George W. Bush

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Template:Sprotected Template:Infobox PresidentGeorge Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States. Prior to his political career, he was an entrepreneur in the oil industry and served as the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Bush, a Republican, was elected 46th Governor of Texas in 1994 and was reelected in 1998. From there, he moved on to win the nomination of the Republican Party for the 2000 presidential race and ultimately defeated Democratic Vice President Al Gore in a particularly close and controversial general election. In 2004, Bush was elected to a second term, defeating Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Bush is a member of a prominent political family: his father, George H. W. Bush, served as U.S. President for four years and as Vice President for eight, his brother Jeb Bush is the current Governor of Florida, and his grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a United States Senator.

Contents

Education, military service, and early personal life

Main article: Early life of George W. Bush

The eldest son of former President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush (née Pierce), George Walker Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He identifies himself as a native of Texas, as his family moved there when he was about two years old. He was raised in Midland, Texas and Houston, Texas with his siblings Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. Another younger sister died in 1953 at age three from leukemia. [1]

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

After graduating from the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in June 1964, Bush returned to Connecticut and attended Yale University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1968. As a senior, Bush was a member of the secret Skull and Bones senior society. In May 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, he entered the Texas Air National Guard. He trained in the guard for two years, where he learned to fly. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in November 1970 on the recommendation of his commander Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. He served as an F-102 pilot until 1972.

In 1974, he obtained permission to end his six-year service obligation six months early in order to attend Harvard Business School, from which he earned his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in 1975; he is the first U.S. President to hold an MBA. After graduation, Bush returned to Texas to enter the oil business. Two years later, he married Laura Welch, a school librarian originally from Midland. They have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna Bush, born in 1981. Bush is the only U.S. President to be the father of twins.

Military service controversy

Main article: George W. Bush military service controversy
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George W. Bush in his National Guard uniform.

Bush's military service record has been a point of controversy, especially during the 2004 presidential election. Though no official copies of his records have been found, his critics have alleged that he skipped over a waiting list to receive a National Guard slot, was absent from duty from 1972 to 1973, and was suspended from flying after missing a required physical examination and drug screening. These specific issues came to light during the 2004 presidential campaign as a result of endeavors by the group Texans for Truth. Bush supporters claim that the surviving documentary evidence regarding Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, including pay records and the official honorable discharge papers, indicate that Bush served honorably. Bush opponents contend that many of the official records can no longer be found, and that the matter is at best ambiguous. Lacking documents that provide clear proof, the matter is likely to remain an unsettled issue for some of the president's opposition.

Substance abuse controversy

Main article: George W. Bush substance abuse controversy

On September 4, 1976, near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, police arrested Bush for driving under the influence of alcohol. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150, and had his driver's license suspended for 30 days within Maine [2] [3]. News of the arrest was published five days before the 2000 presidential election. Bush has described his days before his religious conversion in his 40s as his "nomadic" period of "irresponsible youth" and admitted to drinking "too much" in those years. He says he changed to a sober lifestyle shortly after waking up hung-over after his 40th birthday celebration. He attributed the change partly to a 1985 meeting with the Reverend Billy Graham, though by his own admission, he did still drink as recently as July 1986 [4].

Bush has stated he did not use illegal drugs at any time since 1979. An aide clarified this as being 1974.[5].

Religious beliefs and practices

After meeting evangelist Billy Graham in 1985, Bush became much more involved in Christian belief and practice. [6] During this period, he left the Bush family's Episcopalian faith to join his wife's United Methodist Church, a denomination that in part represents a more socially conservative worldview (see United Methodist Church "Diversity Within Methodist Beliefs"). It is worth noting, however, that the Bush family routinely attends services at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Bush is generally recognized as a born-again Christian.

In one of the televised debates in the 2000 Republican primaries, all participating candidates were asked to name their favorite philosopher. Bush responded by stating "Christ", because "he changed my heart".

During his Presidency, Bush has held festivals for non-Christian holidays such as Hanukkah and Ramadan on the White House calendar. [7][8]

Professional life

Business

Bush began his oil industry career in 1979 when he established Arbusto Energy, an oil and gas exploration company he financed with his education trust fund surplus and money from other investors, including Dorothy Bush, Lewis Lehrman, William Henry Draper III, Bill Gammell, and James R. Bath, the last of whom represented Salem bin Ladin, a half-brother and cousin of Osama bin Laden. In 1984, Bush sold the company, hurt in the wake of the 1979 energy crisis and renamed Bush Exploration Co., to Spectrum 7, another Texas oil and gas exploration firm. Under the terms of the sale, Bush became CEO (Chief Executive Officer). Spectrum 7 lost revenue and was merged into Harken Energy Corporation in 1986, with Bush becoming a director of Harken. This became known as the Harken Energy Scandal.

After working on his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign, Bush learned from fellow Yale alumnus William DeWitt, Jr., that family friend Eddie Chiles wanted to sell the Texas Rangers baseball franchise. In April 1989, Bush assembled a group of investors from his father's close friends, including fellow fraternity brother Roland W. Betts; the group bought an 86% share of the Rangers for $75 million. Bush received a 2% share by investing $606,302, of which $500,000 was a bank loan. Against the advice of his counsel, Bush repaid the loan by selling $848,000 worth of stock in Harken Energy. Harken reported significant financial losses within a year of this sale, triggering allegations of insider trading. On March 27, 1992, the Securities and Exchange Commission concluded that Bush had a "preexisting plan" to sell, that Bush had a "relatively limited role in Harken management", and that it had not seen evidence of insider trading. [9] [10] [11] [12]

As managing general partner of the Rangers, Bush assisted the team's media relations and the construction of a new stadium. [13] His public role generated valuable goodwill and reinforced name recognition throughout Texas that was already high as he had the identical name as his father who was President during this era. [14]

Political career

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Bush's official gubernatorial portrait, hanging in the Texas State Capitol.

Bush started his political career assisting his father's 1964 and 1970 campaigns for the U.S Senate, neither of which were successful. After a United States National Guard transfer in 1972, he served as political director for an Alabama senate campaign. In 1978, Bush ran for the U.S. House of Representatives but lost to a State Senator, Democrat Kent Hance (now Republican). Ronald Reagan endorsed Bush's opponent in the Republican primary.

In 1994, Bush ran for Governor of Texas against the popular incumbent, Democrat Ann Richards. On November 8, 1994, he defeated Richards by a margin of 53% to 46%. That same year, he and his partners sold the Texas Rangers, with Bush realizing a profit of more than $14 million. As Governor, Bush forged a legislative alliance with powerful Lt. Governor Bob Bullock, a longtime Democrat. In 1998 Bush went on to win re-election in a landslide victory with nearly 69% of the vote, becoming the first Texas governor to be elected for two consecutive four-year terms (before 1975, the gubernatorial term of office was two years). [15] During Bush's governorship, he undertook significant legislative changes in criminal justice, tort law, and school financing. Bush took a hard line on capital punishment and received much criticism from advocates who wanted to abolish the death penalty and also those who argued that there were tangible imperfections in the Texas legal system that required a more cautious approach to carrying out the death penalty. Under Bush, Texas's incarceration rate was 1014 inmates per 100,000 in 1999, the second-highest in the nation, owing mainly to lengthy sentences for drug offences. In September 1999, Bush signed the Advance Directives Act which allows a health care facility to discontinue life-sustaining treatment against the wishes of the patient ten days after giving notice. Bush's transformative agenda and family pedigree now provided an opportunity to advance his political career to the national level.

Presidential campaigns

2000 campaign

Template:Seemain Advisers convinced George W. Bush that 2000 would be the right time to run for president. He had more than enough money, and the Republican Party lacked any single strong candidate. Before he had even committed to the race, he was the clear favorite in the polls. During Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign, he declared himself a "compassionate conservative", a term coined by University of Texas professor Marvin Olasky. In the general election, Bush's political campaign promised to "restore honor and dignity to the White House" and pledged a huge tax cut intended to return a large part of the projected budget surplus back to the taxpayers. Among other issues, he also advocated allowing religious charity to participate in federally funded programs, promoting the use of education vouchers, supporting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, maintaining a balanced budget, and restructuring the United States armed forces.

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Al Gore greets President-elect Bush at the White House in late December of 2000.

Bush lost the New Hampshire primary to Senator John McCain of Arizona, but rebounded to capture 9 of 13 Super Tuesday states, effectively clinching the nomination. Bush then chose Dick Cheney, a former U.S. Representative and Secretary of Defense for Bush's father, as his running mate. After months of campaigning, election night, held November 7, 2000, turned out closer than anticipated. Television networks called the close race first for Gore, then for Bush, and finally declared that it was too close to call. Al Gore, who had conceded the election in a phone call to Bush, rescinded that concession less than one hour later. When the race was finally adjudicated, Bush was declared to have defeated Democratic candidate Vice President Al Gore, winning 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266, carrying 30 of the 50 states. Gore had received a plurality of the national popular vote of the roughly 105,000,000 votes cast, with Bush receiving 50,456,002 votes (47.9%) and Gore 50,999,897 (48.4%), but this fact is not relevant in deciding U.S. presidential elections. Notable third-party candidates included Green Party candidate Ralph Nader (2,695,696 votes/2.7%), Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, (449,895/0.4%), and Libertarian candidate Harry Browne (386,024 votes/0.4%).

The 2000 election was the first since Benjamin Harrison's 1888 election to produce a winner that did not receive a plurality of the popular vote. It was the first since Rutherford Hayes was elected in 1876 in which the Supreme Court affected the decision. The Florida vote count, which favored Bush in preliminary tallies, was contested over allegations of irregularities in the voting and tabulation processes. Allegations of confusing ballots, defective voting machines, faulty absentee ballots from the military, and the alleged illegal barring of many voters threw the process into chaos.

A series of court cases ensued over the legality of county-specific and statewide recounts. After machine and manual recounts in four counties, and with Bush still prevailing, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide manual recount of all counties. The U.S. Supreme Court, upon appeal from the Bush campaign (Bush v. Gore), overturned the decision and halted all recounts. After the ruling, Gore reinstated his concession. Several months later a group of newspapers commissioned a study of what would have happened had the Supreme Court allowed the statewide manual recount to continue. The researchers conducting the study concluded that, under the standard for assessing ballots in use during the actual count, Bush would still have won. However, other reasonable counting methods would have given the victory to Bush in four cases and Gore in four others.[16][17] Since the Supreme Court did not allow the recount to continue, no one knows what standard might have been prescribed by it, or by a lower court at its direction, had the recount been reinstated. In the final official count, Bush had won Florida by only 537 votes (2,912,790 for Bush to 2,912,253 for Gore) [18], earning the needed 25 electoral votes and the presidency. Bush was inaugurated January 20, 2001.

2004 campaign

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George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in 2004.
Main article: 2004 Presidential Election

In the 2004 election, Bush was able to win re-election against John Kerry, the Democratic candidate and senator from Massachusetts. Despite the fact that Kerry was a thrice-decorated hero in the Vietnam War, polls showed that Bush had convinced people he and his administration would be better able to protect the nation from another terrorist attack. Bush carried 31 of 50 states for 286 Electoral College votes. The highest voter turnout since 1968 gave him more popular votes than any previous presidential candidate (62,040,610 votes/50.7%). This was the first time since 1988 that a President received a popular majority. However, Bush's victory margin, in terms of absolute number of popular votes, was the smallest of any sitting president since Harry S. Truman in 1948. Also, Bush's win was, percentage-wise, the closest popular margin ever for a sitting president. Senator John Kerry carried 19 states and the District of Columbia, earning him 251 Electoral College votes (59,028,111 votes/48.3%). A faithless elector, pledged to Kerry, voted for Democratic Vice Presidential running mate, John Edwards, giving him one Electoral College vote. No other candidate won College votes. Notable third-party candidates included Independent Ralph Nader (463,653 votes / 0.4%), and Libertarian Michael Badnarik (397,265 votes/0.3%). Congress debated potential election irregularities, including allegations of voting irregularities in Ohio and electronic voting machine fraud. An offical challenge to the Ohio election was rejected by a vote of 1-74 by the Senate and 31-267 in the House.

Bush was inaugurated for his second term on January 20, 2005. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Bush's inaugural address centered mainly on a theme of spreading freedom and democracy around the world.

Important people in Bush's life and career

George W. Bush is a member of a prominent political family. His father, George H. W. Bush, served as U.S. President for one term and twice as Ronald Reagan's Vice President. His younger brother, Jeb Bush, is the current Governor of Florida. His grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a United States Senator. He also has two other younger brothers, Marvin Bush and Neil Bush, both businessmen. He and John Quincy Adams are the only sons of former Presidents to become President themselves.

Bush is very close to his wife Laura, his father George H. W. Bush, and his mother Barbara Bush. He is also close to his sister Dorothy Bush Koch and brother Marvin Bush. Loyalty to family is an important cornerstone of Bush's attitude to his family relationships, and despite some differences in policy and attitudes, and independence from each other, Bush and his brother Jeb Bush have worked closely to help each other's political career.

In his career, Bush values loyalty as the greatest asset, and has developed a close band of advisors deeply loyal to him. In his second term, he has elevated them from personal political jobs to top government positions.

Some of the closest and most trusted advisors to Bush in affairs of policy and politics are women. Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State was Bush's close confidant in the first term as National Security Advisor, and a Bush loyalist. Margaret Spellings was Bush's chief domestic policy advisor from his days as Governor of Texas, and now runs the U.S. Department of Education. Moreover, Karen Hughes was one of Bush's most trusted political advisors, playing important roles in all his campaigns from 1994 to 2004. She was briefly White House Counsel, and now is undersecretary of state for public diplomacy — responsible for the specific mission of improving America's image in the world, and particularly with Muslim countries. Harriet Miers was legal counsel and fiercely loyal to Bush in Texas and, since the beginning of Bush's second term, she has served as White House counsel. Bush nominated Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court on October 3, 2005 to replace retiring associate justice Sandra Day O'Connor, but Miers asked her nomination to be withdrawn 24 days later following criticism over her lack of judicial experience and inability to furnish prior written legal opinions to the Senate.

Karl Rove has played perhaps the greatest influence on Bush's life and career. Ever since meeting in 1972, Rove built Bush's political campaign machine when he decided to run for Texas's governorship in 1994, and was his closest political advisor. When elected President in 2001, Bush asked Rove to give up his direct mail business and join him full-time in Washington. Officially designated White House political advisor, Rove designed the political strategy to enact Bush's legislative agenda, and guide the political strategy on important national issues of both the White House and the Republican Party, with an eye towards the 2004 re-election campaign. After winning re-election Bush called Rove The Architect of his campaign, and Rove now serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President for domestic policy and national security. Rove is also responsible for the elevation of Bush loyalist Republicans like Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager and now Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Alberto Gonzales was the Governor's legal counsel in Texas, and later became Attorney General. He joined Bush in 2001 in Washington, and in 2005 he was appointed U.S. Attorney General. He is the first Hispanic American ever to head the U.S. Justice Department.

Presidency of the United States

Main articles: George W. Bush's first term as President of the United States & George W. Bush's second term as President of the United States
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Then-Prime Minister of the PA Mahmoud Abbas, United States President George W. Bush, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after reading statement to the press during the closing moments of the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, on June 4, 2003

First term

Bush's first 100 days were considered less bipartisan than he pledged during the campaign. His most controversial appointment was John Ashcroft as Attorney General. Democrats vigorously opposed Ashcroft for his strong, socially conservative positions on issues like abortion and capital punishment, though they eventually confirmed him. On his first day in office, Bush moved to block federal aid to foreign groups that offered counseling or any other assistance to women in obtaining abortions. Days later, he announced his commitment to channeling more federal aid to faith-based service organizations that critics feared would dissolve the traditional separation of church and state.

Republicans lost control of the Senate in June, when Vermont's James Jeffords quit the Republican party to become an independent, but not before five Senate Democrats crossed party lines to approve Bush's $1.35 billion tax cut. Less than three months later, however, the administration released budget projections that showed the projected budget surplus decreasing to nothing over the next years.

Political ideology

During the 2000 election campaign Bush started to use the phrase compassionate conservatism to describe his beliefs. Some conservatives have questioned Bush's commitment to traditional conservative ideals because of his willingness to incur large budget deficits by permitting substantial spending increases. Democrats and liberals have claimed that the prefixing of the word "conservative" with the adjective "compassionate" was less a new ideology and more a way of making conservatism seem palatable to independent and swing voters. In his 2005 inaugural address he outlined his vision of foreign policy and claimed plan for democracy promotion, National Security Strategy of the United States of America (pdf).

Executive power

An important element of Bush's presidency is its emphasis on the importance of executive powers and privileges. According to Bush and his supporters, the War on Terrorism requires a very strong executive with the ability to take various kinds of otherwise illegal covert actions against terrorists. For example, Bush repeatedly argued that the limits imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act over-restrict its ability to monitor terrorists electronically, and has pushed for statutory exemptions to those restrictions, including certain parts of the USA PATRIOT Act. The Bush administration threatened to veto two defense bills that included amendments by Senator John McCain that would limit the ability of the executive to authorize cruel inhuman and degrading treatment; Bush and his supporters argued that harsh treatment of detainees believed to be terrorists can be necessary to obtain information that would prevent terrorist attacks.[19] Administration lawyers like John Yoo have argued that the president has inherent authority to wage war as he sees fit, regardless of laws and treaties that may restrict that power.[20] Bush's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States appointee, John G. Roberts, considers the executive's power to be quite broad as well; in his decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, he wrote that Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to people detained in the War on Terrorism, thus authorizing secret military tribunals for suspected terrorists if Bush chose to use them. The administration has classified previously public information about the executive and written executive orders to block Freedom of Information Act requests and to keep old documents classified beyond their normal expiration date.[21] Bush's critics argue that unreviewable executive power risks abuse for political purposes, undermines civil liberties,[22] and that they are anti-democratic, immoral, and likely to cause resentment, as in the world's response to prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib[23]. Bush's supporters respond that broad powers in the War on Terrorism are necessary to prevent major attacks against the United States[24] and that the president has not abused these powers.[25]

Foreign policy and security

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Chief of Staff Andrew Card informs Bush of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks during a visit to a school in Florida.
Main article: Foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration

During his first presidential visit to Europe in June 2001, European leaders criticized Bush for his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce global warming. In 2002, Bush rejected the treaty as harmful to economic growth in the United States, stating: "My approach recognizes that economic growth is the solution, not the problem." [26] The administration also disputed the scientific basis of the treaty. [27] In November 2004, Russia ratified the treaty, meeting the quota of nations required to enforce it without ratification by the United States.

International leaders also criticized Bush for withdrawing support for the International Criminal Court soon after he assumed the presidency. Bush made the following comment: "I wouldn't join the International Criminal Court. It´s a body based in Hague where unaccountable judges and prosecution can pull our troops or diplomats for trial."

Bush's foreign policy campaign platform supported a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, especially Mexico, and reduced involvement in "nation-building" and other minor military engagements indirectly related to U.S. interests. However, after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks (9/11 attacks), the State Department focused primarily on the Middle East.

Terrorism

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

On September 11, 2001, the first foreign assault against the Continental United States since the War of 1812 was carried out by a terrorist organization known as Al Qaeda, which is arguably led by Osama bin Laden who had issued a Fatwah against the United States in 1997.

As a result of this, on October 7, 2001, the United States, with international support, launched a war against the Afghan Taliban regime, charged with harboring bin Laden. Subsequent nation-building efforts with the United Nations and Afghan president Hamid Karzai have had mixed results; bin Laden (as of 2005) is still at large. Democratic elections were held on October 9, 2004. Even though international observers called the elections "fairly democratic" at the "overall majority" of polling centers, 15 of the 18 presidential candidates nevertheless threatened to withdraw, alleging flawed registration and validation. [28]

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Days after taking office, Bush stated "I am going to go forward with... plans for a missile defense system."[29] To accomplish this deployment, Bush announced on May 1, 2001 his desire to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and deploy a missile defense system with the ability to shield against a limited attack by a rogue state. [30] The American Physical Society criticized this policy change, citing doubts about the system's effectiveness. [31] Bush argued this was justified as the treaty's Cold War benefits were no longer relevant. The official notification of withdrawal from the treaty was announced on 13 December 2001, citing the need to protect against terrorism. While there is past precedent for a President to cancel a treaty, most past cases have involved Congressional authorization. [32]

Terrorism was Bush´s main topic at the 2002 NATO Summit in Prague too, calling for restructuring the organization from Cold War and prepare it for new threats.

Iraq

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration promoted urgent action in Iraq, stating that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein once again had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), even though Hussein claimed to have destroyed all the chemical and biological weapons he had before 1991 (he used WMD on the Kurds in northern Iraq in 1988, when his chemical and biological weapons program was being covertly funded and supported, in part, by America and Britain) [33]. The theory Saddam had destroyed his WMD capability was asserted by former weapons inspector Scott Ritter [34] and the UN's former chief weapons inspector Hans Blix. [35] Bush also said that Hussein was a threat to U.S. security, destabilized the Middle East, inflamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and financed terrorists. CIA reports asserted that Saddam Hussein had tried to acquire nuclear material, had not properly accounted for Iraqi biological weapons and chemical weapons material in violation of U.N. sanctions, and that some Iraqi missiles had a range greater than allowed by the UN sanctions. It had been, since 1998, U.S. policy for the president to plan for the removal of Saddam Hussein by a law (the Iraq Liberation Act) passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate and later signed by President Bill Clinton. [36] [37]

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President Bush in the flight suit he wore for his controversial televised arrival on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Asserting that Saddam Hussein could provide terrorists with WMD, Bush urged the United Nations to enforce Iraqi disarmament mandates, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. On November 13, 2002, under UN Security Council Resolution 1441, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei led UN weapons inspectors in Iraq. Lapses in Iraqi cooperation triggered intense debate over the efficacy of inspections. UN inspection teams departed Iraq upon U.S. advisement given four days prior to full-scale hostilities. [38]

Secretary of State Colin Powell urged his colleagues in the Bush administration to avoid a war without clear UN approval. The Bush administration initially sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the military force pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter but, facing vigorous opposition from key nations including the public threat of an embarrassing French veto, dropped the bid for UN approval and, with a few other nations designated the "coalition of the willing", prepared for war. [39]

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President George W. Bush addresses sailors and the nation from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of San Diego, California, where he delivers his controversial Mission Accomplished! speech to declare victory and the end of major combat operations in Iraq, May 1, 2003.

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Military hostilities commenced on March 20, 2003 to preempt Iraqi WMD deployment and remove Hussein from power. Casus belli included Hussein's hindering weapons inspections, an alleged 1991 assassination attempt on Bush's father George H. W. Bush, breach of a 1991 ceasefire, and violation of numerous Security Council resolutions. Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan and other world leaders questioned the war's legality. Bush declared victory on May 1, 2003, but U.S. deployment and casualties have continued through 2005 despite the capture of Hussein, because of ongoing Iraqi insurgencies.

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On September 30, 2004, the U.S. Iraq Survey Group Final Report concluded, "ISG has not found evidence that Saddam Husayn (sic) possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but the available evidence from its investigation — including detainee interviews and document exploitation — leaves open the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq although not of a militarily significant capability." [40] The 9/11 Commission report found no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, although the report did conclude that Hussein's government was actively attempting to acquire technology that would allow Iraq to produce WMD as soon as U.N. sanctions were lifted. [41] In addition, the 9/11 commission found that despite contacts between Iraq and Al-Qaeda in 1996, "no collaborative relationship" emerged in regards to the attacks on 9/11. [42]

However, after the invasion al-Qaeda has used the war to great effect in its campaign. Most notably, it launched a coordinated string of attacks in Madrid (see March_11, 2004 Madrid attacks). Three days later a new Spanish government was elected, which immediately withdraw from Iraq. [43] Osama Bin Laden also openly announced that al-Qaeda will attack any country which supports the war in Iraq. [44]

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Immigration

Bush proposed an immigration bill that would have greatly expanded the use of guest worker visas. His proposal would match employers with foreign workers for a period up to six years; however, workers would not be eligible for permanent residency ("green cards") or citizenship. The bill is opposed by some Democratic Senators, including Barbara Boxer and Edward M. Kennedy.

Bush has also publicly stated he would like to tighten security at the U.S.-Mexico border, which includes speeding up the deportation process, building more jail cells to hold illegal immigrants, and installing more equipment and immigration officers at the border. He does agree with "increasing the number of annual green cards that can lead to citizenship" but does not support giving amnesty to those who are already in the country illegally, ceding that it would only serve as incentive for increased illegal immigration. [45]

HIV/AIDS

In the State of the Union message in January, 2003, Bush outlined a five-year strategy for global emergency AIDS relief. Bush requested $15 billion for this effort and Congress supported the president's proposal. The emergency relief effort is led by U.S. Ambassador Randall L. Tobias, the Global AIDS Coordinator at the Department of State. $9 billion is allocated for new programs in AIDS relief for 15 countries most affected by HIV/AIDS. Another $5 billion will go to continuing support of AIDS relief in 100 countries where the U.S. already has bilateral programs established. An additional $1 billion will go to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This budget represents more money contributed to fight AIDS globally than all other donor countries combined.

Trade

Bush's imposition of a tariff on imported steel and on Canadian softwood lumber was controversial in light of his advocacy of free market policies in other areas, and attracted criticism both from his fellow conservatives and from nations affected. The steel tariff was later rescinded under pressure from the World Trade Organization. The softwood lumber dispute is still ongoing.

Development assistance

The U.S. State Department and Agency for International Development (USAID) published a strategic plan for the 2004-2009 period. The principal aims are established in President Bush’s National Security Strategy: diplomacy, development and defense. President Bush's new policy would increase assistance by 50 percent for countries that take responsibility for their own development “by ruling justly, investing wisely in their people, and encouraging economic freedom.” Development assistance must also be aligned with U.S. foreign policy which means the USAID would support those “countries that are committed to democratic governance, open economies, and wise investment in their people’s education, health, and potential.” [46]

Domestic policy

Faith-based initiatives

In early 2001, Bush worked with Republicans and social conservatives in Congress to pass legislation changing the way the federal government regulated, taxed and funded charities and non-profit initiatives run by religious organizations. Although prior to the legislation it was possible for these organizations to receive federal assistance, the new legislation removed reporting requirements that required the organizations to separate their charitable functions from their religious functions. Bush also created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. [47]

Several organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized Bush's faith-based initiative program, arguing that it involves government entanglement with religion and favoritism to religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Diversity and civil rights

Bush is opposed to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, but supports the establishment of civil unions ("I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement" — ABC News October 26, 2004). He has endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would define marriage as being the union of one man and one woman. Bush reiterated his disagreement with the Republican Party platform that opposed civil unions, and said that the issue of civil unions should be left up to individual states. In his February 2, 2005, State of the Union address he repeated his support for the constitutional amendment.

Bush is the first Republican president to appoint an openly gay man to serve in his administration [48] (Scott Evertz as director of the Office of National AIDS Policy), and the first president to see one such (successful) appointment, that of openly gay Ambassador to Romania Michael E. Guest. Bush has claimed to support the executive order issued by President Bill Clinton banning employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but Scott Bloch, whom Bush chose as Special Counsel in 2003, does not feel he has the legal authority to enforce the ban. [49] During his 2000 campaign trail he met with the Log Cabin Republicans, a first for a Republican Presidential candidate. The organization endorsed him in 2000 but not in 2004.

According to a CNN exit poll, Bush's support from African-Americans increased during his presidency from 9% of the black vote in 2000 to 11% in 2004.[50] An increase in Ohio (from 9% to 16%[51], each ± about 5%) may have helped give the victory to Bush over Kerry.

Although Bush expressed appreciation for the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the selection of college applicants for purposes of diversity, his Administration filed briefs against it. Bush has said he opposes government sanctioned and enforced quotas and racial preferences, but that the private and public sector should be encouraged to reach out to accomplished minorities to increase employment diversity.

In August 2005, a report by the United States Commission on Civil Rights states that "the government fails to seriously consider race-neutral alternatives as the Constitution requires." [52] Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds explained, "Federal agencies do not independently evaluate, conduct research, collect data, or periodically review programs to determine whether race-neutral strategies will provide an adequate alternative to race-conscious programs." Civil rights groups have expressed concern that this report is an attack on affirmative action inconsistent with Grutter v. Bollinger.

In his first term, Bush appointed Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Powell was the first African-American man to serve in that position, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice: Rice became the first African-American woman to hold the post. In 2005, he appointed Alberto Gonzalez as the United States Attorney General, the first Hispanic to hold that position. In total, Bush has appointed more women and minorities to high-level positions within his administration than any other U.S. President.

Economy

During his first term, Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for three major tax cuts, which increased the standard income tax deduction for married couples, eliminated the estate tax, and reduced marginal tax rates. The cuts are currently scheduled to expire a decade after passage. Bush has asked Congress to make the tax cuts permanent. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the economy suffered from a recession that lasted from March 2001 to November 2001. Currently, the economy grew at a 4.3 percent pace in the third quarter of 2005, the best showing in more than a year. [53]

Federal spending in constant dollars increased under Bush by 26% in his first 4 and a half years. Non-defense spending increased 18% in that time. [54]

The tax cuts, recession, and increases in outlays all contributed to record budget deficits during the Bush administration. The annual deficit reached record current-dollar levels of $374 trillion in 2003 and $413 trillion in 2004. National debt, the cumulative total of yearly deficits, rose from $5.7 trillion (58% of GDP) to $7.9 trillion (68% of GDP) under Bush, as compared to the $2.7 trillion total debt owed when Ronald Reagan left office, which was 52% of the GDP.

According to the “baseline” forecast of federal revenue and spending by the Congressional Budget Office (in its January 2005 Baseline Budget Projections [55], the budget deficits will decrease over the next several years. In this projection the deficit will fall to 368 trillion (USD) in 2005, 261 trillion (USD) in 2007, and 207 trillion (USD) in 2009, with a small surplus by 2012. The CBO noted, however, that this projection “omits a significant amount of spending that will occur this year — and possibly for some time to come — for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other activities related to the global War on Terrorism.” The projection also assumes that the Bush tax cuts "will expire as scheduled on December 31, 2010". If, as Bush has urged, the tax cuts were to be extended, then "the budget outlook for 2015 would change from a surplus of 141 trillion (USD) to a deficit of 282 trillion (USD)".

Inflation under Bush has remained near historic lows at about 2-3% per year. The recession and a drop in some prices led to concern about deflation from mid-2001 to late-2003. More recently, high oil prices have caused concern about increasing inflation.

File:Unemployment2000-2005.jpg
Unemployment percentage, 2000–2005

Private employment (seasonally adjusted) originally decreased under Bush from 111,680,000 in December 2000 to 108,250,000 in mid-2003. The percentage drop in jobs was the largest since 1981-1983. The economy then added private jobs for 25 consecutive months from (July 2003 to August 2005), and the private employment seasonally adjusted numbers increased as of June 2005 when it reached 111,828,000. Considering population growth, that still represents a 4.6% decrease in employment since Bush took office. The administration and many economists have suggested that the growth in employment resulted from the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (JGTRRA), which President George W. Bush signed into law on May 27, 2003.[56]

File:US Poverty1973toPresent.jpg
Poverty Rate, 1973 to Present

The Current Population Survey (aka Household Survey) measures the percentage of the population that is employed and unemployed. The result can be multiplied by population estimates to get total employment estimates. This survey has the advantage over the Payroll survey in that it includes self-employed. The Household Survey is less accurate in producing total numbers (since it requires population estimates) and in that it samples many fewer people (60,000 households versus 400,000 business establishments). For better or worse, the Household Survey counts multiple jobs held by one person only once, and it includes government workers, farm workers, unpaid family workers, and workers absent without pay. The Household Survey indicates that the percentage of the population employed decreased from 64.4% in December 2000 and January 2001 to 62.1% in August and September of 2003. By August 2005, it had recovered only to 62.9%. In absolute numbers, this corresponds to a drop of 1.6 million jobs but an eventual net gain of 4.7 million jobs during the Bush administration. [57]

Under Bush, the seasonally adjusted Unemployment Rate based on the Household Survey started at 4.7% in January 2001, peaked at 6.2% in June 2003, and retreated to 4.9% in August 2005.

In September 2005, total private average weekly earnings in constant dollars as measured by the Payroll Survey dropped to their lowest level since July 1998. While Hurricane Katrina and associated price increases may have played a role, real earnings had decreased for seven of the prior eight months. Through 2002-2004, earnings had been slightly higher than when Bush came into office.

The rise in GDP since the recession was undergirded by substantial gains in labor productivity, in part due to layoffs of underutilized workers. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits. Under the Bush administration, productivity has grown by an average of 3.76 percent per year, the highest such average in ten years. [58]

While the GDP recovered from a recession that some claim Bush inherited from the previous administration,[59] poverty has since worsened according to the Census Bureau. The percent of the population below the poverty level increased in each of Bush's first four years, while it decreased for each of the prior seven years to an 11-year low. Although the poverty level increased the increase was still lower from 2000 to 2002 then it was from 1992 to 1997 (which reached a peak of 39.3% in 1993). In 2002 the poverty rate was 34.6% which was almost equal to the rate in 1998, which was 34.5%. Poverty was at 12.7% in 2004. [60]

Social Security

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Shortly after his second inauguration, Bush (here seen with a panel in Omaha, Nebraska) toured the nation to promote his proposal for Social Security (United States) personal accounts.
Main article: Social Security debate (United States)

Bush called for major changes in Social Security (United States), identifying the system's projected insolvency as a priority early in his second term. From January through April of 2005, he toured the country, stopping in over 50 cities across the nation warning of an impending "crisis". Initially, President Bush emphasized his proposal for personalized accounts would allow individual workers to invest a portion of their Social Security Tax (FICA) into secured investments. The main advantage of personal accounts within Social Security is to allow workers to own the money they place into retirement that cannot be taken away by political whims.

The left countered by noting this approach might actually worsen the imbalance between revenues and expenses that Bush pointed to as a looming problem. In addition, many Democrats opposed changes that they felt were turning Social Security into a welfare program that would be politically vulnerable. Portions of the Bush's bill exempting private companies from social security payments have led to complaints that Bush's plan was created to benefit private companies, and that it would turn Social Security into just another insurance program.

Health

File:PBAsigning.jpg
George W. Bush signing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, surrounded by senators and congressmen. (click on image for details)

In July of 2002, Bush cut off U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Bush claimed that the UNFPA supported forced abortions and sterilizations in the People's Republic of China. [61]

Bush signed the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare (United States), subsidized pharmaceutical corporations, and prohibited the Federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies. Bush said the law, estimated to cost 400,000,000,000 (USD) over the first 10 years, would give the elderly "better choices and more control over their health care". Seniors can buy a Medicare-approved discount card for $30 or less to help offset the increasing costs of prescription drugs. The legislation also adds prescription drug coverage to the federal health insurance program for the elderly, starting in 2006. The bill encourages insurance companies to offer private plans to millions of older Americans who now receive health care benefits under terms fixed by the government, an idea against which several Democrats have lashed out.

Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003, having declared his aim to "promote a culture of life". The law has not yet been enforced, having been ruled unconstitutional by three District Courts. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld one of these rulings. Enforcement of the law has been enjoined pending a Supreme Court review. The federal law would have prohibited Intact dilation and extraction procedures "in which the person performing the abortion partially vaginally delivers a living fetus before killing the fetus and completing the delivery". Several liberal and conservative critics alike feel that the law is merely a political gesture, as a fetus could technically be aborted inside of the womb and removed thereafter.

Education

In January of 2002, Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, with Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy as chief sponsor[62], which aims to close the achievement gap, measures student performance, provides options to parents with students in low-performing schools, and targets more federal funding to low-income schools. Critics (including John Kerry and the National Education Association) say schools were not given the resources to help meet new standards, although their argument is based on premise that authorization levels are spending promises instead of spending caps. Some state governments are refusing to implement provisions of the act as long as they are not adequately funded. [63] In January of 2005, USA Today reported that the United States Department of Education had paid $240,000 to African-American conservative political commentator Armstrong Williams "to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same." [64]

The House Education and Workforce Committee stated, "As a result of the No Child Left Behind Act, signed by Bush on January 8, 2002, the Federal government today is spending more money on elementary and High School (K-12) education than at any other time in the history of the United States". [65] Funding increases have to a large degree been offset at the state level by increased costs associated with implementing NCLB, as well as the impacts of the economic downturn on education budgets.

Science

On December 19, 2002, Bush signed into law H. R. 4664, far-reaching legislation to put the National Science Foundation (NSF) on a track to double its budget over five years and to create new mathematics and science education initiatives at both the pre-college and undergraduate level. [66] In the first three years of those five, the R&D budget has increased by fourteen percent. [67] [68] (PDF)

Bush opposes any new embryonic stem cell research, and has limited the federal funding of existing research. Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research was first approved under President Bill Clinton on January 19, 1999 [69], but no money was to be spent until the guidelines were published. The guidelines were released under Clinton on August 23, 2000. [70] They allowed use of unused frozen embryos. On August 9, 2001, before any funding was granted under these guidelines, Bush announced modifications to the guidelines to allow use of only existing stem cell lines. [71] While Bush claimed that more than 60 embryonic stem cell lines already existed from privately funded research, scientists in 2003 said there were only 11 usable lines, and in 2005 that all lines approved for Federal funding are contaminated and unusable. [72] Adult stem cell funding has not been restricted, and is supported by President Bush as a more viable means of research.

On January 14, 2004, Bush announced a major re-direction for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Known as the Vision for Space Exploration, it calls for the completion of the International Space Station by 2010 and the retirement of the space shuttle while developing a new spacecraft called the Crew Exploration Vehicle under the title Project Constellation. The CEV would be used to return American astronauts to the Moon by 2018, with the objective of establishing a permanent lunar base, and eventually sending future manned missions to Mars. [73] Although the plan was met with a largely tepid reception [74], the budget eventually passed with a few minor changes after the November elections. In January 2005 the White House released a new Space Transportation Policy fact sheet [75] (pdf), which outlined the administration's space policy in broad terms and tied the development of space transport capabilities to national security requirements.

On February 18, 2004, the scientific watchdog group the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report entitled Scientific Integrity in Policymaking. [76][77] Included was a statement "opposing the Bush administration's use of scientific advice." The report alleged that "the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important for our collective welfare" and "has suppressed or distorted the scientific analyses of federal agencies to bring these results in line with administration policy" to an extent that is "unprecedented." The report has been signed by over 7,000 scientists, including 49 Nobel laureates, 63 recipients of the National Medal of Science, 154 members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The White House has come under criticism for downplaying reports that link human activity and greenhouse gas emissions to climate change and that a White House official and former oil industry advocate, Philip Cooney, adjusted descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists. The White House has denied that Philip Cooney watered down reports. [78] In June 2005, State Department papers showed the administration thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, including the US stance on Kyoto. Input from the business lobby group Global Climate Coalition was also a factor. [79]

On August 1, 2005, Bush took a controversial stance favoring the teaching of Intelligent Design alongside evolution in science classes, saying, "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting — you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes." [80] Many academic institutions, such as the National Academy of Sciences, view teaching Intelligent Design in public schools as a grave mistake. [81] See: Creation-evolution controversy.

Environment

Bush signed the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002, authorizing the federal government to begin cleaning up pollution and contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes, as well as the Brownfields Legislation in 2002, accelerating the cleanup of abandoned industrial or brownfield sites.

Bush's environmental record has been attacked by most environmentalists, who charge that his policies cater to industry demands to weaken environmental protections. Environmental groups note that many Bush Administration officials, in addition to Bush and Cheney, have ties to the oil industry, automotive industry, and other groups that have fought against environmental protections. In December 2003, Bush signed legislation implementing key provisions of his Healthy Forests Initiative; environmental groups have charged that the plan is simply a giveaway to timber companies. Another subject of controversy is Bush's Clear Skies Initiative, which seeks to reduce air pollution through expansion of emissions trading.

Partially due to gas price hikes, Bush proposed tapping the oil reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a particularly sensitive ecosystem due to its arctic location. [82] (PDF) [83] Some claim that it is the last untouched wilderness left in the US, and that the majority of oil dug from the refuge will be sent to foreign countries, such as Japan, where larger profits can be made by domestic oil companies.

Bush has opposed the Kyoto Protocol to reduce the effect of global warming, saying it would harm the U.S. economy. Bush said it is unfairly strict on the U.S. while being unduly lenient with developing countries, especially China and India. Bush stated, "The world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is China. Yet, China was entirely exempted from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol." He has also questioned the science behind the global warming phenomenon, insisting that more research be done to determine its validity. [84]

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The position Bush has taken on climate change has shifted with a gradual increasing acceptance that global warming is a problem, and that it is partly caused by human activity. The United States has signed the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a pact that allows signatory countries to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions individually, but with no enforcement mechanism. Supporters of the pact see it as complementing the Kyoto Protocol whilst being more flexible Critics have said the pact will be ineffective without any enforcement measures. Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with 187 mayors from US towns and cities, have pledged to adopt Kyoto style legal limits on greenhouse gas emissions. [85]

Capital punishment

George W. Bush is a strong supporter of capital punishment. During his tenure as Governor of Texas, 152 people were executed in that state, maintaining its record as the leading state in executions. As President of the United States, he has continued in his support for capital punishment, including presiding over the first federal execution in decades, that of convicted terrorist Timothy McVeigh.

Administration

Main article: George W. Bush administration

Bush places a high value on personal loyalty and, as a result, his administration has high message discipline. He maintains a "hands-off" style of management that he believes prevents him from being tangled by intricacies that hinder sound decision-making. "I'm confident in my management style. I'm a delegator because I trust the people I've asked to join the team. I'm willing to delegate. That makes it easier to be President," he said in an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC in December of 2003. However, critics allege that Bush is willing to overlook mistakes [86][87] made by loyal subordinates, and that Bush has surrounded himself with "yes men". [88]

Bush's presidency has been characterized by a vigorous defense of executive privilege, evidenced in such acts as signing Executive Order 13233, which suspends the release of presidential papers, tight control of Congressional inquiries into White House officers such as in the 9/11 Commission's interviews with Condoleezza Rice, Bush and Richard B. Cheney, and the generally high-level of coordination between the White House, Congressional Republicans and Senate Republicans in both of Bush's terms. Many commentators have claimed that deference to executive privilege was one of the principal considerations Bush's administration considered when proposing John G. Roberts and Harriet E. Miers as candidates for the Supreme Court, and appointing John R. Bolton to the United Nations [89] [90].

Bush also has performed many of his presidential duties from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, dubbed "The Western White House". As of August 2, 2005, Bush had visited the ranch 49 times during his time as President, accruing 319 days away from the White House and nearly reaching Reagan's eight-year record of 335 days in 5.5 years. The administration has supported this trend, saying it helps the president get a different perspective from Beltway thinking and that he is still working (The administration noted that Bush's longest visit to Crawford, in August 2005, included only one week of actual respite in the five-week visit.)

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Cabinet

OFFICE NAME TERM
President George W. Bush 2001—
Vice President Richard B. Cheney 2001—
State Colin L. Powell 2001–2005
Condoleezza Rice 2005—
Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld 2001—
Treasury Paul H. O'Neill 2001–2003
John W. Snow 2003—
Justice John D. Ashcroft 2001–2005
Alberto R. Gonzales 2005—
Interior Gale A. Norton 2001—
Agriculture Ann M. Veneman 2001–2005
Mike Johanns 2005—
Commerce Donald L. Evans 2001–2005
Carlos M. Gutierrez 2005—
Labor Elaine L. Chao 2001—
HHS Tommy G. Thompson 2001–2005
Michael O. Leavitt 2005—
HUD Melquiades R. Martinez 2001–2003
Alphonso R. Jackson 2004—
Transportation Norman Y. Mineta 2001—
Energy E. Spencer Abraham 2001–2005
Samuel W. Bodman 2005—
Education Roderick R. Paige 2001–2005
Margaret Spellings 2005—
Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi 2001–2005
James Nicholson 2005—
Homeland Security Thomas J. Ridge 2003–2005
Michael Chertoff 2005—

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Supreme Court nominations

Bush nominated the following individuals to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States:

  • John G. Roberts, Jr. — Associate Justice. Nominated July 19, 2005; nomination withdrawn in order to nominate him to Chief Justice on 9/5/05
  • John G. Roberts, Jr. — Chief Justice. Nominated September 5, 2005; confirmed by the Senate on 9/29/05
  • Harriet E. Miers — Associate Justice. Nominated October 3, 2005; nomination withdrawn in accordance with Miers' request on 10/27/05.
  • Samuel Alito — Associate Justice. Nominated October 31, 2005; before the Senate as of November 27, 2005, with a vote scheduled for January 2006.

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Major legislation signed

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2001

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2002

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2003

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2004
2005

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Public perception and assessments

Bush has been the subject of both popular praise and scathing criticism. His supporters believe he has done well with the economy and homeland security, and shown exemplary leadership after the September 11 attacks. His opponents have disagreed on those very subjects and have also criticized the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, the controversial 2000 election, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The magazine TIME named Bush as its Person of the Year for 2000 and for 2004. This award is traditionally given to the person considered by the editors to be the most important newsmaker of the year.

Due to Bush's colorful mistakes when speaking, opponents coined a new term, "bushism", to describe the grammatical configuration unique to Bush. Bushisms have been widely popularized and archived across the Internet due to their humorous nature. In addition, he is often satirized as "Dubya", a stereotypical Texan pronunciation of the letter "W" which is Bush's middle name.

Domestic

File:Time 2004 poty.jpg
Bush as TIME Person of the Year for the 2nd time in 2004.
File:Bush approval ratings line graph.png
Bush approval rating from February 2001 to October 2005. Notable spikes in his approval rating followed the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the beginning of the 2003 Iraq conflict.

In the time of national crisis following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bush enjoyed approval ratings of greater than 85%. Since then, his approval ratings and approval of handling of domestic, economic, and foreign policy issues have steadily dropped. For a comprehensive look, one can see an image of polling trends over the course of Bush's presidency here.

In 2002, Bush had the highest approval rating of any president during a midterm congressional election since Dwight Eisenhower. In an unusual deviation from the historical trend of midterm elections, the Republican Party retook control of the Senate and added to its majority in the House of Representatives. Typically, the President's party loses congressional seats in the midterm elections; 2002 marked only the third midterm election since the Civil War that the party in control of the White House gained seats in both houses of Congress (others were 1902 and 1934).

In 2003, Bush's approval spiked upward at the time of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in February. The upward trend continued through the invasion of Iraq in March. By late 2003, when presidential opponents typically begin their campaigns in earnest, his approval numbers were in the low to middle 50s. Most polls tied the decline to growing concern over the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and a slow recovery from the 2001 recession. Polls of May 2004 showed anywhere from a 53% [93] to a 46 % approval rating. [94]

In the first year of Bush's second term, a poll taken by American Research Group from August 18 to 21, 2005, [95] showed that 36% approved of Bush's handling of his job as president (6% below the number in July), while 58% disapproved. This figure is lower than that of any modern president in his second term, including Nixon's approval rating of 39% during the Watergate scandal that eventually led to his resignation, though not lower than President Jimmy Carter's nadir of 17%. A concurrent Gallup Poll performed from August 28 to 30 showed a 45% approval and 52% disapproval rating. [96] A Zogby International poll of September 6-7, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, showed a 41% approval, an all-time low for Bush in Zogby's polling. The poll also showed his favorability ratings going below 50% for the first time as 49% saw him as favorable and 50% viewed him unfavorably. [97] A CBS News poll conducted on October 30 to November 1, 2005, showed that Bush's approval rating had dropped to 35%, his lowest as measured by CBS News. [98] Washington Post-ABC News polls on both October 29 and November 2, 2005 found Bush's approval level at 39%, his lowest as measured by this poll. [99] In the later part of 2005, Bush's approval rating began to rebound with positive news on the economy and the election of a permanent government in Iraq. A poll by Rasmussen reports show that Bush's approval rating is at 48% as of December 29, 2005. [100]

File:Bushreadingthepetgoat.jpg
Bush listens to children reading The Pet Goat during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. He was praised by some for not alarming the 30 schoolchildren in the classroom and criticized by others for not immediately leaving to take charge of an obvious crisis.

Hurricane Katrina

Main article: Criticism of government response to Hurricane Katrina

In the early hours of August 30, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the floodwalls protecting New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain broke, leading to widespread flooding. In the aftermath of this disaster, thousands of city residents, unable or unwilling to evacuate prior to the hurricane, became stranded with little or no relief for several days, resulting in lawless and unsanitary conditions in some areas. Blame for inept disaster response was partially attributed to state and local authorities, but public outcry in the disaster's early hours was largely directed at the Bush administration, mainly FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security alleging weak crisis management and coordination.

The criticism led to the resignation of FEMA director Michael Brown, and eventually, Bush himself accepted responsibility for what he deemed, "serious problems in the federal government's response" in a September 15, 2005 press conference. Currently, the administration is investigating itself, yet several politicians have called for either congressional or independent investigations, claiming that the federal government cannot satisfactorily investigate itself. [101] [102] [103] [104]

Leaks

Valerie Plame affair

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Main article: Plame affair

Various members of George W. Bush's White House team were alleged to play a role in what became known as the Plame affair or Plamegate. Valerie Plame, wife of retired ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, was identified as a CIA "operative on weapons of mass destruction" in a July 2003 column by well-known conservative pundit Robert Novak. Novak's column [105] was published only eight days after the publication of a New York Times op-ed [106] written by former ambassador Wilson, which was highly critical of the Bush administration's use of "unreliable" "yellowcake" documents as part of its justification for the Iraq War. An investigation into the leak led by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has so far brought five charges against Lewis Libby for perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice. As a result of these charges, Libby has stepped down from his post as Chief of Staff to the Vice President and advisor to the President in October, 2005. The investigation is still ongoing.

Secret CIA prisons

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Main article: Central Intelligence Agency#Secret CIA Prisons

The Bush administration took criticism for the response to the leak of secret CIA prisons in Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. [107] Republican Senator Lindsey O. Graham accused the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of shifting the focus of investigations from why these illegal prisons exist to how information of them was leaked to the public. Major newspapers also noted that Vice President Dick Cheney has urged Republican senators to allow CIA counterterrorism operations internationally to be exempt from the ban on mistreatment of prisoners.

NSA phone monitoring

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Main article: NSA warrantless surveillance controversy

"President Bush's decision to spy on Americans without judicial oversight was plainly illegal," Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office stated in a press release. In a speech about his instruction to the NSA not to obtain warrants, Bush expressed anger with The New York Times for publishing classified information, and said this action is needed for the war against terror. Gen. Michael V. Hayden said "purely domestic" intercepts weren't possible, however telecommunications experts said it would be impossible not to accidentally monitor "purely domestic" calls, and anonymous officials told the New York Times that "purely domestic" intercepts had, in fact, been made. NYT. In response to this, Senator Barbara Boxer and other lawmakers have raised the possibility of impeachment. John Dean, former Nixon counsel, stated that Bush had become "the first President to admit to an impeachable offense.” [108] after Bush's admission to having sanctioned 30 incidents of NSA wiretapping on Americans without obtaining a warrant. A poll by Rasmussen Reports on 28 December 2005 asked, "Should the National Security Agency be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States?" 64% said "yes," and 23% said "no."[109]

A poll by Rasmussen Reports on 10 December 2005 asked, "Should President Bush be impeached and removed from office?" 32% said "yes," and 58% said "no."[110] Earlier polls asked conditional versions of the impeachment question. For example, Zogby International on November 2, 2005 asked whether respondents agreed with the statement, "If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment." Americans agreed with this, 53% to 42%. [111]

Outside the United States

File:Schröder and Bush.jpg
Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and President Bush, 2001
File:Dailymirror.jpg
Coverage of Bush's re-election in 2004 by the British Daily Mirror. The Mirror has carried a number of front pages hostile to G.W. Bush, as have other European newspapers and magazines.

A survey conducted by Ipsos for the Associated Press in 2004 found that "just over half in Mexico and Italy had a negative view of Mr. Bush's role. In Britain, the closest U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, and in Canada, traditionally one of America's closest allies, two-thirds had a negative view...Three-quarters of those in Spain and more than 80% in France and Germany had a negative view of Mr. Bush's role in world affairs." [112] While those in the United States were evenly divided on whether the war has increased or decreased the terror threat, by far the majority of those sampled outside the United States believe that Bush's foreign policy decisions in the Iraq war have "increased the threat of terrorism in the world." [113]

In Islamic countries, Bush is even less favorable. In these countries, Bush's unfavorable ratings are particularly high, often over 90% [114], partly as a result of American foreign policy in the Middle East. Among the non-U.S. nations polled in another [115] worldwide poll by the CBC, Bush's popularity was highest in Israel, where 62% reported favorable views, however in the CBC poll, Israel was the only foreign country of ten polled that had a net favorable opinion of Bush. (Q2)

A 2005 poll conducted by the Canadian research company Globescan for the BBC across 22,000 people in 21 nations found that a majority of world opinion (58%) believed that George Bush's re-election would have a negative impact on their peace and security. Only 26% believed it would have a positive one. Public opinion in the Philippines and India showed strong majorities in favor of Bush. [116], but these were the only countries in favor. The same poll revealed that support for the Iraq occupation had dropped to 37% in Britain. In Turkey, 72% of those polled said that George Bush's re-election made them “feel worse about Americans". [117]

The U.K. Daily Mirror newspaper ran the following headline the day of Bush's reelection: “How Can 59,054,087 People Be So Dumb?” (see above), underlining the significance of Bush's unpopularity in the foreign press.

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See also

See Category:George W. Bush for more articles related to George W. Bush.

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Media

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References

Notes

Template:Anb The White House (2005). Biography of President George W. Bush. Retrieved June 21, 2005. "Owner, oil and gas business" "Partner, Texas Rangers Baseball Team" Template:Col-end

External links

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Official

Speeches

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ang:George W. Bush ar:جورج و. بوش bg:Джордж У. Буш zh-min-nan:George W. Bush bs:George W. Bush ca:George Walker Bush cs:George W. Bush cy:George W. Bush da:George W. Bush de:George W. Bush et:George W. Bush es:George Walker Bush eo:George W. BUSH fa:جرج و. بوش fr:George W. Bush ga:George W. Bush gl:George Walker Bush ko:조지 W. 부시 hr:George W. Bush io:George W. Bush id:George W. Bush is:George W. Bush it:George W. Bush he:ג'ורג' ווקר בוש kn:ಜಾರ್ಜ್ ಬುಷ್ ka:ბუში, ჯორჯ უოლკერ la:Georgius W. Bush lt:Džordžas V. Bušas li:George W. Bush ln:George Walker Bush hu:George W. Bush ms:George W. Bush nl:George Walker Bush nds:George W. Bush ja:ジョージ・ウォーカー・ブッシュ no:George W. Bush nn:George W. Bush pl:George W. Bush pt:George W. Bush ro:George W. Bush ru:Буш, Джордж Уокер sco:George W. Bush sq:George W. Bush scn:George W. Bush simple:George W. Bush sk:George W. Bush sl:George W. Bush sr:Џорџ В. Буш fi:George W. Bush sv:George W. Bush th:จอร์จ ดับเบิลยู. บุช vi:George W. Bush tpi:George Walker Bush tr:George W. Bush yi:דזשאָרדזש בוש zh:乔治•沃克•布什 so:George W. Bush

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