43rd President of the United States
|In office since |
January 20, 2001
|Vice President(s)||Dick Cheney|
|Preceded by||Bill Clinton|
|Born||July 6, 1946 (age 60) |
New Haven, CT, USA
|Spouse||Laura Welch Bush|
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001. He was re-elected in the 2004 Presidential election. He formerly served as the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. A Republican, he belongs to the politically influential Bush family, being a son of former president George Bush and elder brother to Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida.
He was president during the September 11, 2001 attacks and responded by declaring a global War on Terrorism. In October 2001 he ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban and destroy Al-Qaeda.. In March 2003, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, asserting that Iraq was in violation of UN Resolution 1441 regarding weapons of mass destruction and had to be disarmed by force.. Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, Bush committed the U.S. to establishing democracy in the Middle East, starting with Afghanistan and Iraq.
A self-described "war President", Bush won re-election in 2004 after an intense and heated election campaign, becoming the first candidate to win a majority vote in 16 years. Since his re-election, he has received increasingly heated criticism, even from former allies, on the Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandals, as well as domestic issues such as federal funding of stem cell research, Hurricane Katrina, and controversies such as NSA warrantless surveillance activities and the Plame affair. According to polls of job approval rating, his popularity has significantly declined from its record heights after the September 11, 2001 attacks, which contributed to what Bush called the 'thumping' of the GOP in the 2006 mid-term elections.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Bush is the eldest son of George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush. His paternal ancestors emigrated from Somerset in the West Country of England in the seventeenth century. Bush's parents moved from Connecticut to Texas when he was two years old. He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas with his four siblings, Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died in 1953 at the age of three from leukemia. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator, and his father served as U.S. President from 1989 to 1993. George W. Bush is sometimes mistakenly referred to as George Bush, Jr. Since his father goes by George H. W. Bush, this is not applicable. His brother Jeb is a two-term governor of Florida. The Bush family has a long-standing and strong involvement in the U.S. Republican Party.
Bush attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and, following in his father's footsteps, was accepted into Yale University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1968. At the same time, he worked in various Republican campaigns, including his father's 1964 and 1970 Senate campaigns in Texas. As a college senior, Bush became a member of the secretive Skull and Bones society. By his own characterization, Bush was an average student.
In May 1968, at the height of the ongoing Vietnam War, Bush was accepted into the Texas Air National Guard. After training, he was assigned to duty in Houston, flying Convair F-102s out of Ellington Air Force Base. Throughout his political career, Bush has been criticized over his induction and period of service. Critics allege that Bush was favorably treated due to his father's political standing, and that he was irregular in attendance. Bush took a transfer to the Alabama Air National Guard in 1972 to work on a Republican senate campaign, and in 1974 he obtained permission to end his six-year service obligation six months early to attend Harvard Business School, receiving an honorable discharge.
There are a number of accounts of substance abuse and otherwise disorderly conduct by Bush from this time. Bush has admitted to drinking "too much" in those years and described this period of his life as his "nomadic" period of "irresponsible youth". On September 4, 1976, at the age of 30, Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150, and had his driver's license suspended until 1978 in Maine. Bush was able to keep his drunk driving arrest a secret throughout his years as governor of Texas. 
After obtaining an MBA from Harvard University (Bush is the only US President to serve holding a Master of Business Administration degree ), Bush entered the oil industry in Texas. In 1977, he was introduced by friends to Laura Welch, a young schoolteacher and librarian. After three months of courting, Bush married Laura and settled in Midland, Texas. His twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were born in 1981. Bush also left his family's Episcopal Church to join his wife's Methodist Church. Today, they are members of the congregation of the Highland Park United Methodist Church, near Dallas.
In 1978, Bush ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 19th Congressional District of Texas. Facing Kent Hance of the Democratic Party, Bush stressed his energy credentials and conservative values in the campaign. Hance, however, also held many conservative views, opposing gun control and strict regulation; he portrayed Bush as being out of touch with rural Texans. Bush campaigned hard and was an effective fundraiser, but lost by 6,000 votes. Hance later became a Republican and donated money to Bush's campaign for Governor of Texas in 1993.
Bush returned to the oil industry, becoming a senior partner or chief executive officer of several ventures, such as Arbusto Energy ('arbusto' means bush in Spanish), Spectrum 7, and Harken Energy. These ventures suffered from the general decline of oil prices in the 1980s that had affected the industry and the regional economy, but he remained active through mergers, acquisitions and consolidations of his firms. Bush credits a reinvigorated faith life as helping him abandon alcohol (in 1986), and face other personal and professional difficulties. Bush began studying the Bible and Christian philosophy, and participating in church and community study groups. Following a personal meeting and exchange with Reverend Billy Graham, he became a born-again Christian.
Bush moved with his family to Washington, D.C. in 1988, to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency. With colleagues Lee Atwater and Doug Wead, he helped to develop and coordinate a political strategy for courting conservative Christians and evangelical voters, who were seen as key to winning the nomination and the election. Delivering speeches at rallies and fundraisers, Bush met with representatives of conservative and religious organizations on behalf of his father.
Returning to Texas, Bush purchased a share in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in April 1989, where he served as managing general partner of the Rangers for five years. He was active in the team's media relations and in securing the construction of a new stadium, which opened in 1994 as The Ballpark in Arlington. Bush actively led the team's projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans. Bush's role with the Rangers gave him prominent media exposure and attention, as well as garnering public, business and political support. The Rangers were mostly successful while Bush was a leader of the organization. During his tenure, the Rangers acquired Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who was popular with the fans during the last years of his career. The team nearly won its first division title in 1994, before a strike shortened the season. In 1989, Bush presided during the trade of the eventually famous Sammy Sosa to the Chicago White Sox. The eventual sale of Bush's share in the Texas Rangers brought him over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment.
George W. Bush is the first president to have run a marathon. Before running for governor of Texas he completed the 1993 Houston Marathon in 3:44:52 for a pace of about 8:36/mile. He had been running since he was 26, and before taking office, ran 15 to 30 miles a week.
He is often referred to by the nickname Dubya, playing on a stereotyped and generalized Southern pronunciation of the letter W.
|46th Governor of Texas|
|Term of office:||January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000|
|Lieutenant Governor:||Bob Bullock, Rick Perry|
|Born:||July 6, 1946 |
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
With his father's election in 1988, speculation had arisen amongst Republicans that Bush would enter the 1990 gubernatorial election, but this was offset by Bush's purchase of the Rangers baseball team and personal concerns regarding his own record and profile. Following his success as owner and manager of the Rangers, Bush declared his candidacy for the 1994 election, even as his brother Jeb first sought the governorship of Florida. Winning the Republican primary easily, Bush faced incumbent Governor Ann Richards, a popular Democrat who was considered the easy favorite, given Bush's lack of political credentials.
Bush was aided in his campaign by a close coterie of political advisors that included Karen Hughes, a former journalist who was his communications advisor; John Allbaugh, who became his campaign manager, and Karl Rove, a personal friend and political activist who is believed to have been a strong influence in encouraging Bush to enter the election. Bush's aides crafted a campaign strategy that attacked Governor Richards' record on law enforcement, her political appointments, and her support of liberal political causes. Bush developed a positive image and message with themes of "personal responsibility" and "moral leadership". His campaign focused on issues such as education (seeking more accountability for schools over student performance), crime, deregulation of the economy, and tort reform. The Bush campaign was criticized for allegedly using controversial methods to disparage Richards. Following an impressive performance in the debates, however, Bush's popularity grew. He won with 52 percent against Richards' 47 percent.
As governor, Bush successfully sponsored legislation for tort reform, increased education funding, set higher standards for schools, and reformed the criminal justice system. Under his leadership, Texas executed 152 prisoners, more than under any other governor in modern American history; critics such as Helen Prejean argue that he failed to give serious consideration to clemency requests. School finance was considered a sensitive issue at the time by politicians and the press. The state financed its school system through property taxes. Seeking to reduce the high rates to benefit homeowners while increasing general education funding, Bush sought to create business taxes, but faced vigorous opposition from his own party and the private sector. Failing to obtain political consensus for his proposal, Bush used a budget surplus to push through a $2 billion tax-cut plan, which was the largest in Texas history and cemented Bush's credentials as a pro-business fiscal conservative.
Bush also pioneered faith-based welfare programs by extending government funding and support for religious organizations providing social services such as education, alcohol and drug abuse prevention, and reduction of domestic violence. Governor Bush signed a memorandum on April 17, 2000 proclaiming June 10 to be Jesus Day in Texas, a day where he "urge[d] all Texans to answer the call to serve those in need." Although Bush was criticized for violating the constitutional separation of church and state ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."), his initiative was popular with most people across the state, especially religious and social conservatives.
In 1998, Bush won re-election in a landslide victory with nearly 69% of the vote, becoming the first Texas governor to be elected for two consecutive four-year terms (before 1975, the gubernatorial term of office was two years).
As one of the most popular governors in the nation, Bush was seen in the media and the Republican Party as a strong potential contender for the U.S. presidential election in 2000. Bush had personally envisioned running for the presidency since his re-election, and upon announcing his candidacy, he immediately became the Republican front-runner and raised the largest amount in campaign funds.
Bush labeled himself a "compassionate conservative," a term coined by University of Texas professor Marvin Olasky, and his political campaign promised to "restore honor and dignity to the White House". Bush proposed lowering taxes in response to a projected surplus, while promising a balanced budget. He supported participation of religious charities in federally funded programs, and promoted education vouchers, national education reform, oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and structural changes to the United States armed forces. Bush's foreign policy campaign platform supported a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America and especially Mexico, free trade and reduced involvement in "nation-building" and other minor military engagements indirectly related to U.S. interests. Bush also pledged to expand the National Missile Defense initiative and to reform Social Security and Medicare.
Bush's campaign was managed by Rove, Hughes and Albaugh, as well as by other political associates from Texas. He was endorsed by a majority of Republicans in 38 state legislatures. After winning the Iowa caucus, Bush was handed a surprising defeat by U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona in the New Hampshire primary. During his campaign, Bush was criticized for visiting the controversial Bob Jones University, which bore a reputation for a bias against Catholicism and a ban on interracial dating. Bush then won the South Carolina primary, severely crippling the momentum McCain had picked up with his win in New Hampshire. McCain countered by winning in Michigan. However, McCain inexplicably decided to criticize Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell just before the Virginia primary, stirring the ire of religious conservatives. Bush went on to win the Virginia Primary and then, a week later, he captured nine of thirteen Super Tuesday state primaries, effectively clinching the Republican nomination. He chose Dick Cheney, a former U.S. Representative and Secretary of Defense, as his running mate. His campaign was endorsed by prominent Republicans such as Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, who assumed roles as advisers on issues of national security and foreign relations. While stressing his successful record as governor of Texas, Bush's campaign attacked the Democratic nominee, incumbent Vice President Al Gore, over gun control and taxation. Bush criticized the Kyoto Protocol, championed by Gore, citing the decline of the industries in the Midwestern states, such as West Virginia, and resulting economic hardships.
In the televised Republican presidential debate held in Des Moines, Iowa on December 13, 1999, all of the participating candidates were asked "What political philosopher or thinker do you most identify with and why?" Unlike the other candidates, who cited former Presidents and other political figures, Bush responded, "Christ, because He changed my heart." Bush's appeal to religious values is believed to have aided his election, since those who said they "attend church weekly" gave him 56% of their vote in 2000 (and 63% of their vote in 2004).
On election day, November 7, 2000, Bush won key midwestern states such as Ohio, Missouri, and Arkansas. He also clinched Gore's home state of Tennessee, New Hampshire, and the erstwhile Democratic bastion of West Virginia. Television networks initially called the state of Florida for Gore, then withdrew that projection and later called the state, along with the entire election, for Bush. Finally, it was declared that the results were too close to call. Sometime after the networks reported that Bush had won Florida, Gore conceded the election, and then rescinded that concession less than one hour later. The vote count, which favored Bush in preliminary tallies, was contested over allegations of irregularities in the voting and tabulation processes. Because of Florida state law, a state-wide machine recount was ordered. Although it narrowed the gap, the recount still left Bush in the lead. Eventually, four counties in Florida which had large numbers of presidential undervotes began a manual hand recount of ballots. On December 8, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that every county with a large number of undervotes would perform a hand recount. On December 9, in the Bush v. Gore case, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the statewide hand recount. The machine recount showed that Bush had won the Florida vote - making it the 30th of the 50 states he carried. Despite having lost the nationwide popular contest by more than half a million votes, he won 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266. This made him the first President elected despite a popular vote loss since Benjamin Harrison in 1888.
President George W. Bush was regarded by his political opponents and many in the media as lacking a popular mandate, having lost the popular vote. Upon assuming office, Bush appointed Andrew Card as his Chief of Staff, Karl Rove as his political advisor and Karen Hughes as White House communications director. He appointed Colin Powell as Secretary of State, Paul O'Neill as Secretary of the Treasury, and Donald Rumsfeld as the Secretary of Defense.
His appointment of former Senator John Ashcroft as Attorney General was intensely criticized by Democrats because of Ashcroft's opposition of abortion and support for social and religious conservative causes concerning gay rights and capital punishment. Despite this, Ashcroft was confirmed, and Bush was lauded by conservatives.
On his first day in office, Bush moved to block federal aid to foreign groups that offered counselling or any other assistance to women in obtaining abortions. Bush also successfully pushed for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, enacted in 2003 with some bi-partisan support but criticized by pro-choice groups as incursive on legalized abortion rights.
Days into his first term, Bush announced his commitment to channeling more federal aid to faith-based service organizations. Bush created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to assist faith-based service organizations. Critics claimed that this was an infringement of the separation of church and state.
Following a national controversy over the recognition of same-sex marriages in San Francisco and Massachusetts, Bush announced his opposition to the recognition of same-sex marriage, but supported allowing states to recognize civil unions. He endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. This amendment failed to gain enough votes to pass.
Bush staunchly opposes euthanasia. He supported Ashcroft's decision to file suit against the voter-approved Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court in favor of the Oregon law. As governor of Texas, however, Bush had signed a law which gave hospitals the authority to take terminally ill patients off of life support against the wishes of their spouse or parents, if the doctors deemed it medically appropriate. This became an issue in 2005, when the President signed controversial legislation forwarded and voted on by only three members of the Senate to initiate federal intervention in the court battle of Terri Schiavo.
Bush's domestic agenda carried forward themes of increased responsibility for performance from his days as Texas governor, and he worked hard to lobby the adoption of the No Child Left Behind Act, with Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy as chief sponsor. The legislation aims to close the achievement gap, measures student performance, provides options to parents with students in low-performing schools, and targets more federal funding to low-income schools. NCLBA has been a source of ongoing controversy. Critics argue that Bush has underfunded his own program, and Kennedy himself has claimed: "The tragedy is that these long overdue reforms are finally in place, but the funds are not.". Many educational experts are critical of the reforms in question, claiming that NCLB allows some students to flee failing public schools instead of improving those schools. Others contend that NCLBA's focus on "high stakes testing" and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive.  Bush increased funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in his first years of office, and created education programs to strengthen the grounding in science and mathematics for American high school students. However, funding for NIH failed to keep up with inflation in 2004 and 2005, and was actually cut in 2006, the first such cut in 36 years.
Bush promoted increased de-regulation and investment options in social services, leading Republican efforts to pass the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare and created Health Savings Accounts, which would permit people to set aside a portion of their Medicare tax to build a "nest egg". The elderly group, AARP worked with the Bush Administration on the program and gave their endorsement. Bush said the law, estimated to cost US$400 billion over the first 10 years, would give the elderly "better choices and more control over their health care".
In the wake of the Columbia space shuttle disaster, on January 14, 2004 Bush announced a major re-direction for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Known as the Vision for Space Exploration, it calls for the completion of the International Space Station by 2010 and the retirement of the space shuttle while developing a new spacecraft called the Crew Exploration Vehicle under the title Project Constellation. The CEV would be used to return American astronauts to the Moon by 2018.
President Bush supports stem cell research, but only to the extent that human embryos are not destroyed in order to harvest additional stem cells. His supporters see this as a principled stand for the rights of human embryos; one to which the President has remained true despite heavy criticism. In 2004, more than two hundred Republican and Democratic members of Congress sent President Bush a letter asking him to change the August 2001 Executive Order “that has crippled stem cell research in our country.” On February 27, 2004, after expressing disapproval of administration policy, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn was removed from the President's Council on Bioethics, prompting allegations that President Bush had violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, which requires committees to be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented.” In response to this and other controversies, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a statement entitled Scientific Integrity in Policy Making: Further Investigation of the Bush Administration’s Misuse of Science.  Meanwhile, the National Right to Life Committee has commended President Bush’s veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, a bill that would have allowed the destruction of human embryos created via in vitro fertilization.
Bush signed the Amber Alert legislation into law on April 30, 2003, which was developed to quickly alert the general public about child abductions using various media sources. On July 27, 2006 Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act which establishes a national database requiring all convicted sex offenders to register their current residency and related details on a monthly instead of the previous yearly basis. Newly convicted sex offenders will also face longer mandatory incarceration periods.
Facing opposition in Congress, Bush held town hall-style public meetings across the nation to increase public support for his plan for a $1.3 trillion tax cut. Bush and his economic advisers argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers. With reports of the threat of recession from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Bush argued that such a tax cut would stimulate the economy and create jobs. In the end, five Senate Democrats crossed party lines to join Republicans in approving Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut program — one of the largest in U.S. history.
During his first term, Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for two additional tax cuts: the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. These acts increased the child tax credit and eliminated the so-called "marriage penalty." Arguably, cuts were distributed disproportionately to higher income taxpayers through a decrease in marginal rates, but the change in marginal rates was greater for those of lower income, resulting in an income tax structure that was more progressive overall. Complexity was increased with new categories of income taxed at different rates and new deductions and credits, however; at the same time, the number of individuals subject to the alternative minimum tax increased since it had remained unchanged.
Bush's imposition of a tariff on imported steel and on Canadian softwood lumber was controversial in light of his advocacy of free market policies in other areas; this attracted criticism both from his fellow conservatives and from nations affected. The steel tariff was later rescinded under pressure from the World Trade Organization. A negotiated settlement to the softwood lumber dispute was reached in April 2006, and the historic seven-year deal was finalized on July 1, 2006.
The Bush administration has withdrawn US support for several international agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia. It has pursued a national missile defense, which was previously barred by the ABM treaty, which was never ratified by Congress. Bush publicly condemned Kim Jong-Il of North Korea, naming North Korea one of three states in an "axis of evil," and vowing that "[t]he United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." Within months, "both countries had walked away from their respective commitments under the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of October 1994." Bush also undertook bold actions by expressing U.S. support for the defense of Taiwan following the stand-off in March 2001 with the People's Republic of China over the crash between an EP-3E American spyplane and a Chinese air force jet, leading to the detention of U.S. personnel. In 2003-04, Bush authorized U.S. military intervention in Haiti and Liberia to restore order and oversee a transition to democracy.
Bush emphasized a "hands-off" approach to the conflict between Israel and Palestine in wake of rising violence and the alleged failure of the Clinton Administration's efforts to negotiate. Bush denounced Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his support of the violence and militant groups. But prompted by European leaders, he became the first American President to embrace a two-state solution in which an independent Palestine would exist side-by-side with Israel. Bush sponsored dialogue between Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas but continued his boycott of Arafat. Bush also supported Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and lauded the democratic elections held in Palestine following Arafat's death.
In his State of the Union Address in January 2003, Bush outlined a five-year strategy for global emergency AIDS relief, the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief. Bush announced $15 billion for this effort—$3 billion per year for five years—but has requested less in annual budgets, though some members of Congress have added amendments to increase the requested amounts. The emergency relief effort is led by U.S. Ambassador Randall L. Tobias, former CEO of Eli Lilly and Global AIDS Coordinator at the Department of State. At the time of the speech, $9 billion was earmarked for new programs in AIDS relief for the 15 countries most affected by HIV/AIDS, another $5 billion for continuing support of AIDS relief in 100 countries where the U.S. already has bilateral programs established, and an additional $1 billion towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Almost one quarter of the $15 billion has gone to religious groups that tend to emphasize abstinence over condom use. This budget represents more money contributed to fight AIDS globally than all other donor countries combined.
Bush has condemned the attacks by militia forces on the people of Darfur, and has denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide. Bush has said that an international peacekeeping presence is critical in Darfur; he opposes referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, however.
The September 11 terrorist attacks were a major turning point in Bush's presidency. Bush was visiting an elementary school in Florida when Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed him that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. Following news of a second collision, Bush remained with the class for seven minutes while they finished reading a story. He then flew to air bases in Louisiana and Nebraska before returning to Washington, D.C. in the late afternoon. That evening, he addressed the nation from the Oval Office, promising a strong response to the attacks but emphasizing the need for the nation to come together and comfort the families of the victims. On September 14, he visited the World Trade Center site, meeting with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and firefighters, police officers and volunteers. In a moment captured by press and media, Bush addressed the gathering via megaphone from atop a heap of rubble:
|I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.|
In a September 20, 2001 speech, President Bush condemned Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, and issued the Taliban regime in Afghanistan an ultimatum to "hand over the terrorists, or ... share in their fate."
On October 7, 2001, U.S. and British forces initiated bombing campaigns that led to the November 13 arrival of Northern Alliance troops in Kabul. By December 2001, the UN had organized both the Bonn agreement, which instated the Afghan Interim Authority chaired by Hamid Karzai, and the ISAF, a multinational fighting force whose numbers and territory have since steadily increased.
In 2003, after it became apparent that the Taliban was amassing new funds and recruits, NATO assumed ISAF control. By 2005, NATO had moved into western and southern parts of the country, and in 2006, requesting increased international cooperation, it announced expansion of operations to eastern Afghanistan.
Recent large-scale offensives such as Operation Mountain Thrust have met limited success against a Taliban insurgency larger, fiercer, and better organized than expected. Bin Laden and the Afghan leader of the Taliban, Mohammed Omar, remain at large. In October 2006, NATO broadened security operations to include every province in the country. Foreign troops in the region currently number more than 41,000.In a September, 2006 address to the UN, President Bush pledged his continuing support for the Afghan people: "We'll help you defeat these enemies and build a free Afghanistan that will never again oppress you, or be a safe haven for terrorists."
Following the overthrow of the Taliban, President Bush also promoted urgent action in Iraq, stating that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and that in the post 9/11 world it was too dangerous to allow unstable regimes to possess weapons that could "potentially fall into the hands of terrorists." Bush argued that Saddam, through his continued violation of the UN Cease Fire Agreement and UN Security Council Resolutions 687, 688, 707, 715, 986, 1115, 1134, 1137, 1284, and 1373, was a threat to U.S. security, destabilized the Middle East, inflamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and financed various terrorist organizations. Central Intelligence Agency reports asserted that Saddam Hussein had tried to acquire nuclear material, had not properly accounted for Iraqi biological weapons and chemical weapons material in violation of U.N. sanctions, and that some Iraqi missiles had a range greater than allowed by the UN sanctions.
Bush urged the United Nations to enforce Iraqi disarmament mandates, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. On November 13, 2002, under UN Security Council Resolution 1441, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei led UN weapons inspectors in Iraq. There was controversy over the efficacy of inspections and lapses in Iraqi compliance. UN inspection teams departed Iraq upon U.S. advisement given four days prior to the U.S. invasion, despite their requests for more time to complete their tasks. The U.S. initially sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Upon facing vigorous opposition from several nations (primarily France and Germany), however, the U.S. dropped the bid for UN approval and began to prepare for war; Benjamin Ferenccz, a former chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials argued that for these actions Bush, with his Administration, could be prosecuted for war crimes;. Kofi Annan, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as well as leaders of several nations made similar statements, implying that the attack constitutes a war crime. The war effort was joined by more than 20 other nations (most notably the United Kingdom) who were designated the "coalition of the willing".
The invasion of Iraq commenced on March 20, 2003, ostensibly to pre-empt Iraqi WMD deployment and remove Saddam from power, and was completed on May 1, 2003 when U.S. forces took control of Baghdad. The success of U.S. operations increased Bush's popularity, but the U.S. forces would be challenged by public disorder, as well as increasing insurgency led by pro-Saddam and Islamist groups. The Bush Administration was assailed in subsequent months following the report of the Iraq Survey Group, which, apart from a few stockpiles, did not find the large quantities of weapons that the regime was believed to possess. On December 14, 2005, while discussing the WMD issue, Bush stated that "It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong." Bush would nevertheless remain unwavering when asked if the war had been worth it, or whether he would have made the same decision if he had known more. U.S. efforts in Iraq would become the centrepiece of Bush's expressed vision to promote democracy as a means to discourage and defeat terrorists, by removing radical regimes and fostering social and economic development. However a 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (a consensus report of the heads of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies) asserted that the Iraq war had increased Islamic radicalism and worsened the terror threat. Bush and his top officials told early October 2006 that the United States must press on with war in Iraq. They accuse critics, including some Democrats, who call for a U.S. troop pullout or a timetable for withdrawal, of advocating a policy of 'cut-and-run.
On October 21, 2006, Bush held a video teleconference with Vice President Cheney and military commanders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, to discuss the Iraq War. Bush admitted that there were strategic mistakes made in regards to the stability of Iraq and would modify plans but not the overall strategy. 
Bush commanded broad support in the Republican Party and did not encounter a primary challenge. He appointed Kenneth Mehlman as campaign manager, and the campaign political strategy was devised by Karl Rove. Bush outlined a 2004 agenda that included a strong commitment in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act, making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, cutting the budget deficit in half, promoting education, tort reform, social security and national tax reform. Bush emphasized his social conservatism by arguing for the Federal Marriage Amendment. In most of his speeches, Bush also stressed a vision and commitment for spreading freedom and democracy across the world.
Having had great success at fundraising, the campaign began running television and radio advertisement campaigns across the nation against Democratic candidates, including Bush's emerging opponent, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Kerry and other Democrats attacked Bush on the perceived excesses of the USA PATRIOT Act and for allegedly failing to stimulate the economy and job growth, as well as controversies surrounding Bush's service in the National Guard. Bush emphasized his leadership in war and national security challenges, evoking the patriotism and passion aroused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Bush campaign portrayed Kerry as a staunch liberal who would raise taxes, increase the size of government, and fail to oppose a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The Bush campaign continuously criticized Kerry's allegedly contradictory statements on the war in Iraq, and claimed Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the war on terrorism. Popular politicians such as Rudy Guiliani, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and conservative Democrat Zell Miller campaigned actively for Bush, who traveled across the country delivering speeches at three to four different locations on most days. The campaign organized a large group of volunteers and focused its efforts on swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Bush carried 31 of 50 states for a total of 286 Electoral College votes.
Bush was inaugurated for his second term on January 20, 2005. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Bush's inaugural address centered mainly on a theme of spreading freedom and democracy around the world:
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world...The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it....From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?
For his second term, Bush assembled what is regarded as one of the most diverse U.S. cabinets in history, with the appointments of the first Hispanic American U.S. Attorney General and Commerce Secretary, as well as making Condoleezza Rice the first African American woman to head the U.S. State Department. Bush retained Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, whose dismissal had been demanded by many in the U.S. Congress. During a visit to the Republic of Georgia on May 10, 2005, Vladimir Arutinian attempted to assassinate Bush. Arutian threw a grenade that failed to detonate which eventually landed in the large crowd some 18.6 meters (61 feet) from the podium where Bush was delivering a speech.
In August 2005, with his nomination of the controversial John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations filibustered by the Senate, Bush took the rarely-used expedient of installing him via a recess appointment. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid criticized this action as an abuse of Presidential power.
In 2006, Bush replaced long-time chief of staff Andrew Card with Joshua Bolten and undertook major staff and cabinet changes with the stated intention of revitalizing his Administration.
In November 2006, Bush announced plans to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with former CIA Director Robert Gates, in response to pressure from the midterm elections and military publications.
President Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to reform Social Security, which was facing record deficit projections beginning in 2005. Bush made it the centerpiece of his agenda despite contrary beliefs in the media and in the U.S. Congress, which saw the program as the "third rail of politics," with the American public being suspicious of any attempt to change it. It was also widely believed to be the province of the Democratic Party, with Republicans in the past having been accused of efforts to dismantle or privatize it. In his 2005 State of the Union Address, Bush discussed the allegedly impending bankruptcy of the program and attacked political inertia against reform. He proposed options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments, creating a "nest egg" that he claimed would enjoy steady growth. Despite emphasizing safeguards and remaining open to other plans, Bush's proposal was criticized for its high cost, and Democrats attacked it as an effort to partially privatize the system, and for leaving Americans open to the whims of the market. Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning vigorously for his initiative in media events ("Conversations on Social Security") in a largely unsuccessful attempt to gain support from the general public. According to at least one poll, Bush failed to convince the public that the Social Security program was in crisis.
In 2006, Bush somewhat shifted focus to re-emphasize immediate and comprehensive immigration reform. Going beyond calls from Republicans and conservatives to secure the border, Bush demanded that Congress create a "temporary guest-worker program" to allow more than 12 million illegal immigrants to obtain legal status. Bush continues to argue that the lack of legal status denies the protections of U.S. laws to millions of people who face dangers of poverty and exploitation, and penalizes employers despite a demand for immigrant labor. On May 15, 2006, Bush proposed expanding "Basic Pilot," an online system to allow employers to easily confirm the eligibility of new hires; creating a new identification card for all foreign workers; and increasing penalties for businesses that violate immigration laws. Bush urged Congress to provide additional funding for border security, and committed to deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the United States-Mexico border.
On June 15, 2006, Bush created the 75th, and largest, National Monument in US history and the largest Marine Protected Area in the world with the formation of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument.
On July 19, 2006, Bush used the first veto of his presidency against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. The bill would have granted federal funding to scientists engaging in stem cell research derived from discarded human embryos. The bill would have overridden the president's policy of only allowing federal funding of research on 21 stem cell lines that existed prior to 2001.
In 2005-06, Bush emphasized the need for comprehensive energy reform and proposed increased funding for research and development of renewable sources of energy such as hydrogen power, nuclear power, ethanol and clean coal technologies. Bush has proposed the American Competitiveness Initiative which seeks to support increasing competitiveness of the U.S. economy, with greater development of advanced technologies, as well as greater education and support for American students.
Bush appointed First Lady Laura Bush to oversee an initiative to improve opportunities and education for inner-city boys.
On August 1, 2005, in response to a question about teaching intelligent design in public schools, Bush seemed to endorse the intelligent design movement's Teach the Controversy approach. He answered, "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought." The National Academy of Sciences and the established scientific community regard this stance as politically motivated. These groups point out that intelligent design is based on the religious concepts found in creationism, and does not constitute valid science.
On August 17, 2006 Bush signed the Pension Protection Act, which increases fines for companies that underpay money to Social Security, making such underpayments unprofitable.
That same day, a U.S. district court judge in Detroit ruled that warrantless and otherwise congressionally unauthorized eavesdropping on telephone calls under the Terrorist Surveillance Program were unconstitutional. The judge agreed to place her ruling on hold pending an appeal. A hearing is scheduled for September 28.
On 28 August 2006 Congress approved a bill that makes the detainee interrogation program legal. The bill was in response to the Supreme Court's decision in June that the program is illegal. It was the second time Bush tried to approve it through Congress.  Bush signed the bill into law on October 17, 2006 as the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
One of the worst natural disasters in the nation’s history, Hurricane Katrina, struck early in Bush’s second term. Katrina was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest landfalling U.S. hurricane on record. Katrina formed in late August during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and devastated much of the north-central Gulf Coast of the United States, particularly New Orleans
President Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi two days before the hurricane made landfall. After the hurricane reached ground, Bush mobilized the Coast Guard and National Guard to help rescue the approximately 60,000 people stranded in New Orleans.
Both local and federal governments were vehemently criticized for their response to Katrina, which was considered insufficient and disorganized. Criticisms of Bush focused on three main issues. First, leaders from both parties attacked the president for having appointed incompetent leaders to positions of power at FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, most notably Michael D. Brown.. Second, many people argued that the inadequacy of the federal response was the result of the Iraq War and the demands it placed on the armed forces and the federal budget. Third, in the days immediately following the disaster, President Bush denied having received warnings about the possibility of floodwaters overflowing the levees protecting New Orleans. However, the presidential videoconference briefing of Aug. 28 shows Max Mayfield warning the President that it was "obviously a very, very grave concern."  Critics claimed that the President was misrepresenting his administration's role in what they saw as a flawed response.
Bush began his second term with an emphasis on improving strained relations with European nations. He appointed long-time advisor Karen Hughes to oversee a global public relations campaign to improve the image of the U.S. and significantly increased development aid to countries with a focus on encouraging democracy and human rights. Bush strongly lauded the pro-democracy struggles in Georgia and Ukraine and the election of Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority. He led international pressure against Syria to withdraw troops from Lebanon. In March 2006, Bush visited India, leading to renewed ties between the two countries, particularly in areas of nuclear energy and counterterrorism cooperation. Bilateral relations with Germany and Canada have also improved following the election of conservative governments there. However, midway through his second term, many analysts have observed a retreat from his freedom and democracy agenda, highlighted in recent policy changes toward some oil rich former Soviet republics in central Asia.
Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, who are both undemocratically elected and fiercely autocratic, have already received official state visits to the White House, along with increased economic and military assistance.. The President had encouraged both leaders to hold free and fair elections early on in his second term, yet recent events have shown that neither leader had gone to any great lengths to carry out reforms.. The democratic election of the Hamas organization in the parliamentary elections of the Palestinian Territories, along with democratic gains in legislatures for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon, all of whom are seen as terrorist organizations by the United States, appears also to have contributed to a far less aggressive approach to democratic reform world wide from the Bush administration. Reports in late 2006 suggest that pro- democracy groups across the Middle East have become "pessimistic about the prospects for meaningful reform" 
Iraqi elections were held in January and December 2005, as well as in a referendum to approve a constitution. Initial media reports of high voter turnout appear to have overestimated actual turnout  which has since been estimated at less than 50%.  Since then, the fighting in Iraq has escalated, and the country appears on the brink of, if not already engaged in, civil war. Bush's leadership against global terrorism and in the war in Iraq has thus met increasing criticism, with increasing demands within the United States to set a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq. Sectarian violence and political deadlock in Iraq has increased negative impressions of Bush's leadership and the situation in Iraq, with the attendant deaths of more than 2,700 U.S. soldiers. Allegations of abuse by U.S. troops have accompanied calls from European and Asian leaders to shut down detention centers in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Bush has firmly defended his policies and progress in Iraq. He paid a surprise visit to Iraq following the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the appointment of a new government.
North Korea's October 9, 2006 detonation of a nuclear device further complicated President Bush's foreign policy, which has 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." The reported test, which according the IAEA Director General "creates serious security challenges not only for the East Asian region but also for the international community," has intensified criticisms that the President has taken neither military nor diplomatic measures to oppose North Korea's acquisition of WMD. These criticisms date back at least to the 2003 resignation of Special Envoy to North Korea Charles Pritchard, who claimed that "the Bush administration's refusal to engage directly with the country made it almost impossible to stop Pyongyang from going ahead with its plans to build, test and deploy nuclear weapons." On October 11, 2006, in his first extended press conference since the North Korean announcement of a nuclear detonation, President Bush contested the more specific criticism that his current endorsement of a policy of attempting "all diplomatic measures before we commit our military" in North Korea is an abandonment of his policy of military force in response to the potential threat of WMD-possession in Iraq. Posing to himself the pre-emptive, follow-up question, "why did you use military action in Iraq," President Bush responded, "And the reason why is because we tried the diplomacy."  President Bush has condemned North Korea's claim, reaffirmed his commitment to "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula," and stated that "transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States," for which North Korea would be held accountable.
Time magazine named George W. Bush as its Person of the Year for 2000  and 2004. The magazine hailed him as the most influential person during these two years. Bush began his presidency with approval ratings near 50%. In the time of national crisis following the September 11 attacks, Bush enjoyed approval ratings of greater than 85%, maintaining 80–90% approval for four months after the attacks. Since then, his approval ratings and approval of handling of domestic and foreign policy issues have steadily dropped. Polls conducted in early 2006 showed an average of around 40% for Bush, up slightly from the previous September, but still historically low from a President coming off of his State of the Union Address, which generally provides a boost. As of November 5, 2006, an average of major polls indicated that Bush's approval rating stood at 39.0%.
At the beginning of his first term, Bush was portrayed as lacking legitimacy due to his narrow victory in Florida and the attendant controversy surrounding his electoral college victory, which included accusations of vote suppression and tampering. Bush has also been criticized for squandering opportunities for uniting Americans across party lines. While routinely criticized by Democrats, Bush has also divided Republicans, American celebrities, and sports and media personalities, many of whom have engaged in heated criticism of Bush. Activist and filmmaker Michael Moore's 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 accused Bush of using public sentiments following 9/11 for political purposes and lying about the cause for war in Iraq. Apart from Russia, some countries in Eastern Europe, India, and Israel, a majority of people across the world have negative views on Bush, who has been targeted by the global anti-war and anti-globalization campaigns, and criticized for his foreign policy. Bush's policies have also been subject of heated criticism in the 2002 elections in Germany and the 2006 elections in Canada.Bush has been openly condemned by centrist, liberal and leftist politicians such as Gerhard Schröder, Jean Chrétien, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Romano Prodi, Paul Martin, and Hugo Chavez. Diplomatic visits made by Bush have been characterized by protests, sometimes of a significant scale.
Bush has enjoyed strong support among Republicans and Americans holding conservative and pro-military views, and for the 2004 elections, 95-98% of the Republican electorate approved of and voted for Bush, a figure exceeding the approval of Ronald Reagan. This support has waned, however, due mostly to Republicans' growing frustration with Bush on the issues of spending and illegal immigration. Some Republicans have even begun criticizing Bush on his policies in Iraq, Iran and the Palestinian territories. Bush has also enjoyed strong personal and working relationships with foreign leaders such as Tony Blair, John Howard, Junichiro Koizumi, Angela Merkel, Stephen Harper, and Ehud Olmert, as well as good rapport with Vladimir Putin and Vicente Fox. Here, tensions have arisen, such as the cooling of the relationship between Bush and Putin. Privately, Bush has expressed regret at the effusiveness he displayed after his first meeting with Putin. "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy...I was able to get a sense of his soul."
Detractors tend to cite the various linguistic errors made by Bush during his public speeches (colloquially known as Bushisms) . Bush's habit of mispronouncing words has received much ridicule in the media and in popular culture. Even as early as the 2000 presidential debates, this was the subject of a Saturday Night Live sketch (see Strategery). Perhaps his most famous mispronunciation is that of "nucular" instead of "nuclear". It should be noted, however, that he is not the only American president to have done this. .
In 18 of 21 countries surveyed around the world, a majority of respondents were found to hold an unfavorable opinion of Bush. Respondents indicated that they judged his administration as "negative" for world security. A poll taken in mid September of 2006 indicated that 48 percent of Americans believed the war with Iraq has made the U.S. less safe, while 41 percent believed the war has made the U.S. safer from terrorism. Another poll shows that a majority of Americans, by a margin of 61 to 35 percent, believe that the United States is not better off because of Bush's policies. Another poll conducted in Britain placed Bush at the second biggest "threat to the world peace" right after Bin Laden, and topped North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. According to poll taken in November of 2006 Finns just as British believe that Bush is second biggest "threat to the world peace" right after Bin Laden. Kim Jong-Il came 3rd in poll and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah share 4th position. .
Some people, such as Benjamin Ferencz, a chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, hold the view that Bush should be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein for starting "aggressive" wars. They argue that the US-led invasion was a war of aggression, and therefore under the Nuremberg Principles it constitutes the supreme international crime from which all other war crimes follow.
Other experts have also regarded the Bush Administration's decision to invade Iraq as the supreme international crime, a crime against the peace: "There was no authorization from the U.N. Security Council ... and that made it a crime against the peace," said Francis Boyle, professor of international law, who also said the U.S. Army's field manual required such authorization for an offensive war. However, historians point out that every  
|George W. Bush|
|Early life • Professional life • Military service • First term (2001-2005) • Second term (2005-present) • Administration • Foreign policy • Domestic policy • Public perception and assessments • Bush Doctrine • Compassionate conservatism • Books and films • Bushisms|