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George W. Bush

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician and currently the 43rd President of the United States. He is a member of the Bush political family, the son of former President George H.W. Bush, and the brother of Jeb Bush the Governor of Florida. Before becoming president, he was a businessman, involved in professional sports and the oil industry. He was later elected the 46th Governor of Texas, and won the nomination of the Republican Party in the 2000 presidential election. Bush became President by defeating Vice President Al Gore of the Democratic Party in a particularly controversial and close election. Bush was re-elected in 2004, after defeating U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.


Personal life, service and education

George W. Bush was born to his parents, George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, in New Haven, Connecticut. He grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas, with his siblings Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. A younger sister, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three.

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

Like his father, Bush was educated at Phillips Academy (Andover), (September 1961–June 1964) and at 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. He was a C student, with a grade point average of 2.35 out of 4.00. He played baseball and rugby union during his freshman and senior years. He received a bachelor's degree in history in 1968.

After graduating from Yale, Bush enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard on May 27, 1968 during the Vietnam War, with a commitment to serve until May 26, 1974. He served as an F-102 pilot until 1972 and was twice promoted during his service, first to second lieutenant and then to first lieutenant. In November 1970, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, the commander of the Texas Air National Guard, recommended that Bush be promoted to first lieutenant.

In September 1973 he received permission to end his six-year commitment six months early in order to attend Harvard University Graduate School of Business, where he had been selected for the elite MBA program. He transferred to inactive reserve status shortly before being honorably discharged on October 1, 1973. Several prominent politicians and activists have 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 was awarded a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in 1975, and is the first U.S. president to hold an M.B.A degree.

Bush married Laura Welch in 1977. They had twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna Bush, born in 1981. In 1986, at the age of 40, he left the Episcopal Church and joined his wife's denomination, the United Methodist Church.

Business and early political career

In 1978, Bush ran for the U.S. House of Representatives but lost to State Sen. Democrat Kent Hance.

Bush began his career in the oil industry in 1979 when he established Arbusto Energy, an oil and gas exploration company he formed in 1977 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 money, and in 1986 it was merged into Harken Energy Corporation, with Bush becoming a director of Harken.

After working on his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign, he was told by a friend, William DeWitt, Jr., that then-owner Eddie Chiles , another of the Bushes' many friends, wanted to sell the Texas Rangers, an Arlington-based Major League Baseball franchise. In April 1989, Bush assembled a group of investors from his father's close friends; 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, with $500,000 of it a loan from a bank. 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 90's), 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 info). An SEC investigation later concluded "it appears that Bush did not engage in illegal insider trading," but noted that the memo "must in no way be construed as indicating that the party has been exonerated or that no action may ultimately result."

Bush served as managing general partner of the Rangers until he was elected Governor of Texas on November 8, 1994 over incumbent Democrat Ann Richards. His election to the governor's office was surprising to many since Richards was a popular incumbent. Bush further defied convential wisdom by forging a legislative alliance with powerful Texas Lt. Governor Bob Bullock, a longtime Democrat, who held similar political views. Bush went on to become, in 1998, the first Texas governor to be elected for two consecutive four-year terms. (Until 1975, Texas governors served two-year terms.)

While Bush was governor of Texas, he undertook signifcant legislative reform in the areas of criminal and tort law, and school financing. Bush took a hard line on capital punishment, and received much criticism for it. More convicts were executed under his terms than any other Texas governor, although the rate of executions was not unusual for Texas. Although there is much consensus that Bush effected significant changes, there is little consensus as to whether these changes were detrimental or positive in nature. If nothing else, Bush's transformative agenda, in combination with his political and family pedigree, catapulted him onto the national political radar. As the campaigns to succeed Bill Clinton as president began in earnest, Bush emerged as a key figure.

Presidential campaigns

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

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 compete on an equal basis for participation in federally funded programs, tax cuts, promoting the use of education vouchers, supporting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, maintaining a balanced federal budget, and restructuring of the armed forces. In foreign policy, he stated that he was against using the U.S. armed forces in nation building attempts abroad, a position he quickly reversed after the attacks of September 11.

Bush was inaugurated President on January 20 2001. Bush had faced Democratic candidate Vice President Al Gore. Bush won the electoral votes in 30 of the 50 states for a narrow majority of the electoral votes (Bush-271, Gore-266). Neither candidate received a majority of the nationwide popular vote (Green Party candidate Ralph Nader received 2,695,696 votes, Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne received 386,024 votes, pushing Gore under 50 percent), but Gore received more votes by approximately 540,000 out of 105 million, a margin of barely one-half of one percent. It was the first presidential election since the 1888 election in which the winning candidate received fewer popular votes than his opponent, and the first presidential election since the 1876 election in which the winner of the electoral vote was in dispute. It was also the first presidential election to be directly affected by a Supreme Court decision.

The Florida vote, which favored Bush by a slim margin in the initial count, was heavily contested after concerns were raised about flaws and irregularities in the voting process, and became the subject of a series of contentious court cases. Gore alleged voting irregularities in counties in Southern Florida and sought re-counts of those areas. Following heavy litigation regarding the legality of such re-counts, The Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide re-count of the election. The Florida Supreme Court decision was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where that decision was overturned. After the Supreme Court's mid-December decision in Bush v. Gore to end the recounts, Gore conceded the election. In the final official count, Bush won Florida's 25 electoral votes, and thereby won the presidency, by 537 votes. See U.S. presidential election, 2000. The election results are still disputed by some Democrats, though no longer contested in any legal venue.

In the 2004 election, Bush won a second term, an electoral majority, and also received 3.5 million popular votes more than his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry. Bush was the first presidential candidate since his father, George H.W. Bush in 1988 to receive a majority of the popular vote. (The intervening elections had seen stronger showings by non-major party candidates such as Ross Perot and Ralph Nader.) His margin over Kerry of about 3 percent was the smallest popular vote margin for a re-elected President since Woodrow Wilson's 1916 victory. As in the 2000 election, there were charges raised alleging voting improprieties, especially in Ohio. In 2004 they did not lead to recounts that were expected to affect the result, but led to a civil case challenging the result. On 11 January 2005, the Contestors withdrew the lawsuit, saying congressional certification of the electoral votes the previous week and the upcoming inauguration rendered the case moot, and said they would "pursue other avenues".

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. George W. Bush is the only President to win re-election after losing the popular vote in his first election. Of the three other Presidents who lost the popular vote, John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison were defeated in their bids for a second term, and Rutherford B. Hayes did not seek re-election.

Related articles: 2004 U.S. election voting controversies; 2004 U.S. Election controversies and irregularities and its subsidiary articles on 2004 election (voting machines), 2004 election (exit polls), and 2004 election (voter suppression)

Years as President


Foreign policy and security

During his first presidential visit to Europe in June 2001, Bush came under harsh criticism from European leaders for his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, which is aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions that may contribute to global warming. The treaty, symbolically signed by Vice President Gore in 1998, was never submitted by the Clinton administration to the United States Senate following the 95-0 passage of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution. The 1997 resolution (S. Res. 98) pre-emptively opposed any Kyoto treaty that did not place or schedule binding commitments on developing nations. The passage of the resolution effectively stopped Kyoto from becoming binding on the United States. Even though past American officials had been working on the treaty for several years, and the United States was without a doubt the biggest polluter on the planet, the Bush administration dropped it. In November 2004, Russia ratified the treaty, giving it the required minimum of nations to put it into force, leaving the United States behind.

Bush's imposition of a tariff on imported steel and on Canadian soft lumber was controversial in light of his pursuit of other free market policies, 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.

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.

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. However, after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, the administration focused much more on foreign policy in the Middle East.

Shortly after the attacks, a war was launched against Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, which Bush 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. The election was won by Hamid Karzai with 55.4% of the votes. [1]

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. Instead, Bush 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.

, President George W. Bush, and Prime Minister after reading statement to the press during the closing moments of the Red Sea Summit in , , ,
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


Since 1998, when the United States Congress and Bill Clinton passed 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 Iraq situation had now become urgent. The stated premise was that Saddam's regime had tried to acquire nuclear material and had not properly accounted for biological, and chemical material sold to Saddam's government by the US in the past, potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in violation of U.N. sanctions. Bush contended that Saddam might deliver such WMD to terrorists such as al Qaeda, though that group of Wahhabi Muslims positioned itself as mortal enemies of the secular "Hussein" government, whom Osama bin Laden referred to publicly as satanist. A bipartisan intelligence review has found no credible evidence that Saddam Hussien possessed WMD.

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 he received with passage of the UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which allowed inspectors lead by Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei to investigate Bush's allegations. Increasing pressure from the United States in the spring of 2003 forced the UN weapons inspectors to leave the country, unable to verify the existence of any Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. The Bush administration examined the possibility of seeking a Security Council resolution to authorize the use of military force (in pursuance of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter), but abandoned the idea when it became clear that the majority of the members (including most of the permanent members with vetoing power) would vote against such a resolution; the matter was never taken to a vote (cf. The UN Security Council and the Iraq war). The United States gathered a group of mostly small countries to support a war, a total of about forty. Bush has called it the "coalition of the willing". Spain has since pulled out of the war; Poland has announced that it will withdraw troops in 2005 as has Italy.

The United States invaded Iraq in March, 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 occasional refusal to co-operate with UN weapons inspectors, Saddam's attempt to assassinate former president George Bush while visiting Kuwait, and Saddam's violation of the 1991 cease fire agreement. The primary stated goal of the war was to stop Iraq from deploying and developing WMD by removing Saddam from power. The war proved extremely divisive, with some of the U.S.'s long-term allies such as France and Germany strongly opposed to it. In many countries, including the United States, there have also been civilian opposition and antiwar protests, on a scale comparable to that of the Vietnam War, including the largest protest in world history [2]. The war was called illegal by the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who cited the U.N. Charter, and is considered a crime against peace by many of its critics.

While the conventional Iraqi armed forces fell apart within a few days, the problems in Iraq later escalated. An insurgency continued after the declared end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003, with several terrorist groups also supporting the insurgency. More than 1500 U.S. troops have been killed and over 10,000 have been wounded in action. [3] The failure to uncover the alleged WMD led to renewed allegations that intelligence estimates were spun or distorted to support the war. These claims have been corroborated by investigations and reports by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence , which also concluded that there was a strong failure of intelligence overall. Nevertheless, Bush states that he still believes it was the right decision, because a demonstrably brutal tyrant has been overthrown and can no longer threaten the world. See 2003 invasion of Iraq for full coverage. To support his view, Bush praised the high turnout in the Iraqi election of January 30 2005, and polls conducted of Iraqi citizens' opinion of the war, which show mixed results.

Military Spending

Of the $2.4 trillion budgeted for 2005, about $401 billion [4] are planned to be spent on defense. This level is generally comparable to the defense spending during the cold war. [5]

Political Ideology

In his 2005 inaugural address he outlined his vision for a Pax Americana, alluding to 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, and thus consider his vision arrogant and dangerous on a global and historical scale.

Bush's foreign policy is influenced by the neo-conservative think tank Project for the New American Century, many of whose members have prominent positions in the Bush administration.

Domestic policy

Faith-Based Initiatives

In early 2001, President Bush worked with Republicans 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 assistence, the new legislation removed reporting requirements which required the organizations to seperate 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 as violating the principle of separation of church and state and being unconstitutional, and questioned if it violates the establishment clause of the first amendment.


President Bush is against same-sex marriage, and has thus 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. However, a week before the 2004 election, Bush expressed 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.

During Bush's first term, his nominee as ambassador to Romania, Michael E. Guest, became the first openly gay man to be confirmed by the Senate as a U.S. ambassador. (The first openly gay ambassador, James Hormel, received a recess appointment from Bill Clinton after the Senate failed to confirm the nomination). [6]

Bush has tended to be opposed to forms of affirmative action, but expressed appreciation for the Supreme Court's ruling upholding selecting college applicants for purposes of diversity. 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 their 2000 convention in Baltimore as a presidential candidate, and he met with outgoing NAACP President Kweisi Mfume on December 21, 2004. Colin Powell became the first African-American man to serve as Secretary of State during Bush's first term in office. He was succeeded by Condolezza Rice in the same cabinet post beginning in 2005, becoming the first African-American female to serve in such capacity.


During his first term, Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for three major tax cuts. These temporary cuts, scheduled to expire a decade after passage, increased the standard income tax deduction for married couples, eliminated the estate tax, and reduced marginal tax rates. Bush has asked Congress to make the tax cuts permanent, but others want the cuts to be wholly or partially repealed even before their scheduled expiration, seeing the decrease in revenue while increasing spending as fiscally irresponsible.

By 2004, these cuts had reduced federal tax revenues, as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, to the lowest level since 1959. The effect of simultaneous record increases in spending was to create record budget deficits. In the last year of the Clinton administration, the federal budget showed an annual surplus of more than US$230 billion. [7] Under Bush, however, the government returned to deficit spending. The annual deficit reached a record level of $374 billion in 2003 and then a further record of $413 billion in 2004. [8], ([9]

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". [10]


Bush proposed an immigration bill that would have greatly expanded the use of guest worker visas.

Social Security

Bush has called for major changes in Social Security, identifying the issue as a priority for his second term. As of 2005 it is expected that he will offer a proposal incorporating reductions in benefit levels and partial privatization (allowing individual workers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts). Most Democrats and some Republicans are critical of such ideas, partly because of the large federal borrowing the plan would require ($1 trillion or more) and partly because of the problems encountered by the United Kingdom's privatized pension plan. See Social Security debate (United States).


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.


In January of 2002, Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, 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 [11]. Some state governments are refusing to implement provisions of the act as long as they are not adequately funded.[12] 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." [13] Williams did not disclose the payments.


Scientists have repeatedly criticized the Bush administration for reducing funding for scientific research, setting restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research (to be fair, proponents have pointed out that President Bush is also the first president to give funding to stem cell research), ignoring scientific consensus on global warming, and hampering cooperation with foreign scientists by enforcing deterring immigration and visa restrictions. 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 felt that "the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important for our collective welfare." [14] [15]

On January 14, 2004, Bush announced a "space vision", calling for a return to the Moon by 2020, the completion of the International Space Station by 2010 and eventually sending astronauts to Mars. Although the plan was met with a largely tepid reception ([16]), 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.

Bush's environmental record has been attacked by environmentalists, who charge that his policies cater to industry demands to weaken environmental protections. He 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 sites, or brownfields, to better protect public health, create jobs, and revitalize communities. 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 plan ; opponents say that the initiative will in fact allow utilities to pollute more than they do currently. During his first presidential bid, Bush stated he supported the Kyoto protocol global warming treaty, but once in office he reversed that position, saying it would harm the U.S. economy. 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. However, Bush claims his reason for not supporting the Kyoto Protocol is that it unfairly targets the U.S. as opposed to other nations, especially China.


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

Bush's cabinet included the largest number of minorities of any U.S. federal cabinet to date, including the first two Asian-American federal cabinet secretaries (Chao and Mineta). This gives it the distinction of being both the most racially diverse, and, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the wealthiest cabinet ever.

There is one non-Republican present in Bush's cabinet: Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the first Asian-American cabinet secretary, who had previously served as Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton, is a Democrat.

His cabinet included figures prominent in past administrations, notably Colin Powell, who had served as United States National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H. W. Bush and Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who had served in the same position under Gerald Ford.
Also, Vice President Richard Cheney served as Secretary of Defense under George H. W. Bush.

Other advisors and officials

Among the more criticized appointments have been John Negroponte, Elliott Abrams, Otto Reich, and John Poindexter for their roles in the Iran-Contra Affair and for allegedly covering up human rights abuses in Central and South America.

Some of Bush's other appointments have been noted as reflecting a preference for family members of favored officials. These include: J. Strom Thurmond Jr. (Senator Strom Thurmond's son) as South Carolina's U.S. Attorney, Eugene Scalia (Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's son) as Solicitor for the Labor Department, Janet Rehnquist (U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist's daughter) as Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (later fired for firearms charges and inappropriate job terminations), and Elizabeth Cheney (Vice President Cheney's daughter) to the newly created position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near-East Affairs.

Major legislation signed

Public perception and assessments


In the time of national crisis following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bush briefly enjoyed approval ratings of greater than 85%. Bush maintained these extraordinary ratings (the highest approval ratings of any president since such regular polls began in 1938) for some months following the attack, though they gradually dropped to lower levels.

During the 2002 midterm congressional elections, Bush had the highest approval rating of any president during a midterm election since Dwight Eisenhower, and subsequently the Republican Party retook control of the Senate and added to their majority in the House of Representatives. These results marked an unusual deviation from the historic trend of the President's party losing congressional seats in the midterm elections, and was just the third time since the Civil War that the party in control of the White House gained seats in both houses of Congress in a midterm election (others were 1902 and 1934). One explanation for this historic event is that Bush's wartime popularity carried over to other Republicans in races for legislative office. Another is that the singularly close election of Bush in 2000 complicates expectations based on general historic trends.

In 2003, Bush's approval ratings continued their slow descent from the 2001 highs, with 13 major polls agreeing on a remarkably stable and consistent 1.7% per month decline for his entire presidency with the exceptions of only three significant increases: immediately after 9/11, during the Iraq War, and the capture of Saddam Hussein. [18] By late 2003, his approval numbers were in the low to middle 50s. Nevertheless, his numbers were still solid for the third year of a Presidency, when the President's opponents typically begin their campaigns in earnest. Most polls tied the decline to growing concern over the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and the economy's slow recovery from the 2001 recession. Late during the Democratic primary season, most major polls showed Bush losing to the various Democratic challengers by a narrow margin. Polls of May 2004 showed anywhere from a 53 percent approval rating [19] to a 46 percent approval rating. [20] A recent Zogby poll showed President Bush's approval rating a 46% for the month of March, 2005. While it noted that 46% was the lowest President Bush had ever received, it states that with the exception of John F. Kennedy, President Bush has the highest low-point rating of any President since polls began. Composite time-series graphs of Bush's approval ratings from January 2001 to January 2005 are available at [21] [22], and an analysis of G. W. Bush's popularity over time is available at [23].

Bush has been the subject of both high praise and stringent criticism, and has been called by some the "love him or hate him" president. The former have focused on matters such as the economy, homeland security, and especially his leadership after the September 11 attacks; the latter on matters such as the economy, his leadership after the September 11 attacks and the passage of the Patriot Act; the controversial 2000 election, and the occupation of Iraq. The magazine TIME named Bush as its Person of the Year for 2000 and 2004. This award is traditionally given to the person considered by the editors to be the most important newsmaker of the year.

Over the course of Bush's presidency, tensions between him and former president Bill Clinton have eased. Although Bush and his predecessor have great ideological differences, the two appear to have formed a friendship. [24]

Outside the United States

President Bush and French President during the G-8 sessions, July 21, 2001.
President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac during the G-8 sessions, July 21, 2001.

Bush's popularity outside the United States is generally lower. In many parts of the world he is very unpopular, with many reporting a dislike of his personality and foreign policy. Although the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was well-supported, the 2003 Invasion of Iraq particularly provoked charges of unilateralism. Polls indicate erosion of support among Europeans for Bush, for example a drop from 36% to 16% favorability from mid-2002 to mid-2003 in Germany. [25] A broader Associated Press/Ipsos survey of industrialized nations found that a majority of people in UK, France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Spain—in addition to Canada and Australia, where cooperation with American leaders is traditional—have an unfavorable view of Bush and his policy on foreign affairs, although significant minorities continue to report favorable views. [26] In Muslim countries Bush's unfavorability ratings are particularly high, often over 90%. [27] Among the non-U.S. nations polled in a worldwide study, Bush's popularity was greatest in Israel, where 62% reported favorable views. [28]

A July and August 2004 survey by the University of Maryland, College Park and GlobeScan, Inc. of 34,330 people in 35 nations found that, in 30 out of 35 countries polled, a majority or plurality would have preferred to see Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry win in the 2004 election. Kerry was strongly preferred by traditional European allies like Norway (74% for Kerry to 7% for Bush), Germany (74% to 10%), the Netherlands (62% to 15%), France (64% to 5%), Italy (58% to 14%), Spain (45% to 7%), and the United Kingdom (47% to 16%). Also other allies such as Japan (43% to 23%), Mexico (38% to 18%), Turkey (40% to 25%) and South Africa (43% to 29%). The only countries where Bush was preferred by a majority were the Philippines, Nigeria, and Poland. India and Thailand were divided. (pdf) An October poll conducted by a range of major international newspapers shows that in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Spain and South Korea a majority of voters share a rejection of the Iraq invasion, contempt for the Bush administration and a growing hostility to the U.S.; however, while they all oppose the Bush government's politics, they do not express a dislike of American people. Another poll found that Israel and Russia were the only countries surveyed in which a majority favored Bush over Kerry.

After the election another poll was conducted by GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, College Park, commissioned by the BBC World Service, between November 15 and January 3 in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the UK. Of the 22,000 participants, 58% said they expected the second Bush presidency to have a negative impact on peace and security; only 26% expected him to have a positive effect. In one of the United States' closest allies, the United Kingdom, 64% disagreed with the proposition that Bush would have a positive effect. Only in the Philippines, Poland and India did a majority of those polled think Bush would have a positive effect. [29]


On March 12, 2005 the New York Times and other news media reported Bush's use of an Apple iPod portable music player, and its contents (about 250 songs, loaded onto it for him by assistants). There was much mock-serious analysis, and it was suggested that the device be dubbed "iPod One."

See also


Further reading

External links



|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Bob Dole | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Republican Party Presidential candidate
2000 (won), 2004 (a) (won) | width="30%" |Succeeded by:

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Bill Clinton | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |President of the United States
January 20, 2001 – present (b) | width="30%" |Succeeded by:

|- style="text-align:left; border-left:hidden; border-right:hidden; border-bottom:hidden;" | colspan="3"| (b) As of 2005

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