George W. Bush Travels

George W. Bush Travels

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George W. Bush Travels - History

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 4, 2001

Summary of the President's Physical Examination

I have interviewed and examined President George W. Bush, and have reviewed his medical record. Within the scope of my specialty, I find him to be fit for duty and have every reasonable expectation that he will remain fit for duty for the duration of his Presidency.

Dr. James Butler
Chief, Gastroenterology
National Naval Medical Center
Consultant to the Attending
Physician to Congress

Dr. Murray Sean Donovan
Consultant to the Attending
Physician to Congress
Chief, Radiology
National Naval Medical Center

Dr. Sushil Jain
Head, Department of Optometry
National Naval Medical Center

Dr. Thomas James DeGraba, M.D.
Clinical Stroke Research Unit, Stroke Branch
National Institute of
Neurologic Disorder and Stroke

Dr. Stephen S. Haas
Team Physician,
Washington Wizards,
Capitals and Mystics

Ms. Margaret Jylkka
Chief, Audiology
National Naval Medical Center

Dr. Richard A. Keller
Chief, Dermatologic Surgery
Walter Reed
Army Medical Center

Dr. Eric A. Mair
Division of Otolaryngology-
Head and Neck Surgery
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Dr. Allen H. Roberts II
Head, Critical Care
Pulmonary Critical Care
National Naval Medical Center

Dr. William Marston Linehan
Urologic Oncology Branch
National Cancer Institute
National Institute of Health

Dr. Richard L. Morrissey
Chief of Cardiology
National Naval Medical Center

Dr. Carey Craig Williams
Chief, Podiatric Services
National Naval Medical Center
Consultant to the Attending
Physician to Congress

Supervised and Reviewed by:

Dr. Kenneth Cooper Dr.
President and Founder
The Cooper Aerobics Center

Richard J. Tubb
Director, White House Medical Unit
The Presidents Physician

President George W. Bush
Summary of Medical History
August 4th, 2001

With a date of birth of July 6th, 1946, the President is 55 years old. Dr. Kenneth Cooper performed the Presidents previous medical examination at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas in June 2000, as he has since 1989. With the exception of the knee MRI, all tests were performed to establish a baseline for the Presidents tenure and as screening (c.f. diagnostic) examinations.

There is no past medical history of hypertension, diabetes, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted disease, stroke or heart disease.

The President has a history of activity and sports-related injuries. These injuries resolved without sequelae, and do not impact his current exercise program or duties.
- Musculoskeletal low back pain secondary to lifting fully evaluated in 1990, currently asymptomatic
- Left medial meniscal injury, 1997, with subsequent surgical repair

Benign colonic adenomatous polyps removed on screening colonoscopy, 7/98, 12/99

Mild high frequency hearing loss speech frequencies excellent

Nasal congestion suggestive of seasonal allergic rhinitis experienced this past spring in D.C. Currently asymptomatic

Left medial menisectomy as above, 3/97

The President uses vitamins but does not routinely use prescription medications.

The Presidents immunizations are current for worldwide travel.

Tobacco: An occasional cigar.

Caffeine: Diet sodas and coffee.

Exercise: The President currently runs (on average) 3.0 miles, 4 times weekly. He also routinely cross-trains with swimming, free weights and elliptical trainer.

Other: The President has not missed work due to illness since his last physical exam.

Age: 55 years old
Height: 72 inches (without shoes)
Temperature: 97 degrees F (oral)
Weight: 189.75# (previous 194.5#)
Body fat: 14.5% (previous 19.94%)
Resting heart rate (seated): 43 bpm
Resting blood pressure (seated): 118/74
Oxygen saturation (via pulse oximetry, room air): 98%

System-specific examination summary

HEENT: HEENT exam, including fiberoptic nasolaryngoscopy, was unremarkable except for a documented mild bilateral high frequency hearing loss at from 4000-8000 kHz. Hearing is excellent in the speech frequencies and is unchanged since June 2000. The degree and frequency involved does not impact normal conversation. Physical examination of the neck and thyroid was unremarkable. Thyroid function tests were normal.

Eyes: No ocular pathology was discovered on slit lamp or dilated direct ophthalmoscopy. Visual fields and intraocular pressure were normal. Uncompensated (uncorrected) distant visual acuity was 20/25 in the right eye, 20/30 in the left eye. Both were correctable to 20/20. (Glasses are not required for distant vision. The President uses reading glasses as needed.)

Pulmonary: Pulmonary examination and pulmonary function tests were normal. Chest x-ray was unremarkable.

Gastrointestinal: Normal. Abdominal ultrasound was unremarkable. Colonoscopy was last performed in December 1999. Surveillance colonoscopy is not indicated until next year.

Cardiology: Physical examination of the circulatory system was normal. The resting EKG was consistent with aerobic conditioning. There was no evidence of heart disease.

Consistent with his past examinations at the Cooper Clinic, the President underwent Balke exercise treadmill testing (ETT) and echocardiogram. He exercised for a total of 26:00 minutes, 100% maximum predicted heart rate, and calculated MVO2 of 52.5. (Previous ETT: 24:00 minutes, maximal heart rate 174, MVO2 49.6). No signs or symptoms of cardiovascular pathology were noted. Echocardiogram was within normal limits. Fasting Lipid panel: Total Cholesterol: 170 (*desirable 40) LDL: 112 (optimal Printer-Friendly Version Email This Page

George W. Bush: Life Before the Presidency

George W. Bush was the first child of George Herbert Walker Bush and the former Barbara Pierce. George H. W. Bush enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday and became notable as the youngest pilot to earn his wings in World War II. Prior to enlistment, George H. W. Bush fell in love with Barbara Pierce, after meeting her at a country club dance in 1941. They were engaged in 1943, and Bush was deployed shortly afterward as a Navy pilot in the Pacific he chose to paint his beloved Barbara’s name on the side of his plane. The two married shortly after Bush returned from the war, and George Walker Bush was born on July 6, 1946, in New Haven, Connecticut. The elder Bush attended Yale and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in just two-and-a-half years.

After graduation, the Bushes moved to Odessa, Texas, in 1948, and George H.W. Bush worked as an equipment clerk for an oil company. The young family rented a tiny apartment, which was so small that they had to share a bathroom with neighboring prostitutes. The family moved briefly to California, then returned in 1950 to Midland, Texas, which became George W. Bush’s childhood hometown. The young “Georgie,” as he was called, led the life of a typical suburban Baby Boomer that included playing baseball with the neighborhood children.

In the spring of 1953, Bush’s three-year-old sister, Robin, was diagnosed with leukemia. Seeking help, her parents took her to the state-of-the-art Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City. Despite the doctors’ best efforts, however, Robin died shortly before her fourth birthday. Just seven years old, George W. was not made aware of his sister’s grave condition. Shortly after her death, his parents came to pick him up early from school. He ran to the car, blissfully unaware that Robin had died two days before. After Robin’s death, George W. became very close to his mother, and many think he inherited or learned to adopt her quick temper, sharp wit, and blunt opinions. The Bush family continued to grow with the birth of Jeb, who was seven years younger than George W., followed by Neil in 1955, Marvin in 1956, and Dorothy in 1959.

Bush attended Sam Houston Elementary School in Midland and moved to Houston with his family in 1959, where he attended the private Kinkaid School. He spent his high school years at Phillips Academy Andover, in Andover, Massachusetts, which his father had also attended. It was a family tradition and a privilege to attend a school such as Andover, but it was not without drawbacks life at the exclusive school was regimented, academically rigorous, cold, snowy, and devoid of female students. Bush learned to be self-sufficient but initially struggled in his studies. He received a zero on his first written assignment at the Academy, overutilizing Roget’s Thesaurus in order to boost his vocabulary.

He was terrified of failing and embarrassing himself and his family. Lights-out was at 10 p.m., but Bush struggled to keep up with his studies and so kept working after curfew by utilizing the little bit of light that seeped under his door from the lights in the hallway. Although academic success came slowly for young George, he made friends easily. Academically, he developed what would become a life-long love for American history. When reflecting on his Andover years, Bush recognized that he received a first-rate education. In his first book, A Charge to Keep, Bush wrote that he learned to “bloom where he was planted” at Andover. He never again felt isolated “I could make friends and make my way, no matter where I found myself in life.”

For Bush, there was little question of where he would attend college. He followed his grandfather’s and father’s paths by attending Yale University. As he was settling in as a freshman at Yale, his father decided to make a run for the U.S. Senate. George H.W. Bush garnered more votes than any Republican up to that point in Texas history, but he still fell short of victory. George W. Bush assisted with the campaign as much as possible, although he was in Connecticut, and he learned some of the basic lessons of grassroots politics during the experience.

For Bush, Yale was a “work hard, play hard” experience. He majored in history, with a concentration in European and American studies. One course that was particularly memorable for Bush was on the Soviet Union, focusing especially on the struggle between tyranny and freedom. Outside the classroom, he was involved in fraternity life, joining Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) his freshman year, and during his senior year, he was among the fifteen yearly initiates of Yale’s preeminent secret society, Skull and Bones, into which his father and grandfather had also been inducted. He enjoyed athletics, but was unable to achieve much success as a pitcher for the junior varsity baseball team. He came to realize his talent was in rugby rather than baseball, and he made the varsity team in that sport. Bush was briefly engaged to Katherine Wolfman, but the two parted amicably.

Bush graduated from Yale in 1968, a year clouded by the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, and the ongoing conflict in Vietnam. Considering his father’s war record and his family’s values, military service was nearly unavoidable for Bush while the country was at war. He chose to serve in the National Guard, and, in the fall of 1968, he was stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia for his pilot training. His service in the Air National Guard became a point of contention for his political opponents because some accused him of benefiting from political favoritism by avoiding overseas service and combat and of not fulfilling his service obligations in full when he received permission to muster out before the end of his commitment. Moreover, it was argued, National Guard service itself was not an easy option to get for draft eligible men without privileged connections.

Bush continued his education by pursuing a Master in Business Administration (MBA) at Harvard University with the hopes of starting a career in business. After graduation, he headed back to Midland, Texas, where he had been told the oil business was booming. He received a job as a landman for an oil company, researching potential drilling sites and negotiating leases with the owners. After working as a landman for several years, he struck out on his own and founded Arbusto Energy in 1977. The company focused on low-risk but low-return wells, and it discovered a relatively profitable gas field that kept it afloat. The company was succeeded by Bush Exploration, which later merged with Spectrum 7 in 1984. From his experience in the oil business, where his father had also succeeded, Bush learned many valuable lessons. He wrote in A Charge to Keep: “I learned how to manage, how to set clear goals and work with people to achieve them. I learned the human side of capitalism. I felt responsible for my employees and tried to treat them fairly and well.”

As his 30th birthday approached, Bush began to contemplate settling down. He still resided in a cluttered bachelor apartment, and was known for his love of beer and hard liquor. Both George W. Bush and Laura Welch had grown up in Midland, Texas. They even briefly attended the same school, but the two had never met. They were introduced to one another at a barbeque in July 1977, and the two hit it off immediately. Their first date was playing miniature golf the following evening. Laura, being much calmer and more naturally relaxed than George, balanced his energetic and outgoing personality. After only a few months, they became engaged and were married on November 5, 1977, in a modest ceremony. They honeymooned in Mexico and then spent the majority of their first year of marriage on the campaign trail for Bush’s first run for public office.

Laura and George both desired children but the couple experienced trouble conceiving. They explored adoption before the birth of their twin girls in November 1981. Being the granddaughters of the vice president of the United States, within hours of their birth a press conference was held to announce their arrival. They were named after their grandmothers, Barbara and Jenna.

Bush joined the Methodist Church shortly after his children were born. His spiritual journey would be slow but would gradually lead him to a strong faith. Bush had been baptized at Yale’s non-denominational Dwight Hall Chapel, and his parents had taken him to both Presbyterian and Episcopal churches in Texas but the experience never reached him very deeply. His views began to shift when his father invited the world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham to answer some questions with the collective Bush family assembled in the family vacation house in Kennebunkport, Maine. Graham spoke with Bush, who was moved by his message. He began reading the Bible more seriously and attending Wednesday night Bible studies. By the time he ran for President in 2000, his faith had solidified, and he spoke of it on the campaign trail, particularly when he named Jesus as his favorite philosopher during a presidential debate.

Bush’s behavior and actions in his younger days, particularly as they related to alcohol, raised some questions during his campaigns. He famously responded that he was “young and irresponsible” when he was “young and irresponsible.” His main concern, he said, was to protect his family and not have his daughters follow his mistakes. Just prior to election day in 2000, a bombshell exploded in the press when a story was released that Bush had once been arrested for drunk driving as a young adult. Most friends at the time did not see him as an alcoholic, but rather an occasional binge drinker. According to Bush, a turning point occurred on his 40th birthday, after a celebration at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. He awakened with a severe hangover and attempted his normal three-mile morning run, as he had done for the past fourteen years, but felt miserable. He wrote about his experience in his book, Decision Points: “My problem was not only drinking it was selfishness. The booze was leading me to put myself ahead of others, especially my family. faith showed me a way out. I knew I could count on the grace of God to help me change. It would not be easy, but by the end of the run, I had made up my mind: I was done drinking.”

The Political Beginnings

On July 6, 1977, George W. Bush celebrated his 31st birthday without much of a resume to show for it. He had been a landman and a political aide but had held no position of distinction. Bush had never seriously considered politics as a profession, although he had worked full time on several campaigns. He considered, and decided against, running for the Texas state legislature after being discharged from the National Guard. Before flight training in 1968, he was a travelling aide to Congressman Edward Gurney’s Senate campaign in Florida and served as the political director to Red Blount’s Senate campaign in Alabama. In 1976, he volunteered on President Gerald Ford’s operation in west Texas for the Republican primary, but he was unable to garner any delegates for the President.

By the time of his 31st birthday, Bush received word that Representative George Mahon, Midland’s congressman for 43 years, was retiring. Most Republicans at the time began supporting Jim Reese, Mayor of Odessa, who had previously challenged Mahon. Bush decided to enter the race. He was the grandson of a senator, Prescott Bush, and his father was politically prominent on the national stage, but young George’s campaign message was that he wanted to go to Washington to stop the intrusion of the federal government into everyday lives.

Doug Hannah, an old friend from Houston, recalls of Bush on the campaign trail: “He loved it and he was having a great time. My shock was that he was such a good speaker. I started to notice he sounded just like his father—if you closed your eyes, you heard his father.” His father had made the name “George Bush” well known in Texas and nationally, having served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Republican National Committee chairman, and in Congress. Many of his father’s friends also joined the campaign. It was during this period that Bush first became familiar with the brilliant political operative Karl Rove, who went on to become the architect of Bush’s two runs for the presidency. Bush won the primary, but lost in the general election. Losing his first political contest seasoned Bush, but he did not run for office again until after his father had left political office for the last time.

In 1988, Vice President George H.W. Bush mounted his own race for the presidency. George W. moved to Washington, D.C., to assist and help oversee the staff. Working closely with famous political operative Lee Atwater on campaign strategy, George W. became a sounding board for his father. Bush staunchly defended his father in speeches on the campaign trail where he thanked volunteers on his father’s behalf. The elder Bush earned the nomination and ultimately defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis in the general election. George W. was not interested in becoming a part of his father’s administration, however, so he moved back to Texas to pursue business ventures.

In 1989, George W. Bush organized a group of investors and purchased the Texas Rangers baseball team. Owning the Rangers brought Bush publicity in Texas and valuable management and business experience. His efforts to build a new stadium gave him experience in public-private partnerships. He sold the team in 1998 for a $15-million profit.

In 1992, President George H.W. Bush faced reelection in an unfavorable political environment, with a recession and controversy over a broken promise not to raise taxes. The younger Bush again assisted his father’s campaign, gathering more political experience and knowledge along the way. When Democrat Bill Clinton defeated his father, the loss freed George W. to begin considering his own political future. He believed that education and school funding plans in Texas were failing under Democratic Governor Ann Richards. Texas had also become a lawsuit capital, and Bush believed he could achieve tort reform, limiting the amount of money that could be awarded in civil cases, such as medical malpractice. He met with Karl Rove to discuss how to get involved, and they saw the opportunity to challenge Richards in 1993. After the failure of her “Robin Hood” education bill, taking from rich districts to give to poorer ones, Bush officially decided to run against Richards. His bid was a long shot, with even his own mother telling him that he could not win against the popular, charismatic incumbent.

With no Republican challengers, Bush was able to focus on the general election from the start, and he developed policy issues centered on education, juvenile justice, welfare policies, and tort reform. He disliked fundraising, but he enjoyed connecting with people at grassroots campaign events. His campaign hit a snag when he went on a publicized bird hunt and accidently shot an endangered Kildeer bird. He paid the fine both literally and politically but later made light of the event. His ability to laugh at himself proved popular with voters. Throughout the campaign, Governor Richards dismissed Bush as “some jerk,” and as “Shrub,” a play on his family name. Refusing to lose his temper, Bush reasoned that voters did not want politicians who could not maintain their professionalism. Shocking much of the political world, Bush defeated the famous incumbent handily, prompting The New York Times to label it a “stunning upset.” The victory proved particularly sweet for the Bush family because Richards had taunted H.W. for having been “born with a silver foot in his mouth,” at the 1988 Democratic presidential convention. A new Bush was now on the national political radar.

Before his inauguration, his mother handed Bush an envelope containing a letter of congratulations and approval from his father with his treasured cufflinks that he had received from his own father upon earning his Navy wings. On his first day as governor, Bush had the painting by W.H.D. Koerner, “A Charge to Keep,” featuring men on horseback navigating a hard trail, hung in his office as inspiration to him and his staff to keep their campaign promises. The title also reminded Bush of his favorite hymn by the same name, and he later borrowed the title for his 1999 campaign biography.

As governor, Bush worked across party lines to accomplish his goals. He met privately with Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, a powerful Democrat, to ensure positive relations with the legislature. In Texas, the legislature meets only 140 days out of every two years, and Bush’s goal was to achieve his top four policy initiatives before the end of the first session. Bullock’s cooperation was crucial. Bush also took the initiative to reach across the aisle to meet with both parties’ leadership before the beginning of the session. Bush, Bullock, and Speaker of the House Pete Laney met weekly to develop strategy. Possessing an explosive temper, Bullock often became frustrated when action stalled. He shouted at Bush during one of their weekly meetings, but the governor diffused the situation with humor. Their bipartisan relationship was characterized by strong differences, but an overarching desire to get things done guided them. Bush earned Bullock’s admiration, and the lieutenant governor later endorsed Bush for reelection, predicting that he would become the next President. During Bush’s first term, welfare and juvenile justice reform were progressing steadily, but efforts at tort reform stalled. Bullock and Bush had strong differences on the limit for punitive damages. Eventually, they were able to compromise at $750,000.

Once tort reform was resolved, the focus shifted to education, the issue closest to Bush’s heart. His flagship accomplishment became the passage of legislation overhauling the education system of Texas, the most sweeping changes in half a century. The bill added elements of choice and competition to the school system, focused on new efforts to insure every child could read, and developed a comprehensive set of knowledge and skill requirements. His efforts in Texas garnered national attention and became a model for other states. Foretelling some of his agenda as President, Governor Bush also pushed through major tax reform, including tax cuts, and instituted programs to assist faith-based initiatives, providing social services through churches and other private institutions.

Bush ran for reelection as governor in 1998 on his record of fulfilling his previous campaign promises and began to share his vision nationally. Seeking to take the rhetorical edge off his politics, he branded his philosophy “compassionate conservatism,” which focused on using traditional conservative ideas, such as small government and free-market principles, to help society. Bush won reelection with a record 69 percent of the vote. His brother, Jeb Bush, was elected governor of Florida that same night, which made them the first pair of brothers to serve as governor at the same time since Winthrop and Nelson Rockefeller in 1967.

With his success as governor of a large state, and with the Republican Party eager to reclaim the White House after two Clinton terms, party officials across the nation began discussing Bush as a possible presidential candidate. Bush considered his options, searching for something more inspirational than public opinion or Republican pressure. According to his campaign biography, a rousing sermon in which his minister emphasized the importance of making the most of every moment provided that inspiration he needed. After the sermon, he authorized Karl Rove, his top political adviser, to prepare for a run for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.

George W Bush is back – but not all appreciate his new progressive image

George W Bush, the former US president, returns to the political stage this week with a promotional book tour comprising numerous “virtual conversations” and TV and radio interviews, including a late night talkshow.

The media appearances, focused on immigration reform, look set to confirm Bush’s improbable journey from reviled architect of the devastating Iraq war to elder statesman venerated even by some liberals. The Republican’s approval rating has soared since he left office in 2009 and he has been praised by his Democratic successor, Barack Obama.

Not everyone, however, is comfortable with the rehabilitation of a leader whose “war on terror” yielded waterboarding and other forms of torture. They argue that Americans with short memories have become overly eager to embrace Bush, 74, as a folksy and avuncular national treasure.

“I’m hoping there’ll be some pushback against this because I think it’s an absolute scandal that man should be rehabilitated and tarted up as in any way progressive,” said Jackson Lears, a cultural historian.

Lears added: “This is a man who, in company with [vice-president Dick] Cheney of course, created more permanent and long-lasting damage to the presidency and the American system of government than probably anyone before or since.”

Bush’s new book, Out of Many, One, fits his new image. The 43rd president has painted 43 portraits of immigrants he has got to know and has written their stories. His purpose, says his office, is to put human faces on the important debate around immigration and the need for reform.

Bush’s publicity blitz will be reminiscent of that undertaken by Obama last November for the publication of his presidential memoir. It includes a virtual conversation with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the immigrant Hollywood actor and former governor of California, hosted by the George W Bush Presidential Center on Sunday.

There will be an event with his daughter, Barbara Bush, via Barnes & Noble and further virtual conversations hosted by other bookshops. Media appearances range from an opinion column in the Washington Post newspaper to a three-part CBS interview in which anchor Norah O’Donnell visits Bush and his wife, Laura, at their ranch in Texas.

Bush tells O’Donnell that the immigration system was one of the biggest disappointments of his presidency. “I campaigned on immigration reform,” he says. “I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do.”

But Lears, a history professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey and editor of the journal Raritan Quarterly, finds the notion of Bush as a champion of immigrants as “self-parodic”.

He said: “It’s almost beyond belief that he would be celebrated for that or any other kind of humane gestures of inclusion and tolerance.

“He was a man who wrapped his very narrow-gauge nationalism, his chauvinism and militarism in the rhetoric of righteousness. He was an evangelical Christian and that, to me, is more offensive in many ways than Trump’s style, which was overt, offensive and repellent.”

Bush’s broadcast interviews will also include Fox News, National Public Radio, Telemundo and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! – a late-night show hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel. His counterpart on NBC, Jimmy Fallon, suffered a backlash for being too soft on Donald Trump and playfully stroking the candidate’s hair just weeks before the 2016 election.

The promotional tour, and direct intervention on immigration, will put the seal on Bush’s comeback to the public stage. After Joe Biden’s inauguration, he made a joint TV appearance with Bill Clinton and Obama that presented the trio as guardians of democracy in the wake of Trump’s scorched earth assault on institutions.

Yet for some it was hard to reconcile this conceit with the man who once faced demands to be prosecuted for war crimes over the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”, or torture, at CIA “black sites” in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.

Bush’s legacy includes the illegal invasion of Iraq in search of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. He resisted LGBTQ+ rights, botched the government response to Hurricane Katrina and presided over the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Lears also criticizes Bush for an unconstitutional expansion of executive power that holds today. “This man committed more impeachable offences than you can shake a stick at and he’s being celebrated now in this mindless way,” he said.

“I think of it as a yet another unintended and catastrophic consequence of Trump derangement syndrome: the sense that, well, maybe he wasn’t so bad after all because, after all, he and Laura and Barack and Michelle like each other. This seems to be the mentality that we’re dealing with.

“It’s an enormous blind spot now and it’s perfect that an airhead like Jimmy Kimmel would be participating in this rehabilitation. I can’t imagine anything that would better signify the depths to which our public discourse has fallen than George Bush being celebrated on Jimmy Kimmel.”

But even many of Bush’s critics have acknowledged some successes from his administration such as the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, or Pepfar, a historic global health initiative that saved or improved millions of lives in Africa. But they object to the way in which his long list of failures is being whitewashed because at least he is not Trump.

Dan Kovalik, an author who teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said: “America is the land of amnesia. It’s not a country where people remember what happened yesterday, much less what happened in the Bush years. Also, because Trump was so bad, at least in terms of his personality, everyone else looks good by comparison.”


George Walker Bush was born on July 6, 1946, at Grace-New Haven Hospital (now Yale New Haven Hospital) in New Haven, Connecticut, while his father was a student at Yale. [10] He was the first child of George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Pierce. He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas, with four siblings, John, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died from leukemia at the age of three in 1953. [11] His paternal grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut. [12] His father was Ronald Reagan's vice president from 1981 to 1989 and the 41st U.S. president from 1989 to 1993. Bush has English and some German ancestry, along with more distant Dutch, Welsh, Irish, French, and Scottish roots. [13]


Bush attended public schools in Midland, Texas until the family moved to Houston after he had completed seventh grade. He then spent two years at The Kinkaid School, a prep school in Piney Point Village, Texas in the Houston area. [14]

Bush attended high school at Phillips Academy, a boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball and was the head cheerleader during his senior year. [15] [16] He attended Yale University from 1964 to 1968, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. [17] During this time, he was a cheerleader and a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon, serving as the president of the fraternity during his senior year. [18] [19] [20] Bush became a member of the Skull and Bones society as a senior. [21] Bush was a rugby union player and was on Yale's 1st XV. [22] He characterized himself as an average student. [23] His GPA during his first three years at Yale was 77, and he had a similar average under a nonnumeric rating system in his final year. [24]

In the fall of 1973, Bush entered Harvard Business School. He graduated in 1975 with an MBA degree. He is the only U.S. president to have earned an MBA. [25]

Family and personal life

Bush was engaged to Cathryn Lee Wolfman in 1967, but the engagement did not last. Bush and Wolfman remained on good terms after the end of the relationship. [26] While Bush was at a backyard barbecue in 1977, friends introduced him to Laura Welch, a schoolteacher and librarian. After a three-month courtship, she accepted his marriage proposal and they wed on November 5 of that year. [27] The couple settled in Midland, Texas. Bush left his family's Episcopal Church to join his wife's United Methodist Church. [28] On November 25, 1981, Laura Bush gave birth to fraternal twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna. [27] Bush describes being challenged by Billy Graham to consider faith in Jesus "Christ as the risen Lord", how he began to read the Bible daily, "surrendering" to the "Almighty", that "faith is a walk" and that he was "moved by God's love". [29]

Alcohol abuse

Prior to getting married, Bush struggled with multiple episodes of alcohol abuse. [30] In one instance on September 4, 1976, he was pulled over near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was cited for DUI, fined $150 (equivalent to $682 in 2020), and got his Maine driver's license briefly suspended. [31] Bush said his wife has had a stabilizing effect on his life, [27] and he attributes her influence to his 1986 decision to give up alcohol. [32] While Governor of Texas, Bush said of his wife, "I saw an elegant, beautiful woman who turned out not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time." [27] Bush also claims that his faith in God was critical in the process to give up drink. "I believe that God helped open my eyes, which were closing because of booze". [33]


Bush has been an avid reader throughout his adult life, preferring biographies and histories. [34] During his presidency, Bush read the Bible daily, [35] though at the end of his second term he said on television that he is "not a literalist" about Bible interpretation. [36] [37] Walt Harrington, a journalist, recalled seeing "books by John Fowles, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Gore Vidal lying about, as well as biographies of Willa Cather and Queen Victoria" in his home when Bush was a Texas oilman. Other activities include cigar smoking and golf. [38] After leaving the White House, Bush took up oil painting. [39]

Military career

In May 1968, Bush was commissioned into the Texas Air National Guard. [40] After two years of training in active-duty service, [41] he was assigned to Houston, flying Convair F-102s with the 147th Reconnaissance Wing out of the Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base. [40] [42] Critics, including former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, have alleged that Bush was favorably treated due to his father's political standing as a member of the House of Representatives, citing his selection as a pilot despite his low pilot aptitude test scores and his irregular attendance. [40] In June 2005, the United States Department of Defense released all the records of Bush's Texas Air National Guard service, which remain in its official archives. [43]

In late 1972 and early 1973, he drilled with the 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard. He had moved to Montgomery, Alabama, to work on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton M. Blount. [44] [45] In 1972, Bush was suspended from flying for failure to take a scheduled physical exam. [46] He was honorably discharged from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974. [47]

He remains the most recent President to serve in the United States Military. [48]

Business career

In 1977, Bush established Arbusto Energy, a small oil exploration company, although it did not begin operations until the following year. [49] [50] He later changed the name to Bush Exploration. In 1984, his company merged with the larger Spectrum 7, and Bush became chairman. The company was hurt by decreased oil prices, and it folded into HKN, Inc., [51] with Bush becoming a member of HKN's board of directors. Questions of possible insider trading involving HKN arose, but a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation concluded that the information Bush had at the time of his stock sale was not sufficient to constitute insider trading. [52]

In April 1989, Bush arranged for a group of investors to purchase a controlling interest in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise for $89 million and invested $500,000 himself to start. He then was managing general partner for five years. [53] He actively led the team's projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans. [54] Bush's sale of his shares in the Rangers in 1998 brought him over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment. [55]

Early political involvement

In 1978, Bush ran for the House of Representatives from Texas's 19th congressional district. The retiring member, George H. Mahon, had held the district for the Democratic Party since 1935. Bush's opponent, Kent Hance, portrayed him as out of touch with rural Texans, and Bush lost the election with 46.8 percent of the vote to Hance's 53.2 percent. [56]

Bush and his family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1988 to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency. [57] [58] He was a campaign advisor and liaison to the media, and assisted his father by campaigning across the country. [59] In December 1991, Bush was one of seven people named by his father to run his father's 1992 presidential re-election campaign, as a "campaign advisor". [60] The previous month, his father had asked him to tell White House chief of staff John H. Sununu to resign. [61]

Bush declared his candidacy for the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election at the same time his brother Jeb sought the governorship of Florida. His campaign focused on four themes: welfare reform, tort reform, crime reduction, and education improvement. [59] Bush's campaign advisers were Karen Hughes, Joe Allbaugh, and Karl Rove. [62]

After easily winning the Republican primary, Bush faced popular Democratic incumbent Governor Ann Richards. [59] [63] In the course of the campaign, Bush pledged to sign a bill allowing Texans to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. Richards had vetoed the bill, but Bush signed it into law after he became governor. [64] According to The Atlantic, the race "featured a rumor that she was a lesbian, along with a rare instance of such a tactic's making it into the public record – when a regional chairman of the Bush campaign allowed himself, perhaps inadvertently, to be quoted criticizing Richards for 'appointing avowed homosexual activists' to state jobs". [65] The Atlantic, and others, connected the lesbian rumor to Karl Rove, [66] but Rove denied being involved. [67] Bush won the general election with 53.5 percent against Richards' 45.9 percent. [68]

Bush used a budget surplus to push through Texas's largest tax-cut, $2 billion. [62] He extended government funding for organizations providing education of the dangers of alcohol and drug use and abuse, and helping to reduce domestic violence. [69] Critics contended that during his tenure, Texas ranked near the bottom in environmental evaluations. Supporters pointed to his efforts to raise the salaries of teachers and improve educational test scores. [59]

In 1999, Bush signed a law that required electric retailers to buy a certain amount of energy from renewable sources (RPS), [70] [71] [72] which helped Texas eventually become the leading producer of wind powered electricity in the U.S. [73] [74] [75]

In 1998, Bush won re-election with a record [59] 69 percent of the vote. [76] He became the first governor in Texas history to be elected to two consecutive four-year terms. [59] In his second term, Bush promoted faith-based organizations and enjoyed high approval ratings. [59] He proclaimed June 10, 2000, to be Jesus Day in Texas, a day on which he urged all Texans to "answer the call to serve those in need". [77]

Throughout Bush's first term, he was the focus of national attention as a potential future presidential candidate. Following his re-election, speculation soared, and within a year he decided to seek the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. [59]

2000 presidential candidacy


Incumbent Democratic president Bill Clinton was in his second and final term, and the field for nomination in both parties was wide open. Bush was the governor of Texas in June 1999 when he announced his candidacy for president, joining John McCain, Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, Orrin Hatch, Elizabeth Dole, Dan Quayle, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, John Kasich, and Bob Smith.

Bush portrayed himself as a compassionate conservative, implying he was more centrist than other Republicans. He campaigned on a platform that included bringing integrity and honor back to the White House, increasing the size of the military, cutting taxes, improving education, and aiding minorities. [59] By early 2000, the race had centered on Bush and McCain. [59]

Bush won the Iowa caucuses and, although heavily favored to win the New Hampshire primary, trailed McCain by 19 percent and lost. Despite this he regained momentum and effectively became the front runner after the South Carolina primary, which according to The Boston Globe made history for his campaign's negativity. The New York Times described it as a smear campaign. [78] [79] [80]

General election

On July 25, 2000, Bush surprised some observers when he selected Dick Cheney – a former White House chief of staff, representative and secretary of defense – to be his running mate. At the time, Cheney was serving as head of Bush's vice presidential search committee. Soon after at the 2000 Republican National Convention, Bush and Cheney were officially nominated by the Republican Party.

Bush continued to campaign across the country and touted his record as Governor of Texas. [59] During his campaign, Bush criticized his Democratic opponent, incumbent Vice President Al Gore, over gun control and taxation. [81]

When the election returns were tallied on November 7, Bush had won 29 states, including Florida. The closeness of the Florida outcome led to a recount. [59] The initial recount also went to Bush, but the outcome was tied up in lower courts for a month until eventually reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. [82] On December 9, in the controversial Bush v. Gore ruling, [83] the Court reversed a Florida Supreme Court decision that had ordered a third count, and stopped an ordered statewide hand recount based on the argument that the use of different standards among Florida's counties violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. [59] The machine recount showed that Bush had won the Florida vote by a margin of 537 votes out of six million casts. [84] Although he had received 543,895 fewer individual nationwide votes than Gore, Bush won the election, receiving 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266 (Gore had actually been awarded 267 votes by the states pledged to him plus the District of Columbia, but one D.C. elector abstained). Bush was the first person to win an American presidential election with fewer popular votes than another candidate since Benjamin Harrison in 1888. [84]

2004 presidential candidacy

In his 2004 bid for re-election, Bush commanded broad support in the Republican Party and did not encounter a primary challenge. He appointed Ken Mehlman as campaign manager, and Karl Rove devised a political strategy. [85] Bush and the Republican platform emphasized a strong commitment to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, [86] support for the USA PATRIOT Act, [87] a renewed shift in policy for constitutional amendments banning abortion and same-sex marriage, [86] [88] reforming Social Security to create private investment accounts, [86] creation of an ownership society, [86] and opposing mandatory carbon emissions controls. [89] Bush also called for the implementation of a guest worker program for immigrants, [86] which was criticized by conservatives. [90]

The Bush campaign advertised across the U.S. against Democratic candidates, including Bush's emerging opponent, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Kerry and other Democrats attacked Bush on the Iraq War, and accused him of failing to stimulate the economy and job growth. The Bush campaign portrayed Kerry as a staunch liberal who would raise taxes and increase the size of government. The Bush campaign continuously criticized Kerry's seemingly contradictory statements on the war in Iraq, [59] and argued that Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the War on Terror.

Following the resignation of CIA director George Tenet in 2004, Bush nominated Porter Goss to head the agency. The White House ordered Goss to purge agency officers who were disloyal to the administration. [91] After Goss' appointment, many of the CIA's senior agents were fired or quit. The CIA has been accused of deliberately leaking classified information to undermine the 2004 election. [92]

In the election, Bush carried 31 of 50 states, receiving 286 electoral votes. He won an absolute majority of the popular vote (50.7 percent to his opponent's 48.3 percent). [93] Bush's father George H.W. Bush was the previous president who won an absolute majority of the popular vote he accomplished that feat in the 1988 election. Additionally, it was the first time since Herbert Hoover's election in 1928 that a Republican president was elected alongside re-elected Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress.

Bush had originally outlined an ambitious domestic agenda, but his priorities were significantly altered following the September 11 attacks. [94] Wars were waged in Afghanistan and Iraq, and there were significant domestic debates regarding immigration, healthcare, Social Security, economic policy, and treatment of terrorist detainees. Over an eight-year period, Bush's once-high approval ratings [95] steadily declined, while his disapproval numbers increased significantly. [96] In 2007, the United States entered the longest post-World War II recession. [97]

Domestic policy

Economic policy

Bush took office during a period of economic recession in the wake of the bursting of the dot-com bubble. [98] The terrorist attacks also impacted the economy.

His administration increased federal government spending from $1.789 trillion to $2.983 trillion (60 percent), while revenues increased from $2.025 trillion to $2.524 trillion (from 2000 to 2008). Individual income tax revenues increased by 14 percent, corporate tax revenues by 50 percent, and customs and duties by 40 percent. Discretionary defense spending was increased by 107 percent, discretionary domestic spending by 62 percent, Medicare spending by 131 percent, social security by 51 percent, and income security spending by 130 percent. Cyclically adjusted, revenues rose by 35 percent and spending by 65 percent. [99] The increase in spending was more than under any predecessor since Lyndon B. Johnson. [100] The number of economic regulation governmental workers increased by 91,196. [101]

The surplus in fiscal year 2000 was $237 billion – the third consecutive surplus and the largest surplus ever. [102] In 2001, Bush's budget estimated that there would be a $5.6 trillion surplus over the next ten years. [103] Facing congressional opposition, Bush held townhall style meetings across the U.S. in order to increase public support for his plan for a $1.35 trillion tax cut program, one of the largest tax cuts in U.S. history. [59] Bush argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers, saying "the surplus is not the government's money. The surplus is the people's money." [59] Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan warned of a recession and Bush stated that a tax cut would stimulate the economy and create jobs. [104] Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, opposed some of the tax cuts on the basis that they would contribute to budget deficits and undermine Social Security. [105] O'Neill disputes the claim, made in Bush's book Decision Points, that he never openly disagreed with him on planned tax cuts. [106] By 2003, the economy showed signs of improvement, though job growth remained stagnant. [59] Another tax cut was passed that year.

Between 2001 and 2008, GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.125 percent, [107] less than for past business cycles. [108] Bush entered office with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 10,587, and the average peaked in October 2007 at over 14,000. When Bush left office, the average was at 7,949, one of the lowest levels of his presidency. [109] Only four other U.S. presidents have left office with the stock market lower than when they began. [110]

Unemployment originally rose from 4.2 percent in January 2001 to 6.3 percent in June 2003, but subsequently dropped to 4.5 percent in July 2007. [111] Adjusted for inflation, median household income dropped by $1,175 between 2000 and 2007, [112] while Professor Ken Homa of Georgetown University has noted that "Median real after-tax household income went up two percent". [113] The poverty rate increased from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 12.3 percent in 2006 after peaking at 12.7 percent in 2004. [114] By October 2008, due to increases in spending, [115] : 273 the national debt had risen to $11.3 trillion, [116] more than doubling it since 2000. [117] [118] Most debt was accumulated as a result of what became known as the "Bush tax cuts" and increased national security spending. [119] In March 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama said when he voted against raising the debt ceiling: "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure." [120] By the end of Bush's presidency, unemployment climbed to 7.2 percent. [121]

In December 2007, the United States entered the longest post–World War II recession, [97] caused by a housing market correction, a subprime mortgage crisis, soaring oil prices, and other factors. In February 2008, 63,000 jobs were lost, a five-year record, [122] and in November, over 500,000 jobs were lost, which marked the largest loss of jobs in the United States in 34 years. [123] The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in the last four months of 2008, 1.9 million jobs were lost. [124] By the end of 2008, the U.S. had lost 2.6 million jobs. [125]

To aid with the situation, Bush signed a $170 billion economic stimulus package which was intended to improve the economic situation by sending tax rebate checks to many Americans and providing tax breaks for struggling businesses. The Bush administration pushed for significantly increased regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003, [126] and after two years, the regulations passed the House but died in the Senate. Many Republican senators, as well as influential members of the Bush Administration, feared that the agency created by these regulations would merely be mimicking the private sector's risky practices. [127] [128] [129] In September 2008, the crisis became much more serious beginning with the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac followed by the collapse of Lehman Brothers and a federal bailout of American International Group for $85 billion. [130]

Many economists and world governments determined that the situation had become the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. [131] [132] Additional regulation over the housing market would have been beneficial, according to former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. [133] Bush, meanwhile, proposed a financial rescue plan to buy back a large portion of the U.S. mortgage market. [134] Vince Reinhardt, a former Federal Reserve economist now at the American Enterprise Institute, said "it would have helped for the Bush administration to empower the folks at Treasury and the Federal Reserve and the comptroller of the currency and the FDIC to look at these issues more closely", and additionally, that it would have helped "for Congress to have held hearings". [128]

Education and public health

Bush undertook many educational agendas, such as increasing the funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in his first years of office and creating education programs to strengthen the grounding in science and mathematics for American high school students. Funding for the NIH was cut in 2006, the first such cut in 36 years, due to rising inflation. [135]

One of the administration's early major initiatives was the No Child Left Behind Act, which aimed to measure and close the gap between rich and poor student performance, provide options to parents with students in low-performing schools, and target more federal funding to low-income schools. This landmark education initiative passed with broad bipartisan support, including that of Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. [136] It was signed into law by Bush in early 2002. [137] Many contend that the initiative has been successful, as cited by the fact that students in the U.S. have performed significantly better on state reading and math tests since Bush signed "No Child Left Behind" into law. [138] Critics [ who? ] argue that it is underfunded [139] [ better source needed ] and that NCLBA's focus on "high-stakes testing" and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive. [140]

On November 1, 2005, Bush announced a National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza to prepare the United States for a flu pandemic, which culminated in an implementation plan published by the Homeland Security Council in May 2006. [141] [142]

After being re-elected, Bush signed into law a Medicare drug benefit program that, according to Jan Crawford, resulted in "the greatest expansion in America's welfare state in forty years" – the bill's costs approached $7 trillion. [115] : 274 In 2007, Bush opposed and vetoed State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation, which was added by the Democrats onto a war funding bill and passed by Congress. The SCHIP legislation would have significantly expanded federally funded health care benefits and plans to children of some low-income families. It was to be funded by an increase in the cigarette tax. [143] Bush viewed the legislation as a move toward socialized health care, and asserted that the program could benefit families making as much as $83,000 per year who did not need the help. [144]

On May 21, 2008, Bush signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). [145] [146] The bill aimed to protect Americans against health insurance and employment discrimination based on a person's genetic information. The issue had been debated for 13 years before it finally became law. The measure is designed to protect citizens without hindering genetic research.

Social services and Social Security

Following Republican efforts to pass the Medicare Act of 2003, Bush signed the bill, which included major changes to the Medicare program by providing beneficiaries with some assistance in paying for prescription drugs, while relying on private insurance for the delivery of benefits. [147] The retired persons lobby group AARP worked with the Bush Administration on the program and gave their endorsement. Bush said the law, estimated to cost $400 billion over the first ten years, would give the elderly "better choices and more control over their health care". [148]

Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to "reform" Social Security, [149] which was facing record deficit projections beginning in 2005. Bush made it the centerpiece of his domestic agenda despite opposition from some in the U.S. Congress. [149] In his 2005 State of the Union Address, Bush discussed the potential impending bankruptcy of the program and outlined his new program, which included partial privatization of the system, personal Social Security accounts, and options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments. [149] Democrats opposed the proposal to partially privatize the system. [149]

Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning for his initiative in media events known as "Conversations on Social Security" in an attempt to gain public support. [150] Nevertheless, public support for the proposal declined, [151] and the House Republican leadership decided not to put Social Security reform on the priority list for the remainder of their 2005 legislative agenda. [152] The proposal's legislative prospects were further diminished by autumn 2005 due to political fallout from the response to Hurricane Katrina. [153] After the Democrats gained control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections, there was no prospect of further congressional action on the Bush proposal for the remainder of his term in office.

Environmental policies

Upon taking office in 2001, Bush stated his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which seeks to impose mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, citing that the treaty exempted 80 percent of the world's population [154] and would have cost tens of billions of dollars per year. [155] He also cited that the Senate had voted 95–0 in 1997 on a resolution expressing its disapproval of the protocol.

In May 2001, Bush signed an executive order to create an interagency task force to streamline energy projects, [156] and later signed two other executive orders to tackle environmental issues. [157]

In 2002, Bush announced the Clear Skies Act of 2003, [158] which aimed at amending the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution through the use of emissions trading programs. Many experts argued that this legislation would have weakened the original legislation by allowing higher emission rates of pollutants than were previously legal. [159] The initiative was introduced to Congress, but failed to make it out of committee.

Later in 2006, Bush declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument, creating the largest marine reserve to date. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument comprises 84 million acres (340,000 km 2 ) and is home to 7,000 species of fish, birds, and other marine animals, many of which are specific to only those islands. [160] The move was hailed by conservationists for "its foresight and leadership in protecting this incredible area". [161]

Bush has said he believes that global warming is real [162] and has noted that it is a serious problem, but he asserted there is a "debate over whether it's man-made or naturally caused". [163] The Bush Administration's stance on global warming remained controversial in the scientific and environmental communities. Critics have alleged that the administration [164] misinformed the public and did not do enough to reduce carbon emissions and deter global warming. [165]

Energy policies

In his 2006 State of the Union Address, Bush declared, "America is addicted to oil" and announced his Advanced Energy Initiative to increase energy development research. [166]

In his 2007 State of the Union Address, Bush renewed his pledge to work toward diminished reliance on foreign oil by reducing fossil fuel consumption and increasing alternative fuel production. [167] Amid high gasoline prices in 2008, Bush lifted a ban on offshore drilling. [168] However, the move was largely symbolic because there was still a federal law banning offshore drilling. Bush said, "This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil reserves is action from the U.S. Congress." [168] Bush had said in June 2008, "In the long run, the solution is to reduce demand for oil by promoting alternative energy technologies. My administration has worked with Congress to invest in gas-saving technologies like advanced batteries and hydrogen fuel cells . In the short run, the American economy will continue to rely largely on oil. And that means we need to increase supply, especially here at home. So my administration has repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production." [169]

In his 2008 State of the Union Address, Bush announced that the U.S. would commit $2 billion over the next three years to a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change, saying, "Along with contributions from other countries, this fund will increase and accelerate the deployment of all forms of cleaner, more efficient technologies in developing nations like India and China, and help leverage substantial private-sector capital by making clean energy projects more financially attractive." He also announced plans to reaffirm the United States' commitment to work with major economies, and, through the UN, to complete an international agreement that will slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases he stated, "This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride." [170]

Stem cell research and first veto

Federal funding for medical research involving the creation or destruction of human embryos through the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health has been forbidden by law since the passage of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment in 1995. [171] Bush has said he supports adult stem cell research and has supported federal legislation that finances adult stem cell research. However, Bush did not support embryonic stem cell research. [172] On August 9, 2001, Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 71 existing "lines" of stem cells, [173] but the ability of these existing lines to provide an adequate medium for testing has been questioned. Testing can be done on only 12 of the original lines, and all approved lines have been cultured in contact with mouse cells, which creates safety issues that complicate development and approval of therapies from these lines. [174] On July 19, 2006, Bush used his veto power for the first time in his presidency to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. The bill would have repealed the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, thereby permitting federal money to be used for research where stem cells are derived from the destruction of an embryo. [175]


Nearly eight million immigrants came to the United States from 2000 to 2005, more than in any other five-year period in the nation's history. [176] Almost half entered illegally. [177] In 2006, Bush urged Congress to allow more than twelve million illegal immigrants to work in the United States with the creation of a "temporary guest-worker program". Bush also urged Congress to provide additional funds for border security and committed to deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexico–United States border. [178] From May to June 2007, Bush strongly supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which was written by a bipartisan group of Senators with the active participation of the Bush administration. [179] The bill envisioned a legalization program for illegal immigrants, with an eventual path to citizenship establishing a guest worker program a series of border and work site enforcement measures a reform of the green card application process and the introduction of a point-based "merit" system for green cards elimination of "chain migration" and of the Diversity Immigrant Visa and other measures. Bush argued 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. [180] Bush contended that the proposed bill did not amount to amnesty. [181]

A heated public debate followed, which resulted in a substantial rift within the Republican Party, most conservatives opposed it because of its legalization or amnesty provisions. [182] The bill was eventually defeated in the Senate on June 28, 2007, when a cloture motion failed on a 46–53 vote. [183] Bush expressed disappointment upon the defeat of one of his signature domestic initiatives. [184] The Bush administration later proposed a series of immigration enforcement measures that do not require a change in law. [185]

On September 19, 2010, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Bush offered to accept 100,000 Palestinian refugees as American citizens if a permanent settlement had been reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. [186]

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina struck early in Bush's second term and was one of the most damaging natural disasters in U.S. history. 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. [187]

Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on August 27 [188] and in Mississippi and Alabama the following day. [189] The eye of the hurricane made landfall on August 29, and New Orleans began to flood due to levee breaches later that day, Bush declared a major disaster in Louisiana, [190] officially authorizing FEMA to start using federal funds to assist in the recovery effort.

On August 30, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff declared it "an incident of national significance", [191] triggering the first use of the newly created National Response Plan. Three days later, on September 2, National Guard troops first entered the city of New Orleans. [192] The same day, Bush toured parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and declared that the success of the recovery effort up to that point was "not enough". [193]

As the disaster in New Orleans intensified, Bush was widely criticized for downplaying his administration's role in the inadequate response. Leaders attacked Bush for having appointed incompetent leaders to positions of power at FEMA, notably Michael D. Brown [194] federal response resources to respond were also limited as a result of being allocated to the Iraq War [195] and Bush himself did not act upon warnings of floods. [196] [197] Bush responded to mounting criticism by claiming to accept full responsibility for the federal government's failures in its handling of the emergency. [192] It has been argued that with Katrina, Bush passed a political tipping point from which he would not recover. [198]

Midterm dismissal of U.S. attorneys

During Bush's second term, a controversy arose over the Justice Department's midterm dismissal of seven United States Attorneys. [199] The White House maintained that they were fired for poor performance. [200] Attorney General Alberto Gonzales later resigned over the issue, along with other senior members of the Justice Department. [201] [202] The House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for advisers Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten to testify regarding this matter, but Bush directed Miers and Bolten to not comply with those subpoenas, invoking his right of executive privilege. Bush maintained that all his advisers were protected under a broad executive privilege protection to receive candid advice. The Justice Department determined that the President's order was legal. [203]

Although Congressional investigations focused on whether the Justice Department and the White House were using the U.S. Attorney positions for political advantage, no official findings have been released. On March 10, 2008, the Congress filed a federal lawsuit to enforce their issued subpoenas. [204] On July 31, 2008, a United States district court judge ruled that Bush's top advisers were not immune from Congressional subpoenas. [205]

In all, twelve Justice Department officials resigned rather than testify under oath before Congress. They included Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [206] and his chief of staff Kyle Sampson, [207] Gonzales' liaison to the White House Monica Goodling, [208] aide to the president Karl Rove [209] and his senior aide Sara Taylor. [210] In addition, legal counsel to the president Harriet Miers [211] and deputy chief of staff to the president Joshua Bolten [212] were both found in contempt of Congress. [210]

In 2010, the Justice Department investigator concluded that though political considerations did play a part in as many as four of the attorney firings, [213] the firings were "inappropriately political", but not criminal. According to the prosecutors, there was insufficient evidence to pursue prosecution for any criminal offense. [214]

Foreign policy

During his presidential campaign, Bush's foreign policy platform included support for stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, especially Mexico, and a reduction of involvement in "nation-building" and other small-scale military engagements. The administration pursued a national missile defense. [215] Bush was an advocate of China's entry into the World Trade Organization. [216]

After the September 11 attacks, Bush launched the War on Terror, in which the United States military and a small international coalition invaded Afghanistan. In his 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush referred to an "axis of evil" consisting of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. [217] In 2003, Bush then launched the invasion of Iraq, searching for weapons of mass destruction, which he described as being part of the War on Terrorism. [218] Those invasions led to the toppling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. [219]

Bush began his second term with an emphasis on improving strained relations with European nations. He appointed long-time adviser Karen Hughes to oversee a global public relations campaign. Bush lauded the pro-democracy struggles in Georgia and Ukraine. [220]

In March 2006, Bush reversed decades of U.S. policy when he visited India in a trip focused particularly on areas of nuclear energy, counter-terrorism co-operation and discussions that would eventually lead to the India–United States Civil Nuclear Agreement. [221] [222] This was in stark contrast to the stance taken by his predecessor, Bill Clinton, whose approach and response to India after the 1998 nuclear tests has been characterized as "sanctions and hectoring". [223]

Midway through Bush's second term, questions arose whether Bush was retreating from his freedom and democracy agenda, which was highlighted in policy changes toward some oil-rich former Soviet republics in central Asia. [224]

In an address before both Houses of Congress on September 20, 2001, Bush thanked the nations of the world for their support following the September 11 attacks. He specifically thanked UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for traveling to Washington to show "unity of purpose with America", and said "America has no truer friend than Great Britain." [225]

September 11 attacks

The September 11 terrorist attacks were a major turning point in Bush's presidency. That evening, he addressed the nation from the Oval Office, promising a strong response to the attacks. He also emphasized the need for the nation to come together and comfort the families of the victims. Three days after the attacks, Bush visited Ground Zero and met with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, firefighters, police officers, and volunteers. Bush addressed the gathering via a megaphone while standing on rubble: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." [226]

In a September 20 speech, Bush condemned Osama bin Laden and his organization Al-Qaeda, and issued an ultimatum to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was operating, to "hand over the terrorists, or . share in their fate". [227]

War on Terrorism

After September 11, Bush announced a global War on Terror. The Afghan Taliban regime was not forthcoming with Osama bin Laden, so Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime. [228] In his January 29, 2002 State of the Union Address, he asserted that an "axis of evil" consisting of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq was "arming to threaten the peace of the world" and "pose[d] a grave and growing danger". [229] The Bush Administration asserted both a right and the intention to wage preemptive war, or preventive war. [230] This became the basis for the Bush Doctrine which weakened the unprecedented levels of international and domestic support for the United States which had followed the September 11 attacks. [231]

Dissent and criticism of Bush's leadership in the War on Terror increased as the war in Iraq continued. [232] [233] [234] In 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the Iraq War had become the "cause célèbre for jihadists". [235] [236]

Afghanistan invasion

On October 7, 2001, U.S. and British forces initiated bombing campaigns that led to the arrival of Northern Alliance troops in Kabul on November 13. The main goals of the war were to defeat the Taliban, drive al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan, and capture key al-Qaeda leaders. In December 2001, the Pentagon reported that the Taliban had been defeated, [237] but cautioned that the war would go on to continue weakening Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. [237] Later that month the UN had installed the Afghan Transitional Administration chaired by Hamid Karzai. [238] [239]

Efforts to kill or capture al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden failed as he escaped a battle in December 2001 in the mountainous region of Tora Bora, which the Bush Administration later acknowledged to have resulted from a failure to commit enough U.S. ground troops. [240] It was not until May 2011, two years after Bush left office, that bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces under the Obama administration. Bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, remains at large.

Despite the initial success in driving the Taliban from power in Kabul, by early 2003 the Taliban was regrouping, amassing new funds and recruits. [241] The 2005 failure of Operation Red Wings showed that the Taliban had returned. [242] In 2006, the Taliban insurgency appeared larger, fiercer and better organized than expected, with large-scale allied offensives such as Operation Mountain Thrust attaining limited success. [243] [244] [245] As a result, Bush commissioned 3,500 additional troops to the country in March 2007. [246]

Iraq invasion

Beginning with his January 29, 2002 State of the Union address, Bush began publicly focusing attention on Iraq, which he labeled as part of an "axis of evil" allied with terrorists and posing "a grave and growing danger" to U.S. interests through possession of weapons of mass destruction. [229] [247]

In the latter half of 2002, CIA reports contained assertions of Saddam Hussein's intent of reconstituting nuclear weapons programs, not properly accounting for Iraqi biological and chemical weapons, and that some Iraqi missiles had a range greater than allowed by the UN sanctions. [248] [249] Contentions that the Bush Administration manipulated or exaggerated the threat and evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities would eventually become a major point of criticism for the president. [250] [251]

In late 2002 and early 2003, Bush urged the United Nations to enforce Iraqi disarmament mandates, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. In November 2002, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei led UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, but were advised by the U.S. to depart the country four days prior to the U.S. invasion, despite their requests for more time to complete their tasks. [252] The U.S. initially sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force but dropped the bid for UN approval due to vigorous opposition from several countries. [253] The Bush administration's claim that the Iraq War was part of the War on Terror had been questioned and contested by political analysts. [254]

More than 20 nations (most notably the United Kingdom), designated the "coalition of the willing" joined the United States [255] in invading Iraq. They launched the invasion on March 20, 2003. The Iraqi military was quickly defeated. The capital, Baghdad, fell on April 9, 2003. On May 1, Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq. The initial success of U.S. operations increased his popularity, but the U.S. and allied forces faced a growing insurgency led by sectarian groups Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech was later criticized as premature. [256] From 2004 until 2007, the situation in Iraq deteriorated further, with some observers arguing that there was a full-scale civil war in Iraq. [257] Bush's policies met with criticism, including demands domestically to set a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq. The 2006 report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, led by James Baker, concluded that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating". While Bush admitted there were strategic mistakes made in regards to the stability of Iraq, [258] he maintained he would not change the overall Iraq strategy. [259] [260] According to Iraq Body Count, some 251,000 Iraqis have been killed in the civil war following the U.S.-led invasion, including at least 163,841 civilians. [261]

In January 2005, elections recognized by the West as free and fair were held in Iraq for the first time in 50 years. [262] This led to the election of Jalal Talabani as president and Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister of Iraq. A referendum to approve a constitution in Iraq was held in October 2005, supported by most Shiites and many Kurds. [263]

On January 10, 2007, Bush announced a surge of 21,500 more troops for Iraq, as well as a job program for Iraqis, more reconstruction proposals, and $1.2 billion (equivalent to $1.5 billion in 2020) for these programs. [264] On May 1, 2007, Bush used his second-ever veto to reject a bill setting a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, [265] saying the debate over the conflict was "understandable" but insisting that a continued U.S. presence there was crucial. [266]

In March 2008, Bush praised the Iraqi government's "bold decision" to launch the Battle of Basra against the Mahdi Army, calling it "a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq". [267] He said he would carefully weigh recommendations from his commanding General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker about how to proceed after the end of the military buildup in the summer of 2008. He also praised the Iraqis' legislative achievements, including a pension law, a revised de-Baathification law, a new budget, an amnesty law, and a provincial powers measure that, he said, set the stage for the Iraqi elections. [268] By July 2008, American troop deaths had reached their lowest number since the war began, [269] and due to increased stability in Iraq, Bush announced the withdrawal of additional American forces. [269] During his last visit to Iraq in December 2008, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes to Bush amid an official press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. [270] Al-Zaidi yelled the strikes on Bush as "farewell kiss" and "for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq." [271]

In March 2010, Center for Public Integrity released a report that President Bush's administration had made more than 900 false pretenses in a two-year period about alleged threat of Iraq against the United States, as his rationale to engage war in Iraq. [272] Senior war crimes prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz has suggested that Bush should be tried in the International Criminal Court for '269 war crime charges' related to the Iraq War. [273] [274]


Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, Bush issued an executive order that authorized the President's Surveillance Program. The new directive allowed the National Security Agency to monitor communications between suspected terrorists outside the U.S. and parties within the U.S. without obtaining a warrant, which previously had been required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. [275] As of 2009 [update] , the other provisions of the program remained highly classified. [276] Once the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel questioned its original legal opinion that FISA did not apply in a time of war, the program was subsequently re-authorized by the President on the basis that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. [277] The program proved to be controversial critics of the administration and organizations such as the American Bar Association argued that it was illegal. [278] In August 2006, a U.S. district court judge ruled that the NSA electronic surveillance program was unconstitutional, [279] but on July 6, 2007, that ruling was vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing. [280] On January 17, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed U.S. Senate leaders that the program would not be reauthorized by the President, but would be subjected to judicial oversight. [281] Later in 2007, the NSA launched a replacement for the program, referred to as PRISM, which was subject to the oversight of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. [282] This program was not publicly revealed until reports by The Washington Post [282] and The Guardian [283] emerged in June 2013. [282]

Interrogation policies

Bush authorized the CIA to use waterboarding and several other "enhanced interrogation techniques" that several critics, including Barack Obama, would label as torture. [284] [285] [286] [287] Between 2002 and 2003, the CIA considered certain enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to be legal based on secret Justice Department legal opinions arguing that terror detainees were not protected by the Geneva Conventions' ban on torture, which was described as "an unconstitutional infringement of the President's authority to conduct war". [288] [289] The CIA had exercised the technique on certain key terrorist suspects under authority given to it in the Bybee Memo from the Attorney General, though that memo was later withdrawn. [290] While not permitted by the U.S. Army Field Manuals which assert "that harsh interrogation tactics elicit unreliable information", [288] the Bush administration believed these enhanced interrogations "provided critical information" to preserve American lives. [291] Critics, such as former CIA officer Bob Baer, have stated that information was suspect, "you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough." [292]

On October 17, 2006, Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law. [293] The new rule was enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006), [294] which allowed the U.S. government to prosecute unlawful enemy combatants by military commission rather than a standard trial. The law also denied the detainees access to habeas corpus and barred the torture of prisoners. The provision of the law allowed the president to determine what constitutes "torture". [293]

On March 8, 2008, Bush vetoed H.R. 2082, [295] a bill that would have expanded congressional oversight over the intelligence community and banned the use of waterboarding as well as other forms of interrogation not permitted under the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations, saying that "the bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the War on Terror". [296] In April 2009, the ACLU sued and won release of the secret memos that had authorized the Bush administration's interrogation tactics. [297] One memo detailed specific interrogation tactics including a footnote that described waterboarding as torture as well as that the form of waterboarding used by the CIA was far more intense than authorized by the Justice Department. [298]

North Korea condemnation

Bush publicly condemned Kim Jong-il of North Korea and identified North Korea as one of three states in an "axis of evil". He said that "the United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." [229] Within months, "both countries had walked away from their respective commitments under the U.S.–DPRK Agreed Framework of October 1994." [299] North Korea's October 9, 2006, detonation of a nuclear device further complicated Bush's foreign policy, which centered for both terms of his presidency on "[preventing] the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world". [229] Bush condemned North Korea's position, reaffirmed his commitment to "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula", and said 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. [300] On May 7, 2007, North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear reactors immediately pending the release of frozen funds held in a foreign bank account. This was a result of a series of three-way talks initiated by the United States and including China. [301] On September 2, 2007, North Korea agreed to disclose and dismantle all its nuclear programs by the end of 2007. [302] By May 2009, North Korea had restarted its nuclear program and threatened to attack South Korea. [303]

On June 22, 2010, "While South Korea prospers, the people of North Korea have suffered profoundly," he said, adding that communism had resulted in dire poverty, mass starvation and brutal suppression. "In recent years," he went on to say, "the suffering has been compounded by the leader who wasted North Korea's precious few resources on personal luxuries and nuclear weapons programs." [304]

Syria sanctions

Bush expanded economic sanctions on Syria. [305] In 2003, Bush signed the Syria Accountability Act, which expanded sanctions on Syria. In early 2007, the Treasury Department, acting on a June 2005 executive order, froze American bank accounts of Syria's Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Electronics Institute, and National Standards and Calibration Laboratory. Bush's order prohibits Americans from doing business with these institutions suspected of helping spread weapons of mass destruction [306] and being supportive of terrorism. [307] Under separate executive orders signed by Bush in 2004 and later 2007, the Treasury Department froze the assets of two Lebanese and two Syrians, accusing them of activities to "undermine the legitimate political process in Lebanon" in November 2007. Those designated included: Assaad Halim Hardan, a member of Lebanon's parliament and current leader of the Syrian Socialist National Party Wi'am Wahhab, a former member of Lebanon's government (Minister of the Environment) under Prime Minister Omar Karami (2004–2005) Hafiz Makhluf, a colonel and senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate and a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik, identified as a close adviser to Assad. [308]


In the 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 (PEPFAR). Bush announced $15 billion for this effort [309] which directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for more than 3.2 million men, women and children worldwide. [310] The U.S. government had spent some $44 billion on the project since 2003 (a figure that includes $7 billion contributed to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, a multilateral organization), [311] which saved an estimated five million lives. [312] According to The New York Times correspondent Peter Baker, "Bush did more to stop AIDS and more to help Africa than any president before or since." [312]

Assassination attempt

On May 10, 2005, Vladimir Arutyunian, a native Georgian who was born to a family of ethnic Armenians, threw a live hand grenade toward a podium where Bush was speaking at Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was seated nearby. It landed in the crowd about 65 feet (20 m) from the podium after hitting a girl, but it did not detonate. Arutyunian was arrested in July 2005, confessed, was convicted and was given a life sentence in January 2006. [313]

Other issues

Bush signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty with Russia. He withdrew U.S. support for several international agreements, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) with Russia. [314]

Bush emphasized a careful approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians he denounced Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat for his support of violence, but sponsored dialogues between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Bush supported Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and lauded the democratic elections held in Palestine after Arafat's death.

In July 2001, Bush visited Pope John Paul II at Castel Gandolfo. [315]

Bush also expressed U.S. support for the defense of Taiwan following the stand-off in April 2001 with China over the Hainan Island incident, when an EP-3E Aries II surveillance aircraft collided with a People's Liberation Army Air Force jet, leading to the detention of U.S. personnel. From 2003 to 2004, Bush authorized U.S. military intervention in Haiti and Liberia to protect U.S. interests. Bush condemned the militia attacks Darfur and denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide. [316] Bush said an international peacekeeping presence was critical in Darfur, but he opposed referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.

On June 10, 2007, Bush met with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and became the first president to visit Albania. [317] Bush has voiced his support for the independence of Kosovo. [318] Bush opposed South Ossetia's independence. [319] On August 15, 2008, Bush said of Russia's invasion of the country of Georgia: "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century." [320]

Bush opened the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Departing from previous practice, he stood among a group of U.S. athletes rather than from a ceremonial stand or box, saying: "On behalf of a proud, determined, and grateful nation, I declare open the Games of Salt Lake City, celebrating the Olympic Winter Games." [321] In 2008, in the course of a good-will trip to Asia, he attended the Summer Olympics in Beijing. [322]

Bush twice invoked Section 3 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which allows a president to temporarily transfer the powers and duties of his office to the vice president, who then becomes acting president. On June 29, 2002, Bush underwent a colonoscopy and invoked the provision, making Vice President Cheney the acting president. Bush was awake and resumed his presidential powers after two hours. On July 21, 2007, Bush again invoked the provision in preparation for another colonoscopy. Again, Bush resumed his presidential powers after two hours. [323]

Judicial appointments

Supreme Court

On July 19, 2005, following the announcement of the retirement of Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on July 1, Bush nominated federal appellate judge John Roberts to be O'Connor's replacement however, following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist on September 3, that still-pending nomination was withdrawn on September 5, with Bush instead nominating Roberts to be the next Chief Justice of the United States. He was confirmed by the Senate on September 29, 2005. [324]

On October 3, 2005, Bush nominated White House Counsel Harriet Miers to succeed O'Connor however, Miers withdrew her nomination on October 27 after encountering significant opposition from both parties, who found her to be ill-prepared and uninformed on the law, [115] : 278 once again leaving no nominee to replace O‘Connor. Finally, on October 31, Bush nominated federal appellate judge Samuel Alito, who was confirmed by the Senate to replace O'Connor on January 31, 2006. [325]

Other courts

In addition to his two Supreme Court appointments, Bush appointed 61 judges to the United States courts of appeals and 261 judges to the United States district courts. Each of these numbers, along with his 324 judicial appointments.

Cultural and political image



Bush's upbringing in West Texas, his accent, his vacations on his Texas ranch, and his penchant for country metaphors contribute to his folksy, American cowboy image. [326] [327] "I think people look at him and think John Wayne", said Piers Morgan, editor of the British Daily Mirror. [328]

Bush has been parodied by the media, [329] comedians, and other politicians. [330] Detractors tended to cite linguistic errors made by Bush during his public speeches, which are colloquially referred to as Bushisms. [331]

In contrast to his father, who was perceived as having troubles with an overarching unifying theme, Bush embraced larger visions and was seen as a man of larger ideas and associated huge risks. [332]

Tony Blair wrote in 2010 that the caricature of Bush as being dumb is "ludicrous" and that Bush is "very smart". [333] In an interview with Playboy, The New York Times columnist David Brooks said Bush "was 60 IQ points smarter in private than he was in public. He doesn't want anybody to think he's smarter than they are, so puts on a Texas act." [334]

Job approval

Bush began his presidency with approval ratings near 50 percent. [335] After the September 11 attacks, Bush gained an approval rating of 90 percent, [336] maintaining 80–90 percent approval for four months after the attacks. It remained over 50 percent during most of his first term [8] and then fell to as low as 19 percent in his second term. [337]

In 2000 and again in 2004, Time magazine named George W. Bush as its Person of the Year, a title awarded to someone who the editors believe "has done the most to influence the events of the year". [338] In May 2004, Gallup reported that 89 percent of the Republican electorate approved of Bush. [339] However, the support waned due mostly to a minority of Republicans' frustration with him on issues of spending, illegal immigration, and Middle Eastern affairs. [340]

Within the United States armed forces, according to an unscientific survey, the president was strongly supported in the 2004 presidential elections. [341] While 73 percent of military personnel said they would vote for Bush, 18 percent preferred his Democratic rival, John Kerry. [341] According to Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who has studied the political leanings of the U.S. military, members of the armed services supported Bush because they found him more likely than Kerry to complete the War in Iraq. [341]

Bush's approval rating went below the 50 percent mark in AP-Ipsos polling in December 2004. [342] Thereafter, his approval ratings and approval of his handling of domestic and foreign policy issues steadily dropped. After his re-election in 2004, Bush received increasingly heated criticism from across the political spectrum [4] [5] [343] for his handling of the Iraq War, his response to Hurricane Katrina, [6] [7] [344] and to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, NSA warrantless surveillance, the Plame affair, and Guantanamo Bay detention camp controversies. [345]

Amid this criticism, the Democratic Party regained control of Congress in the 2006 elections. Polls conducted in 2006 showed an average of 37 percent approval ratings for Bush, [346] the lowest for any second-term president at that point in his term since Harry S. Truman in March 1951 (when Truman's approval rating was 28 percent), [342] [347] which contributed to what Bush called the "thumping" of the Republican Party in the 2006 mid-term elections. [348] Throughout most of 2007, Bush's approval rating hovered in the mid-thirties [349] the average for his entire second term was 37 percent, according to Gallup. [350]

By the beginning of 2008, his final year in office, Bush's approval rating had dropped to a low of just 19 percent, largely from the loss of support among Republicans. [337] Commenting on his low poll numbers and accusations of being "the worst president," [351] [352] Bush would say, "I make decisions on what I think is right for the United States based upon principles. I frankly don't give a damn about the polls." [353]

There were calls for Bush's impeachment, though most polls showed a plurality of Americans would not support such an action. [354] The arguments offered for impeachment usually centered on the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, [355] the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq, and alleged violations of the Geneva Conventions. [356] Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who had run against Bush during the 2004 presidential campaign, introduced 35 articles of impeachment on the floor of the House of Representatives against Bush on June 9, 2008, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared that impeachment was "off the table". [357]

In April 2008, Bush's disapproval ratings reached the highest ever recorded for any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup poll, with 69 percent of those polled disapproving of the job Bush was doing as president and 28 percent approving – although the majority (66 percent) of Republicans still approved of his job performance. [358]

In polls conducted in the fall, just before the 2008 election, his approval ratings remained at record lows of 19 to 20 percent, [359] [360] while his disapproval ratings ranged from 67 percent to as high as 75 percent. [360] [361] In polling conducted January 9–11, 2009, his final job approval rating by Gallup was 34 percent, which placed him on par with Jimmy Carter and Harry S. Truman, the other presidents whose final Gallup ratings measured in the low 30s (Richard Nixon's final Gallup approval rating was even lower, at 24 percent). [362] According to a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted January 11–15, 2009, Bush's final approval rating in office was 22 percent, the lowest in American history. [359]

Foreign perceptions

Bush was criticized internationally and targeted by the global anti-war and anti-globalization movements for his administration's foreign policy. [363] [364] Views of him within the international community – even in France, a close ally of the United States – were more negative than those of most previous American presidents. [365]

Bush was described as having especially close personal relationships with Tony Blair of the United Kingdom and Vicente Fox of Mexico, although formal relations were sometimes strained. [366] [367] [368] Other leaders, such as Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, [369] Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, [370] José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain, [371] and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, [372] openly criticized the president. Later in Bush's presidency, tensions arose between him and Vladimir Putin, which led to a cooling of their relationship. [373]

In 2006, most 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. [374] [375] In 2007, the Pew Global Attitudes Project reported that during the Bush presidency, attitudes towards the United States, and towards Americans, became less favorable around the world. [376] The Pew Research Center's 2007 Global Attitudes poll found that in only nine countries of 47 did most respondents express "a lot of confidence" or "some confidence" in Bush: Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Israel, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, and Uganda. [377] A March 2007 survey of Arab opinion conducted by Zogby International and the University of Maryland found that Bush was the most disliked leader in the Arab world. [378]

During a June 2007 visit to the predominantly Muslim [379] Albania, Bush was greeted enthusiastically. Albania has a population of 2.8 million, [380] has troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the country's government is highly supportive of American foreign policy. [381] A huge image of the President was hung in the middle of the capital city of Tirana flanked by Albanian and American flags while a local street was named after him. [382] [383] A shirt-sleeved statue of Bush was unveiled in Fushë-Krujë, a few kilometers northwest of Tirana. [384] The Bush administration's support for the independence of Albanian-majority Kosovo, while endearing him to the Albanians, has troubled U.S. relations with Serbia, leading to the February 2008 torching of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade. [385]

Acknowledgments and dedications

On May 7, 2005, during an official state visit to Latvia, Bush was awarded the Order of the Three Stars presented to him by President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. [386] A few places outside the United States bear Bush's name. In 2005, the Tbilisi City Council voted to rename a street in honor of the U.S. president. [387] Previously known as Melaani Drive, the street links the Georgian capital's airport with the city center and was used by Bush's motorcade during his visit four months earlier. [388] A street in Tirana, formerly known as Rruga Punëtorët e Rilindjes, situated directly outside the Albanian Parliament, was renamed after Bush a few days before he made the first-ever visit by an American president to Albania in June 2007. [389] In Jerusalem, a small plaza with a monument bearing his name is also dedicated to Bush. [390]

In 2012, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves awarded Bush the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana for his work in expanding NATO. [391]

Two elementary schools are named after him: George W. Bush Elementary School of the Stockton Unified School District in Stockton, California, [392] and George W. Bush Elementary School of the Wylie Independent School District in St. Paul, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. [393]


Following the inauguration of Barack Obama, Bush and his family flew from Andrews Air Force Base to a homecoming celebration in Midland, Texas, following which they returned to their ranch in Crawford, Texas. [394] They bought a home in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, where they settled down. [395]

He makes regular appearances at various events throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, most notably when he conducted the opening coin toss at the Dallas Cowboys first game in the team's new stadium in Arlington [396] and an April 2009 visit to a Texas Rangers game, where he thanked the people of Dallas for helping him settle in and was met with a standing ovation. [397] He also attended every home playoff game for the Texas Rangers 2010 season and, accompanied by his father, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for Game 4 of the 2010 World Series on October 31, 2010. [398]

On August 6, 2013, Bush was successfully treated for a coronary artery blockage with a stent. The blockage had been found during an annual medical examination. [399]

In reaction to the 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers, Bush stated: "Laura and I are heartbroken by the heinous acts of violence in our city last night. Murdering the innocent is always evil, never more so than when the lives taken belong to those who protect our families and communities." [400]

Publications and appearances

Since leaving office, Bush has kept a relatively low profile [401] though he has made public appearances, most notably after the release of his memoirs in 2010 and for the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in 2011. In March 2009, he delivered his first post-presidency speech in Calgary, Alberta, [402] [403] appeared via video on The Colbert Report during which he praised U.S. troops for earning a "special place in American history," [404] and attended the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy. [405] Bush made his debut as a motivational speaker on October 26 at the "Get Motivated" seminar in Dallas. [406] In the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting on November 5, 2009, the Bushes paid an undisclosed visit to the survivors and the victims' families the day following the shooting, having contacted the base commander requesting that the visit be private and not involve press coverage. [407]

Bush released his memoirs, Decision Points, on November 9, 2010. During a pre-release appearance promoting the book, Bush said he considered his biggest accomplishment to be keeping "the country safe amid a real danger", and his greatest failure to be his inability to secure the passage of Social Security reform. [408] He also made news defending his administration's enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, saying, "I'd do it again to save lives." [409]

In 2012, he wrote the foreword of The 4% Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs, an economics book published by the George W. Bush Presidential Center. [410] [411] He also presented the book at the Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. [412]

Bush appeared on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on November 19, 2013, along with the former First Lady, Laura Bush. When asked by Leno why he does not comment publicly about the Obama administration, Bush said, "I don't think it's good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor." [413] Despite this statement, Bush vocally disagreed with Obama's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, calling it a "strategic blunder", borrowing a term that had been used by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. [414]

In 2013, Bush and his wife Laura travelled with then President Obama and Michelle Obama to the memorial service of South African President and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela. [415] There they joined former Presidents Clinton and Carter. [416]

Alongside the 2014 United States–Africa Leaders Summit, Bush, Michelle Obama, the State Department, and the George W. Bush Institute hosted a daylong forum on education and health with the spouses of the African leaders attending the summit. Bush urged African leaders to avoid discriminatory laws that make the treatment of HIV/AIDS more difficult. [417]

Bush has spoken in favor of increased global participation of women in politics and societal matters in foreign countries. [418] [419]

On November 2, 2014, Bush spoke at an event to 200 business and civic leaders at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum to raise awareness for the upcoming Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. [35] [420]

Bush published a biography of his father, George Bush, called 41: A Portrait of My Father. It was released on November 11, 2014. [421]

In an interview published by Israel Hayom magazine on June 12, 2015, Bush said "boots on the ground" would be needed in order to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). He added that people had said during his presidency that he should withdraw American troops from Iraq, but he chose the opposite, sending 30,000 more troops in order to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, and that they indeed were defeated. Bush was also asked about Iran but declined to answer, stating that any answer he gives would be interpreted as undermining Obama. [422]

In February 2016, George W. Bush spoke and campaigned for his brother Jeb Bush in South Carolina during a rally for the Jeb Bush presidential campaign in the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries. [423]

While Bush endorsed the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, he declined to endorse the 2016 Republican nominee, Donald Trump. [424] Also, Bush attended neither the 2012 nor the 2016 Republican National Conventions, where Romney and Trump, respectively, were formally nominated. [425] [426] On the eve of Trump's nomination, it was reported that Bush had privately expressed concern about the current direction of the Republican Party and told a group of his former aides and advisors, "I'm worried that I will be the last Republican president." [427] [428] Bush and his wife Laura did not vote for Trump in the 2016 presidential election according to a spokesperson for the Bush family, instead choosing to leave their presidential ballots blank. [429] After the election, Bush, his father, and his brother Jeb called Trump on the phone to congratulate him on his victory. [430] Both he and Laura attended Trump's inauguration, and images of Bush struggling to put on a rain poncho during the ceremony became an internet meme. [431] While leaving the event, Bush allegedly described the ceremony, in particular Trump's inaugural address, as "some weird shit". [432]

In February 2017, Bush released a book of his own portraits of veterans called Portraits of Courage (full title: Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors). [433]

Following the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bush and his father released a joint statement condemning the violence and ideologies present at the rally "America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are all reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city's most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country." [434] Their statement came as President Trump was facing controversy over his statements about the rally. Subsequently, Bush gave a speech in New York where he noted of the current political climate, "Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication." He continued, "Bigotry in any form is blasphemy against the American creed and it means the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation," while urging citizens to oppose threats to American democracy and be positive role models for young people. [435] The speech was widely interpreted as a denouncement of Donald Trump and his ideologies, despite Bush not mentioning Trump by name. [435] [436] [437] [438]

In April 2018, Bush and his father met in Texas with Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. [439]

In May 2019, on the 10th anniversary of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun's passing, George Bush visited South Korea to pay respects to Roh and gave a short eulogy. [440]

On June 1, 2020, Bush released a statement addressing the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide reaction and protests. [441] [442] In the statement, Bush wrote that he and former first lady Laura Bush "are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country". [443] He also elaborated on the racial injustices perpetrated by the police saying, that "it is time for America to examine our tragic failures", adding "Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions". [444]

On July 30, 2020 Both George Bush and his wife Laura Bush, along with former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, attended and spoke at the funeral for civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. [445] At the service Bush stated in his remarks, "We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis and his abiding faith in the power of God, the power of democracy and in the power of love to lift us all to a higher ground . The story that began in true isn't ending today, nor is the work." [446] [447]

Bush did not give any endorsements during the 2020 presidential election. [448] He also did not attend the 2020 Republican National Convention where President Trump was re-nominated. [449] He told People magazine in April 2021 that he did not vote for either Trump or Biden in the November election. Instead, Bush wrote in Condoleezza Rice, who served as his secretary of state from 2005 to 2009. [450]

When the election was called for Democratic candidate Joe Biden on November 7, 2020, Bush offered his congratulations to Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris the following day, and congratulated Trump and his supporters "on a hard-fought campaign". Bush's outreach to Biden was notable since Republican candidate Donald Trump had not yet conceded. Bush then issued a statement saying that while Trump was within his rights to call for recounts, he believed the election was "fundamentally fair" and that "its outcome is clear", and said he would offer Biden "my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can", as he had for Trump and Obama. [451] [452] [453]

Despite not making any presidential endorsements in 2020, he did, however, hold a virtual fundraiser for U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC). All four were up for reelection and were struggling in the polls. [454] Collins and Tillis were reelected, while Gardner and McSally were not.

On January 6, 2021, following the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, Bush denounced the violence and attack on the U.S. Capitol alongside the three other living former presidents, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, [455] releasing a statement saying that "this is how election results are disputed in a banana republic, not our democratic republic" [456] and that “it is a sickening and heartbreaking sight”. [457] He also echoed President-elect Joe Biden's message stating that what occurred at the capital was an "insurrection." [458] On January 20, 2021, Bush and Laura attended the inauguration of Joe Biden, alongside Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. [459]


In January 2010, at President Obama's request, Bush and Bill Clinton established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to raise contributions for relief and recovery efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake earlier that month. [460]

On May 2, 2011, President Obama called Bush, who was at a restaurant with his wife, to inform him that Osama bin Laden had been killed. [461] The Bushes joined the Obamas in New York City to mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At the Ground Zero memorial, Bush read a letter that President Abraham Lincoln wrote to a widow who had lost five sons during the Civil War. [462]

On September 7, 2017, Bush partnered with former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama to work with One America Appeal to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in the Gulf Coast and Texas communities. [463]

Over the years, President Bush has had a good-natured friendship with Michelle Obama. "President Bush and I, we are forever seatmates because of protocol, and that's how we sit at all the official functions," Mrs. Obama told the Today Show. "He's my partner in crime at every major thing where all the 'formers' gather. So we're together all the time." She later added, "I love him to death. He's a wonderful man, he's a funny man." [464] Bush and Obama have sat next to each other at many events including the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march in Selma (2015), the interfaith memorial service for the victims in Dallas (2016), the opening at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2016), and at the funerals for Nancy Reagan (2016), and John McCain (2018). Bush famously passed mints to Mrs. Obama during the McCain funeral in September 2018 and gave them to her again during the funeral of his father in December 2018. [465]

After serving as president, Bush began painting as a hobby after reading Winston Churchill's essay "Painting as a Pastime." Subjects have included people, dogs, and still life. [466] He has also painted self-portraits and portraits of world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Tony Blair. [467] [468] [469] In February 2017, Bush released a book of portraits of veterans, Portraits of Courage. [433] The net proceeds from his book are donated to the George W. Bush Presidential Center. In May 2019, on the 10th anniversary of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun's passing, George Bush drew a portrait of Roh to give to his family. [470]

      Recipient of the National Flag Order (June 10, 2007) [471]
      Grand Cross of the National Order of Benin (February 16, 2008) [472]
      First Class of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (February 1, 2002) [473]
      Commander Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of the Three Stars (May 7, 2005) [474]
      Grand Cordon of the Order of the Pioneers of Liberia (February 21, 2008) [475]
      Collar of the Order of King Abdulaziz (January 14, 2008) [476]
    • Saturday Night Live (2000–2009) – Comedian Will Ferrell played a satirical caricature of George W. Bush on the show for many years.
    • W. (2008) – a biographical drama film directed by Oliver Stone, in which George W. Bush is portrayed by Josh Brolin. [477]
    • Vice (2018) – a biographical comedy-drama film written and directed by Adam McKay, in which George W. Bush is portrayed by Sam Rockwell, [478] who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. [479]

    President Bush's legacy continues to develop today. Supporters credit Bush's counterterrorism policies with preventing another major terrorist attack from occurring in the U.S. after 9/11 and also praise individual policies such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit and the AIDS relief program known as PEPFAR. Critics often point to his handling of the Iraq War, specifically the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, that were the main rationale behind the initial invasion – as well as his handling of tax policy, Hurricane Katrina, climate change and the 2008 financial crisis – as proof that George W. Bush was unfit to be president. [480] [481] [482]

    Several historians and commentators hold that Bush was one of the most consequential presidents in American history. Princeton University scholar Julian Zelizer described Bush's presidency as a "transformative" one, and said that "some people hate him, some people love him, but I do think he'll have a much more substantive perception as time goes on". [483] Bryon Williams of The Huffington Post referred to Bush as "the most noteworthy president since FDR" and said the Patriot Act "increased authority of the executive branch at the expense of judicial opinions about when searches and seizures are reasonable" as evidence. [484] Bush's administration presided over the largest tax cuts since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, [485] and his homeland security reforms proved to be the most significant expansion of the federal government since the Great Society. [486] Much of these policies have endured in the administrations of his two immediate successors, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. [487] [488]


    The George W. Bush presidency has been ranked among the worst in surveys of presidential scholars published in the late 2000s and 2010s. [489] [490] [491]

    A 2010 Siena Research Institute survey of the opinions of historians, political scientists, and presidential scholars ranked him 39th out of 43 presidents. The survey respondents gave President Bush low ratings on his handling of the U.S. economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments, and intelligence. [492] Bush said in 2013, "Ultimately history will judge the decisions I made, and I won't be around because it will take time for the objective historians to show up. So I am pretty comfortable with it. I did what I did." [493]

    Among the public, his reputation has improved since his presidency ended in 2009. In February 2012, Gallup reported that "Americans still rate George W. Bush among the worst presidents, though their views have become more positive in the three years since he left office." [494] Gallup had earlier noted that Bush's favorability ratings in public opinion surveys had begun to rise a year after he had left office, from 40 percent in January 2009 and 35 percent in March 2009, to 45 percent in July 2010, a period during which he had remained largely out of the news. [495] A poll conducted in June 2013 marked the first time recorded by Gallup where his ratings have been more positive than negative, with 49 percent viewing him favorably compared to 46 percent unfavorably. [496] Other pollsters have noted similar trends of slight improvement in Bush's personal favorability since the end of his presidency. [497] In April 2013, Bush's approval rating stood at 47 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval in a poll jointly conducted for The Washington Post and ABC, his highest approval rating since December 2005. [498] Bush had achieved notable gains among seniors, non-college whites, and moderate and conservative Democrats since leaving office, although majorities disapproved of his handling of the economy (53 percent) and the Iraq War (57 percent). [499] His 47 percent approval rating was equal to that of President Obama's in the same polling period. [500] A CNN poll conducted that same month found that 55 percent of Americans said Bush's presidency had been a failure, with opinions divided along party lines, and 43 percent of independents calling it a success. [501] Bush's public image saw greater improvement in 2017, with a YouGov survey showing 51 percent of favorability from Democrats. [502] A 2018 CNN poll subsequently found that 61 percent of respondents held of a favorable view of Bush, an increase of nine points from 2015. [503] The improvement has been interpreted as Democrats viewing him more favorably in response to Donald Trump's presidency, [504] [505] [506] an assessment that has also been expressed by Bush himself. [507]

    9/11 and Iraq War

    On September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four U.S. commercial jetliners. Three of them hit their targets in New York and Washington, D.C. A fourth plane crashed into a farmer’s field in Pennsylvania. The war on terror had begun, and President George W. Bush promised the American people that he would do all he could to prevent another terrorist attack. A comprehensive strategy was formed with the creation of the Homeland Security Department, the Patriot Act and the authorization of intelligence gathering that, for a time, included monitoring international phone calls made by U.S. citizens. The Bush administration also built international coalitions to seek out and destroy Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, where the ruling Taliban government was said to be harboring Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

    As the conflict raged on, United States military forces in Afghanistan began transferring Taliban fighters and suspected Al Qaeda members to a special prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a permanent U.S. naval base. Hundreds of prisoners were held there as enemy combatants, a classification given by the Bush administration that stated terror detainees were not protected by the Geneva Conventions. As a result, many were subject to enhanced interrogation techniques, which in the opinion of various international organizations, including the Red Cross, amounted to torture.

    In September, 2002, the Bush administration announced that the United States would preemptively use military force if necessary to prevent threats to its national security by terrorists or "rogue states" especially any that possessed weapons of mass destruction. Based on what would prove to be inaccurate intelligence reports, the Bush administration successfully obtained a UN Security Council resolution to return weapons inspectors to Iraq. Soon afterward, Bush declared that Iraq hadn’t complied with inspections, and on March 20, 2003, the United States launched a successful invasion of Iraq, quickly defeating the Iraqi military. Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, fell on April 9, 2003, and Bush personally declared an end to major combat operations on May 1, 2003. With a power vacuum in place, Iraq soon fell into a sectarian civil war.

    George W. Bush Travels - History

    Home > History & Tours

    White House Life: Now and Then

    Life in the East Room
    Art and Furnishings

    The East Room is 80' x 37'2".
    The mahogany Steinway piano weighs approximately 750 lbs.

    Mrs. Adams' request might not have seemed strange to the servant who answered her call to hang the President's laundry in the large room flanking the east corner of the President's house. Today it is hard to imagine the beautiful East Room as the White House laundry room, but in November 1800, the first occupants had to make do with the inconveniences of living in a new house.

    When President John Adams and his wife Abigail moved into the President's House in November 1800, the mansion was largely unfinished and unfurnished. The roof leaked and construction had not begun on the grand stairway. Because there was no fence around the house to protect a clothesline, Mrs. Adams hung her laundry in the secure but unfinished East Room.

    President and Mrs. Adams lived at the White House less than five months before Thomas Jefferson took office in March 1801. Jefferson turned the south end of the unfinished East Room into an office and bedchamber for his aide, Meriwether Lewis. Jefferson's successor, President James Madison used the room as his Cabinet Room. The East Room was not fully decorated until 1829 during the administration of President Andrew Jackson.

    The East Room is the ideal multi-purpose room. Over the years this large space has been the site of weddings, funerals, press conferences, receptions and receiving lines. Upon occasion, President Woodrow Wilson turned the area into a movie theater, and Jacqueline Kennedy used it as a theater for the performing arts.

    President George W. Bush has used the East Room to sign significant pieces of legislation, such as the tax relief act, as well as a place to communicate his policies and initiatives. The President and Mrs. Bush also have hosted many performing artists, including students from the Duke Ellington School of Arts, who performed in the East Room for the Celebration of African-American Music, History and Culture.

    Horrors of History: How George H. W. Bush Dodged Cannibalism Death in WWII

    “There is a Law of Nations, it is true,
    But when the moment comes, remember,
    The Strong eat up the Weak.”
    -Line in a Japanese children’s song, circa 1880.

    You probably think that you have a pretty solid understanding of the worst possible outcome if you go to war. Many people would say that it’s that you might die. Others might argue that it’s being terribly wounded. Or that you could be captured alive and held prisoner for God knows how many years.

    That’s wrong. None of those outcomes are the worst.

    The worst possible outcome is being eaten alive, piece by piece, like something out of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

    And it happened not all that long ago during WWII on the Japanese island of Chichijima.

    The incident is best chronicled in detail by James Bradley in his book Flyboys: A True Story Of Courage. A brief explanation is that, in 1944, during WWII, a group of nine American airmen were shot down on the island of Chichijima.

    One, George H.W. Bush, would narrowly evade capture by the Japanese.

    The rest were not so fortunate.

    Conditions on the island were brutal in the base case. Prisoners were malnourished and periodically executed. But, again, that’s not the worst thing that can happen to someone in wartime.

    On February 24 th , a day after beheading one of the American prisoners, Colonel Kato hosted a drinking party in his quarters on Chichijima for General Tachibana and Major Matoba. When they arrived they were upset to see that there was not enough meat to go with the vegetables being served.

    The general, who, Bradley stresses, was pretty drunk, suggested that they could get some meat from the execution, and told his hosts they “had to have enough fighting spirit to eat human flesh.”

    They did, apparently, have enough “fighting spirit” to eat the man’s partially decomposed (he’d been buried!) liver and flesh after cooking it in a pan. The next morning, the remaining flesh was sent to the presumably hungover general’s quarters.

    I have been drunk enough to eat three slices of pizza, so I want to say I can understand how this could happen, but then, I have never been drunk enough to think cannibalism was cool. I hope none of us ever are.

    Former President Bush was seemingly haunted by his narrow escape from this possible fate, and has spoken about survivor’s remorse, wondering “why was I spared?”

    I don’t love that George Bush Sr. is seemingly always grabbing women’s butts, but it’s fair to say that he’s been through some stuff and maybe we should cut him some slack.

    I’d love to say this was a fairly isolated incident, but this wasn’t the only instance cannibalism occurred during these years. Severe food shortages lead to gruesome acts among the Japanese army. Bradley records some of the horrors. One interviewee told of how:

    There was absolutely nothing to eat, and we decided to draw lots. The one who lost would be killed and eaten. But the one who lost started to run away so we shot him. He was eaten… I met some soldiers in the mountains who were carrying baked human arms and legs. It was not guerrillas but our own soldiers we were frightened of.

    Cannibalism can be horrifying in the base case, but it’s infinitely more horrifying to realize that the troops wanted — or, if they were starving, really needed — the meat to remain fresh. The heat of the tropics meant that left on its own, it did not do so for long. That meant the people were hacked to death piece by piece. Their ears, noses, cheeks, toes, buttocks and thighs would be carved off while they were still alive. Their organs and other more essential parts would be saved for last.

    One soldier reported that, after being chosen to be cannibalized, victims were taken into a hut where meat would be carved from their bodies. They were then thrown into a ditch, from which the shrieks of the dying, brutalized men emanated.

    In the event anyone is thinking that this is maybe just a cool thing they should embrace (doubtless there will be some Milo Yiannopoulos-style “provocateur” who wants to suggest it sometime soon), objections to the act are more than just cultural taboos. Cannibalism results in a prion disease called Kuru. It causes its victims to lose muscle control as well as control over their emotions. It’s sometimes referred to as the “laughing death” as it provokes uncontrollable laughter in its victims as they die.

    So, it is fair to say that people who eat people are not the luckiest people in the world.

    General Tachibana certainly wasn’t. He was later executed for his war crimes during the Chichijima incident. But the story is hopefully a reminder that war is hell, and hell includes eating human beings.

    And that it’s not okay, even if you’re really drunk.

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    George W. Bush Travels - History

    The United States presidential election of 2004 was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior Senator from Massachusetts. Foreign policy was the dominant theme throughout the election campaign, particularly related to Bush’s conduct of the War on Terrorism and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In the Electoral College, Bush received 286 votes to Kerry’s 251. Kerry’s running mate, John Edwards, who had also run as a Democratic primary candidate, received one electoral vote for president from an elector from Minnesota. This was presumably in error, as that elector also separately voted for Edwards for vice president. Bush’s vote total was the highest in history until broken by his successor Barack Obama in 2008.

    The Campaign

    In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Americans had rallied around their president in a gesture of patriotic loyalty, giving Bush approval ratings of 90%. Even following the first few months of the Iraq War, his approval rating remained historically high at approximately 70%. But as the 2004 election approached, opposition to the war in Iraq began to grow. While Bush could boast of a number of achievements at home and abroad during his first term, the narrow victory he achieved in 2000 augured poorly for his chances for re-election in 2004 and a successful second term.

    As the 2004 campaign gained momentum, the president was persistently dogged by rising criticism of the violence of the Iraq War and the fact that his administration’s claims of weapons of mass destruction had been greatly overstated. In the end, no such weapons were ever found. These criticisms were amplified by growing international concern over the treatment of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and widespread disgust over the torture conducted by U.S. troops at the prison in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, which surfaced only months before the election.

    With two hot wars overseas, one of which appeared to be spiraling out of control, the Democrats nominated a decorated Vietnam War veteran, Massachusetts senator John Kerry, to challenge Bush for the presidency. As someone with combat experience, three Purple Hearts, and a foreign policy background, Kerry seemed like the right challenger in a time of war. On July 6, 2004, John Kerry selected John Edwards as his running mate, shortly before the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston held later that month. Heading into the convention, the Kerry/Edwards ticket unveiled their new slogan—a promise to make America “stronger at home and more respected in the world.” This advanced the suggestion that Kerry would pay more attention to domestic concerns it also encapsulated Kerry’s contention that Bush had alienated American allies by his foreign policy.

    Kerry’s record of support for the invasion of Iraq, however, made his criticism of the incumbent less compelling and earned him the byname “Waffler” from Republicans. The Bush campaign also sought to characterize Kerry as an elitist out of touch with regular Americans—Kerry had studied overseas, spoke fluent French, and married a wealthy foreign-born heiress. Republican supporters also unleashed an attack on Kerry’s Vietnam War record, falsely claiming he had lied about his experience and fraudulently received his medals. Kerry’s reluctance to embrace his past leadership of Vietnam Veterans Against the War weakened the enthusiasm of antiwar Americans while opening him up to criticisms from veterans groups. This combination compromised the impact of his challenge to the incumbent in a time of war.

    Bush focused his campaign on national security, presenting himself as a decisive leader and contrasting Kerry as a “flip-flopper.” On October 29, four days before the election, excerpts of a video of Osama bin Laden addressing the American people were broadcast on al Jazeera. In his remarks, bin Laden claimed credit for the September 11, 2001 attacks and taunted Bush over his response to them. In the days following the video’s release, Bush’s lead over Kerry increased by several points.

    Results of the Election

    Urged by the Republican Party to “stay the course” with Bush, voters listened. Bush won another narrow victory, receiving 62,040,610 popular votes (50.73%) compared to Kerry’s 59,028,444 (48.27%). High voter turnout in addition to the nation’s growing population meant that both Bush and Kerry received more votes than any presidential candidate in American history. In the seven presidential elections from 1992 to 2016, this was the only one in which the Republican candidate won the popular vote. The Republican Party did well overall, picking up four seats in the Senate and increasing its majority there to fifty-five. In the House, the Republican Party gained three seats, adding to its majority there as well. Across the nation, most governorships also went to Republicans, and Republicans dominated many state legislatures.

    2004 Presidential Electoral College: Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Bush/Cheney, Blue denotes those won by Kerry/Edwards. The split vote in Minnesota denotes an elector’s vote counted for Vice President nominee John Edwards. Each number represents the electoral votes a state gave to one candidate.

    Letters: Look past George W. Bush's history and toward his video message of hope

    Former first lady Laura Bush and former President George W. Bush greet President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump outside of Blair House Dec. 4, 2018 in Washington, D.C. The Trumps were paying a condolence visit to the Bush family, who were in Washington for former President George H.W. Bush's state funeral and related honors. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)

    Chip Somodevilla, POOL / TNS

    Regarding &ldquoWords of hope,&rdquo (A11, May 12): Thank you for your editorial. I agree that, in spite of our recognition of George W. Bush&rsquos failings, the video that you referenced was worthwhile and should not be maligned or ridiculed.

    Elizabeth Duerr, Houston

    Would have been nice to have heard George W. Bush&rsquos message without any one having to throw out the reminders of &ldquolet&rsquos not forget.&rdquo So interesting we can all see that deep buried hatchet that keeps this division going, but no human is smart enough to stop it. Maybe that is what this virus is for, to do what no human can do. Time will tell if the virus did it&rsquos job or not.

    Linda L. Hurlbert, League City

    You gave George W. Bush credit for an upbeat message, but then you just had to go off on a typical rip of the man. You just can&rsquot say something nice without complaining about past indiscretions.