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The Presidency of George W. Bush began on his inauguration on January 20, 2001 as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush was elected president in the 2000 general election, thus becoming the second second-generation president (after John Quincy Adams), succeeding his father after just one other president, and with just two terms between them. The Supreme Court'smarker decision in Bush v. Gore effectively resolved the 2000 presidential election in favor of Bush by allowing the Florida Secretary of State's previous certification of Bush as the winner of Florida's electoral votes to stand. Florida's 25 electoral votes gave Bush, the Republican candidate, 271 electoral votes, defeating Democratic candidate Al Gore in a close and controversial election. Bush was re-elected in 2004, and his term ended on January 20, 2009.

As president, Bush pushed through a $1.3 trillion tax cut program and the No Child Left Behind Act, and also pushed for socially conservative efforts such as the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and faith-based welfare initiatives. Nearly 8 million immigrants came to the United States from 2000 to 2005 – more than in any other five-year period in the nation's history. Almost half entered illegally.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush declared a global War on Terrorism and, in October 2001, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, destroy Al-Qaeda, and to capture Osama bin Laden. In March 2003, Bush received a mandate from the U.S. Congress to lead an invasion of Iraq, asserting that Iraq was in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441.

Bush also initiated an AIDS program that committed $15 billion to combat AIDS over five years and is credited for saving millions of lives. His record as a humanitarian can also be tied to help enroll as many as 29 million of Africa's poorest children in schools.Unfortunately, some of Bush's humanitarian efforts failed to address larger picture items, such as with his AIDS fight, stressed only abstinence.

On his second full day in office, Bush implemented the Mexico City Policy; this policy required any non-governmental organization receiving US Government funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services in other countries. Also in 2002, President Bush withdrew funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a key player in promoting family planning in the developing world.

Running as a self-described "war president" in the midst of the Iraq War, Bush won re-election in 2004, as his campaign against Senator John Kerry was successful despite controversy over Bush's prosecution of the Iraq War and his handling of the economy.

His second term was highlighted by several free trade agreements, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 alongside a strong push for offshore and domestic drilling, the nominations of Supreme Courtmarker Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, a push for Social Security and immigration reform, a surge of troops in Iraq, which was followed by a drop in violence, and several different economic initiatives aimed at preventing a banking system collapse, stopping foreclosures, and stimulating the economy during the recession.

After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism, even from former allies. His worldwide and domestic popularity decreased due to the war and other issues such as the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, record budget deficits affecting the administration, and the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. As president, Bush received some of the highest approval ratings in American history as well as some of the lowest, and he left office as one of the most unpopular Presidents in history.

Major issues of Presidency

Major acts as president

Foreign Policy Actions Economic Policy Actions Domestic Policy Actions

State of the Union Addresses

International Treaties Signed

George W. Bush signed several international treaties, including but not limited to:

Major treaties withdrawn

  • ABM Treaty (2002) - limited anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems used in defending areas against missile-delivered nuclear weapons between the United States and the U.S.S.R.marker
  • United Nations Population Fund (2002) - promoted the human right of "reproductive health", that is physical, mental, and social health in matters related to reproduction and the reproductive system.

Major legislation

Legislation signed







Legislation vetoed

President Bush vetoed 12 pieces of legislation, four of which were overturned by congress:

Administration and Cabinet

Cabinet meeting
Bush's Cabinet had included figures that were prominent in past administrations, notably former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had served as United States National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had served as White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford; Rumsfeld's successor, Robert Gates, served as Director of Central Intelligence under George H.W. Bush. Vice President Dick Cheney served as Secretary of Defense under George H. W. Bush.

Bush placed a high value on personal loyalty and, as a result, his administration had high message discipline. He maintained a "hands-off" style of management. "I'm confident in my management style. I'm a delegator because I trust the people I've asked to join the team. I'm willing to delegate. That makes it easier to be President," he said in an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC in December 2003. Critics allege, however, that Bush is willing to overlook mistakes made by loyal subordinates.

There was only one non-Republican in Bush's cabinet: Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the first Asian American cabinet secretary, who had previously served as Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton, is a Democrat. Mineta resigned from Bush's cabinet on July 7, 2006 to pursue "other challenges". Mary Peters, a Republican, was nominated and confirmed to succeed him as Transportation Secretary. At least one other non-Republican was apparently offered a position in the administration but declined. CNN reported that in the transition to his second term, Bush offered the positions of Ambassador to the United Nations and subsequently Secretary of Homeland Security to Senator Joe Lieberman, then a Democrat and currently an "Independent Democrat".

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

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

Cabinet members

Attorney General

Bush's first Attorney General, John Ashcroft, was politically controversial, but widely viewed as competent. Ashcroft resigned days after Bush's 2004 re-election. Bush's second Attorney General was Alberto Gonzales. In addition to his work on providing guidelines for detainee interrogation methods prior to his appointment, he claimed there was no right to Habeas Corpus. Michael Mukasey succeeded Gonzales and was the country's 81st Attorney General.


Bush's first nomination for Secretary of Labor was Linda Chavez. This nomination came under attack when evidence came to light that she had given money to an illegal immigrant from Guatemalamarker who lived in her home. Chavez claimed that the woman was not an employee and she had merely provided her with emergency assistance due to the domestic abuse the woman had been facing at the time. Chavez's nomination was withdrawn.


Bush's first Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham, was controversial at the time of his 2001 appointment because as a senator he co-sponsored S.896, a bill to abolish the United States Department of Energy, in 1999. Samuel Wright Bodman III, Sc.D. is the United States Secretary of Energy and was previously Deputy Secretary of the U.S.marker Treasury Departmentmarker.

Homeland Security

When Tom Ridge announced his decision to resign as Secretary of Homeland Security, Bush's first choice to replace him was Bernard Kerik, who served as Police Commissioner of the City of New York during the September 11, 2001 attacks. Kerik's nomination raised controversy when it was discovered that he had previously hired an undocumented worker as a nanny and housekeeper. After a week, Kerik pulled his nomination and Bush went on to nominate Michael Chertoff.

Advisors and other officials

Defence force nominations and appointments

Supreme Court nominations and appointments

Bush nominated the following people to the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker:

Court of Appeals nominations and appointments

Federal Reserve appointment

On October 24, 2005, Bush nominated Ben Bernanke to succeed Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Senate Banking Committee recommended Bernanke's confirmation by a 13-1 voice vote on November 16, 2005. With the full Senate's approval on January 31, 2006 by another voice vote, Bernanke was sworn in on February 1, 2006.

First term (2001–2005)

Second term (2005–2009)

Political philosophy

The guiding political philosophy of the Bush administration has been termed neoconservative. The specific elements of neoconservative leadership have been itemized in policy papers by leading members of the Project for a New American Century, and is represented in the editorial perspective of the political journal the Weekly Standard. Administration officials chosen from the membership of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) began with the selection of the candidate for vice president, Dick Cheney. Others included Richard Armitage, Zalmay Khalilzad, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Richard Perle, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.

In 1998, members of the PNAC, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, wrote to President Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power using US diplomatic, political and military power.

In September 2000, the PNAC issued a report entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For A New Century, proceeding "from the belief that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces." The group stated that when diplomacy or sanctions fail, the United States must be prepared to take military action. The PNAC argued that the Cold War deployment of forces was obsolete. Defense spending and force deployment must reflect the post-Cold War duties that US forces are obligated to perform. Constabulary duties such as peacekeeping in the Balkans and the enforcement of the No Fly Zones in Iraq put a strain upon, and reduced the readiness of US forces. The PNAC recommended the forward redeployment of US forces at new strategically placed permanent military bases in Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia. Permanent bases would ease the strain on US forces, allowing readiness to be maintained and the carrier fleet to be reduced. Furthermore, PNAC advocated that the US-globalized military should be enlarged, equipped and restructured for the "constabulary" roles associated with shaping the security in critical regions of the world.

Environmental record

Cabinet meeting
George W. Bush’s environmental record began with promises as a presidential candidate to clean up power plants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a speech on September 29, 2000 in Saginaw, Michiganmarker, Bush pledged to commit two billion dollars to the funding of clean coal technology research. In the same speech, he also promised to work with Congress, environmental groups and the energy industry to require a reduction of the emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide into the environment within a “reasonable period of time.” He would later reverse his position on that specific campaign pledge in March 2001 in a letter to Nebraskamarker senator Chuck Hagel, stating that carbon dioxide was not considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and that restricting carbon dioxide emissions would lead to higher energy prices.

In 2001, Bush appointed Philip A. Cooney, a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, to the White House Council on Environmental Equality. Cooney is known to have edited government climate reports in order to minimize the findings of scientific sources tying greenhouse gas emissions to global warming.

In March 2001, the Bush administration announced that it would not implement the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan that would require nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that ratifying the treaty would create economic setbacks in the U.S. and does not put enough pressure to limit emissions from developing nations. In February 2002, Bush announced his alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, by bringing forth a plan to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gasses by 18 percent over 10 years. The intensity of greenhouse gasses specifically is the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions and economic output, meaning that under this plan, emissions would still continue to grow, but at a slower pace. Bush stated that this plan would prevent the release of 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which is about the equivalent of 70 million cars from the road. This target would achieve this goal by providing tax credits to businesses that use renewable energy sources.

In late November 2002, the Bush Administration released proposed rule changes that would lead to increased logging of federal forests for commercial or recreational activities by giving local forest managers the ability to open up the forests to development without requiring environmental impact assessments and without specific standards to maintain local fish and wildlife populations. The proposed changes would affect roughly of US forests and grasslands. Administration officials claimed the changes were appropriate because existing rules, which were approved by the Clinton administration two months before Bush took office, were unclear.

In November 2004, Bush administration officials asked the United Nations to allow US industries to use an additional 458 tons of methyl bromide, an ozone-destroying pesticide that was slated for elimination by the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The additional increase request brings the US’s total exemption for the year 2005 to 9,400 metric tons of methyl bromide, more than all other nations’ requests combined, and well over the 7,674 metric tons used by US agribusiness in 2002.

In January 2004, Interior Secretary Gale Norton approved a move to open nearly of Alaska's North Slope to oil and gas development, citing claims from the energy industry that nearly of oil could be extracted from the region. The North Slope neighbor's the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker, a sanctuary and habitat for migratory birds, whales, seals and other wildlife. Reports from the U.S. Geological Survey, however, estimate that less than one-third of the reported is economically recoverable in the entire National Petroleum Reserve.

In July 2005 the Environmental Protection Agency decided to delay the release of an annual report on fuel economy. The report shows that automakers have taken advantage of loopholes in US fuel economy regulations to manufacture vehicles that are less fuel-efficient than they were in the late 1980s. Fuel-efficiency had on average dropped six percent during that period, from 22.1 miles per gallon to 20.8 mpg. Evidence suggests that the administration’s decision to delay the report’s release was because of its potential to affect Congress’s upcoming final vote on an energy bill six years in the making, which turned a blind eye to fuel economy regulations.

In May 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) allegedly blocked release of a report that suggested global warming had been a contributor to the frequency and strength of hurricanes in recent years. In February, NOAA (part of the Department of Commercemarker) set up a seven-member panel of climate scientists to compile the report. The panel’s chair, Ants Leema, received an e-mail from a Commerce Department official asking for the report to not be released as it needed to be made “less technical.” NOAA would later go on to say that the report was not released because it “was not complete” and was in reality not a report, but a “two-page fact sheet about the issue.”


In 2006, 744 professional historians surveyed by New York-based Siena College regarded Bush's presidency as follows: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%. Thomas Kelly, professor emeritus of American studies at Siena College, said that "In this case, current public opinion polls actually seem to cut the President more slack than the experts do." Similar outcomes were retrieved by two informal surveys done by the History News Network in 2004 and 2008.

Some may argue that accomplishments such as the President's AIDS program, reform of education by the federal government with the No Child Left Behind Act, no more foreign terrorist attacks on American soil after the September 11th attacks, the creation of Medicare Part D, and sending 29 million African children to school will allow Bush to have a positive legacy. Others may argue that the economic crisis of 2008, the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, his response to Hurricane Katrina, the ballooning deficit, the planning of the Iraq War, handling of the Guantanamo Bay detainees and other terror suspects, and calls by Democrats for possible investigation and prosecution for war crimes committed under his name will leave him as one of the worst Presidents ever. In response to a question on his popularity, Bush remarked "I know I gave it my all for eight years, and I did not sell my soul for the sake of popularity. And so when I get back home and look in the mirror, I will be proud of what I see."

On January 15, 2009, Bush gave a nationally televised farewell address in the East Room of the White Housemarker. He defended many of his decisions and cited the fact that he had kept the country safe since September 11, 2001 as a major accomplishment. Bush stated that "I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right." He also said that the United States must continue promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity around the world. One of his final lines was "We have faced danger and trial, and there's more ahead. But with the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great nation will never tire, never falter and never fail."

See also



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