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Wikipedia: George W. Bush

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George Walker Bush
George W. Bush

43rd President of the United States
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 20, 2001
Vice President Richard “Dick” Bruce Cheney (2001-present)
Preceded by Bill Clinton

46th Governor of Texas
In office
January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000
Lieutenant Bob Bullock
Rick Perry
Preceded by Ann Richards
Succeeded by Rick Perry

Born July 6, 1946 (1946-07-06) (age 61)
New Haven, Connecticut
Political party Republican
Spouse Laura Bush
Children Barbara and Jenna Bush
Residence White House (official)
Crawford, Texas (private)
Alma mater Yale University
Harvard Business School
Occupation Businessman (oil, baseball)
Net Worth $8–21 million (USD)[1]
Religion United Methodist[2][3]
Signature George W. Bush's signature
Website The White House

George Walker Bush (IPA: /ʤɔɹʤ ˈwɔːkəɹ bʊʃ/; born July 6, 1946) is the forty-third and current President of the United States of America. He previously served as the forty-sixth Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 and is the eldest son of former United States President George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Bush. He was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2001 and his current term is scheduled to end at noon EST (17:00 UTC) on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.[4]

After graduating from college, Bush worked in his family’s oil businesses. In 1978, he made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House of Representatives. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before returning to politics in a campaign for Governor of Texas. He defeated Ann Richards and was elected Governor of Texas in 1994. Bush was elected to the Presidency in 2000 as the Republican candidate in a close and controversial contest, in which he lost the nationwide popular vote, but won the electoral vote.

Bush signed into law a $1.35 trillion tax cut program in 2001,[5] and in 2002 the No Child Left Behind Act. In October 2001, after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism and ordered an invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, destroy Al-Qaeda, and to capture Osama bin Laden. In March 2003, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, asserting that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that the war was necessary for the protection of the United States.[6] On May 1, 2003, Bush gave the Mission Accomplished speech aboard the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, proclaiming that “in the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”[7]

Running in the midst of the Iraq War,[8] Bush was re-elected on November 2, 2004;[9] his presidential campaign against Senator John Kerry was successful despite controversy over Bush’s execution of the Iraq War and domestic issues.[10] After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism and began losing support from his Republican base largely due to his stance on illegal immigration and government spending.[11][12][13] During his two terms he has had both the highest and the lowest domestic Gallup Poll approval ratings of American presidents, ranging from around 90 percent immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks, to 28% in the April of 2008.[14]

Childhood to mid-life

Main articles: Early life of George W. Bush and Professional life of George W. Bush

Born in New Haven, Connecticut on July 6, 1946, Bush was the first child of George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush (née Pierce). He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas, with his four siblings, Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died in 1953 at the age of three from leukemia.[15] Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, and his father served as U.S. President from 1989 to 1993.

During his 2000 presidential campaign, Vanity Fair magazine and The New York Times reported that, as a child, Bush had been rejected for admission by St. John’s School, a prestigious private school in Houston, Texas.[16] In the two years following, Bush attended The Kinkaid School, the private school from which St. John’s had broken away.[16] Bush would later attend Phillips Academy, his father’s alma mater. Ironically, Bush, then the Governor of Texas, served as the commencement speaker at St. John’s Academy in 1995.[17]

Lt. George W. Bush while in the National Guard

Lt. George W. Bush while in the National Guard

Bush attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball, and was the head cheerleader at the all-boys school during his senior year.[18] Following in his father’s footsteps, Bush attended Yale University, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in history in 1968.[19] As a college senior, Bush became a member of the secretive Skull and Bones society, although, by his own characterization, he was an average student.[20]

In May 1968, at the height of the ongoing Vietnam War, Bush was accepted into the Texas Air National Guard, despite scoring the lowest acceptable passing grade on the pilot’s written aptitude test.[21][22][23] This was at a time when more than ten thousand Air National Guard personnel, many fighter pilots, had been called to active duty to serve both in Vietnam, and in support of operations there.[24] After training, he was assigned to duty in Houston, flying Convair F-102s out of Ellington Air Force Base.[25] Critics have alleged that Bush was favorably treated during his time of service because of his father’s political standing and that he was irregular in attendance.[26] The United States Department of Defense has released all of the records of Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service, which remain in its official archives.[22] In 1970, Bush applied to the University of Texas School of Law, but was subsequently rejected.[27] He accepted a transfer to the Alabama Air National Guard in 1972 to work on a Republican senate campaign, and in October 1973 he was discharged from the Texas Air National Guard, almost eight months early, to attend Harvard Business School;[28] there, Bush completed his six-year service obligation in the inactive reserve.[29]

There are a number of accounts of substance abuse and otherwise disorderly conduct by Bush from this time.[30] Bush has admitted to drinking “too much” in those years and described this period of his life as his “nomadic” period of “irresponsible youth”.[31] On September 4, 1976, at the age of 30, Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) near his family’s summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He pled guilty, was fined US$150, and had his driver’s license suspended in Maine until 1978.[32]

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

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

Bush then attended Harvard University, where he earned his MBA,[33] and entered the oil industry in Texas not long afterward. In 1977, he was introduced by friends to Laura Welch, a schoolteacher and librarian. They married and settled in Midland, Texas. Bush left his family’s Episcopal Church to join his wife’s United Methodist Church.[2]

In 1978, Bush ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 19th Congressional District of Texas. His opponent, Kent Hance, portrayed him as being out of touch with rural Texans; Bush lost the election by 6,000 votes.[34] He returned to the oil industry, becoming a senior partner, or chief executive officer, of several ventures, such as Arbusto Energy,[35] Spectrum 7, and, later, Harken Energy.[36] These ventures suffered from the general decline of oil prices in the 1980s that had affected the industry and the regional economy. Additionally, questions of possible insider trading involving Harken have arisen, though the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) investigation of Bush concluded that he did not have enough insider information before his stock sale to warrant a case.[37]

Bush moved with his family to Washington, D.C. in 1988, to work on his father’s campaign for the U.S. presidency.[38] Returning to Texas after the successful campaign, Bush purchased a share in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in April 1989, where he served as managing general partner for five years.[39] He actively led the team’s projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans.[40] The sale of Bush’s shares in the Rangers in 1998 brought him over US$15 million from his initial US$800,000 investment.[41]

Elected positions

Governor of Texas

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

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

Bush declared his candidacy for the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election as his brother, Jeb, sought the governorship of Florida. Winning the Republican primary easily, Bush faced incumbent Governor Ann Richards, a popular Democrat who was considered the favorite.

Bush was aided by several political advisers, including Karen Hughes, Joe Allbaugh, and Karl Rove.

Richards had vetoed a bill allowing Texans to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. Bush pledged to sign it (and did so, after he won the election.)[42] Following an impressive performance in the debates, his popularity grew; he won the general election with 52 percent against Richards’ 47 percent.[43]

As governor, Bush successfully sponsored legislation for tort reform, increased education funding, set higher standards for schools, and reformed the criminal justice system. Bush used a budget surplus to push through a $2 billion tax-cut plan, the largest in Texas history, which cemented Bush’s credentials as a pro-business fiscal conservative.[43]

Bush also extended government funding and support for organizations that provide social services such as education, alcohol and drug abuse prevention, and reduction of domestic violence, so long as those organizations are religious. 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.”[44]

In 1998, Bush won re-election in a landslide victory with nearly 69 percent of the vote.[45] Within a year, he had decided to seek the Republican nomination for the presidency.

2000 Presidential candidacy

Main article: United States presidential election, 2000

In 2000, Bush sought his own bid for President of the United States while still Governor of Texas.

Primary

Bush’s campaign was managed by Rove, Hughes and Allbaugh, as well as by other political associates from Texas. He was endorsed by a majority of Republicans in 38 state legislatures. After winning the Iowa caucus, he lost to U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona in the New Hampshire primary. Bush then picked up eleven of the next sixteen primaries, effectively clinching the Republican nomination.

In the televised Republican presidential debate held in Des Moines, Iowa on December 13, 1999, all of the participating candidates were asked “What political philosopher or thinker do you most identify with and why?” Unlike most of the other candidates, who cited former presidents and other political figures, Bush responded, “Christ, because he changed my heart”. His appeal to religious values seems to have aided him in the general election. In a Gallup poll those who said they “attend church weekly” gave him 56% of their vote in 2000, and 63% of their vote in 2004.[46] During the election cycle, Bush labeled himself a “compassionate conservative”, and his political campaign promised to “restore honor and dignity to the White House,” a reference to the scandals and impeachment of his predecessor, Bill Clinton.[47]

General election

On July 25, 2000, Bush surprised some observers by asking the Halliburton corporation’s chief executive officer Dick Cheney, a former White House Chief of Staff, U.S. Representative, and Secretary of Defense, to be his Vice Presidential running mate. Cheney was then serving as head of Bush’s Vice-Presidential search committee.

While stressing his successful record as governor of Texas, Bush’s campaign criticized[48] the Democratic nominee, incumbent Vice President Al Gore, over gun control and taxation.

Bush won the 2000 election in a controversial victory. The closeness of the outcome, as well as reports of votes being miscounted, led to a recount in Florida. Two initial counts went to Bush, but that outcome was tied up in courts for a month until reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. On December 9, in the Bush v. Gore case, the Court reversed a Florida Supreme Court ruling ordering a third count, and stopped an ordered statewide hand recount based on the argument that the different standards that different counting procedures would have used violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The machine recount stated that Bush had won the Florida vote by a margin of 537 votes out of six million cast.[49] The famous episode pushed terms such as hanging chad into the popular lexicon.

Bush received 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266. However, he lost the popular vote by more than half a million votes,[49] making him one of a handful of presidents elected without at least a plurality of the popular vote.

2004 Presidential candidacy

Main article: United States presidential election, 2004
George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in 2004.

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 Rove.[50] Bush outlined an agenda that included a strong commitment to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act, making earlier tax cuts permanent, cutting the budget deficit in half, promoting education, as well as reform in tort law, reforming Social Security, and creation of an ownership society.

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, and claimed Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the war on terrorism. Bush carried 31 of 50 states for a total of 286 Electoral College votes.

Bush won an absolute majority of the popular vote, the first president to do so since his father in 1988.[51] In addition, it was the first time since Calvin Coolidge’s election in 1924 that a Republican president was elected, and the Republican Party maintained majorities in both houses of the Congress.

Presidency

Main articles: Presidency of George W. Bush, George W. Bush’s first term as President of the United States, George W. Bush’s second term as President of the United States, George W. Bush Cabinet, and Domestic policy of the George W. Bush administration
The Bush Cabinet
OFFICE NAME TERM
President George W. Bush 2001 – 
Vice President Dick Cheney 2001 – 
Secretary of State Colin Powell 2001 – 2005
Condoleezza Rice 2005 – 
Secretary of Treasury Paul O’Neill 2001 – 2002
John W. Snow 2003 – 2006
Henry Paulson 2006 – 
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 2001 – 2006
Robert Gates 2006 – 
Attorney General John Ashcroft 2001 – 2005
Alberto Gonzales 2005 – 2007
Michael Mukasey 2007 – 
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton 2001 – 2006
Dirk Kempthorne 2006 – 
Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman 2001 – 2005
Mike Johanns 2005 – 2007
Ed Schafer 2008 – 
Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans 2001 – 2005
Carlos Gutierrez 2005 – 
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao 2001 – 
Secretary of Health and
Human Services
Tommy Thompson 2001 – 2005
Michael Leavitt 2005 – 
Secretary of Education Rod Paige 2001 – 2005
Margaret Spellings 2005 – 
Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development
Mel Martinez 2001 – 2003
Alphonso Jackson 2003 – 2008
Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta 2001 – 2006
Mary Peters 2006 – 
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham 2001 – 2005
Samuel Bodman 2005 – 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi 2001 – 2005
Jim Nicholson 2005 – 2007
James Peake 2007 – 
Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge 2003 – 2005
Michael Chertoff 2005 – 
Chief of Staff Andrew Card 2001 – 2006
Joshua Bolten 2006 – 
Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency
Christine Todd Whitman 2001 – 2003
Michael Leavitt 2003 – 2005
Stephen L. Johnson 2005 – 
Director of the Office of
Management and Budget
Mitch Daniels 2001 – 2003
Joshua Bolten 2003 – 2006
Rob Portman 2006 – 2007
Jim Nussle 2007 – 
Director of the Office of
National Drug Control Policy
John Walters 2001 – 
United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick 2001 – 2005
Rob Portman 2005 – 2006
Susan Schwab 2006 – 

Domestic policy

Economic policy

Main article: Economic policy of the George W. Bush administration

Facing opposition in the Congress, Bush held town hall-style public meetings across the U.S. in 2001 to increase public support for his plan for a US$1.35 trillion tax cut program — one of the largest tax cuts in U.S. history. Bush and his economic advisers argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers. 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.[52] 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.[53]

Under the Bush Administration, Real GDP has grown at an average annual rate of 2.5 percent,[54] considerably below the average for business cycles from 1949 to 2000.[55][56] The Dow Jones Industrial Average has grown by about 30 percent since January 2001.[57] Unemployment rose from 4.2 percent in January 2001 to 6.3 percent in June 2003, dropping to 4.5 percent as of July 2007.[58] The on-budget deficit for 2006 was US$434 billion, a change from an US$86 billion surplus in 2000.[59] Inflation-adjusted median household income has been flat while the nation’s poverty rate has increased.[60] By August 23, 2007, the national debt had officially risen to US$8.98 trillion dollars; the national debt has increased US$3.25 trillion dollars since Bush took office.[61]

A survey done by the American Research Group showed that as of April 2008, 22% of Americans approved of President Bush’s effect on the economy and 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.[62]

Another significant part of the Bush economic plan was the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

Education and health

Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law.

Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law.

The No Child Left Behind Act 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. Critics argue that Bush has underfunded his own program, and Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy has claimed: “The tragedy is that these long-overdue reforms are finally in place, but the funds are not.”[63] Many educational experts have criticized these reforms, contending that NCLBA’s focus on “high stakes testing” and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive.[64] Bush 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. However, funding for NIH failed to keep up with inflation in 2004 and 2005, and was actually cut in 2006, the first such cut in 36 years.[65]

In 2007, Bush opposed and vetoed State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation which was tied 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.[66] 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 US$83,000 per year who would not have otherwise needed the help.[67]

Social services and Social Security

Bush promoted increased deregulation and investment options in social services, leading Republican efforts to pass the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare and created Health Savings Accounts, which would permit people to set aside a portion of their Medicare tax to build a “nest egg”. 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 US$400 billion over the first 10 years, would give the elderly “better choices and more control over their health care”.[68]

Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to reform Social Security, which was facing record deficit projections beginning in 2005. Bush made it the centerpiece of his agenda despite contrary beliefs in the media and in the U.S. Congress, which saw the program as the “third rail of politics,” with the American public being suspicious of any attempt to change it. It was also widely believed to be the province of the Democratic Party, with Republicans in the past having been accused of efforts to dismantle or privatize it. In his 2005 State of the Union Address, Bush discussed the allegedly impending bankruptcy of the program and attacked political inertia against reform. He proposed options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments, creating a “nest egg” that he claimed would enjoy steady growth. Despite emphasizing safeguards and remaining open to other plans, Bush’s proposal was criticized for its high cost, and Democrats attacked it as an effort to partially privatize the system, and for leaving Americans open to the whims of the market. Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning vigorously for his initiative in media events (“Conversations on Social Security”) in a largely unsuccessful attempt to gain support from the general public.[69] Despite energetic campaign by Bush to promote his Social Security reform plan, by May 2005 the public support for the Bush proposal declined substantially[70] and the House GOP leadership decided not to put Social Security reform on the priority list for the remainder of their 2005 legislative agenda.[71] The proposal’s legislative prospects were further diminished by the political fallout from the Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005.[72] In the run-up to the 2006 congressional elections, the Republican leadership in Congress put the hot-button issue of the Social Security reform on the back burner. No substantive legislative action was taken on this issue in 2006. After the Democrats took over control of both houses of Congress as a result of the 2006 mid-term elections, the prospects of any further congressional action on the Bush proposal appeared to be dead for the remainder of his term in office.

Environmental policy

Main article: Domestic policy of the George W. Bush administration#Environment

Upon arriving in office in 2001, Bush did not support the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change which seeks to impose mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Bush partially based this decision on the fact that the Senate had voted 95–0 in 1997 on a resolution expressing its disapproval of the protocol. Bush asserted he would not support it because the treaty exempted 80 percent of the world’s population[73] and would have cost the economy tens of billions of dollars per year,[74] and was based on his personal opinion regarding the uncertainty of the science of climate change.[75] The Bush Administration’s stance on global warming has remained controversial in the scientific and environmental communities during his presidency.

In 2002, Bush announced the Clear Skies Initiative,[76] aimed at amending the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution through the use of emissions trading programs. Critics contended that it would have weakened the original legislation by allowing higher levels of pollutants than were permitted at that time.[77] The initiative was introduced to Congress, but failed to make it out of committee.

In 2004, the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute, James Hansen, publicly and harshly accused the Administration of misinforming the public by suppressing the scientific evidence of the dangers of greenhouse gases, saying the Bush Administration wanted to hear only scientific results that “fit predetermined, inflexible positions” and edited reports to make the dangers sound less threatening in what he asserted was “direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science.”[78] Other experts, such as former United States Department of Energy official Joseph Romm, have decried the Bush administration as a “denier and delayer” of government action essential to reduce carbon emissions and deter global warming.[79] Bush had said that he has consistently noted that global warming is a serious problem, but asserted there is a “debate over whether it’s manmade or naturally caused”.[80] 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.[81]

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.[82] The move was hailed by conservationists for “its foresight and leadership in protecting this incredible area.”[83]

During his 2008 State of the Union Address Bush announced that the U.S. would commit US$2 billion over the next three years towards a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change. He declared that; “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.”

During the speech, Bush 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 that; “this agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride.”[84]

Stem cell research and first use of veto power

Federal funding for medical research involving the creation or destruction of human embryos through the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health has been forbidden by law since the Republican Revolution of 1995.[85] Bush has said that he supports stem cell research, but only to the extent that human embryos are not destroyed in order to harvest additional cells.[86] On August 9, 2001, Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 71 existing “lines” of stem cells,[87] but the ability of these existing lines to provide an adequate medium for testing has been questioned. Testing can only be done on 12 of the original lines, and all of the approved lines have been cultured in contact with mouse cells, which makes it highly unlikely the FDA would ever approve them for administration to humans.[88] 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.[89]

Immigration

In 2006, Bush shifted focus somewhat to re-emphasize immediate and comprehensive immigration reform. Going beyond calls from Republicans and conservatives to secure the border, Bush demanded that Congress create a “temporary guest-worker program” to allow more than 12 million illegal immigrants to obtain legal status. Bush continues to argue 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.

Bush urged Congress to provide additional funding for border security, and committed to deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the United States-Mexico border.[90] In May-June 2007 Bush strongly supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 which was written by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators with the active participation of the Bush administration.[91] 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 Green Card Lottery; and other measures.

A heated public debate followed, which resulted in a substantial rift within the Republican Party, with the majority of the conservative base opposing the bill because of its legalization or amnesty provisions.[92] The bill was finally defeated in the Senate on June 28, 2007, when a cloture motion failed on a 46-53 vote.[93] Bush was very disappointed at the defeat of one of his signature domestic initiatives.[94] The Bush administration later proposed a series of immigration enforcement measures that do not require a change in law.[95]

Civil liberties and treatment of detainees

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,[96] maintaining that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.[97] 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.[98] In August 2006, a U.S. district court judge ruled that the Terrorist Surveillance Program was unconstitutional,[99] but the decision was later reversed.[100] 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.[101]

On October 17, 2006 Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006,[102] a bill passed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld,[103] which allows the U.S. government the ability to prosecute unlawful enemy combatants by military commission rather than the 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.[102]

Hurricane Katrina

Main article: Political effects of Hurricane Katrina

One of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina, 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.[104]

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

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,[105] and in Mississippi and Alabama on August 28;[106] 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.[107] The eye of the hurricane made landfall on August 29, and New Orleans started to flood due to levee breaches; later that day, Bush declared that a major disaster existed in Louisiana,[108] officially authorizing FEMA to start using federal funds to help with the recovery effort. On August 30, Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff declared it “an incident of national significance,”[109] 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.[110] 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.”[111]

As the disaster in New Orleans intensified, Bush responded to mounting criticism by assuming full responsibility for the federal government’s failures in its handling of the emergency.[110] Criticisms of Bush focused on three main issues. First, leaders from both parties attacked the president for having appointed incompetent leaders to positions of power at FEMA, most notably Michael D. Brown,[112] who had worked for the Arabian Horse Association before commanding FEMA. Bush had praised the work of Brown just as weaknesses in the FEMA response were becoming obvious to the public. Second, many people argued that the inadequacy of the federal response was the result of the Iraq War and the demands it placed on the armed forces and the federal budget.[113] Third, in the days immediately following the disaster, Bush denied having received warnings about the possibility of floodwaters breaching the levees protecting New Orleans.[114] However, the presidential videoconference briefing of August 28 shows Max Mayfield warning the president that overflowing the levees was “obviously a very, very grave concern.”[115] Critics claimed that the president was misrepresenting his administration’s role in what they saw as a flawed response.

Critical views and public perception

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 March 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.

approve disapprove unsure Gallup/USA Today Bush public opinion polling from February 2001 to March 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 percent;[116] following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bush gained an approval rating of greater than 85 percent, maintaining 80–90 percent 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.[117] Additionally, critics have decried his frequent use of signing statements, contending that they are unconstitutional.[118] The decision of Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) the House Judiciary Chair to hold hearings on Bush’s use of “signing statements”, has been hailed by the president’s critics as a step towards impeachment.[119]

In the 2004 elections, 95–98 percent of the Republican electorate approved of him. This support waned, however, due mostly to Republicans’ growing frustration with Bush on the issues of spending and illegal immigration. Some Republican leaders began criticizing Bush on his policies in Iraq, Iran, and the Palestinian Territories.[120] Bush’s approval rating has been below the 50 percent mark in AP-Ipsos polling since December 2004.[121]

Polls conducted in 2006 showed an average of 37 percent approval ratings for Bush;[122] 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 percent,[121][123] which contributed to what Bush called the “thumping” of the Republican Party in the 2006 mid-term elections.[124] In the average of major polls Bush’s approval rating was, as of September 25, 2007, 33.8 percent.[125] In a Reuters poll of October 17, 2007, Bush received an approval rating of 24 percent,[126] the lowest point of his presidency, and the second lowest of any president in the last thirty five years, within the margin of error of Harry Truman’s all time record low presidential approval of 22 percent.[127] 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”[128]

Calls for the impeachment of Bush have been made by various groups and individuals, with their reasons usually centering on the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy,[129] the Bush administration’s justification for the war in Iraq,[130] and violations of the Geneva Conventions.[131] One poll taken immediately after Bush commuted Lewis Libby’s prison sentence asked whether the House of Representatives should begin impeachment proceedings against Bush; it found that while a plurality (46/45) of all adults were against, a plurality (46/44) of registered voters were in favor.[132]

Bush’s intellectual capacities have been questioned by the news media,[133] and by other politicians.[134] Detractors tended to cite the various linguistic errors made by Bush during his public speeches, which are colloquially known as Bushisms.[135]

Liberal activist and filmmaker Michael Moore released Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004, making a plethora of accusations against Bush, most notably using public sentiments following 9/11 for political purposes, financial connections between the Bush family and the prominent Saudi Arabian families such as the royal family and the bin Laden family, and lying about the cause for war in Iraq. In 2000 and again in 2004, Time magazine named George W. Bush as its Person of the Year, a title awarded to someone who, “for better or for worse, … has done the most to influence the events of the year.”[136] In 2006, Rolling Stone magazine featured an article by historian Sean Wilentz contending Bush is one of the worst presidents in American history.[137][138] Bush responded to that saying “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.”[128] In 2008, the History News Network conducted an unscientific poll among 109 professional historians. That poll found that, among those professional historians, 98% believe that the George W. Bush presidency is a failure, and that 61% believe it to be the worst in history.[139]

On November 14, 2007, Bush topped the annual Film Threat Frigid 50 list of Hollywood’s coldest people. He was cited because of the large number of hostile film and television programs that criticized his presidency, and because of the excess number of documentaries that called his domestic and foreign policy judgments into question. “With all due respect to Hollywood, the mighty W is as much a cinema celebrity as the next despotic tyrant,” said Film Threat, adding: “President George W. Bush has been a fixture on the big and small screens for the length of his historically tragic run.”[140]

By April 2008, Bush’s disapproval ratings were the highest ever recorded in the 70-year history of the Gallop poll for any president with 69% of those polls disapproving of the job Bush was doing as president and only 28% approving. This exceeded Harry Truman’s Korean War era record of 67%.[141]

Midterm dismissal of U.S. attorneys

Main article: Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy

During Bush’s second term, controversy arose over the Department of Justice’s unprecedented midterm dismissal of seven United States Attorneys.[142] The White House maintains the U.S. attorneys were fired for poor performance.[143] Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would later resign over the issue, along with other senior members of the Justice Department.[144][145] Although Congressional investigations have focused on whether the Department of Justice and the White House were using the U.S. Attorney positions for political advantage, no official findings have been released. Bush has claimed Executive Privilege for advisers Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten while testifying at these hearings.

On November 29, 2007, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (VT-D), stated that the Executive Privilege claim was strange considering “the President had no involvement in these firings.” Bush has maintained that all of his advisers are protected under a broad Executive Privilege protection to receive candid advice. Per his ruling as the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Leahy cited legal precedents that “Executive privilege, even when properly asserted, ‘is qualified, not absolute’ and ‘neither the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified presidential privilege.” Leahy asserts that the President’s use of Executive Privilege is invalid in this case. However, the President retains his claim of Executive Privilege for his advisers.[146][147] The House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for Miers and Bolten to testify about this matter, and Bush directed Miers and Bolten to not comply with those subpoenas. The Justice Department determined that the president’s order was legal.[148]

On March 10, 2008, the Congress filed a federal lawsuit to enforce those subpoenas.[149]

Foreign policy

Main article: Foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration
President Bush meets with Panamanian President Martín Torrijos.

President Bush meets with Panamanian President Martín Torrijos.

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

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

The Bush administration withdrew U.S. support for several international agreements, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) with Russia. It pursued a national missile defense which was previously barred by the ABM treaty and was never ratified by Congress.[150] 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 spy plane collided with a Chinese Air Force jet, leading to the detention of U.S. personnel. In 2003–2004, Bush authorized U.S. military intervention in Haiti and Liberia to protect U.S. interests.

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

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

Bush emphasized a careful approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Bush denounced Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat for alleged support of violence. However, he 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.

President George W. Bush, then-President of Mexico Vicente Fox and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper stand in front of

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

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 US$15 billion for this effort—US$3 billion per year for five years—but requested less in annual budgets.[151]

Bush condemned the attacks by militia forces on the people of Darfur, and denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide.[152] Bush said that an international peacekeeping presence was critical in Darfur, but opposed referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.

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, Bush visited India, leading to renewed ties between the two countries, particularly in areas of nuclear energy and counter-terrorism cooperation.[153] Midway through Bush’s second term, many analysts observed a retreat from his freedom and democracy agenda, highlighted in policy changes toward some oil-rich former Soviet republics in central Asia.[154]

Bush has voiced his staunch support for the independence of Kosovo. On June 10, 2007, he met with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and became the first president to visit Albania. He repeated his support for Kosovo’s independence: “At some point in time, sooner rather than later, you’ve got to say, ‘Enough is enough. Kosovo is independent.'”[155] On February 18, 2008, in response to Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence, Bush declared that “The Kosovars are now independent”.[156]

September 11, 2001

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

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

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

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.[157]

In a September 20, 2001 speech, Bush condemned Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and issued the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was operating, an ultimatum to “hand over the terrorists, or … share in their fate.”[158] Bush announced a global War on Terrorism, and after the Afghan Taliban regime was not forthcoming with Osama bin Laden, he ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime.[159]

War on Terror

Main article: War on Terrorism

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States by the al-Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden and the invasion of Afghanistan in response, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism in his January 29, 2002 State of the Union address and 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”.[160] The Bush Administration proceeded to assert a right and intention to engage in preemptive war, also called preventive war, in response to perceived threats.[161] 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.[162]

Some national leaders alleged abuse by U.S. troops and called for the U.S. to shut down detention centers in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Dissent from, and criticism of, Bush’s leadership in the War on Terror increased as the war in Iraq expanded.[163][164][165] 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 jihad movement was growing.[166][167]

Bush February 20, 2008 called Pakistani general election, 2008 a “part of the victory in the war on Terror” even though it effectively robbed a key Washington ally, Pervez Musharraf, of his authority over the nuclear-armed nation.[168]

Afghanistan

Main article: 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.

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. By December 2001, the UN had installed the Afghan Interim Authority chaired by Hamid Karzai.[169][170]

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.[171] 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 as of December 2007.

Despite the initial success in driving the Taliban from power in Kabul, by early 2003 the Taliban was regrouping, amassing new funds and recruits.[172] 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.[173][174][175]

Iraq

Main article: Iraq War

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”.[160][176] The question of whether the Bush Administration manipulated or exaggerated the threat and evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities or attempted to create a tie between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda attacks would eventually become a major point of criticism and controversy for the president.[177][178] 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 Iraq four days prior to the U.S. invasion, despite their requests for more time to complete their tasks.[179] 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.[180]

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.

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”.[181] The invasion of Iraq commenced on March 20, 2003 and the Iraqi military was quickly defeated. Kofi Annan, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as well as leaders of several nations made statements implying that the attack constituted a war crime.[182] The capital, Baghdad, fell on April 9, 2003. On May 1, 2003, Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq. The initial success of U.S. operations had increased his popularity, but the U.S. and allied forces faced a growing insurgency led by sectarian groups. As the situation deteriorated, Bush’s May 1, 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech would be criticized as premature.[183] The Bush Administration was also criticized in subsequent months following the report of the Iraq Survey Group, which did not find the large quantities of weapons that the regime was believed to possess. On December 14, 2005, Bush stated that “It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.”[184] Bush nevertheless continued to assert the war had been worthwhile and confirmed he would have made the same decision if he had known more.

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

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

Iraqi elections and a referendum to approve a constitution were held in January and December 2005. 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.[185] Bush’s policies regarding the war in Iraq met increasing criticism, with demands within the United States to set a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq. In 2006 a National Intelligence Estimate asserted that the Iraq war had increased Islamic radicalism and worsened the terror threat.[186] 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, he maintained he would not change the overall Iraq strategy.[187][188] On January 10, 2007 Bush addressed the U.S. about the situation in Iraq. In his speech he announced the surge of 21,500 more troops for Iraq, as well as a job program for Iraqis, more reconstruction proposals, and US$1.2 billion for these programs.[189] 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 from Iraq.[190]Five years after the invasion, Bush called the debate over the conflict “understandable” but insisted that a continued U.S. presence there is crucial.[191]

In March 2008 Bush praised the Iraqi government’s “bold decision” to launch the Battle of Basra (2008) against the Mahdi Army, and called it “a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq”.[192] He said he will carefully weigh recommendations from his commanders Gen. 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.[193]

North Korea

Main article: United States-North Korea relations

Bush publicly condemned Kim Jong-Il of North Korea, naming North Korea one of three states in an “axis of evil,” and saying that “[t]he United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”[160] Within months, “both countries had walked away from their respective commitments under the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of October 1994.”[194] North Korea’s October 9, 2006 detonation of a nuclear device further complicated Bush’s foreign policy, which centered for both terms of his presidency on “[preventing] the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world.”[160] Bush condemned North Korea’s claims, reaffirmed his commitment to “a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” and stated that “transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States,” for which North Korea would be held accountable.[195] On May 7, 2007, North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear reactors immediately pending the release of frozen funds held in a foreign bank account. This was a result of a series of three-way talks initiated by the United States and including China.[196] On September 2, 2007, North Korea agreed to disclose and dismantle all of its nuclear programs by the end of 2007.[197]

Syria

Bush has been supportive of expanding economic sanctions on Syria.[198] For example, under an executive order signed by Bush in June 2005, in early 2007 the U.S. Treasury Department ordered any American bank accounts of Syria’s Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Electronics Institute, and National Standards and Calibration Laboratory frozen, and prohibited Americans from doing business with them, because they were suspected of helping spread weapons of mass destruction.[199] Under separate executive orders signed by Bush in May 2004 and August 2007, in November 2007 Treasury froze the assets of two Lebanese and two Syrians, accusing them of activities to “undermine the legitimate political process in Lebanon.” Those designated included: Assaad Halim Hardan, a member of Lebanon’s parliament and chief of the Syrian Socialist National Party central political bureau; Wi’am Wahhab, a former member of Lebanon’s parliament; Hafiz Makhluf, a colonel and senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate and a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; and Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik, identified as a close adviser to Assad.[200]

Foreign perceptions

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

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

Bush has been criticized internationally, targeted by the global anti-war and anti-globalization campaigns particularly for his administration’s foreign policy. Bush’s policies were also the subject of heated criticism in the 2002 elections in Germany and the 2006 elections in Canada.[201][202] Bush was openly condemned by current and former international leaders such as Gerhard Schröder, Jean Chrétien, Mohammad Khatami, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Romano Prodi, Paul Martin, and particularly Hugo Chávez.[203] Later in Bush’s presidency, tensions arose between himself and Vladimir Putin, which has led to a cooling of their relationship.[204]

Bush has been described as having especially close personal relationships with Tony Blair and Vicente Fox, although formal relations are sometimes strained.[205][206][207]

Bush was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002[208][209] and in 2004,[210] although the nominations were viewed as having little chance of success.

In 2006, a majority of respondents in 18 of 21 countries surveyed around the world were found to hold an unfavorable opinion of Bush. Respondents indicated that they judged his administration as negative for world security.[211][212] A poll conducted in Britain named Bush the second largest threat to world peace after bin Laden, and over North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.[213] According to a poll taken in November 2006, Finns also believed that Bush was the most prominent threat to world peace after bin Laden, with Kim Jong-Il coming in third in the poll and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah tied for fourth.[214][dead link]

A March 2007 survey of Arab opinion conducted by Zogby International and the University of Maryland found that George W. 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.[215] According to a 2006 poll conducted by the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic studies, a majority of Iraqis believe that the U.S. has lost its global credibility as a result of Bush’s foreign policies.[216]

The Pew Research Center’s 2007 Global Attitudes poll found that out of 47 countries, only respondents from Israel and some sub-Saharan countries expressed a lot or some confidence in George W. Bush more than 50% of the time. Of European respondents surveyed, Italy and the Czech Republic expressed 30% or greater confidence in Bush.[217]

During a June 2007 visit to Albania Bush was greeted with a “rockstar reception” as the Albanian people cheered, shook his hands, and kissed his cheeks. Albanian prime minister, Sali Berisha commented that Bush “was [the] greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times.” The largely Islamic nation has troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan and the country’s government is highly supportive of American foreign policy.[218] A huge image of the President now hangs in the middle of the capital city of Tirana flanked by Albanian and American flags.[219] 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.[220]

Veto of waterboarding bill

On Saturday, March 8, 2008, Bush vetoed H.R. 2082, a bill that would have expanded Congressional oversight over the intelligence community and banned the use of waterboarding as well as other forms of harsh interrogation techniques. He said that “[t]he bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror.” The Army Field Manual prohibits waterboarding as a form of torture and “recognizes that harsh interrogation tactics elicit unreliable information.”[221]

Bush has consistently stated that the United States does not torture, but will not remove waterboarding from the available options to the CIA.[222][dead link] The CIA once considered certain techniques, such as waterboarding, Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and as such were considered legally permissible.[223] The CIA has admitted to use of waterboarding on certain key terrorist suspects and were given permission to do so from a memo from Attorney General. The Bush administration states that these enhanced interrogations have “provided critical information” to preserve American lives.[224][225]

Assassination attempt

On May 10, 2005, in Freedom Square, Tbilisi, Georgia, Vladimir Arutyunian threw a live hand grenade toward the podium where Bush was giving a speech and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was seated. 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, and was convicted and given a life sentence in January 2006.[226]

Supreme Court appointments

Main article: George W. Bush Supreme Court candidates

George W. Bush appointed the following justices to the Supreme Court:

  • John Glover Roberts, Jr. — appointed in 2005
  • Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. — appointed in 2006

Publication

In 1999 George W. Bush published a book entitled A Charge to Keep, co-written with Michael Herskowitz. Later editions have the subtitle ‘My Journey to the White House’.

Electoral history

Further information: Electoral history of George W. Bush

See also

  • List of Presidents of the United States
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