush Administration manipulated or exaggerated the threat and evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities would eventually become a major point of criticism for the president.[218][219]

In late 2002 and early 2003, Bush urged the United Nations to enforce Iraqi disarmament mandates, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. In November 2002, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei led UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, but were forced to depart the country four days prior to the U.S. invasion, despite their requests for more time to complete their tasks.[220] The U.S. initially sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force but dropped the bid for UN approval due to vigorous opposition from several countries.[221]

Bush, with Naval Flight Officer Lieutenant Ryan Philips, in the flight suit he wore for his televised arrival and speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.

The war effort was joined by more than 20 other nations (most notably the United Kingdom), designated the "coalition of the willing".[222] The invasion of Iraq commenced on March 20, 2003, and the Iraqi military was quickly defeated. The capital, Baghdad, fell on April 9, 2003. On May 1, Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq. The initial success of U.S. operations increased his popularity, but the U.S. and allied forces faced a growing insurgency led by sectarian groups; Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech was later criticized as premature.[223] From 2004 until 2007, the situation in Iraq deteriorated further, with some observers arguing that there was a full scale civil war in Iraq.[224] Bush's policies met with criticism, including demands domestically to set a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq. The 2006 report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, led by James Baker, concluded that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating". While Bush admitted that there were strategic mistakes made in regards to the stability of Iraq,[225] he maintained he would not change the overall Iraq strategy.[226][227]

Bush shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In January 2005, free, democratic elections were held in Iraq for the first time in 50 years.[228] According to Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie, "This is the greatest day in the history of this country."[228] Bush praised the event as well, saying that the Iraqis "have taken rightful control of their country's destiny".[228] This led to the election of Jalal Talabani as President and Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister of Iraq. A referendum to approve a constitution in Iraq was held in October 2005, supported by the majority Shiites and many Kurds.[229]

On January 10, 2007, Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office regarding the situation in Iraq. In this speech, he announced a surge of 21,500 more troops for Iraq, as well as a job program for Iraqis, more reconstruction proposals, and $1.2 billion for these programs.[230] On May 1, 2007, Bush used his veto for only the second time in his presidency, rejecting a congressional bill setting a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.[231] Five years after the invasion, Bush called the debate over the conflict "understandable" but insisted that a continued U.S. presence there was crucial.[232]

In March 2008, Bush praised the Iraqi government's "bold decision" to launch the Battle of Basra against the Mahdi Army, calling it "a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq".[233] He said he would carefully weigh recommendations from his commanding General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker about how to proceed after the end of the military buildup in the summer of 2008. He also praised the Iraqis' legislative achievements, including a pension law, a revised de-Baathification law, a new budget, an amnesty law, and a provincial powers measure that, he said, set the stage for the Iraqi elections.[234]

On July 31, 2008, Bush announced that with the end of July, American troop deaths had reached their lowest number—thirteen—since the war began in 2003.[235] Due to increased stability in Iraq, Bush announced the withdrawal of additional American forces.[235] This reflected an emerging consensus between the White House and the Pentagon that the war has "turned a corner".[235] He also described what he saw as the success of the 2007 troop surge.[235]

[edit] Surveillance

Following the events of September 11, Bush issued an executive order authorizing the President's Surveillance Program which included allowing the NSA to monitor communications between suspected terrorists outside the U.S and parties within the U.S. without obtaining a warrant as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[236] As of 2009, the other provisions of program remained highly classified.[237]) Once the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel questioned its original legal opinion that FISA did not apply in a time of war, the program was subsequently re-authorized by the President on the basis that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists.[238] The program proved to be controversial, as critics of the administration, as well as organizations such as the American Bar Association, argued that it was illegal.[239] In August 2006, a U.S. district court judge ruled that the NSA electronic surveillance program was unconstitutional,[240] but on July 6, 2007, that ruling was vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing.[241] On January 17, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed U.S. Senate leaders that the program would not be reauthorized by the President, but would be subjected to judicial oversight.[242]

[edit] Interrogation Policies

Bush authorized the CIA to use waterboarding as one of several enhanced interrogation techniques.[243][244][245] Between 2002 and 2003 the CIA considered certain enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to be legal based on a secret Justice Department legal opinion arguing that terror detainees were not protected by the Geneva Conventions' ban on torture.[246] The CIA had exercised the technique on certain key terrorist suspects under authority given to it in the Bybee Memo from the Attorney General, though that memo was later withdrawn.[247] While not permitted by the U.S. Army Field Manuals which assert "that harsh interrogation tactics elicit unreliable information",[246] the Bush administration believed these enhanced interrogations "provided critical information" to preserve American lives.[248] Critics, such as former CIA officer Bob Baer, have stated that information was suspect, "you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough."[249]

On October 17, 2006, Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006,[250] a law enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006),[251] which allows the U.S. government to prosecute unlawful enemy combatants by military commission rather than a standard trial. The law also denies them access to habeas corpus and bars the torture of detainees, but allows the president to determine what constitutes torture.[250]

On March 8, 2008, Bush vetoed H.R. 2082,[252] a bill that would have expanded Congressional oversight over the intelligence community and banned the use of waterboarding as well as other forms of interrogation not permitted under the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations, saying that "the bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror".[253] In April 2009, the ACLU sued and won release of the secret memos that had authorized the Bush administration's interrogation tactics.[254] One memo detailed specific interrogation tactics including a footnote that described waterboarding as torture as well as that the form of waterboarding used by the CIA was far more intense than authorized by the Justice Department.[255]

[edit] North Korea

Bush publicly condemned Kim Jong-il of North Korea, naming North Korea one of three states in an "axis of evil", and saying that "the United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."[199] Within months, "both countries had walked away from their respective commitments under the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of October 1994."[256] North Korea's October 9, 2006, detonation of a nuclear device further complicated Bush's foreign policy, which centered for both terms of his presidency on "[preventing] the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world".[199] Bush condemned North Korea's position, reaffirmed his commitment to "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula", and stated that "transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States", for which North Korea would be held accountable.[235] On May 7, 2007, North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear reactors immediately pending the release of frozen funds held in a foreign bank account. This was a result of a series of three-way talks initiated by the United States and including China.[257] On September 2, 2007, North Korea agreed to disclose and dismantle all of its nuclear programs by the end of 2007.[258] By May 2009, North Korea had restarted its nuclear program and threatened to attack South Korea.[259]

[edit] Syria

Bush expanded economic sanctions on Syria.[260] In early 2007, the Treasury Department, acting on a June 2005 executive order, froze American bank accounts of Syria's Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Electronics Institute, and National Standards and Calibration Laboratory. Bush's order prohibits Americans from doing business with these institutions suspected of helping spread weapons of mass destruction[261] and being supportive of terrorism.[262] Under separate executive orders signed by Bush in 2004 and later 2007, the Treasury Department froze the assets of two Lebanese and two Syrians, accusing them of activities to "undermine the legitimate political process in Lebanon" in November 2007. Those designated included: Assaad Halim Hardan, a member of Lebanon's parliament and current leader of the Syrian Socialist National Party; Wi'am Wahhab, a former member of Lebanon's government (Minister of the Environment) under Prime Minister Omar Karami (2004–2005); Hafiz Makhluf, a colonel and senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate and a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; and Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik, identified as a close adviser to Assad.[263]

[edit] Assassination attempt

On May 10, 2005, Vladimir Arutyunian, a native Georgian who was born to a family of ethnic Armenians, threw a live hand grenade toward a podium where Bush was speaking at Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was seated nearby. It landed in the crowd about 65 feet (20 m) from the podium after hitting a girl, but it did not detonate. Arutyunian was arrested in July 2005, confessed, was convicted and was given a life sentence in January 2006.[264]

[edit] Other issues

Bush, Mahmoud Abbas, and Ariel Sharon meet at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, June 4, 2003

Bush withdrew U.S. support for several international agreements, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) with Russia. Bush emphasized a careful approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; he denounced Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat for his support of violence, but sponsored dialogues between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Bush supported Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and lauded the democratic elections held in Palestine after Arafat's death.

Bush also expressed U.S. support for the defense of Taiwan following the stand-off in April 2001 with the People's Republic of China over the Hainan Island incident, when an EP-3E Aries II surveillance aircraft collided with a People's Liberation Army Air Force jet, leading to the detention of U.S. personnel. In 2003–2004, Bush authorized U.S. military intervention in Haiti and Liberia to protect U.S. interests. Bush condemned the attacks by militia forces on the people of Darfur and denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide.[265] Bush said that an international peacekeeping presence was critical in Darfur, but opposed referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.

Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko meeting with Bush on April 1, 2008.

In his State of the Union Address in January 2003, Bush outlined a five-year strategy for global emergency AIDS relief, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Bush announced $15 billion for this effort.[266] This program is believed by some[who?] to be a positive aspect of Bush's legacy across the political spectrum.

In August 2006, Bush became the first serving president to contract and be treated for Lyme Disease.[267]

On June 10, 2007, he met with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and became the first president to visit Albania.[268] Bush has voiced his support for the independence of Kosovo.[269]

In 2002, Bush opened the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Departing from previous practice, he stood among a group of U.S. athletes rather than from a ceremonial stand or box, saying: "On behalf of a proud, determined, and grateful nation, I declare open the Games of Salt Lake City, celebrating the Olympic Winter Games."[270] In 2008, in the course of a good-will trip to Asia, he attended the Summer Olympics in Beijing.[271]

[edit] Judicial appointments

[edit] Supreme Court

Following the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement on July 1, 2005, Bush nominated John G. Roberts to succeed her. On September 5, following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, this nomination was withdrawn and Bush instead nominated Roberts for Chief Justice to succeed Rehnquist. Roberts was confirmed by the Senate as the 17th Chief Justice on September 29, 2005.

On October 3, 2005, Bush nominated White House Counsel Harriet Miers for O'Connor's position; after facing significant opposition, she asked that her name be withdrawn on October 27. Four days later, on October 31, Bush nominated federal appellate judge Samuel Alito for the position and he was confirmed as the 110th Supreme Court Justice on January 31, 2006.

[edit] Other courts

In addition to his two Supreme Court appointments, Bush appointed 61 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals and 261 judges to the United States district courts. Each of these numbers, along with his total of 324 judicial appointments, is third in American history, behind both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Bush experienced a number of judicial appointment controversies, as 39 people nominated to 27 federal appellate judgeships were blocked by the Senate Democrats either in the Senate Judiciary Committee or on the Senate floor using a filibuster.[272]

[edit] Public image and perception

[edit] Domestic

     approve      disapprove      unsure Gallup/USA Today Bush public opinion polling from February 2001 to January 2009. Blue denotes approve, red disapprove and green unsure. Large increases in approval followed the September 11 attacks, the beginning of the 2003 Iraq conflict and the capture of Saddam Hussein
[edit] Image

Bush's upbringing in West Texas, his accent, his vacations on his Texas ranch, and his penchant for country metaphors contribute to his folksy, American cowboy image.[273][274] "I think people look at him and think John Wayne", says Piers Morgan, editor of the British Daily Mirror.[275] It has been suggested that Bush's accent was an active choice, as a way of distinguishing himself from Northeastern intellectuals and anchoring himself to his Texas roots.[276] Both supporters and detractors have pointed to his country persona as reasons for their support or criticism.[274]

Bush's intelligence has been satirized by the media,[277] comedians, and other politicians.[278] Detractors tended to cite linguistic errors made by Bush during his public speeches, which are colloquially termed as Bushisms.[279] Editorials in Harper's Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Common Dreams NewsCenter, and The Nation have referred to Bush as "the worst president ever".[280][281][282][283][284]

In contrast to his father, who was perceived as having troubles with an overarching unifying theme, Bush embraced larger visions and was seen as a man of larger ideas and associated huge risks.[285]

[edit] Approval

Bush's popularity was highly variable during his two terms. He began his presidency with approval ratings near 50%.[286] After the September 11, 2001, attacks, Bush gained an approval rating of 90%,[287] maintaining 80–90% approval for four months after the attacks. It remained over 50% during most of his first term.[16]

In 2000 and again in 2004, Time magazine named George W. Bush as its Person of the Year, a title awarded to someone who the editors believe "has done the most to influence the events of the year".[288] In May 2004, Gallup reported that 89% of the Republican electorate approved of Bush.[289] However, the support waned due mostly to a minority of Republicans' frustration with him on issues of spending, illegal immigration, and Middle Eastern affairs.[290]

Within the United States armed forces, according to an unscientific survey, the president was strongly supported in the 2004 presidential elections.[291] While 73% of military personnel said that they would vote for Bush, 18% preferred his Democratic rival, John Kerry.[291] According to Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who has studied the political leanings of the U.S. military, members of the armed services supported Bush because they found him more likely than Kerry to complete the War in Iraq.[291]

Bush's approval rating went below the 50% mark in AP-Ipsos polling in December 2004.[292] Thereafter, his approval ratings and approval of his handling of domestic and foreign policy issues steadily dropped. Bush received heavy criticism for his handling of the Iraq War, his response to Hurricane Katrina and to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, NSA warrantless surveillance, the Plame affair, and Guantanamo Bay detention camp controversies.[293]

Polls conducted in 2006 showed an average of 37% approval ratings for Bush,[294] the lowest for any second-term president at that point of his term since Harry S. Truman in March 1951, when Truman's approval rating was 28%,[292][295] which contributed to what Bush called the "thumping" of the Republican Party in the 2006 mid-term elections.[296] Throughout 2007, Bush's approval rating hovered in the mid-thirties,[297] although in an October 17, 2007, Reuters poll, Bush received a lower approval rating of 24%,[298] the lowest point of his presidency.[299]

Bush thanks American military personnel, September 2007

By April 2008, Bush's disapproval ratings were the highest ever recorded in the 70-year history of the Gallup poll for any president, with 69% of those polled disapproving of the job Bush was doing as president and 28% approving.[300] In September 2008, in polls performed by various agencies, Bush's approval rating ranged from 19%—the lowest ever[301]—to 34%.[19][302] and his disapproval rating stood at 69%.[17][18][19][20][303] Bush left the White House as one of the most unpopular American presidents, second in unpopularity only to Richard Nixon.[304][305]

In response to his poll numbers and "worst president" accusations,[306][307] Bush said, "I frankly don't give a damn about the polls.... To assume that historians can figure out the effect of the Bush administration before the Bush administration has ended is ... in my mind ... not an accurate reflection upon how history works."[308]

In 2006, 744 professional historians surveyed by New York-based liberal arts Siena College regarded Bush's presidency as follows: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%.[309] Thomas Kelly, professor emeritus of American studies at Siena College, said that "In this case, current public opinion polls actually seem to cut the President more slack than the experts do."[309] Similar outcomes were retrieved by two informal surveys done by the History News Network in 2004[310] and 2008.[311]

A March 13, 2008, poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported that 53% of Americans—a slim majority—believe that "the U.S. will ultimately succeed in achieving its goals" in Iraq.[312] That figure was up from 42% in September 2007 and the highest since 2006.[312]

Calls for Bush's impeachment were made, though most polls showed a plurality of Americans did not support the president's impeachment.[313] The reasoning behind impeachment usually centered on the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy,[314] the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq,[315] and alleged violations of the Geneva Conventions.[316] Representative Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, introduced 35 articles of impeachment on the floor of the House of Representatives against Bush on June 9, 2008, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that impeachment was "off the table".[317]

[edit] Foreign perceptions

Bush with President Pervez Musharraf of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in late 2006

Bush has been criticized internationally and targeted by the global anti-war and anti-globalization campaigns, particularly for his administration's foreign policy.[318][319] Views of him within the international community are more negative than previous American Presidents, with France largely opposed to what he advocated.[320]

Bush was described as having especially close personal relationships with Tony Blair and Vicente Fox, although formal relations were sometimes strained.[321][322][323] Other leaders, such as Afghan president Hamid Karzai,[324] Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni,[325] Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero,[326] and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez,[327] have openly criticized the president. Later in Bush's presidency, tensions arose between himself and Vladimir Putin, which has led to a cooling of their relationship.[328]

In 2006, a majority of respondents in 18 of 21 countries surveyed around the world were found to hold an unfavorable opinion of Bush. Respondents indicated that they judged his administration as negative for world security.[329][330] In 2007, the Pew Global Attitudes Project reported that during the Bush presidency, attitudes towards the United States and the American people became less favorable around the world.[331]

Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pope John Paul II during a visit to the Vatican, June 2004

A March 2007 survey of Arab opinion conducted by Zogby International and the University of Maryland found that Bush was the most disliked leader in the Arab world.[332]

The Pew Research Center's 2007 Global Attitudes poll found that out of 47 countries, a majority of respondents expressed "a lot of confidence" or "some confidence" in Bush in only nine countries: Israel, India, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, and Uganda.[333]

During a June 2007 visit to the predominantly Muslim[334] Eastern European nation of Albania, Bush was greeted enthusiastically. Albania has a population of 3.6 million, has troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the country's government is highly supportive of American foreign policy.[335] A huge image of the President now hangs in the middle of the capital city of Tirana flanked by Albanian and American flags.[336] The Bush administration's support for the independence of Albanian-majority Kosovo, while endearing him to the Albanians, has troubled U.S. relations with Serbia, leading to the February 2008 torching of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade.[337]

[edit] Post-presidency

George and Laura Bush wave to a crowd of 1000 at Andrews Air Force Base before their final departure to Texas, January 20, 2009

Following the inauguration of Barack Obama, Bush and his family boarded a presidential helicopter typically used as Marine One to travel to Andrews Air Force Base.[338] Bush, with his wife, then boarded an Air Force Boeing VC-25 for a flight to a homecoming celebration in Midland, Texas. Because he was no longer President, this flight was designated Special Air Mission 28000, instead of Air Force One. After a welcome rally in Midland, the Bushes returned to their ranch in Crawford, Texas, by helicopter.[338] They bought a home in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, where they planned to settle down.[339]

Since leaving office, Bush has kept a relatively low profile.[340] However, he has made appearances at various events throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, most notably when he conducted the opening coin toss at the Dallas Cowboys first game in the team's new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.[341] An April 6, 2009, visit to a Texas Rangers game, where he gave a speech thanking the people of Dallas for helping them settle in (and specifically, the people of Arlington, where the game was held), was met with a standing ovation.[342]

His first speaking engagement occurred on March 17, 2009, in Calgary, Alberta. He spoke at a private event entitled "A conversation with George W. Bush" at the Telus Convention Centre and stated that he would not criticize President Obama and hoped he succeeds, specifically stating, "[President Obama] deserves my silence."[343][344] During his speech, Bush announced that he had begun writing a book, which is expected to be published under the title Decision Points in 2010.[21] The book will focus on "12 difficult personal and political decisions" Bush faced during his presidency.[21] On May 29, 2009, Bush and former President Bill Clinton appeared at a policy discussion at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, moderated by Frank McKenna who was the former Canadian Ambassador to the United States.[345]

Bush made a video-taped appearance on the June 11, 2009, episode of The Colbert Report during the show's trip to Baghdad, Iraq. Bush praised the troops for earning a "special place in American history" and for their courage and endurance. He joked that it would come in handy, saying, "I've sat through Stephen's stuff before," in reference to Colbert's performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association dinner as well as The Colbert Report's history of criticizing Bush's administration.[346]

On August 29, 2009, Bush, with his wife Laura, attended the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy.[347] Bush made his debut as a motivational speaker on October 26 at the "Get Motivated" seminar in Dallas.[348]

In the aftermath of the shooting that took place on November 5, 2009, at the Fort Hood U.S. Army post in Texas, Fox News revealed that the former President and his wife had paid an undisclosed visit to the survivors and victims' families the day following the shooting, having contacted the base commander requesting that the visit be private and not involve press coverage.[349] The Bushes own a property less than 30 minutes from Fort Hood and spent one to two hours at the base.

In January 2010, at the request of President Obama, Bush and former President Bill Clinton established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to raise contributions for relief and recovery efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[350]

When asked in February 2010 about his isolation and low profile since leaving office, Bush replied "I have no desire to see myself on television... I don't want to be a panel of formers instructing the currents on what to do. ... I'm trying to regain a sense of anonymity. I didn't like it when a certain former president -- and it wasn't (George H.W. Bush) or (Bill Clinton) -- made my life miserable." Bush was referring to 39th President Jimmy Carter, who was an outspoken critic of President Bush throughout his presidency.[351]

On June 2, 2010, Bush established a Facebook page.[352]

Also on June 2, 2010, during a speaking engagement at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bush referred to the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, saying "I'd do it again to save lives."[353]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (July 6, 2009). "Bush Celebrates Easter at an Outdoor Service". New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2001. 
  2. ^ a b "The Jesus Factor". WGBH. PBS. Retrieved September 1, 2008. 
  3. ^ Cooperman, Alan (September 15, 2004). "Openly Religious, to a Point". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 1, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Life Portraits". American Presidents. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  5. ^ "Gore concedes presidential election". 
  6. ^ "$1.35 trillion tax cut becomes law". CNN. June 7, 2001. Retrieved October 21, 2007. 
  7. ^ "March 18, 2003 Presidential Letter". The White House. March 19, 2003. Retrieved September 1, 2008. ; Powell, Colin (February 5, 2003). "U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell Addresses the U.N. Security Council". The White House. Retrieved September 1, 2008. 
  8. ^ Associated Press (May 5, 2006). "Republican right abandoning Bush". MSNBC. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 
  9. ^ David Paul Kuhn and Jonathan Martin (June 20, 2007). "Republican candidates begin snubbing Bush". Politico. Retrieved May 11, 2008. 
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Bush aides
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Preceded by
Bill Clinton
President of the United States
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
Succeeded by
Barack Obama
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Ann Richards
Governor of Texas
January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000
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Rick Perry
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United Kingdom
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Former President of the United States
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Former President of the United States
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U.S. ambassadors while at their posts; otherwise
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