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George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946), was the 43rd President of the United States and former Governor of the State of Texas. A member of the Republican Party, before entering politics he was a businessman in both the oil industry and professional sports, serving as managing general partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. He is the second son of a former President to occupy the White House.

Bush was elected 46th Governor of Texas in 1994, defeating Ann Richards, and served two terms, moving on to win the nomination of the Republican Party in the 2000 presidential election, and defeating Vice President Al Gore of the Democratic Party in a particularly close and controversial general election. In 2001, Bush became the fourth president in U.S. history to take office after losing the popular vote. In 2004, Bush was elected to a second term, defeating Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

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

Education, military service and early personal life[edit]

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

George Walker Bush is the son of George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut but grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas, with siblings Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. (A younger sister, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three.) The family enjoyed the summers and most holidays at the Bush Compound in Maine.

Bush attended San Jacinto Junior High for seventh grade. He later moved to the Kinkaid School in Houston for two years. Afterward, like his father, Bush attended Phillips Academy (September 1961–June 1964) and later Yale University (September 1964–May 1968). At Yale, he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon (of which he was president from October 1965 until graduation) and the Skull and Bones secret society. (Bush's father George H. W. Bush (1948) and grandfather Prescott S. Bush (1917) were also members of Skull and Bones.) He was a C+ student, scoring 77% (with no As and one D, in astronomy) with a grade point average of 2.35 out of a possible 4.00. Bush has joked that he was known more for his social life than for his grades. [1] He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1968. Bush's grade issues were well publicized during the 2004 Presidential campaign, but it must be pointed out that his rival, John Kerry, had similar grades, with Bush actually scoring a overall grade point better.[[2]]

After graduating from Yale University, Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard on May 27, 1968, during the Vietnam War, with a commitment to serve until May 26, 1974. He was promoted to first lieutenant on the November 1970 recommendation of Texas Air National Guard commander Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. He served as an F-102 pilot until 1972.

George W. Bush in his National Guard uniform.

In September 1973, he received permission to end his six-year commitment six months early in order to attend Harvard Business School. He transferred to inactive reserve status shortly before being honorably discharged on October 1, 1973. [3](PDF)

It has been frequently alleged that Bush skipped over a waiting list to receive a National Guard slot, that he did not report for required duty from 1972 to 1973, and that he was suspended from flying after he failed to take a required physical examination and drug test. These issues were publicized during the 2004 Presidential campaign by the group Texans for Truth and other Bush critics. See George W. Bush military service controversy for details.

Bush entered Harvard Business School in 1973. He received a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 1975, and is the first U.S. president to hold an MBA.

On September 4, 1976, Bush was pulled over by police near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He was arrested for driving under the influence, admitted his guilt in the incident, was fined $150, and had his driving license suspended for 30 days within the state. [4], [5] News of the arrest was uncovered by the press five days before the 2000 presidential election. Bush has described his days before his religious conversion in his 40s as his "nomadic" period and "irresponsible youth" and admitted to drinking "too much" in those years. He says that he gave up drinking for good shortly after waking up with a hangover after his 40th birthday celebration: "I quit drinking in 1986 and haven't had a drop since then." He ascribed the change in part to a 1985 meeting with Reverend Billy Graham. [6], [7], [8]

Bush has said that he did not use illegal drugs at any time since 1974. [9] He has denied the allegation (Hatfield 1999) that family influence was used to expunge the record of an arrest for cocaine possession in 1972, but has declined to discuss whether he used drugs before 1974. [10] In taped recordings of a conversation with an old friend, author Doug Wead, Bush said: “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana question. You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.” When Wead reminded Bush that the latter had publicly denied using cocaine, Bush replied, "I haven't denied anything." [11], [12] See also George W. Bush substance abuse controversy.

Bush married Laura Welch in 1977. They have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna Bush, born in 1981.

Bush is 5 feet, 11 inches (180 cm) tall. His most common nickname is "Dubya", from the colloquial American pronunciation of his middle initial.

Religious beliefs and practices[edit]

After meeting with evangelist Billy Graham in 1985 [13] Bush became more involved in religion. It was also during this period that he left the Episcopal Church and joined his wife's denomination, the United Methodist Church, which was noted for its more conservative leanings. This decision reflected Bush's conversion experience during these years, prompting him to move towards a faith community that embraced a more conservative religious belief system.

Currently Bush is known for his private daily morning Bible study periods, and for the Thursday lunch Bible study meetings which he sponsors at the White House. While he invariably shies away from directly discussing the particulars of his faith, he is known to generally advocate conservative Christian religious values.

Business and early political career[edit]

In 1978, Bush ran for the U.S. House of Representatives but lost to a State Senator, Democrat Kent Hance. Ronald Reagan, at the time a former Governor of California, endorsed Bush's opponent in the Republican primary.

Bush began his career in the oil industry in 1979, when he established Arbusto Energy, an oil and gas exploration company he formed with leftover funds from his education trust fund and money from other investors. The 1979 energy crisis hurt Arbusto and, after a name change to Bush Exploration Co., Bush sold the company in 1984 to Spectrum 7, another Texas oil and gas exploration firm. Under the terms of the sale, Spectrum 7 made Bush its chief executive officer. Spectrum 7 lost revenue and was merged into Harken Energy Corporation in 1986, with Bush becoming a director of Harken.

File:GeorgeWBush.png
Official portrait of George W. Bush as Governor.

After working on his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign, he was told by a friend, William DeWitt, Jr., that another family friend, Eddie Chiles, wanted to sell the Texas Rangers, his Arlington-based Major League Baseball franchise. In April 1989, Bush assembled a group of investors from his father's close friends (including fellow fraternity brother Roland W. Betts); the group bought 86% of the Rangers for $75 million. (Bush later appointed one of these partners, Tom Schieffer, to the post of Ambassador to Australia.) Bush received a two percent share by investing $606,302, of which $500,000 was a bank loan. Bush paid off the loan by selling $848,000 worth of stock in Harken Energy in 1990. As Harken Energy reported significant financial losses within a year of this sale (as did much of the energy industry due to the recession of the early 1990s), the fact that Bush was advised by his own counsel not to sell his shares later fueled allegations of insider trading. See George W. Bush insider trading allegations for more information. The federal Securities and Exchange Commission concluded on March 27, 1992 by Assistant Director of the SEC Herb Janick that Bush had a "preexisting plan" to sell the Harken stock and that Bush had a "relatively limited role in Harken management" and that they did not believe insider trading took place. ([14], [15], [16], [17])

Bush served as managing general partner of the Rangers for five years. He was active in the team's media relations and in securing the construction of a new stadium, which opened in 1994 as The Ballpark in Arlington. [18] Bush's prominent role with the Rangers gave him valuable goodwill and name recognition throughout Texas. ([19])

File:Bushtexas.jpg
Bush's official gubernatorial portrait, hanging in the Texas State Capitol.

In 1994, Bush took a leave of absence from the Rangers to run for Governor of Texas against the popular incumbent, Democrat Ann Richards. On November 8, 1994, he defeated Richards, 53% to 46%. As Governor, Bush forged a legislative alliance with powerful Texas Lt. Governor Bob Bullock, a longtime Democrat. In 1998 Bush went on to win re-election in a landslide with close to 69% of the vote, becoming the first Texas governor to be elected for two consecutive four-year terms. [20] (Until 1975, Texas governors served two-year terms.) During Bush's terms as Governor, he undertook significant legislative changes in the areas of criminal justice, tort law, and school financing. Bush took a hard line on capital punishment, and received much criticism from advocates wanting to abolish the death penalty. Under Bush, Texas' incarceration rate was 1014 inmates per 100,000 state population in 1999, the second highest in the world (Louisiana was first at 1025 inmates), due mainly to the strict illegal drug laws enforcement in Texas. One of his accomplishments was the Texas Futile Care Law. Bush's transformative agenda, in combination with his political and family pedigree, catapulted him onto the national political radar. As the campaign to succeed Bill Clinton as president began in earnest, Bush emerged as a key figure.

Presidential campaigns[edit]

George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in 2004.

In Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign, he declared himself to be a "compassionate conservative". He campaigned on, among other issues, allowing religious charities to participate in federally funded programs, cutting taxes, promoting the use of education vouchers, supporting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, maintaining a balanced federal budget, and restructuring the armed forces. In foreign policy, he stated that he was against using the U.S. armed forces in nation building attempts abroad.

After winning the Republican nomination against his chief rival U.S. Senator John McCain, Bush faced Democratic candidate Vice President Al Gore. Bush won 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266, including the electoral votes of 30 of the 50 states. Neither candidate received a majority of the popular vote -- Bush received 47.9 percent; Gore, 48.4 percent -- but Gore received a plurality of about 540,000 more of the 105 million votes cast. Most of the votes that neither Bush nor Gore won went to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader (2,695,696 votes/2.7%), Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, (449,895/0.4%), and Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne (386,024 votes/0.4%).

It was the first presidential election since Benjamin Harrison was elected President in 1888 in which the winning candidate received fewer popular votes than his opponent. It was the first since Rutherford Hayes was elected in 1876 in which the winner of the electoral vote was in dispute and affected by a Supreme Court decision. The Florida totals, which favored Bush in the initial tallies, became hotly contested after concerns were raised about irregularities in the voting and tabulation processes. Al Gore, who had conceded the election in a phone call to Bush, rescinded that concession a few hours later.

A series of contentious court cases ensued regarding the legality of county-specific and statewide recounts. After machine and manual recounts in four counties, and with Bush still prevailing, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide manual recount of all counties. The Bush campaign appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which, in its mid-December decision in Bush v. Gore, overturned the decision and halted all recounts. (Critics have pointed out that a number of the justices were appointed by his father, contending that they should have recused themselves, although that position too was subject to much criticism.) Gore then conceded the election again.

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

In the final official count, Bush won Florida by 537 votes (2,912,790 for Bush to 2,912,253 for Gore)[21], giving him the state's 25 electoral votes and the presidency. See U.S. presidential election, 2000 and The 2000 Florida Ballot Project. Bush was inaugurated President on January 20, 2001.

In the 2004 election Bush won a second term, carrying 31 of 50 states for a total of 286 Electoral College votes. Bush also won a majority of the popular vote: 50.73% to Kerry's 48.27%. Bush's popular vote total, at 62 million, is the largest ever, with Kerry's total of 59 million being the second largest. Bush was the first presidential candidate since his father, George H.W. Bush in 1988 to receive a majority of the popular vote. As in the 2000 election, there were charges raised alleging voting irregularities, especially in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In 2004 they did not lead to recounts that were expected to affect the result. After a congressional electoral contest -- the second in American history -- failed, a lawsuit challenging the result in Ohio was withdrawn, because the congressional certification of the electoral votes had rendered the case moot.

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

"From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?" [22]

Presidency[edit]

Foreign policy and security[edit]

Bush poses with Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson and former European Union Commission President Romano Prodi at Gunnebo Slott near Gothenburg, Sweden on June 14, 2001.

During his first presidential visit to Europe in June 2001, Bush came under criticism from European leaders for his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol. In 2002, Bush came out strongly against the treaty as harmful to economic growth in the United States, stating: "My approach recognizes that economic growth is the solution, not the problem." [23] The administration also disputed the scientific basis for the treaty. [24] In November 2004, Russia ratified the treaty, giving it the required minimum of nations to put it into force without ratification by the United States.

[[Image:Bushreadingthepetgoat.jpg|left|thumb|200px|Bush listens to children reading The Pet Goat during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. He was praised by some for not alarming the schoolchildren, and criticized by others for his apparent nonchalance.]]

During his campaign, Bush's foreign policy platform included support of a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, especially Mexico, and a reduction in involvement in "nation-building" and other small-scale military engagements that were not directly related to U.S. interests. However, after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, the administration focused much more on foreign policy in the Middle East.

Nearly a month after the attacks, on October 7, 2001, the United States and its allies commenced aerial bombing and launched a war against Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, which the Bush Administration charged with harboring Osama bin Laden. This action had strong international support, and the Taliban government folded quickly after the invasion. Subsequent nation-building efforts in concert with the United Nations under Afghan president Hamid Karzai have had mixed results; bin Laden was not apprehended or killed, and (as of 2005) is still at large. A sizeable contingent of troops and advisors remains into 2005. See U.S. invasion of Afghanistan for details. Democratic elections were held on October 9, 2004. There were allegations of flawed registration and validation, and 15 of the 18 presidential candidates threatened to withdraw, but international observers called the elections "fairly democratic" at the "overall majority" of polling centers.

Bush addresses rescue workers at Ground Zero in New York, September 14, 2001: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

In the week following the attacks on the twin towers in Manhattan in September 2001, President Bush made a brief but celebrated speech near the site of the collapsed buildings while surrounded by site workers. CNN reported that "As he stood on a pile of rubble in Manhattan, some people in the crowd shouted they couldn't hear him." [25] In his speech he asserted that those who had carried out the attacks would soon be "hearing from all of us".

On December 14, 2001, Bush withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which had been a bedrock of U.S.-Soviet nuclear stability during the Cold War, arguing it was no longer relevant. Bush has since then focused resources on a ballistic missile defense system. The proposed system has been the subject of much scientific criticism. Field tests have been mixed, with both some successes and failures. It is scheduled to start deployment in 2005. A ballistic missile defense system will not stop cruise missiles, or missiles transported by boat or land vehicle. Hence, many critics of the system believe it is an expensive mistake, built for the least likely attack, a nuclear tipped ballistic missile. Bush has also increased spending on military research and development and the modernization of weapons systems, but cancelled programs such as the Crusader self-propelled artillery system. The administration also began initial research into bunker-busting nuclear missiles.

In July of 2002, Bush cut off all funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Bush claimed that the UNFPA supported forced abortions and sterilizations in China.

Iraq[edit]

Since the 1998 enactment of the Iraq Liberation Act, stated U.S. policy had been to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration argued that the situation in Iraq had now become urgent. The Administration believed Saddam Hussein was a threat to U.S. interests, destabilized the Middle East, inflamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and gave financial support to terrorists. While many members of previous U.S. administrations and other governments have come to agree with these assertions, another alleged motive given for the invasion of Iraq has been over the issue of petroleum, which has created further controversy.

A controversy has also arisen over evidence of Iraq's armaments presented during the buildup to war. Conflicting intelligence reports noted that Saddam's regime had tried to acquire nuclear material and the U.S. argued that it had not properly accounted for biological and chemical material that it was known to possess, potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in violation of U.N. sanctions. There is debate between supporters and opponents of the war about whether the U.S. had any evidence that Iraq possessed WMD and whether they had any evidence of ties between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. [26],[27] However, on September 30, 2004, the U.S. Iraq Survey Group Final Report concluded that, "ISG has not found evidence that Saddam Husayn (sic) possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but the available evidence from its investigation—including detainee interviews and document exploitation—leaves open the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq although not of a militarily significant capability." [28] (see Iraq and weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, for full coverage).

Bush contended that Saddam might deliver WMD to terrorists such as Al-Qaeda. Beginning in 2002 and escalating in spring 2003, Bush pressed the UN to act on its disarmament mandates to Iraq, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. He began by pushing for UN weapons inspections in Iraq, which the UN instituted under UN Security Council Resolution 1441. Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei led UN weapons inspectors in Iraq. There were occasional lapses in cooperation and limits on inspections set by the Iraqi government, leading to intense debate over the efficacy of inspections. Four days before the commencement of full-scale hostilities, the United States advised U.N. weapons inspectors to leave Iraq, and they departed the country. [29] After Saddam's capture, interrogators asked him, "If you had no weapons of mass destruction then why not let the U.N. inspectors into your facilities?" Saddam replied, "We didn’t want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy.". To date, no WMDs have been uncovered in Iraq.

Within the Bush administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell urged that the United States not go to war without clear UN approval. The administration examined the possibility of seeking an additional Security Council resolution to authorize the use of military force (pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter), but abandoned the idea in the face of opposition from the majority of Security Council members and the public threat of a veto from France (cf. The UN Security Council and the Iraq war). Instead, the United States assembled a group of about forty nations, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Poland, which Bush called the "coalition of the willing".

United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has declared he shares a close political relationship with the United States known as the "Special Relationship" was asked by several parts of the media and anti-war protesters in Britain to apologise for backing his friend Bush just prior to the 2005 UK General Election, he declined, saying "I can't say sorry, I have nothing to be sorry about, I believe I did the right thing".

The coalition invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, citing many Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq (1441, 1205, 1137, 1134, 1115, 1060, 949, 778, 715), the current and past lack of Iraqi cooperation with those resolutions, Saddam's intermittent refusal to co-operate with UN weapons inspectors, Saddam's alleged attempt to assassinate former president George Bush in Kuwait, and Saddam's violation of the 1991 cease fire agreement. The coalition argued that these resolutions authorized the use of force. Other world leaders, such as U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, disagreed and called the war illegal. The primary stated goal of the war was to stop Iraq from deploying and developing WMD by removing Saddam from power. See 2003 invasion of Iraq for full coverage.

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

The coalition was highly successful against the conventional Iraqi armed forces, and soon defeated the recognized Iraqi military. After the declared end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003, however, an insurgency caused substantially more problems than U.S. leaders had originally anticipated. The American public's support for Bush's handling of the Iraq War declined as an armed insurgency against coalition forces became more organized. A bipartisan intelligence review found no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, although the report did conclude that Hussein's government was actively attempting to acquire technology that would allow Iraq to produce WMD's as soon as U.N. sanctions were lifted. The report also concluded that Saddam's missiles had a range greater than that allowed by the UN sanctions. The report found "no collaborative relationship" between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda. Bush has defended his decision, arguing that "The world is safer today." [30] Other disputed issues have included questions about the biased selection and/or distortion of pre-war intelligence reports, democratization of the Middle East, relationship to the War on Terror, effect on the United States' relationship with European powers and on the role and function of the United Nations, debate over nation building, and the impact on nearby countries such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey.

The decision-making process of the Bush administration was the subject of a classified British document from July 22, 2002, known as the "Downing Street memo", which became public in May 2005. In it, the British Head of the Secret Intelligence Service, Sir Richard Dearlove, reported on his visit to Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2002:

There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

Some critics charged that the "Downing Street memo" was a "smoking gun", claiming it proved that Bush already committed to attacking Iraq at a time when he publicly stated that he had not yet made up his mind on the issue. The existence of this debate, however, does not negate the opposing contextual events which preceded it; Bush denied this aspect of the Downing Street memo and re-asserted that he had not yet made up his mind to go to war at the time in question. [31] Several political pundits claimed that the phrase "fixed around the policy" was ambiguous and did not insinuate that administration was cherry picking the evidence, rather it simply meant the administration was "preparing" the intelligence for presentation.

From June until October, 2002, there were long, protracted negotiations with members of the Security Council. The U.S. finally received a unanimous vote for U.N. Resolution 1441. Then, there were further negotiations to secure a second resolution culminating in Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. in February 2003. The information in the "Downing Street memo" does seem to fit the timeline for information gathering operations within the Bush Administration.

Military spending[edit]

Of the $2.4 trillion budgeted for 2005, about $401 billion [32] is planned to be spent on defense. Adjusted for inflation, this sum is the highest military budget since the late 1990s, but is roughly comparable to the average during the Cold War. [33]

Political ideology[edit]

Mahmoud Abbas, United States President George W. Bush, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after reading statement to the press during the closing moments of the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, June 4, 2003

Bush's political ideology is generally referred to as conservative or compassionate conservative, the latter being a term he has used to describe himself; conservatives have criticized Bush for his willingness to incur large budget deficits. In his 2005 inaugural address he outlined his new foreign policy set forth in the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (pdf). Supporters of Bush see this policy as a necessary rejection of "balance of power" politics and a redefinition of America's role in the international forum. Critics of Bush see it as a withdrawal of America from the international forum.

Bush's foreign policy is heavily influenced by the neo-conservative think tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC), as evidenced by the presence of PNAC founders Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld at the highest positions in his administration, and the fact that PNAC's Clinton-era position that "American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council"[34] that the President should the overthrow of Saddam Hussein without support of the United Nations, was subsequently implemented, over the objections of non-PNAC members of the National Security Council, in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Management style[edit]

Bush is famous for placing a high value on loyalty, and the result has been an administration with peerless message discipline. However, critics contend that Bush is willing to overlook mistakes[35][36] made by subordinates, as long as they are loyal, and that Bush has surrounded himself with yes men. [37]

President Bush maintains a "hands-off" style of management which he believes prevents him from being tangled by intracacies that hinder sound decision making. "I'm confident in my management style. I'm a delegator because I trust the people I've asked to join the team. I'm willing to delegate. That makes it easier to be president.", he said in an interview with Diane Sawyer in December 2003.

Bush also has done much of his presidential duties from his ranch in Crawford, Texas. As of August 4, 2005 he recorded his 51st visit, accruing 325 days away from the White House, nearly reaching Reagan's eight-year record of 335 days in 5.5 years[38]. Critics contend that he takes more vacation than any president in history, but officials respond that his longest visit to Crawford, in August 2005, included only one week of actual vacation in the five-week visit.

Domestic policy[edit]

Faith-based initiatives[edit]

In early 2001, Bush worked with Republicans and social conservatives in Congress to pass legislation changing the way the federal government regulated, taxed and funded charities and non-profit initiatives run by religious organizations. Although prior to the legislation it was possible for these organizations to receive federal assistance, the new legislation removed reporting requirements that required the organizations to separate their charitable functions from their religious functions. Bush also created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Several organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized Bush's faith-based initiative program, arguing that it involves government entanglement with religion and favoritism to religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Diversity and civil rights[edit]

Stop! The neutrality of this section is disputed.

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

Bush is the first Republican president to appoint an openly gay man to serve in his administration [39], and the first President in American history to see one such appointment, that of openly gay Former Ambassador to Romania, Michael E. Guest, receive Congressional confirmation. He has claimed to support the executive order issued by Bill Clinton banning employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but Scott Bloch, whom Bush chose as Special Counsel in 2003, does not feel he has the legal authority to enforce the ban [40]. During his 2000 campaign trail he met with the Log Cabin Republicans, a first for a Republican Presidential candidate. The organization endorsed him in 2000 but not in 2004.

Bush has gained a slight increase in support from African-Americans during his presidency. Although he only got 9% of the black vote in 2000, he received 12% in 2004. Some claim Bush has opposed most forms of affirmative action. Although Bush expressed appreciation for the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the selection of college applicants for purposes of diversity, his Administration filed briefs against it. Bush has met with the National Urban League as President, but has not yet met with the NAACP as a group since he became president, (though he did address the NAACP at its 2000 convention in Baltimore as a presidential candidate, and he met with outgoing NAACP President Kweisi Mfume on December 21, 2004).

In his first term, Bush appointed Colin Powell as Secretary of State, who became the first African-American man to serve in that position. He was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice in 2005, who became the first African-American woman to hold the post.

Economy[edit]

During his first term Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for three major tax cuts, which increased the standard income tax deduction for married couples, eliminated the estate tax, and reduced marginal tax rates, and are scheduled to expire a decade after passage. Bush has asked Congress to make the tax cuts permanent. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by 2003 these tax cuts had reduced total federal revenue, as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to the lowest level since 1959. [41]

The effect of the tax cuts and simultaneous increases in spending was to create record budget deficits. The annual deficit reached record current-dollar levels of $374 billion in 2003 and $413 billion in 2004, though as a percentage of GDP these deficits are lower than the post-World War II record set under the Reagan administration in the 1980s. [42], [43]

In an open letter to Bush in 2004, more than 100 professors of business and economics at U.S. business schools ascribed this "fiscal reversal" to Bush's "policy of slashing taxes - primarily for those at the upper reaches of the income distribution". [44] Bush's supporters have countered that, primarily because of the doubling of the value of the child tax credit, "7.8 million low and middle-income families had their entire income tax liabilities erased by the cuts." [45]

According to the "baseline" forecast of federal revenue and spending by the Congressional Budget Office (in its January 2005 Baseline Budget Projections, [46]), the trend of growing deficits under Bush's first term will become shrinking deficits in his second term. In this projection the deficit will fall to $368 billion in 2005, $261 billion in 2007, and $207 billion in 2009, with a small surplus by 2012. The CBO noted, however, that this projection "omits a significant amount of spending that will occur this year--and possibly for some time to come--for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other activities related to the global War on Terrorism." The projection also assumes that the Bush tax cuts "will expire as scheduled on December 31, 2010." If, as Bush has urged, the tax cuts were to be extended, then "the budget outlook for 2015 would change from a surplus of $141 billion to a deficit of $282 billion."

Inflation under Bush has remained low. The recession and a drop in some prices led to concern about deflation from mid-2001 to late-2003. More recently, high oil prices have caused concern about increasing inflation. So far, the economy has withstood these threats.

Unemployment percentage, 2000 - 2005

Private employment has decreased significantly under Bush according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After private employment (seasonally adjusted) peaked at 111,680,000 in December 2000, it dropped to 108,250,000 in mid-2003. The percentage drop in jobs was the largest since 1981-1983.

The economy has added jobs for 25 consecutive months, but the employment level remained below the pre-Bush level until June 2005 when it reached 111,828,000. Considering population growth, that still represents a 4.6% decrease in employment since Bush took office.

Unemployment levels under Bush started at 3.9% in December 2000, peaked at 6.3% in June 2003, retreated to 4.9% in August 2005, and appear to be generally declining.

The rise in GDP since the recession was undergirded by substantial gains in labor productivity, in part due to layoffs of underutilized workers. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.

Poverty Rate, 1973 to Present

While the GDP recovered from the recession early in Bush's term, poverty has since worsened under Bush according to the Census Bureau. The juxtaposition of increasing GDP and increasing poverty might be explained as a concentration of wealth in fewer hands. The percent of the population below the poverty level increased in each of Bush's first four years, while it decreased for each of the prior seven years to a 26-year low. At 12.7% in 2004, it is still lower than at any time during the Reagan and Bush I administrations.

Social security[edit]

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

Bush called for major changes in Social Security, identifying the issue as a priority early in his second term. From January through April 2005, he toured the country, stopping in over 50 cities across the union with an argument that there is a "crisis", a view disputed by critics as being manufactured. Initially, Bush emphasized his proposal for partial privatization, which would allow individual workers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts. The main idea behind this privatization of social security is to allow workers to actually own the money they place into retirement, as with the existing social security system, a person who passes on loses all benefits they paid for, and the benefits are non-transferable, even to family members.

One criticism of this approach was that it would actually worsen the imbalance between revenues and expenses that Bush pointed to as a looming problem. In addition, many Democrats opposed changes that they felt were turning Social Security into a welfare program that would be politically vulnerable. Some even claim that the point of Bush's plan is to benefit private companies, and that it would turn Social Security into just another insurance program.

Health[edit]

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

Bush signed the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare, subsidized pharmaceutical corporations, and prohibited the Federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies. President 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." Seniors can buy a Medicare-approved discount card for $30 or less to help offset the increasing costs of prescription drugs. The legislation also adds prescription drug coverage to the federal health insurance program for the elderly, starting in 2006. The bill encourages insurance companies to offer private plans to millions of older Americans who now receive health care benefits under terms fixed by the government, an idea against which several Democrats have lashed out.

Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003, having declared his aim to "promote a culture of life." The law never was enforced, having been ruled unconstitutional by three District Courts. One of these rulings has been upheld by an Appeals Court. The federal law would have prohibited Intact dilation and extraction procedures "in which the person performing the abortion partially vaginally delivers a living fetus before killing the fetus and completing the delivery". Several liberal and conservative critics alike feel that the law is merely a political gesture, as a fetus could technically be aborted inside of the womb and removed thereafter.

Education[edit]

In January of 2002, Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, with Senator Ted Kennedy as chief sponsor[47], which targets supporting early learning, measures student performance, gives options over failing schools, and ensures more resources for schools. Critics (including Senator Kerry and the National Education Association) say schools were not given the resources to help meet new standards, although the House Committee on Education and the Workforce said in June, 2003 that in three years under the Bush administration the Education Department's overall funding would have increased by $13.2 billion [48]. Some state governments are refusing to implement provisions of the act as long as they are not adequately funded.[49] In January of 2005, USA Today reported that the United States Department of Education had paid $240,000 to conservative political commentator Armstrong Williams "to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same." [50] Williams did not disclose the payments.

The House Education and Workforce Committee stated, "As a result of the No Child Left Behind Act, signed by President Bush on January 8, 2002, the federal government today is spending more money on elementary and secondary (K-12) education than at any other time in the history of the United States."[51]

Science[edit]

On December 19, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law H. R. 4664, far-reaching legislation to put the National Science Foundation (NSF) on a track to double its budget over five years and to create new mathematics and science education initiatives at both the pre-college and undergraduate level.[52]

Bush opposes, and has limited the funding of, embryonic stem cell research. Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research was first approved under Clinton on 19 January 1999 [53], but no money was to be spent until guidelines were published. The guidelines were released under Clinton on 23 August 2000. [54] They allowed use of unused frozen embryos. On August 9 2001, before any funding was granted under these guidelines, Bush announced modifications to the guidelines to allow use of only existing stem cell lines. [55] While Bush claimed that more than 60 embryonic stem cell lines already existed from privately-funded research, scientists in 2003 said there were only 11 usable lines, and in 2005 that all lines approved for Federal funding are contaminated and unusable. [56] Adult stem cell funding has not been restricted. Some scientists have repeatedly criticized the Bush administration for reducing funding for scientific research and setting restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. In February 2004, over 5,000 scientists (including 48 Nobel Prize winners) from the Union of Concerned Scientists signed a statement "opposing the Bush administration's use of scientific advice". They stated that "the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important for our collective welfare." [57] [58]

On January 14, 2004, Bush announced the largest financial increase to NASA, Vision for Space Exploration, calling for a return to the Moon by 2020, the completion of the International Space Station by 2010 and eventually sending astronauts to Mars. [59]. Although the plan was met with a largely tepid reception ([60]), the budget eventually passed with a few minor changes after the November elections. In January 2005 the White House released a new Space Transportation Policy fact sheet which outlined the administration's space policy in broad terms and tied the development of space transport capabilities to national security requirements.

In August 2005, Bush took a controversial stance on the teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in science classes, which critics contend amounts to the insertion of religion into science classes (see Evolution and creationism debate) Intelligent design is also claimed by some to be unsuitable for science class because it has not found acceptance in the science mainstream.

Environment[edit]

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

Bush's environmental record has been attacked by most environmentalists, who charge that his policies cater to industry demands to weaken environmental protections. Environmental groups note that many Bush Administration officials, in addition to Bush and Cheney, have ties to the energy industry, automotive industry, and other groups that have fought against environmental protections. In December 2003, Bush signed legislation implementing key provisions of his Healthy Forests Initiative; environmental groups have charged that the plan is simply a giveaway to timber companies. Another subject of controversy is Bush's Clear Skies Initiative, which seeks to reduce air pollution through expansion of cap-and-trade programs. Opponents say that instead of reducing air pollution, the initiative will allow utilities to pollute more than they do currently.

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

Bush has opposed the Kyoto Protocol saying it would harm the U.S. economy. Bush said it is unfairly strict on the U.S. while being unduly lenient with developing countries, especially China and India. Bush stated, "The world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is China. Yet, China was entirely exempted from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol." He has also questioned the science behind the global warming phenomenon, insisting that more research be done to determine its validity.[61] (See America's Kyoto protocol position.)

Immigration[edit]

Bush proposed an immigration bill that would have greatly expanded the use of guest worker visas. His proposal would match employers with foreign workers for a period up to six years; however workers would not be eligible for residency or citizenship.

Trade[edit]

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

Major appointees[edit]

For the article describing Bush's appointees, please see Bush administration.

Major legislation signed[edit]

2001
2002
2003
2004
2005

Public perception and assessments[edit]

Bush has been the subject of both popular praise and scathing criticism. His supporters have focused on matters such as the economy, homeland security, and his leadership after the September 11 attacks. His detractors have disagreed on those very subjects and have also criticized the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, the controversial 2000 election, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The magazine TIME named Bush as its Person of the Year for 2000 and for 2004. This award is traditionally given to the person considered by the editors to be the most important newsmaker of the year. Due to Bush's unique grammatical stylings, people coined a new term, bushism, to describe the grammatical configuration unique to the style of President George W. Bush. Bushisms are now wildly popularized across many websites on the internet due to their apparent sense of humor.

Domestic[edit]

Bush approval rating from February 2001 to August 2005. Notable spikes in his approval rating followed the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the beginning of the 2003 Iraq conflict.

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

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

In 2003, Bush's approval spiked upward at the time of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in February. The upward trend continued through the invasion of Iraq in March. By late 2003, when presidential opponents typically begin their campaigns in earnest, his approval numbers were in the low to middle 50s. Most polls tied the decline to growing concern over the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and a slow recovery from the 2001 recession. Polls of May 2004 showed anywhere from a 53 percent approval rating [63] to a 46 percent approval rating. [64] A three-day telephone poll starting on June 27, 2005, conducted by Zogby International found that 42% of Americans would support impeachment if Bush lied about the reasons for going to war with Iraq, which is greater support for impeachment than ever seen for Clinton. [65]. More recently, a poll taken by American Research Group on August 18-21, 2005 [66] shows that 36% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president (6% below the number in July), while 58% disapprove. This figure is lower than that of any modern President in his second term, including President Nixon's approval rating of 39% during the Watergate scandal that eventually led to his resignation, though not lower than President Jimmy Carter's nadir of 17%. A concurrent Gallup Poll performed August 28-30, 2005 showed a 45% approval and 52% disapproval rating.[67] A Zogby Poll of September 6-7, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, showed a 41% approval, an all-time low in Zogby's presidential polling record for President Bush. The poll also showed President Bush's favorability ratings going below 50% for the first time as 49% saw him as favourable and 50% viewed him unfavourably[68]

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

{{POV check}}

For more details on this topic, see political effects of Hurricane Katrina.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the floodwalls protecting New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain broke, inundating the city. In the aftermath of the disaster, thousands of city residents, unable to evacuate prior to the hurricane, became stranded with little to no relief for several days resulting in conditions of mass squalor in some areas. Although blame was also attributed to state and local authorities, the public outcry was most prominently directed at the Bush administration, mainly FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security for their weak crisis management and coordination. The Bush Administration faced accusations of negligence and mismanagement from members of Congress and other public figures; the failure to provide adequate relief aid to victims in its own country was an embarrassment worldwide. Many critics noted that the potential for disaster involving a breach of the New Orleans levees was well-documented [69], the Bush Administration failed to address the concern. The criticism led to the resignation of FEMA director Michael Brown and a rare September 15, 2005, admission by Bush that mistakes had been made by his administration.

The Katrina response, along with climbing oil prices, mounting casualties in Iraq and a month-long vacation which some perceived as overly indulgent, helped drive Bush's public-approval ratings to a new low in September 2005.

Outside the United States[edit]

President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac during the 27th G8 summit, July 21, 2001.

A survey conducted by Ipsos for the Associated Press in 2004 found that "just over half in Mexico and Italy had a negative view of Mr. Bush's role. In Britain, the closest U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, and in Canada, traditionally America's closest ally, two-thirds had a negative view...Three-fourths of those in Spain and more than 80 percent in France and Germany had a negative view of Mr. Bush's role in world affairs." [70] While those in the United States were evenly divided on whether the war has increased or decreased the terror threat, most of those sampled outside the United States believe that Bush's foreign policy decisions in the Iraq war have "increased the threat of terrorism in the world." [71]

Muslim countries are less favourable to Bush. In these Muslim countries, Bush's unfavorability ratings are particularly high, often over 90%. [72]. Among the non-U.S. nations polled in another [73] worldwide poll by the CBC, Bush's popularity was highest in Israel, where 62% reported favorable views, however in the CBC poll, Israel was the only foreign country polled that had a net favorable opinion of Bush..(Q2)

A 2005 poll conducted by the BBC World Service across 22,000 people in 21 nations found that a majority of world opinion (58%) believed that George Bush's re-election would have a negative impact on their peace and security. Only 26% believed it would have a positive one. Public opinion in the Philippines and India showed strong majorities in favour of Bush. [74] The same poll revealed that support for the Iraq occupation had dropped to 37% in Britain. In Turkey, 72% of those polled said that George Bush's re-election made them "feel worse about Americans". [75]