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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Who is George W. Bush?

George Walker Bush orn July 6, 1946) is the forty-third and current President of the United States. He served as the forty-sixth Governor of Texas from 1995 until 2000 before being sworn in as President on January 20, 2001. His term will end on January 20, 2009.[3]
Bush is the eldest son of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush. After graduating from Yale University, Bush worked in his family's oil businesses. He married Laura Welch in 1977 and unsuccessfully ran for the United States House of Representatives shortly thereafter. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before defeating Ann Richards to become Governor of Texas in 1994. In a close and controversial election, Bush was elected president in 2000 as the Republican candidate, receiving a majority of the electoral votes, but losing the popular vote.
Eight months into his first term as president, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred, and 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, President Bush has attempted to promote policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. He has enacted large tax cuts, the No Child Left Behind Act[4] and Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors, and his tenure has seen a national debate on immigration.[5]
Bush ran for re-election against Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004 and was re-elected, garnering 50.7% of the popular vote to his opponent's 48.3%.[6] After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism.[7][8][9] In 2005, the Bush administration was forced to deal with the perceived failures of its handling of Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, the U.S. economy entered its second recession under Bush, and his administration took a more firm hand with the economy, enacting multiple economic stimulus packages. Bush was a popular president for much of his first term, peaking after the September 11 terrorist attacks when he received the highest approval rating of any president in American history. His popularity declined sharply during his second term, when he received the lowest approval rating as well as the lowest sustained approval numbers in American history.[10][11][12][13]

Born in New Haven, Connecticut on July 6, 1946, Bush was the first child of George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush (born 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.[14] Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a Senator from Connecticut and his father served as U.S. President from 1989 to 1993.

Bush, as a child, was not accepted for admission by St. John's School in Houston, Texas, a prestigious private school.[15] Instead, he attended The Kinkaid School, the private school from which St. John's had broken away.[15][16]
Bush attended Phillips Academy, an all-boys private high school in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball and during his senior year was the head cheerleader.[17][18] Bush attended Yale University from 1964 to 1968, receiving a Bachelor's degree in history in 1968.[19] As a college senior, Bush became a member of the secretive Skull and Bones society.[20] He characterized himself as an average student.[21]
In 1970, Bush applied to, but was not accepted into, the University of Texas School of Law.[22] Beginning in the fall of 1973, Bush attended Harvard University, where he earned an MBA.[23]

In May 1968, Bush enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard.[24] After training, he was assigned to duty in Houston, flying Convair F-102s out of Ellington Air Force Base.[25] Critics allege that Bush was favorably treated due to his father's political standing, citing his selection as a pilot and his irregular attendance.[26] 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.[27]
In late 1972 and early 1973, he drilled with the Alabama Air National Guard, having moved to Memphis to work on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton M. Blount. In October 1973, Bush was discharged from the Texas Air National Guard and transferred to the Air Force inactive reserves. He was discharged from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974, at the end of his six-year service obligation.[28]

In 1977, he was introduced by friends at a backyard barbecue to Laura Welch, a schoolteacher and librarian. Bush proposed to her after a three-month courtship and they were married on November 5 of that year.[29] The couple settled in Midland, Texas. Bush left his family's Episcopal Church to join his wife's United Methodist Church.[1] In 1981, Laura Bush gave birth to twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara;[29] 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 accounts of alcohol abuse.[30] In one instance, he was arrested near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine for driving under the influence of alcohol at the age of thirty on September 4, 1976. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150 and had his Maine driver's license suspended until 1978.[31]
Bush says his wife has had a stabilizing effect on his private life,[29] and attributes to her influence his 1986 decision to give up alcohol.[32] 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."[29]

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.[33] He returned to the oil industry, and began a series of small, independent oil exploration companies.[34] He created Arbusto Energy,[35] and later changed the name to Bush Exploration. In 1984, his company merged with the larger Spectrum 7, and Bush became chairman.[34] The company was hurt by a decline in oil prices, and as a result, it folded into Harken Energy.[34][36] Bush served on the board of directors for Harken.[34] 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.[34][37]
Bush moved his family to Washington, D.C. in 1988 to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency.[38][39] He worked as a campaign adviser and served as liaison to the media;[34] he assisted his father by campaigning across the country.[34] 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.[40] He actively led the team's projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans.[41] The sale of Bush's shares in the Rangers in 1998 brought him over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment.[42]
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."[43] The prior month, Bush had been asked by his father to tell White House chief of staff John H. Sununu that he should resign.[44]

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.[34] Bush's campaign advisers were Karen Hughes, Joe Allbaugh, and Karl Rove.[45]
After easily winning the Republican primary, Bush faced popular Democratic incumbent Governor Ann Richards.[34][46] In the course of the campaign, Bush pledged to sign a bill allowing Texans to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. Governor Richards had vetoed the bill, but Bush signed it after he became governor.[47] 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."[48] The Atlantic, and others, connected the lesbian rumor to Karl Rove,[49] but Rove denied being involved.[50] Bush won the general election with 53.5 percent against Richards' 45.9 percent.[51]
Bush used a budget surplus to push through Texas's largest tax-cut ($2 billion).[45] He extended government funding for organizations providing education of the dangers of alcohol and drug use and abuse, and helping to reduce domestic violence.[citation needed]
In 1998, Bush won re-election with a record[34] 69 percent of the vote.[52] He became the first governor in Texas history to be elected to two consecutive four-year terms.[34] For most of Texas history, governors served two-year terms; a constitutional amendment extended those terms to four-years starting in 1975.[53] In his second term, Bush promoted faith-based organizations and enjoyed high approval ratings.[34] 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."[54]
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.[34]
Throughout Bush's first term, national attention focused on him as a potential future presidential candidate. Following his re-election, speculation soared.[34] Within a year, he decided to seek the Republican nomination for the presidency.

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. Along with Bush, that field of candidates consisted 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.[34] By early 2000, the race had centered on Bush and McCain.[34]
Bush won the Iowa caucuses, and although he was heavily favored to win the New Hampshire primary, he trailed John McCain by 19% and lost that primary.[55] However, the Bush campaign regained momentum and, according to political observers, effectively became the front runner after the South Carolina primary.[56] The South Carolina campaign was controversial for the use of telephone poll questions implying that McCain had fathered an illegitimate child with an African-American woman.[55]

George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally 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.[61] Bush and the Republican platform included a strong commitment to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,[62] support for the USA PATRIOT Act,[63] constitutional amendments banning abortion and same-sex marriage,[62] reforming Social Security to create private investment accounts,[62] creation of an ownership society,[62] and mandatory carbon emissions controls.[64] Bush also called for the implementation of a temporary guest-worker program for immigrants,[62] which was criticized by conservatives.[65]
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 war in Iraq, perceived excesses of the USA PATRIOT Act and for allegedly 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,[34] and claimed Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the war on terrorism.
Bush carried thirty-one of fifty states for a total of 286 electoral votes. He won an absolute majority of the popular vote (50.7% to his opponent's 48.3%).[66] The last President to win an absolute majority of the popular vote had been 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 congressional majorities in both Houses. Bush's 2.5% margin of victory was the narrowest for a victorious incumbent President up for re-election since Woodrow Wilson's 3.1% margin of victory against Charles Evans Hughes in 1916.

The Bush Cabinet Office Name Term
George W. Bush 2001–present
Vice President Dick Cheney 2001–present
Secretary of State Colin Powell 2001–2005
Condoleezza Rice 2005–present
Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill 2001–2002
John Snow 2003–2006

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.[34] 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."[34] 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.[67] 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.[68] By 2003, the economy showed signs of improvement though job growth remained stagnant.[34]
Under the Bush Administration, real GDP has grown at an average annual rate of 2.5 percent,[69] considerably below the average for business cycles from 1949 to 2000.[70][71] The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked in October 2007 at about 14,000, 30 percent above its level in January 2001, before the subsequent economic crisis wiped out all the gains and more.[72] Unemployment originally rose from 4.2 percent in January 2001 to 6.3 percent in June 2003, but subsequently dropped to 4.5 percent as of July 2007.[73] Inflation-adjusted median household income has been flat while the nation's poverty rate has increased.[74] By October 2008, due to increases in domestic and foreign spending,[75] the national debt had risen to $11.3 trillion,[76][77] an increase of over 100% from the start of the year 2000 when the debt was $5.6 trillion.[78][79] The perception of President Bush's effect on the economy is significantly affected by partisanship with 67% of Republicans and 1% of Democrats approving of his performance.[80]
In December 2007, the United States entered the second longest post World War II recession,[81] which included a housing market correction, a subprime mortgage crisis, soaring oil prices and a declining dollar value.[82] In February, 63,000 jobs were lost, a 5-year record.[83][84] To aid with the situation, Bush signed a $170 billion economic stimulus package which aimed 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,[85] 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.[86][87]
In September 2008, the crisis became much more serious. With the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac followed by the collapse of Lehman Brothers.[88] and a federal bailout of American International Group for $85 billion.[89]
Many economists and world governments determined that the situation became the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.[90][91] Additional regulation over the housing market would have been beneficial, according to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.[92] President Bush, meanwhile, proposed a financial rescue plan to buy back a large portion of the U.S. mortgage market.[93]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."[87]
In November 2008, over five hundred thousand jobs were lost. That marked the largest loss of jobs in the United States in 34 years.[94]

Since entering office, President Bush has undertaken a number of educational priorities. He increased funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in his first years of office, and created 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.[95]

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 was signed into law by President Bush in early 2002.[96] 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.[97] Critics argue that it is underfunded[98] and that NCLBA's focus on "high stakes testing" and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive.[99]
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.[100] 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 6 million to 10 million children. It was to be funded by an increase in the cigarette tax.[101] Bush viewed the legislation as a move toward the liberal platform of socialized health care, and claimed that the program could benefit families making as much as $83,000 per year who would not have otherwise needed the help.[102]

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.[103] 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 10 years, would give the elderly "better choices and more control over their health care".[104]

President 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,[105] 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.[105] 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,[105] personal Social Security accounts[105] and options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments. Despite emphasizing safeguards and remaining open to other plans, Democrats opposed the proposal to partially privatize the system.[105]
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.[106] Despite the energetic campaign, public support for the proposal declined[107] and the House Republican leadership decided not to put Social Security reform on the priority list for the remainder of their 2005 legislative agenda.[108] The proposal's legislative prospects were further diminished by the political fallout from the Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005.[109] 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 appeared to be dead for the remainder of his term in office.

Upon arriving in 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 percent of the world's population[110] and would have cost tens of billions of dollars per year.[111] 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,[112] 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.[113] The initiative was introduced to Congress, but failed to make it out of committee.

President George W. Bush with Vice President Dick Cheney addressing the media at the State Department, August 14, 2006
President Bush believes that global warming is real[114] and has noted that global warming is a serious problem, but he asserted there is a "debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused".[115] The Bush Administration's stance on global warming has remained controversial in the scientific and environmental communities. Many accusations have been made against the administration[116] for allegedly misinforming the public and not having done enough to reduce carbon emissions and deter global warming.[117]
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.[118] The move was hailed by conservationists for "its foresight and leadership in protecting this incredible area."[119]
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.[120] Amidst high gas prices in 2008, Bush lifted a ban on offshore drilling.[121] 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."[121] 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."[122]
In his 2008 State of the Union Address, Bush announced that the U.S. would commit $2 billion over the next three years towards 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 has 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."[123]

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.[124] Bush has said that he supports adult stem cell research and has supported Federal legislation that finances adult stem cell research. However Bush does not support embryonic stem cell research.[125] On August 9, 2001, Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 71 existing "lines" of stem cells,[126] 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 makes it unlikely the FDA would approve them for administration to humans.[127] 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.[128]

President Bush discusses border security near the El Paso, Texas, United States-Mexico border, November 2005
In 2006, going beyond calls from conservatives to secure the border, Bush demanded that Congress allow more than twelve million illegal immigrants to work in the United States with the creation of a "temporary guest-worker program." Bush does not support amnesty for illegal immigrants,[129] but argues 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 urged Congress to provide additional funds for border security, and committed to deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexico–United States border.[130] 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.[131] 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.[132]
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.[133] The bill was eventually defeated in the Senate on June 28, 2007, when a cloture motion failed on a 46-53 vote.[134] President Bush expressed disappointment upon the defeat of one of his signature domestic initiatives.[135] The Bush administration later proposed a series of immigration enforcement measures that do not require a change in law.[136]

Following the events of September 11, Bush issued an executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor communications between suspected terrorists outside the U.S. and parties within the U.S. without obtaining a warrant pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,[137] maintaining that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.[138] The program proved to be controversial, as critics of the administration, as well as organizations such as the American Bar Association, claimed it was illegal.[139] In August 2006, a U.S. district court judge ruled that the Terrorist Surveillance Program was unconstitutional,[140] but the decision was later reversed.[141] 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.[142]
On October 17, 2006 Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006,[143] a bill passed in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006),[144] which allows the U.S. government to prosecute unlawful enemy combatants by military commission rather than a standard trial. The bill also denies them access to habeas corpus and, while barring torture of detainees, allows the president to determine what constitutes torture.[143]
On March 8, 2008, Bush vetoed H.R. 2082,[145] a bill that would have expanded Congressional oversight over the intelligence community and banned the use of waterboarding as well as other forms of enhanced interrogation techniques, saying that "[t]he bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror."[146]
President Bush has consistently stated that the United States does not torture. Bush can authorize the CIA to use the simulated-drowning method under extraordinary circumstances.[147] The CIA once considered certain enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, legally permissible.[148] The CIA has exercised the technique on certain key terrorist suspects and were given permission to do so from a memo from the Attorney General. While the Army Field Manual argues "that harsh interrogation tactics elicit unreliable information",[148] the Bush administration states that these enhanced interrogations have "provided critical information" to preserve American lives.[149][150]

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.[151]

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,[152] and in Mississippi and Alabama the following day;[153] 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.[154] 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,[155] 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,"[156] 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.[157] 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."[158]
As the disaster in New Orleans intensified, critics claimed that the president was misrepresenting his administration's role in what they saw as a flawed response. Leaders attacked the president for having appointed perceived incompetent leaders to positions of power at FEMA, notably Michael D. Brown;[159] it was also argued that the federal response was limited as a result of the Iraq War[160] and President Bush himself did not act upon warnings of floods.[161][162][163] Bush responded to mounting criticism by accepting full responsibility for the federal government's failures in its handling of the emergency.[157]

During Bush's second term, a controversy arose over the Justice Department's midterm dismissal of seven United States Attorneys.[164] The White House maintains the U.S. attorneys were fired for poor performance.[165] Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would later resign over the issue, along with other senior members of the Justice Department.[166][167] 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.[168] In November 2007, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), stated that the executive privilege claim was strange considering "the President had no involvement in these firings."
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.[169] On July 31, 2008, a United States district court judge ruled that President Bush's top advisers are not immune from Congressional subpoenas.[170]

Main articles: Criticism of George W. Bush and Public perception of George W. Bush
See also: Movement to impeach George W. Bush and Fictionalized portrayals of George W. Bush

approve disapprove unsure Gallup/USA Today Bush public opinion polling from February 2001 to October 2008. 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.
Bush began his presidency with approval ratings near 50%.[171] Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bush gained an approval rating of greater than 85%, maintaining 80–90% approval for four months after the attacks. Since then, his approval ratings and approval of his handling of domestic and foreign policy issues have steadily dropped. Bush has 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 of terrorists or individuals suspected of involvement with terrorist groups, Scooter Libby/Plamegate, and Guantanamo Bay detainment camp controversies.[172]
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.[173] That figure is up from 42 percent in September 2007 and the highest it has been since 2006.[173]
In May 2004, Gallup reported that 89% of the Republican electorate approved of Bush.[174] This support has since waned, however, due mostly to a minority of Republicans' frustration with him on issues of spending, illegal immigration, and Middle Eastern affairs.[175] Within the United States Military, the president was strongly supported in the 2004 presidential elections.[176] When compared with Democratic challenger John Kerry, 73% of military personnel said that they would vote for Bush, versus 18% for Kerry.[176] 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 to prosecute the War in Iraq than Kerry.[176]

Bush's approval rating has been below the 50% mark in AP-Ipsos polling since December 2004.[177] Polls conducted in 2006 showed an average of 37% approval ratings for Bush;[178] the lowest for any second term president in this point of term since Harry S. Truman in March 1951, when his approval rating was 28%,[177][179] which contributed to what Bush called the "thumping" of the Republican Party in the 2006 mid-term elections.[180] Throughout 2007, Bush's approval rating hovered in the mid-thirties percentile,[181] although in a Reuters poll of October 17, 2007, Bush received a lower approval rating of 24%,[182] the lowest point of his presidency.[183] In response to the numbers, during a February 10, 2008 interview on Fox News Sunday Bush stated, "I frankly don't give a damn about the polls".[184] 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.[185] In September 2008, Bush's approval rating ranges from 19%[186] to 34% in polls performed by different agencies.[187]
In 2006, 744 professional historians surveyed by Siena College regarded Bush's presidency as follows: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%.[188] 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."[188] Similar outcomes were retrieved by two informal surveys done by the History News Network in 2004[189] and 2008.[190] The historian who organized the HNN polls said of the results: "It is in no sense a scientific sample of historians. The participants are self-selected, although participation was open to all historians. Among those who responded are several of the nation’s most respected historians, including Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winners."[190] In response to the "worst president" accusations,[191][192] Bush said, "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."[184]
Calls for Bush's impeachment have been made, though most polls have shown a plurality of Americans do not support impeachment.[193] The reasoning behind impeachment usually centers on the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy,[194] the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq,[195] and alleged violations of the Geneva Conventions.[196] Representative Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, introduced 35 articles of impeachment on the floor of the House of Representatives against President Bush on June 9, 2008, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that impeachment is "off the table".[197]
Bush's intellectual capacity has been satirized by the media,[198] comedians, and other politicians.[199] Detractors tended to cite linguistic errors made by Bush during his public speeches, which are colloquially termed as Bushisms.[200] Some publications refer to Bush as "The worst president ever."[201][202][203][204][205]
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 "for better or for worse,... has done the most to influence the events of the year."[206]

Foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration

President George W. Bush, then-President of Mexico Vicente Fox and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper stand in front of "El Castillo" in Chichen Itza, March 30, 2006
During his campaign for election as President, 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.[207] In response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush launched the War on Terror, in which the United States military and an international coalition invaded Afghanistan and later Iraq, which has in turn 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.
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, he visited India, leading to renewed ties between the two countries, particularly in areas of nuclear energy and counter-terrorism cooperation.[208] 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.[209]

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.[212] 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".[213] The Bush Administration proceeded to assert a right and intention to engage in preemptive war, also called preventive war, in response to perceived threats.[214] 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.[215]
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.[216][217][218] 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 celebre for jihadists" and that the jihad movement was growing.[219][220]

War in Afghanistan (2001–present)

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[221] but cautioned that the war would go on to continue weakening Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders.[221] Later that month the UN had installed the Afghan Interim Authority chaired by Hamid Karzai.[222][223]
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.[224] 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.[225] 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.[226][227][228] As a result, President Bush commissioned 3,500 additional troops to the country in March 2007.[229]

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.[213] 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.[230][231] Claims 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.[232][233]
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.[234] 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.[235]

President 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".[236] 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.[237] From 2004 through 2007, the situation in Iraq deteriorated further, with some observers arguing that the country was engaged in a full scale civil war.[238] 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,[239] he maintained he would not change the overall Iraq strategy.[240][241]

President 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 fifty years.[242] According to Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie, "This is the greatest day in the history of this country."[242] Bush praised the event as well, saying that the Iraqis "have taken rightful control of their country's destiny."[242] 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 were held in October 2005, supported by the majority Shiites and many Kurds.[243]
On January 10, 2007 Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office regarding the situation in Iraq. In his 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.[244] 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.[245] Five years after the invasion, Bush called the debate over the conflict "understandable" but insisted that a continued U.S. presence there is crucial.[246]
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".[247] He said he will carefully weigh recommendations from his commanders General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker about how to proceed after the military buildup ends 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, sets the stage for the Iraqi governorate elections, 2008.[248]
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.[249] Due to increased stability in Iraq, Bush announced the withdrawal of additional American forces, which reflected an emerging consensus between the White House and the Pentagon that the war has "turned a corner".[249] He also described what he saw as the success of the 2007 troop surge.[249]

President Bush with President Pervez Musharraf of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in late 2006
President Bush has been criticized internationally and targeted by the global anti-war and anti-globalization campaigns, particularly for his administration's foreign policy.[258][259] Views of him within the international community are more negative than previous American Presidents, with France[260] largely opposed to what he advocates and public opinion in Britain, an American ally since World War II, largely against him.[citation needed]
Bush was described as having especially close personal relationships with Tony Blair and Vicente Fox, although formal relations were sometimes strained.[261][262][263] Other leaders, such as Afghan president Hamid Karzai,[264] Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni,[265] Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero,[266] and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez,[267] 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.[268]
In 2006, a majority of respondents in 18 of 21 countries surveyed around the world were found to hold an unfavorable opinion of Bush, which is not to be confused with opinions toward the American people. Respondents indicated that they judged his administration as negative for world security.[269][270] In 2007, the Pew Global Attitudes Project reported that during the Bush presidency, attitudes towards the United States and the American people become less favorable around the world.[271]

President 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 is the most disliked leader in the Arab world. More than three times as many respondents registered their dislike for Bush as for the second most unpopular leader, Ariel Sharon.[272]
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.[273]
During a June 2007 visit to Albania Bush was greeted enthusiastically. The mostly Islamic Eastern European nation with 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.[274] A huge image of the President now hangs in the middle of the capital city of Tirana flanked by Albanian and American flags.[275] 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.[276]

On May 10, 2005, Vladimir Arutyunian 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.[277]

Bush, Mahmoud Abbas, and Ariel Sharon meet at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, June 4, 2003
President 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 alleged support of violence, but sponsored dialogs between prime ministers Ariel Sharon and 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 one of China's 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.
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—$3 billion per year for five years—but requested less in annual budgets.[278]
Bush condemned the attacks by militia forces on the people of Darfur, and denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide.[279] Bush said that an international peacekeeping presence was critical in Darfur, but opposed referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.
On June 10, 2007, he met with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and became the first president to visit Albania.[280] Bush has voiced his support for the independence of Kosovo.[281]
In 2002, Bush was the first American president to officially open a Winter Olympic Games. 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."[282] In 2008, in the course of a good-will trip to Asia, he attended the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.[283]

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, her name was 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. more

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