George W. Bush

George Walker Bush
George W. Bush
43rd President of the United States
In office since January 20, 2001
Vice President(s)   Richard Bruce Cheney
Preceded by William Jefferson Clinton
Succeeded by Incumbent
Born July 6 1946 (age 60)
New Haven, CT
Political party Republican
Spouse Laura Bush
Religion United Methodist

George Walker Bush (born July 6 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001 and re-elected in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

The Bush family has a significant history in the Republican Party and U.S. politics. Bush is the eldest son of the 41st U.S. President, George H. W. Bush, grandson to Prescott Bush, the former U.S. Senator from Connecticut, and older brother to Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida. George W. Bush became the 46th Governor of Texas in January 1995, resigning in December 2000, after being elected president.

Bush was first elected in 2000, becoming the fourth president in U.S. history to be elected without a plurality of the popular vote after the 1824, 1876 and 1888 elections. The 2000 election was one of the most controversial of presidential elections, not being decided until after a month of ballot recounts and court challenges in Florida ended with the United States Supreme Court reversing a Florida Supreme Court ruling and stopping the recounting of ballots.[1] Florida then certified Bush the winner in that State by a margin of 537 votes out of 6 million cast, thus giving him one Electoral College vote more than the 270 necessary for election.[2] Running as a self-described war president in the midst of the Iraq war,[3] Bush won re-election in 2004[4] after an intense and heated general election campaign against Senator John Kerry in which President Bush's prosecution of the War on Terror and the Iraq war became central issues.[citation needed]

Eight months into Bush's presidency in 2001, nineteen hijackers sponsored by al Qaeda carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks. President Bush responded by declaring a global War on Terrorism, which would become one of the central issues of his presidency. In early October 2001 he ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban and attempt to destroy al-Qaeda.[5] In March 2003, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, asserting that Iraq was in violation of UN Resolution 1441 regarding weapons of mass destruction and had to be disarmed by force in order (1) to adequately protect the United States from what he asserted was "a continuing threat from Iraq", and (2) to take the "necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."[6] Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's Iraq regime, Bush stated his policy of attempting to establish democracy in the Middle East, starting with Afghanistan and Iraq.[7]

President Bush's declaration and prosecution of the War on Terror as he defined it would become the most enduringly controversial aspect of his presidency, including issues surrounding the Iraq War, the Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandals, and related domestic controversies such as NSA warrantless surveillance activities and the Plame affair. After his re-election in 2004 in particular, Bush received increasingly heated criticism, even from former allies, on those issues as well as other domestic issues such as his first ever use of the veto power to veto federal funding of stem cell research, and the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. According to polls of job approval rating, his popularity reached record heights after the September 11, 2001 attacks, but later significantly declined, due to his perceived poor handling of the Iraq War.[8] It was one of the major reasons for what Bush called the "thumpin'"[9][10] of the Republican Party in November 2006 mid-term elections.[11]



Early life

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

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Bush was the first child of George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush. His paternal ancestors emigrated from Somerset in the West Country of England in the seventeenth century. Bush's parents moved from Connecticut to Texas when he was two years old. 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.[12] Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, and his father served as U.S. President from 1989 to 1993.

Bush attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and, following in his father's footsteps, was accepted into Yale University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1968. At the same time, he worked in various Republican campaigns, including his father's 1964 and 1970 Senate campaigns in Texas. As a college senior, Bush became a member of the secretive Skull and Bones society. By his own characterization, Bush was an average student.[13]

In May 1968, at the height of the ongoing Vietnam War, Bush was accepted into the Texas Air National Guard. After training, he was assigned to duty in Houston, flying Convair F-102s out of Ellington Air Force Base.[14] Throughout his political career, Bush has been criticized over his induction and period of service. Critics allege that Bush was favorably treated due to his father's political standing, and that he was irregular in attendance. Bush took a transfer to the Alabama Air National Guard in 1972 to work on a Republican senate campaign, and in 1974 he obtained permission to end his six-year service obligation six months early to attend Harvard Business School, receiving an honorable discharge.[15]

There are a number of accounts of substance abuse and otherwise disorderly conduct by Bush from this time. Bush has admitted to drinking "too much" in those years and described this period of his life as his "nomadic" period of "irresponsible youth".[16] On September 4, 1976, at the age of 30, Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150, and had his driver's license suspended until 1978[17] in Maine.[18] Bush was able to keep his drunk driving arrest a secret throughout his years as governor of Texas.[19][20]

After obtaining an MBA from Harvard University (Bush is the only US President to serve holding a Master of Business Administration degree[21]), Bush entered the oil industry in Texas. In 1977, he was introduced by friends to Laura Welch, a schoolteacher and librarian. After three months of courting, they married and settled in Midland, Texas. Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were born in 1981. Bush also left his family's Episcopal Church to join his wife's Methodist Church. During their time in Dallas, Bush and his family were members of the congregation of the Highland Park United Methodist Church, within the Dallas greater metropolitan area.[22]

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

In 1978, Bush ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 19th Congressional District of Texas. Facing Kent Hance of the Democratic Party, Bush stressed his energy credentials and conservative values in the campaign. Hance, however, also held many conservative views, opposing gun control and strict regulation; he portrayed Bush as being out of touch with rural Texans. Bush lost by 6,000 votes. Hance later became a Republican and donated money to Bush's campaign for Governor of Texas in 1993.[23]

Bush returned to the oil industry, becoming a senior partner or chief executive officer of several ventures, such as Arbusto Energy[24] ('arbusto' means bush in Spanish), Spectrum 7, and, later, Harken Energy when it acquired Spectrum 7.[25] 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, but as President, Bush has refused to allow the SEC to release the full report. [26]

Around 1986, Bush quit drinking. He then began studying the Bible and Christian philosophy, and participating in church and community study groups. Following a personal meeting and exchange with Reverend Billy Graham, he became a born-again Christian.[16]

Bush moved with his family to Washington, D.C. in 1988, to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency.[27] With colleagues Lee Atwater and Doug Wead, he helped to develop and coordinate a political strategy for courting conservative Christians and evangelical voters, who were seen as key to winning the nomination and the election.[28]

Returning to Texas, Bush purchased a share in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in April 1989, where he served as managing general partner of the Rangers for five years[citation needed]. 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[citation needed]. Bush actively led the team's projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans[citation needed]. Bush's role with the Rangers gave him prominent media exposure and attention, as well as garnering public, business and political support[citation needed]. The Rangers were mostly successful while Bush was a leader of the organization[citation needed]. During his tenure, the Rangers acquired Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who was popular with the fans during the last years of his career[citation needed]. The team nearly won its first division title in 1994, before a strike shortened the season[citation needed]. In 1989, Bush presided during the trade of the eventually famous Sammy Sosa to the Chicago White Sox[citation needed]. The eventual sale of Bush's share in the Texas Rangers brought him over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment.[citation needed]

George W. Bush is the first president to have run a marathon. Before running for governor of Texas he completed the 1993 Houston Marathon in 3:44:52 for a pace of about 8:36/mile. He had been running since he was 26, and before taking office, ran 15 to 30 miles a week.[29]

He is often referred to by the nickname "Dubya", playing on a stereotyped and generalized Southern pronunciation of the letter W.


Elected positions


Governor of Texas

George W. Bush
47th Governor of Texas
Term of office:
January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000
Lieutenant Governor: Bob Bullock, Rick Perry
Predecessor: Ann Richards
Successor: Rick Perry
Born: July 6, 1946
New Haven, Connecticut
Political party: Republican
Profession: businessman, politician
Spouse: Laura Bush

With his father's election in 1988, speculation had arisen amongst Republicans that Bush would enter the 1990 gubernatorial election, but this was offset by Bush's purchase of the Rangers baseball team and personal concerns regarding his own record and profile. Following his success as owner and manager of the Rangers, Bush declared his candidacy for the 1994 election, even as his brother Jeb first sought the governorship of Florida. Winning the Republican primary easily, Bush faced incumbent Governor Ann Richards, a popular Democrat who was considered the easy favorite, given Bush's lack of political credentials.

Bush was aided in his campaign by a close coterie of political advisors that included Karen Hughes, a former journalist who was his communications advisor; John Allbaugh, who became his campaign manager, and Karl Rove, a personal friend and political activist who is believed to have been a strong influence in encouraging Bush to enter the election. Bush's aides crafted a campaign strategy that attacked Governor Richards' record on law enforcement, her political appointments, and her support of liberal political causes. Bush developed a positive image and message with themes of "personal responsibility" and "moral leadership". His campaign focused on issues such as education (seeking more accountability for schools over student performance), crime, deregulation of the economy, and tort reform. The Bush campaign was criticized for allegedly using controversial methods to disparage Richards. Following an impressive performance in the debates, however, Bush's popularity grew. He won with 52 percent against Richards' 47 percent.[30]

As governor, Bush successfully sponsored legislation for tort reform, increased education funding, set higher standards for schools, and reformed the criminal justice system. Under his leadership, Texas executed 152 prisoners, more than under any other governor in modern American history; critics such as Helen Prejean argue that he failed to give serious consideration to clemency requests.[31] School finance was considered a sensitive issue at the time by politicians and the press. The state financed its school system through property taxes. Seeking to reduce the high rates to benefit homeowners while increasing general education funding, Bush sought to create business taxes, but faced vigorous opposition from his own party and the private sector. Failing to obtain political consensus for his proposal, Bush used a budget surplus to push through a $2 billion tax-cut plan, which was the largest in Texas history and cemented Bush's credentials as a pro-business fiscal conservative.[32]

Bush also pioneered faith-based welfare programs by extending government funding and support for religious organizations providing social services such as education, alcohol and drug abuse prevention, and reduction of domestic violence. Governor Bush signed a memorandum on April 17, 2000 proclaiming June 10 to be Jesus Day in Texas, a day where he "urge[d] all Texans to answer the call to serve those in need."[33] Although Bush was criticized for violating the constitutional separation of church and state ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."), his initiative was popular with most people across the state, especially religious and social conservatives.

In 1998, Bush won re-election in a landslide victory with nearly 69 percent of the vote, becoming the first Texas governor to be elected for two consecutive four-year terms (before 1975, the gubernatorial term of office was two years).[34]


2000 Presidential candidacy

During the election cycle, Bush labeled himself a "compassionate conservative," a term popularized by University of Texas professor Marvin Olasky, and his political campaign promised to "restore honor and dignity to the White House".[2]



Bush's campaign was managed by Rove, Hughes and Albaugh, 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, Bush was handed a surprising defeat by U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona in the New Hampshire primary. During his campaign, Bush was criticized for visiting the controversial Bob Jones University, which bore a reputation for a bias against Catholicism and a ban on interracial dating.[35] Bush then won the South Carolina primary, severely crippling the momentum McCain had picked up with his win in New Hampshire. McCain countered by winning in Michigan. McCain criticized Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell just before the Virginia primary, stirring the ire of religious conservatives. Bush went on to win the Virginia Primary and then, a week later, he captured nine of thirteen Super Tuesday state primaries, effectively clinching the Republican nomination. He chose Dick Cheney, a former U.S. Representative and Secretary of Defense, as his running mate. His campaign was endorsed by prominent Republicans such as Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, who assumed roles as advisers on issues of national security and foreign relations. While stressing his successful record as governor of Texas, Bush's campaign attacked the Democratic nominee, incumbent Vice President Al Gore, over gun control and taxation. Bush criticized the Kyoto Protocol (although in 1998 the Senate vote to participate in the treaty was 0 for and 95 against), championed by Gore, citing the decline of the industries in the Midwestern states, such as West Virginia, and resulting economic hardships.

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 the other candidates, who cited former Presidents and other political figures, Bush responded, "Christ, because he changed my heart". Bush's appeal to religious values is believed to have aided his 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).[36]


General election

On election day, November 7, 2000, Bush won key midwestern states such as Ohio, Missouri, and Arkansas. He also clinched Gore's home state of Tennessee, New Hampshire, and the erstwhile Democratic bastion of West Virginia. Television networks initially called the state of Florida for Gore, then withdrew that projection and later called the state, along with the entire election, for Bush. Finally, it was declared that the results were too close to call. Sometime after the networks reported that Bush had won Florida, Gore conceded the election, and then rescinded that concession less than one hour later. The vote count, which favored Bush in preliminary tallies, was contested over allegations of irregularities in the voting and tabulation processes. Because of Florida state law, a state-wide machine recount was ordered. Although it narrowed the gap, the recount still left Bush in the lead. Eventually, four counties in Florida which had large numbers of presidential undervotes began a manual hand recount of ballots. On December 8, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that every county with a large number of undervotes would perform a hand recount. On December 9, in the Bush v. Gore case, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the statewide hand recount. The machine recount showed that Bush had won the Florida vote - making it the 30th of the 50 states he carried. There has been much controversy over the legality of the election, in fact it is still disputed today.[37] Despite having lost the nationwide popular contest by more than half a million votes,[38] he won 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266. This made him the first President elected without having a plurality of the popular vote since Benjamin Harrison in 1888.[39]


Cabinet appointments

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President George W. Bush was regarded by his political opponents and many in the media as lacking a popular mandate, having lost the popular vote. Upon assuming office, Bush appointed Andrew Card as his Chief of Staff, Karl Rove as his political advisor and Karen Hughes as White House communications director. He appointed Colin Powell as Secretary of State, Paul O'Neill as Secretary of the Treasury, and Donald Rumsfeld as the Secretary of Defense.

His appointment of former Senator John Ashcroft as Attorney General was intensely criticized by Democrats because of Ashcroft's opposition of abortion and support for social and religious conservative causes concerning gay rights and capital punishment. Despite this, Ashcroft was confirmed, and Bush was lauded by conservatives.


2004 Presidential candidacy

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, and the campaign political strategy was devised by Karl Rove.[40] Bush outlined a 2004 agenda that included a strong commitment in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act, making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, cutting the budget deficit in half, promoting education, tort reform, Social Security and national tax reform. Bush emphasized his social conservatism by arguing for the Federal Marriage Amendment. In most of his speeches, Bush also stressed a vision and commitment for spreading freedom and democracy across the world.

Having had great success at fundraising, the campaign began running television and radio advertisement campaigns across the nation against Democratic candidates, including Bush's emerging opponent, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Kerry and other Democrats attacked Bush on the conduct of the war in Iraq, perceived excesses of the USA PATRIOT Act and for allegedly failing to stimulate the economy and job growth, as well as controversies surrounding Bush's service in the National Guard. Bush emphasized his leadership in war and national security challenges, evoking the patriotism and passion aroused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Bush campaign portrayed Kerry as a staunch liberal who would raise taxes, increase the size of government, and fail to oppose a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The Bush campaign continuously criticized Kerry's allegedly contradictory statements on the war in Iraq, and claimed Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the war on terrorism. Popular politicians such as Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and conservative Democrat Zell Miller campaigned actively for Bush, who traveled across the country delivering speeches at three to four different locations on most days. The campaign organized a large group of volunteers and focused its efforts on swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Bush carried 31 of 50 states for a total of 286 Electoral College votes.

In his 2004 victory, Bush was the first presidential candidate to win a majority of the popular vote since his father did so 16 years earlier.[41] In the three previous elections, strong showings by third-party candidates had prevented the candidates who the popular vote, Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and Al Gore in 2000, from winning a popular vote majority, rather than a plurality. [42]



Bush sworn into his second term on January 20, 2005 by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, watched on by First Lady Laura Bush and their daughters Barbara and Jenna Bush, as well as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
Bush sworn into his second term on January 20, 2005 by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, watched on by First Lady Laura Bush and their daughters Barbara and Jenna Bush, as well as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

Bush won re-election in 2004 after an intense and heated election campaign, becoming the first candidate to win a majority vote in 16 years.[41] Bush was inaugurated for his second term on January 20, 2005. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Bush's inaugural address centered mainly on a theme of spreading freedom and democracy around the world:

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world... The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it... 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?



For his second term, Bush assembled what is regarded as one of the most diverse U.S. cabinets in history, with the appointments of the first Hispanic American U.S. Attorney General and Commerce Secretary, as well as making Condoleezza Rice the first African American woman to head the U.S. State Department. Bush retained Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose dismissal had been demanded by many in the U.S. Congress.

In August 2005, with his nomination of the controversial John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations filibustered by the Senate, Bush took the rarely-used expedient of installing him via a recess appointment. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid criticized this action as an abuse of Presidential power.[43]

In 2006, Bush replaced long-time chief of staff Andrew Card with Joshua Bolten and undertook major staff and cabinet changes with the stated intention of revitalizing his Administration.

The day after the midterm elections, on November 8, 2006, Bush announced plans to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with former CIA Director Robert Gates. Gates was confirmed by the Senate on December 6 and took office as the 22nd Secretary of Defense on December 18.




Domestic policy



Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law.
Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law.

Bush's domestic agenda carried forward themes of increased responsibility for performance from his days as Texas governor, and he worked hard to lobby the adoption of the No Child Left Behind Act, with Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy as chief sponsor. The legislation aims to close the achievement gap, measures student performance, provides options to parents with students in low-performing schools, and targets more federal funding to low-income schools. NCLBA has been a source of ongoing controversy. Critics argue that Bush has underfunded his own program, and Kennedy himself has claimed: "The tragedy is that these long overdue reforms are finally in place, but the funds are not."[44] Many educational experts are critical of the reforms in question, claiming that NCLB allows some students to flee failing public schools instead of improving those schools.[45] Others contend that NCLBA's focus on "high stakes testing" and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive.[46] 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.[47]

Bush appointed First Lady Laura Bush to oversee an initiative to improve opportunities and education for inner-city boys.[48]


Social services and Social Security

Bush promoted increased de-regulation 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 elderly 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".[49]

President 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.[50] According to at least one poll, Bush failed to convince the public that the Social Security program was in crisis.[51]


Stem cell research and first use of veto power

Starting in 1995 after the Republican Party gained control of both houses of Congress, 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 was fobidden by passage of the Dickey Amendment, named for Congressman Jay Dickey (R-AR) who introduced the amendment, a rider attached to the relevant agency appropriation bills that would be signed by President Bill Clinton and President Bush for the next several years.[52] Bush had asserted that he supported limited stem cell research, but only to the extent that human embryos are not destroyed in order to harvest additional stem cells.[53] On August 9, 2001, Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 71[54] existing "lines" of stem cells. However, the ability of these existing lines to provide an adequate medium for testing has been questioned, as testing can only be done on 12 of the original lines and there are fears that these lines are corrupted.[55]

On July 19, 2006, President Bush used his veto power for the first time in his presidency to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R.810), a bill that would have reversed the Dickey Amendment, permitting federal money to be used for research where stem cells are derived from the destruction of an embryo.[56]



In 2006, Bush somewhat shifted focus 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. On May 15, 2006, Bush proposed expanding "Basic Pilot," an online system to allow employers to easily confirm the eligibility of new hires; creating a new identification card for all foreign workers; and increasing penalties for businesses that violate immigration laws. 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.[57]



On August 17, 2006, a U.S. district court judge in Detroit ruled that warrantless and otherwise congressionally unauthorized eavesdropping on telephone calls under the Terrorist Surveillance Program were unconstitutional. The judge agreed to place her ruling on hold pending an appeal. [58]

On August 28, 2006, Congress approved a bill that made the detainee interrogation program legal.[59] The bill was in response to the Supreme Court's decision in June that the program is illegal.[59] It was the second time Bush tried to approve it through Congress.[59] Bush signed the bill into law on October 17, 2006 as the Military Commissions Act of 2006.


Hurricane Katrina

One of the worst natural disasters in the nation’s history, Hurricane Katrina, struck early in Bush’s second term. Katrina was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest landfalling U.S. hurricane on record. 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.[60]

President Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on August 27,[61] and in Mississippi[62] and Alabama[63] on August 28; he authorized DHS and FEMA to manage the disaster, but his announcement failed to spur these agencies to action.[64] The eye of the hurricane made landfall on August 29, and New Orleans started to flood due to the levee breaches; later that day, Bush declared that a major disaster existed in Louisiana,[65] 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," [66] triggering the first use of the newly created National Response Plan. Several days later, on September 2, National Guard troops first entered the city of New Orleans.[67] The same day, President Bush toured parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and declared that the success of the recovery effort up to that point was "not enough."[68] Due to mounting criticism as the disaster in New Orleans intensified during the days of inaction, President Bush claimed full responsibility for the failures on the part of the federal government in its response to the hurricane.[67]

Both local and federal governments were vehemently criticized for their response to Katrina, which was considered insufficient and disorganized. 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.[69] 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.[70] Third, in the days immediately following the disaster, President Bush denied having received warnings about the possibility of floodwaters breaching the levees protecting New Orleans.[71] However, the presidential videoconference briefing of Aug. 28 shows Max Mayfield warning the President that overflowing the levees was "obviously a very, very grave concern."[72] Critics claimed that the President was misrepresenting his administration's role in what they saw as a flawed response.


Economic policy

Facing opposition in Congress, Bush held town hall-style public meetings across the nation in 2001 to increase public support for his plan for a $1.3 trillion tax cut. 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. In the end, five Senate Democrats crossed party lines to join Republicans in approving Bush's $1.35 trillion[73] tax cut program — one of the largest in U.S. history.

During his first term, Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for two additional tax cuts: the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. These acts increased the child tax credit and eliminated the so-called "marriage penalty." Arguably, cuts were distributed disproportionately to higher income taxpayers through a decrease in marginal rates, but the change in marginal rates was greater for those of lower income, resulting in an income tax structure that was more progressive overall. Complexity was increased with new categories of income taxed at different rates and new deductions and credits, however; at the same time, the number of individuals subject to the alternative minimum tax increased since it had remained unchanged.

Under the Bush Administration, unemployment peaked at a high of 6.2% in June 2003, and is currently at a low of 4.4%. The economy has remained strong, with Wall Street setting several record highs and the GDP experiencing healthy growth [3][4]. Critics argue that the economy, however strong, is only benefiting the wealthy, and not the majority of middle and lower-class citizens. [5][6]

The effect of Bush's tax cuts on the upper, middle and lower class is contentious, with some observers arguing that the cuts have benefited the nation's most wealthy households at the expense of the middle and lower class,[74] while others have claimed the exact opposite.[75]


September 11, 2001

Nine months into George W. Bush's presidency, nineteen hijackers (fifteen from Saudi Arabia, two from the UAE and one each from Egypt and Lebanon) sponsored by the al Qaeda group headed by Osama bin Laden carried out terrorist attacks in which they commandeered commercial aircraft, flying two into the two World Trade Center Towers in New York city, one into the Pentagon, and one, apparently headed toward Washington, D.C., into a field in Pennsylvania, after passengers forced that plane's crash-landing. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in what became known as the September 11, 2001 attacks, most in the collapse of the two World Trade Center towers.

President Bush talks on the phone with Vice President Dick Cheney while looking out a window of Air Force One, September 11, 2001.
President Bush talks on the phone with Vice President Dick Cheney while looking out a window of Air Force One, September 11, 2001.

The September 11 terrorist attacks were a major turning point in Bush's presidency. At the time of the attacks, President Bush was visiting an elementary school in Florida when Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed him that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. After being informed that the second tower had also been hit, Bush remained in the classroom for several minutes until the children finished reading their story before flying to air bases in Louisiana and Nebraska before returning to Washington, D.C. in the late afternoon. Later, critics would see this delay as an indicator of his indecisiveness while supporters would see it as his ability to inject calm into frightening circumstances.

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 from atop a heap of rubble:

George W. Bush
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.
George W. Bush
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.

In a September 20, 2001 speech, President Bush condemned Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, and issued the Taliban regime in Afghanistan where bin Laden was known to be operating from an ultimatum to "hand over the terrorists, or ... share in their fate."[76] President Bush declared 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 and destroy al-Qaeda.[77]


Foreign policy

The Bush Administration's foreign policy is largely seen as dominated by its declaration of a global "War on Terror" and the Iraq War. The War on Terror, the wars in Afganistan and Iraq, and the Administration's dealings with North Korea are addressed invidually in subsections below. Other aspects of President Bush's foreign policy include the following.

The Bush administration withdrew US support for several international agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and 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.[78] Bush also expressed U.S. support for the defense of Taiwan following the stand-off in March 2001 with the People's Republic of China over the crash between an EP-3E American spyplane and a Chinese air force jet, leading to the detention of U.S. personnel. In 2003-04, Bush authorized U.S. military intervention in Haiti and Liberia to protect U.S. interests.

Bush, President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meet at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan on June 4, 2003.
Bush, President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meet at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan on June 4, 2003.

Bush emphasized a "hands-off" approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in wake of rising violence and the alleged failure of the Clinton Administration's efforts to negotiate. Bush denounced Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his support of the violence and militant groups. But prompted by European leaders, he became the first American President to embrace a two-state solution in which an independent Palestine would exist side-by-side with Israel. Bush sponsored dialogs between Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas but continued his boycott of Arafat. Bush also supported Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and lauded the democratic elections held in Palestine following Arafat's death.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with George W. Bush inspects the Malacanang Palace Honor Guards during the latter's 8-hour State Visit to the Philippines in October 2003
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with George W. Bush inspects the Malacanang Palace Honor Guards during the latter's 8-hour State Visit to the Philippines in October 2003

In his State of the Union Address in January 2003, Bush outlined a five-year strategy for global emergency AIDS relief, the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief. Bush announced $15 billion for this effort—$3 billion per year for five years—but requested less in annual budgets, though some members of Congress added amendments to increase the requested amounts. The emergency relief effort is led by U.S. Ambassador Randall L. Tobias, former CEO of Eli Lilly and Global AIDS Coordinator at the Department of State. At the time of the speech, $9 billion was earmarked for new programs in AIDS relief for the 15 countries most affected by HIV/AIDS, another $5 billion for continuing support of AIDS relief in 100 countries where the U.S. already had bilateral programs established, and an additional $1 billion towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Almost one quarter of the $15 billion went to religious groups that tend to emphasize sexual abstinence over condom use.[79] This budget represented more money contributed to fight AIDS globally than all other donor countries combined.

Bush condemned the attacks by militia forces on the people of Darfur, and denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide.[80] Bush said that an international peacekeeping presence was critical in Darfur, but opposed referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court.

President George W. Bush traverses Cross Hall in the White House with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to attend a press conference in the East Room in 2006 discussing the Middle east Crisis between Israel and Lebanon.
President George W. Bush traverses Cross Hall in the White House with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to attend a press conference in the East Room in 2006 discussing the Middle east Crisis between Israel and Lebanon.
President George W. Bush, President of Mexico, Vicente Fox and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper stand in front of "El Castillo" in  Chichen Itza,  March 30, 2006.
President George W. Bush, President of Mexico, Vicente Fox and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper stand in front of "El Castillo" in Chichen Itza, March 30, 2006.

Bush began his second term with an emphasis on improving strained relations with European nations. He appointed long-time advisor Karen Hughes to oversee a global public relations campaign to improve the image of the U.S. and significantly increased development aid to countries with a focus on encouraging democracy and human rights. Bush strongly lauded the pro-democracy struggles in Georgia and Ukraine and the election of Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority. He led international pressure against Syria to withdraw troops from Lebanon. In March 2006, Bush visited India, leading to renewed ties between the two countries, particularly in areas of nuclear energy and counterterrorism cooperation.[81] Bilateral relations between the U.S.A. on the one hand and Germany and Canada on the other also improved following the election of conservative governments in those countries. However, 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.[82]

Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, both undemocratically elected and fiercely autocratic, received official state visits to the White House,[83] along with increased economic and military assistance.[84] The President had encouraged both leaders to hold free and fair elections early on in his second term, but in fact neither leader carried out significant reforms.[85][86][87] The democratic election of the Hamas organization in the parliamentary elections of the Palestinian Territories, along with democratic gains in legislatures for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon, all of whom are seen as terrorist organizations by the United States, also contributed to a far less aggressive approach to democratic reform world-wide from the Bush administration. Reports in late 2006 suggested that pro-democracy groups across the Middle East had become "pessimistic about the prospects for meaningful reform."[88]


War on Terror

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden and the invasion of Afganistan in response, President Bush discussed a global War on Terror in his January 29, 2002 State of the Union address which is most remembered for his assertion of an "axis of evil", an alliance between terrorists and states like North Korea, Iran and Iraq, which alliance he said was "arming to threaten the peace of the world" and "pose[d] a grave and growing danger".[89]

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush look over the World Trade Center site during a visit to Ground Zero in New York City to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
President George W. Bush and Laura Bush look over the World Trade Center site during a visit to Ground Zero in New York City to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The Bush Administration proceeded to assert a right and intention to engage in preemptive war, also called preventive war, in response to perceived threats, arguing that the prevailing "concept of imminent threat" as justification for the use of force under international law and prior United States foreign policy needed to be "adapt[ed]" due to the supposition that "rogue states" would "rely on terror, and potentially, weapons of mass destruction" to attack the United States.[90] This would form a basis for what became known as the Bush Doctrine. President Bush's broader "War on Terror", allegations of an "axis of evil", and, in particular, the assertion of a broader right to engage in preemptive war, would begin to weaken or divide unprecedented levels of international and domestic support for President Bush and United States action against al Qaeda following the September 11 attacks,[91] and such criticism and dissent would expand with the war in Iraq.[92]



On October 7, 2001, U.S. and British forces initiated bombing campaigns that led to the November 13 arrival of Northern Alliance troops in Kabul. By December 2001, the UN had organized both the Bonn agreement, which installed the Afghan Interim Authority chaired by Hamid Karzai, and the ISAF, a multinational fighting force whose numbers and territory have since steadily increased.[93][94] However, efforts to kill or capture al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in President Bush's later criticized words, "dead or alive",[95] failed as he escaped a battle in December 2001 in the mountainous region of Tora Bora, which escape the Bush Administration later acknowledged resulted from a failure to commit enough U.S. ground troops.[96] Bin Laden and al Qaeda's number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as the Afghan leader of the Taliban, Mohammed Omar, remained at large as of January 2007.

Despite the initial success in driving the Taliban from power in Kabul, the war continued as by early 2003 the Taliban was regrouping, amassing new funds and recruits.[97] Frustrating the government of Afghan President Karzai and the NATO and US forces, as late as 2006 theTaliban insurgency appeared larger, fiercer, and better organized than expected, with large-scale allied offensives such as the Operation Mountain Thrust attaining limited success.[98][99][100]

As of 2005, NATO had been given control over western and southern parts of the country, and in September 2006, NATO agreed to assume control over operations throughout Afghanistan after the United States pledged to assign 12,000 troops to the force under NATO command, while keeping another 10,000 special operations and other troops operating under U.S. command throught the country.[101][102][103] In an address to the United Nations that month, President Bush pledged the United States' continuing support for the war against the Taliban: "We'll help you defeat these enemies and build a free Afghanistan that will never again oppress you, or be a safe haven for terrorists."[104] As of October 2006, foreign troops in the region numbered more than 41,000.[105]



Following the overthrow of the Taliban, President Bush also promoted urgent action in Iraq, stating that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and that in the post 9/11 world it was too dangerous to allow unstable regimes to possess weapons that could "potentially fall into the hands of terrorists." Bush argued that Saddam, through his continued violation of the UN Cease Fire Agreement and UN Security Council Resolutions 687, 688, 707, 715, 986, 1115, 1134, 1137, 1284, and 1373, was a threat to U.S. security, destabilized the Middle East, inflamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and financed various terrorist organizations. Central Intelligence Agency reports requested by the Administration contained assertions that Saddam Hussein was intent on reconstituting nuclear weapons programs, had not properly accounted for Iraqi biological weapons and chemical weapons material in violation of U.N. sanctions, and that some Iraqi missiles had a range greater than allowed by the UN sanctions.[106] In particular, the CIA drew together an October 1, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, pulling together the intelligence, estimations, opinions and judgments of 16 different U.S. intelligence services, including dissenting views or challenges to various assertions. Several versions of this report were or have been produced with varying levels of declassification, inclusion of dissenting opinions, and completeness.[107] President Bush received a one-page summary of the National Intelligence Estimate.[108] 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 Sadaam Hussein and the al Qaeda terrorists who carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks would eventually become a major point of criticism and controversy for the President.[109]

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.

In late 2002 and early 2003, Bush urged the United Nations to enforce Iraqi disarmament mandates, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. On November 13 2002, under UN Security Council Resolution 1441, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei led UN weapons inspectors in Iraq. There was controversy over the efficacy of inspections and lapses in Iraqi compliance. UN inspection teams departed Iraq upon U.S. advisement given four days prior to the U.S. invasion, despite their requests for more time to complete their tasks.[110] The U.S. initially sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.[111] Upon facing vigorous opposition from several nations (primarily France and Germany), however, the U.S. dropped the bid for UN approval and began to prepare for war; Benjamin Ferencz, a former chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials argued that for these actions Bush, with his Administration, could be prosecuted for war crimes.[112] Kofi Annan, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as well as leaders of several nations made similar statements, implying that the attack constitutes a war crime.[113]

In order to comply with the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution by Congress, on March 18, 2003, President Bush certified to Congress that he had "determined that: (1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and (2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."[114]

The war effort was joined by more than 20 other nations (most notably the United Kingdom) who were designated the "coalition of the willing".[115] The invasion of Iraq commenced on March 20, 2003, ostensibly to pre-empt Iraqi WMD deployment and remove Saddam from power. The Iraqi military was quickly defeated. The capital, Baghdad, fell on April 9, 2003. On May 1, 2003, President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq in a speech from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. This speech would become known as his "Mission Accomplished" speech due to a banner with that slogan in view overhead. At the outset of the speech, President Bush stated: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country. In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world."[116]

The initial success of U.S. operations had increased Bush's popularity, but the U.S. forces would be challenged by public disorder, as well as increasing insurgency led by pro-Saddam and Islamist groups. As the war continued, President Bush's May 1, 2003 "Mission Accomplished" speech would be criticized as premature."[117] The Bush Administration was also assailed 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, while discussing the WMD issue, Bush stated that "It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong."[118] Bush nevertheless remained unwavering when asked if the war had been worth it, or whether he would have made the same decision if he had known more. U.S. efforts in Iraq became the centerpiece of Bush's expressed vision to promote democracy as a means to discourage and defeat terrorists, by removing radical regimes and fostering social and economic development. However, a 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (a consensus report of the heads of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies) asserted that the Iraq war had increased Islamic radicalism and worsened the terror threat.[119] Bush and his top officials have continued to stress the need to "stay the course" in Iraq. They have accused critics, mainly Democrats who have called for a U.S. troop pullout or a timetable for withdrawal, of advocating a policy of "cut-and-run".[120]

Iraqi elections and a referendum to approve a constitution were held in January and December 2005. Initial media reports of high voter turnout were overestimated[121], and were later estimated at less than 50%.[122] Since then, the fighting in Iraq escalated, and the country appeared to be on the brink of, if not already engaged in, civil war. Bush's leadership against global terrorism and in the war in Iraq met increasing criticism, with increasing demands within the United States to set a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq. Sectarian violence and political deadlock in Iraq, and the deaths of more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers and as many as 650,000 Iraqis (estimated),[123] increased negative impressions of Bush's leadership and the situation in Iraq. Allegations of abuse by U.S. troops accompanied calls from European and Asian leaders to shut down detention centers in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

Bush has admitted that though there were strategic mistakes made in regards to the stability of Iraq, he would not change the overall Iraq strategy.[124][125]

On November 28, 2006, facing mounting criticism for his Iraq war policy, Bush told the NATO Summit 2006 in Latvia that "We'll continue to be flexible, and we'll make the changes necessary to succeed. But there's one thing I'm not going to do: I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete."[126] On January 10, 2007 President Bush addressed the United States about the situation in Iraq. In his speech, he made references to changes to be made, including the "surge" of 21,500 more troops for Iraq, a job program for Iraqis, more reconstruction proposals, and 1.2 billion dollars for these programs. At this point specific, detailed information about the planned changes have not yet been officially announced.[127] The "surge" is opposed by many influential politicians in Washington, some of whom belong to the President's own party, such as Senator Hagel and Senator Coleman.[128]


North Korea

President 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."[129] Within months, "both countries had walked away from their respective commitments under the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of October 1994."[130]

North Korea's October 9, 2006 detonation of a nuclear device further complicated President 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."[131] President 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.[132]



President Bush meeting with his Cabinet at the White House.
President Bush meeting with his Cabinet at the White House.
The Bush Cabinet
President George W. Bush 2001-Present
Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney 2001-Present
State Colin L. Powell 2001-2005
Condoleezza Rice 2005-Present
Treasury Paul H. O'Neill 2001-2003
John W. Snow 2003-2006
Henry M. Paulson 2006-Present
Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld 2001-2006
Robert Gates 2006-Present
Justice John D. Ashcroft 2001-2005
Alberto R. Gonzales 2005-Present
Interior Gale A. Norton 2001-2006
Dirk Kempthorne 2006-Present
Agriculture Ann M. Veneman 2001-2005
Michael O. Johanns 2005-Present
Commerce Donald L. Evans 2001-2005
Carlos M. Gutierrez 2005-Present
Labor Elaine L. Chao 2001-Present
Health and
Human Services
Tommy G. Thompson 2001-2005
Michael O. Leavitt 2005-Present
Education Roderick R. Paige 2001-2005
Margaret Spellings 2005-Present
Housing and
Urban Development
Melquiades R. Martinez 2001-2003
Alphonso R. Jackson 2004-Present
Transportation Norman Y. Mineta 2001-2006
Mary Peters 2006-Present
Energy E. Spencer Abraham 2001-2005
Samuel W. Bodman 2005-Present
Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi 2001-2005
R. James Nicholson 2005-Present
Homeland Security Thomas J. Ridge 2003-2005
Michael Chertoff 2005-Present

Assassination attempt

On May 10, 2005, while Bush was giving a speech in the Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia, Vladimir Arutinian threw a live hand grenade towards the podium where he was standing and where Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was also seated. It landed in the crowd about 65 feet (20 meters) from the podium after hitting a girl. However, the grenade did not detonate because the red tartan (plaid) handkerchief wrapped tightly around it did not allow the firing pin to deploy fast enough. Arutinian was arrested in July 2005 and admitted to throwing the grenade. He was convicted in January 2006 and was subsequently given a life sentence.[133]


Criticism and public perception


Domestic perceptions

See also: Fictionalized portrayals of George W. Bush

Time magazine named George W. Bush as its Person of the Year for 2000[134] and 2004,[135] hailing him as the most influential person for these two years. Bush began his presidency with approval ratings near 50%.[136] In the time of national crisis following the September 11 attacks, Bush enjoyed approval ratings of greater than 85%, maintaining 80–90% approval for four months after the attacks. Since then, his approval ratings and approval of handling of domestic and foreign policy issues steadily dropped. Polls conducted in early 2006 showed an average of around 40% for Bush, up slightly from the previous September, but still historically low from a President coming off his State of the Union Address, which generally provides a boost. As of January 16, 2007, an average of major polls indicated that Bush's approval rating stood at 37.0.[137]

At the beginning of his first term, Bush was regarded by some as lacking legitimacy due to his narrow victory in Florida and the attendant controversy surrounding his electoral college victory, which included accusations of vote suppression and tampering. Activist and filmmaker Michael Moore's 2004 movie Fahrenheit 9/11 accused Bush of using public sentiments following 9/11 for political purposes and lying about the cause for war in Iraq.

Bush enjoyed strong support among Americans holding conservative views, as well as the military and those who support a military agenda. In the 2004 elections, 95-98% 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. Many Republicans began criticizing Bush on his policies in Iraq, Iran and the Palestinian Territories.[138]

Since his re-election, critics have decried his frequent use of signing statements, contending that they are unconstitutional.[7] According to polls of job approval rating, his popularity has significantly declined from its record heights after the September 11, 2001 attacks, which contributed to what Bush called the "thumping" of the GOP in the 2006 mid-term elections.[139]

A poll taken in mid-September 2006 found that 48 percent of Americans believed the war with Iraq had made the U.S. less safe, while 41 percent believed the war had made the U.S. safer from terrorism.[140] Another poll showed that a majority of Americans, by a margin of 61 to 35 percent, believed that the United States was not better off because of Bush's policies.[141]

From time to time, Bush's intellectual capacities were questioned by the news media[142] and other politicians[143][144] Detractors tended to cite the various linguistic errors made by Bush during his public speeches (colloquially known as Bushisms).[145] Bush's habit of mispronouncing words received much ridicule in the media and in popular culture. Even as early as the 2000 presidential debates, this was the subject of a Saturday Night Live sketch (see Strategery).[146] He is not the only American president to be criticized for this.[147]

At the conclusion of 2006, an AP-AOL News telephone poll of 1,004 adults found President George W. Bush to be both the top villain and hero of the year.[148] The president was followed in the villain poll by Osama bin Laden, who took in 8 percent to Bush's 25 percent, Saddam Hussein (6 percent) and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (5 percent). In the hero poll, Bush's 13 percent was followed by: Soldiers/troops in Iraq (6 percent), Jesus Christ (3 percent), Barack Obama (3 percent) and Oprah Winfrey (3 percent).[149]


Foreign perceptions

Bush has been widely criticized in the international community; he was targeted by the global anti-war and anti-globalization campaigns, and criticized for his foreign policy in general. Bush's policies were also the subject of heated criticism in the 2002 elections in Germany[150] and the 2006 elections in Canada.[151] Bush was openly condemned by current and former international leaders such as Gerhard Schröder, Jean Chrétien, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Romano Prodi, Paul Martin, and Hugo Chavez. Later in Bush's presidency, tensions arose between himself and Vladimir Putin, which has led to a cooling of their relationship.[152] In the same time he has good relationship with Tony Blair, Vicente Fox and some other leaders of foreign countries. Diplomatic visits made by Bush were accompanied by both large-scale and small-scale protests.

George W. Bush answering a reporter’s question during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair in the East Room of the White House, July 28, 2006. White House photo by Paul Morse
George W. Bush answering a reporter’s question during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair in the East Room of the White House, July 28, 2006. White House photo by Paul Morse

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.[153][154] A poll conducted in Britain placed Bush at the second biggest "threat to world peace" right after Bin Laden, topping North Korean president Kim Jong-Il.[155] According to a poll taken in November of 2006, Finns, as well as Britons, believed that Bush was the second biggest "threat to the world peace" after Bin Laden. Kim Jong-Il came 3rd in poll and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah came joint fourth.[156]

During a visit to the Republic of Georgia on May 10, 2005, Vladimir Arutinian attempted to assassinate Bush.[157] Arutinian threw a grenade which eventually landed in the large crowd some 18.6 meters (61 feet) from the podium where Bush was delivering a speech, but failed to detonate.

Some people, such as Benjamin Ferencz, a chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, expressed the view that Bush should be tried, along with Saddam Hussein, for starting a war of aggression, the supreme international crime under the Nuremberg Principles.[158] Other experts also regarded the Bush Administration's decision to invade Iraq as illegitimate: "There was no authorization from the U.N. Security Council ... and that made it a crime against the peace," said Francis Boyle, professor of international law, who also said the U.S. Army's field manual required such authorization for an offensive war.[159] However, some foreign policy experts at the time had argued that the U.N. Security Council was a weak institution whose authorization for the invasion of Iraq was not necessary; pointing out that every permanent member of the U.N. Security Council had undertaken at least one war without the council's permission or endorsement, and no such authorization came from the U.N. in other U.S. military action such as in Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, Panama or Grenada, or for that matter President Jimmy Carter's attempt to rescue American hostages during the Iran Hostage Crisis.[160]


See also



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Political Offices
Preceded by:
Bill Clinton
President of the United States of America
January 20, 2001 – present
Preceded by:
Ann Richards
Governor of Texas
Succeeded by:
Rick Perry
Preceded by:
Bob Dole
Republican Party presidential nominee
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Stephen Harper Canada | Jacques Chirac France | Angela Merkel Germany | Romano Prodi Italy | Shinzo Abe Japan | Vladimir Putin Russia | Tony Blair United Kingdom | George W. Bush United States
Bush, George Walker
Bush, George, Jr.; Bush Jr.
43rd President of the United States
July 6, 1946
New Haven, Connecticut

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