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State of the Union Addresses

George W. Bush

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) was the 43rd President of the United States, succeeding Bill Clinton in 2001. He was first elected President in 2000 and his term began in January 2001.  He was re-elected in November 2004 and his second term will expire in 2009.

Bush was the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 and is a lifelong Republican . 

Order:  43rd President
Term of Office:  January 20, 2001 – present 
Predecessor:  Bill Clinton 
Date of Birth:  Saturday, July 6, 1946 
Place of Birth:  New Haven, Connecticut 
First Lady :  Laura Welch Bush 
Profession:  Businessman 
Political Party :  Republican 
Vice President :  Richard Bruce Cheney 

Personal life and education 

George W. Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut and grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas . He has four younger siblings: Jeb, Neil, Marvin , and Dorothy . A younger sister, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three. 

Like his father, Bush was educated at Phillips Academy (September, 1961 - June, 1964) and Yale University (September, 1964 - May, 1968.) While at Yale he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon (where he was president from October, 1965 until graduation), and the Skull and Bones Society. He played baseball during his freshman year and rugby during his junior and senior years. He received a bachelor's degree in history in 1968. Although he had an SAT score of 1206, 200 points below that of the average Yale freshman of 1970, he benefitted from an admissions policy which gave preference to the children of alumni (his score was at roughly the 70th percentile nationwide). He then earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School, making him the first president to hold a MBA degree. 

Bush married Laura Welch in 1977. In 1986, at age 40, he became a born-again Christian, converting from Episcopalian Christianity to his wife's denomination, Methodism . They have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, born in 1981. Barbara is currently a student at her father's alma mater, Yale University, while Jenna attends the University of Texas at Austin . 

Bush is the second person to become U.S. President whose father was also President. ( John Adams, the second President, and John Quincy Adams, the sixth, were father and son.) Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, was the 41st President of the United States. There was also one grandfather-grandson pair, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison . 

Controversies about early life 

Bush had problems with alcohol for years after college, an issue on which he had been open, according to his spokeswoman Karen Hughes. He gave up drinking after his daughters were born, the day after his 40th birthday. CNN reported during the 2000 campaign that "at a campaign appearance at a charity center in San Jose, California, that helps people deal with addictions, Bush said, 'I was able to share with some of the men and women here that I quit drinking in 1986 and haven't had a drop since then.'" 

1976 arrest for DUI 

When Bush was 30, he was arrested and fined for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), on September 4 , 1976 in Kennebunkport, Maine . Bush was pulled over by police for driving too slowly near his family's Kennebunkport, Maine, summer home during the Labor Day weekend in 1976. Bush was driving with three passengers: his sister, Dorothy, tennis champion John Newcombe , and Newcombe's wife. After the arrest, Bush pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor DUI charge, paid a $150 fine, and had his driving privileges briefly revoked in the state of Maine . The charge was unearthed by Tom Connolly , a former Democratic candidate for Governor of Maine . Connolly said he received the information the Thursday before the 2000 election from an undisclosed Maine Democratic Party official. Connolly said he confirmed Bush's arrest by obtaining a copy of the court docket and gave it to a local television reporter, who was standing nearby. It then became an issue in the 2000 presidential election campaign five days before the vote. 

National Guard controversy 

Whether Bush fulfilled his service to the Texas Air National Guard was also an issue that has dogged him in both his presidential campaigns. 

Business and political career 

In 1978 Bush ran for the House of Representatives and was defeated by the Democratic State Senator Kent Hance . 

Bush began his career in the oil industry in 1979 when he began active operations of Arbusto Energy , an oil and gas exploration company he formed in 1977 with leftover funds from his education trust fund. The oil crisis of the late '70s hurt Arbusto Energy and, after a name change to Bush Exploration Co., Bush sold the company in 1984 to Spectrum 7, another Texas oil and gas exploration firm. Under the terms of the sale, Bush became CEO of Spectrum 7. History was repeated as the oil crisis of 1985-1986 bankrupted Spectrum 7. Spectrum 7 was subsequently saved by a buyout from Harken Energy Corp in 1986 with Bush becoming a director of Harken. 

Bush was accused of using insider knowledge when selling stock while serving on the board of directors of Harken Energy Corp. in 1990 . After his sale of the stock, Harken reported a $23.2 million quarterly loss. An SEC investigation, alleged to be influenced by the fact Bush's father was President of the United States, declared "the investigation has been terminated as to the conduct of Mr. Bush, and that, at this time, no enforcement action is contemplated with respect to him." but noted that this did not mean that he was exonerated on that future charges might not brought. No further action has resulted, despite the fact that Bill Clinton, of the opposing political party, had been President for eight years between the administration of Bush and his father. As President, Bush has refused to authorize the SEC to release its full report on the investigation. 

After working on his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign , he assembled a group of partners from his father's close friends and purchased the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in 1989 . Critics of Bush allege improprieties in the venture, which earned $170 million, including tactics in acquiring both the team and the stadium and land it played on, as well as its later sale to a family friend who would donate money to the Bush campaign in 2000. 

He served as managing general partner of the Rangers until he was elected Governor of Texas on November 8 , 1994 over incumbent Ann Richards . When the team was sold in 1998 , Bush had earned $15 million. 

He went on to become the first Texas governor to be elected for two consecutive four-year terms. His tenure in office featured a positive reputation for bipartisan leadership. 

Bush became President on January 20 , 2001 , as the winner of one of the closest general elections in American history - defeating Democratic Vice President Al Gore by only five electoral votes, while Gore won a plurality of the nationwide popular vote of more than 500,000 votes. The outcome was ultimately decided by only a few hundred popular votes in Florida, where Bush's brother Jeb was governor. (Until then, the most recent election in which a candidate lost the popular vote and won the election was in 1888 .) 

The election results were hotly contested by Gore for several weeks until a U.S. Supreme Court ruling ended his efforts in mid-December. These election results are still contested by some, who claim Bush rigged the election. 

Presidency 

George W. Bush began his term with the aftermath of the contested 2000 presidential election hanging over his head. Both houses of Congress were split approximately evenly between the Republican and Democratic parties. In the first few months, the president enacted few policies and his approval ratings were not high. In April of 2001 a U.S. military spy plane was forced to land at a Chinese military airport. The incident was one of the first major international challenges the new administration faced. During this period, the The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 was drafted, passed, and enacted under his direction. This act changed the way taxes were paid, and also introduced changes to retirement and pension plans amongst senior citizens. The most public result of this act was most Americans getting a check in the mail from the IRS as "reconciliation" for paying too many taxes.

Handling of the aftermath of 9/11

On September 11, 2001, eight months after Bush had taken office, terrorists hijacked and flew airplanes into iconic buildings in the United States, specifically the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. This attack has come to be known as 9/11. The attack sparked widespread fear and confusion in the American people. The night of the attacks, however, the president declared a war on terror. The president's approval rating soared to 85%, its highest rate since.

Bush's first policy-related response to 9/11 came on October 8, 2001, when during a speech to Congress he announced the creation of the Office of Homeland Security and appointed Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania as its director. This was the first executive level office to be created since 1988, when President Reagan appointed a head to the The Department of Veterans Affairs. The stated goal of the homeland security office was "To develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy." and "To secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks." The department's most public accomplishment came on March 12, 2002 with the unveiling of the Homeland Security Advisory System. This system was a color coded scale created to illustrate the probable level of threat currently posed by terrorists, based on various intellegence reports. The "terror alert" level was and still is posted on a daily basis.

Bush's military response to the terrorist attacks began in October of 2001 with the deployment of 11,000 troops to invade Afghanistan. The invasion was supported by Australia, The United Kingdom, and The Northern Alliance. The stated goal of the invasion was to overthrow the Taliban government, an Islamic fundamentalist group thought to be harboring Osama Bin Laden the leader of Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization blamed for (and later claiming responsibility for) the 9/11 attacks.

The Taliban described Bin Laden as their guest, and refused to place him in United States custody. Some contemplators of the issue currently believe, however, that bin Laden was hiding out of the reach of the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan. The Taliban were overthrown in Afghanistan, and a United States approved government was installed. Unfortunately, the majority of Al-Qaeda members, including Osama Bin Laden, escaped and some are still active to this day. Some have criticized the president for not sending enough troops into Afghanistan to accomplish the manhunt, but others disagree.

During this time the Bush administration was successful in freezing Al-Qaeda funds and shutting down many training camps for new members. The US has also captured many Al-Qaeda leaders and members in the ensuing months, but Osama Bin Laden remains at large.

Invasion of Iraq

In the fall of 2002 during, in his State of the Union Address Bush set forth what has come to be known as the Bush Doctrine. Although the doctorine was technically used for justifying the invasion of Afghanistan, it was not clearly stated until the address. Simply put, because of the "new world" we live in, and the reality of massive terrorist attacks orchestrated by organizations that exist in multiple places all over the world, the United States no longer has the luxury of thinking of the world as exclusively made up of sovereign nations. Because of this, the United States would now implement a policy of preemptive strike (or attacking without provocation or imminent threat, ostensibly to prevent an expected attack) against any nation it saw as a threat, a complete reversal of United States foreign policy. The United States now intended to take every measure necessary to remain the only military super power in the world. He also outlined what he called the Axis of Evil, three nations that were posing a threat and the United States would not hesitate attacking. These nations were Iraq, North Korea, and Iran. The 2002 State of the Union Address was a major turning point for the Bush Administration and a reorientation of the goals of the United States.

The Bush administration began announcing that they had discovered that there were weapons of mass destruction (or WMDs) in the country of Iraq. The description of these weapons ranged from chemical to nuclear weapons. The administration supported their claim with intelligence documents as well as aerial photography. Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq, was cast as a ruthless dictator and a threat to the world and his own people as long as he remained in power -- especially with access to WMDs. Very little attention was payed to the fact that the United States had supplied Iraq with weapons during the 1980s, and Hussein had been on the CIA's payroll prior to the Persian Gulf War.

After unsuccessfully attempting to gain approval from the United Nations, the United States invaded Iraq, beginning a conflict there that continues on to this day, entitled "Operation Iraqi Freedom".

On May 2, 2003, from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, in front of a huge banner that read "Mission Accomplished", Bush declared that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended." This move also drew criticism, as many American troops were and still are fighting and dying in Iraq.

The group charged with finding the WMDS was the Iraq Survey Group (here after ISG) made up of 1,200 members of British and American experts. October 3 they released their Interim report. In this report they stated that they had found lots "WMD related material" but no actual WMDS. It was evident that Iraq had been cheating the United Nations weapons inspectors and had had plans of returning to making WMDs at some later date possibley when the UN sanctions had been lifted. But no actual WMDs had been found yet.

On November 27, the president made a surprise visit to Iraq to share Thanksgiving dinner with the troops in an effort to raise low morale. He spent two hours eating with troops in Baghdad airport before returning to the US. The visit was kept top secret, and even the troops had no idea he was coming. Most media saw this as a potentially dangerous political stunt. However, the trip went over without incident.

A few weeks later, December 13, Saddam Hussein, the now deposed president of Iraq, was found and captured by US forces. Pictures of the now bearded former leader, looking severly dazed, being poked and proded by medical examiners circulated in newspapers and on the internet around the world further demoralizing him. This was a definite boost to the Bush presidency and most Americans were glad that Hussein had been found and captured.

On January 23, 2004, David Kay resigned as head of the ISG. His reason for resigning was that he didn't beleive WMDs would ever be found.

By the summer of 2004 no WMDs had been found in the country of Iraq. In May of 2004, Bush's approval rating had fallen to 46%. By then, George W. Bush had become one of the most hated or loved public figures in recent memory. Then on September 30 2004 the ISG released the Duelfer Report, its final report, confirming David Kays assertion that there were no WMDs in Iraq.. Some said that the WMDs were a lie to get access to oil reserves in Iraq, and Bush had commited young Americans lives for financial gain. Others felt that the president had adequate reason to attack, and that he truly believed there were WMDs there, and was acting in the best interest of the United States. These disagreements led to a deep division in the country, and fueled a renewed interest in politics that had long been dormant or nonexistent. 

In January 2005 the ISG announced the conclusion of its search. They stated that they had failed to find WMDs.

Build-up to re-election

It was these intense conflicts of interest that fueled the fire for the 2004 election. During his campaign, Bush's platform did not change from that of the 2000 election in any significant way, although he added his success in fighting the war on terror and preventing another attack like that of 9/11. His Democratic opponent John Kerry, was cast as soft and said to "flip-flop" or change opinions on issues for political gain, while Bush was portrayed as rigid and unyielding in his views. The campaign was bitterly fought, and each candidate was accused of attacking the other in some form or another almost on a daily basis. The polls remained neck-and-neck most of the way to the election. The only time either candidate was significantly ahead in the polls was after their political parties' conventions. After the the Republican's convention most polls showed an eleven point lead for President Bush, which kept dwindling as time went on. Despite outcries by law enforcement agencies across the country, Bush allowed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban to sunset on September 13; this did not substantially affect his approval rating, but went virtually unnoticed. Polls were very close to dead even by the first presidential debate on September 30, 2004.

During the three presidential debates, reactions to Bush's performance were mixed. He was said to have scowled during the first debate several times, which he later made light of. Most media sources agree that he lost the first two debates. But by the third debate, he had noticeably straightened up and appeared as firm and confident as he had during past performances. The third debate came out as a tie, although many still disagree.

In 2003, Bush's approval ratings continued their slow descent from the 2001 highs. By late 2003, his approval numbers were in the low to middle 50s, around the lows of his Presidency. Nevertheless, his numbers were still historically solid for the third year of a Presidency, when the President's opponents typically begin their campaigns in earnest. Most polls tied the decline to growing concern over the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and the economy's slow recovery from the 2001 recession. Late during the Democratic primary, most major polls showed Bush losing to the various Democratic challengers by a narrow margin.  Despite this, President Bush was re-elected in November 2004 winning both the popular and electoral vote.

On December 19, 2004, Time Magazine chose George W. Bush for its annual Person of the Year issue. Time gives the award to "the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or for ill, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse," and said they gave to it Bush "for sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his 10-gallon-hat leadership style and for persuading a majority of voters this time around that he deserved to be in the White House for another four years." Bush was also Person of the Year in 2000 and his father received the title 1990.

Domestic security 

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks the Bush administration asked Congress to approve a series of laws that it stated were necessary to prosecute the War on Terror . These included a wide variety of surveillance programs, some of which came under heavy fire from civil libertarians who criticized the Bush administration of scaling back civil liberties. On the other hand, the administration has been criticized for refusing to back security measures such as port security, allocating no money for it in 2003 and 2004, and vetoing all $39 million for the Container Security Initiative . 

Bush security initiatives 

  • Through an act of Congress, the creation of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a cabinet -level agency designed to streamline and co-ordinate the various agents of federal government bureaucracy charged with protecting the American homeland from foreign attacks. (The White House had opposed the creation of this department for several months.) 
  • A Total Information Awareness (TIA) program was proposed by the Defense Department . The TIA program did not receive funding from Congress, however, and is not currently operating. (Reports of similar [ARDA] program surfacing) 
  • The USA PATRIOT Act which greatly expands the government's powers of surveillance and arrest. The act passed soon after September 11, 2001 . 
  • Creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review which will review government acts of domestic spying . 
  • " Project Lookout ", which distributes "watch lists" of people alleged to be suspicious, or have ties to terrorist groups to a variety of different organizations and institutions. These included specific "No-fly" lists of American residents who should not be allowed to board any aircraft into or out of the United States. 
  • " Operation TIPS ", which would encouraged people who have access to American homes, like plumbers, to report suspicious activity. This proposal was rejected after an initial outcry. 
  • The Worldwide Attack Matrix , an intelligence document describing covert operations abroad to defuse terrorist threats to American interests. 
  • " NewRuleSets.project ", which provides a strategic framework for intervening in countries to move them into the "functioning core" of world societies and out of the "non-integrating gap" from which national security threats arise. 
  • Creation of First Amendment Zones , where political protesters are allowed to exercise their free speech rights. 
Some accused the Bush administration of using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to clamp down on political dissent; indeed, many of Bush's critics were quick to allege that they were being unfairly targeted by the new security measures. Defenders of the President's security policies have said that the continual criticism of his policies in both print and visual media shows there is no such crackdown, and point out that other presidents used legal means to stifle dissent during wartime as well. 

Others accused the administration of over-reacting to the threat of terrorism, and participating in Big Brother style tactics with little justification. Critics of that view say that the prior administration under-reacted to the World Trade Center bombing on February 26 , 1993 , treating it as a criminal matter rather than an act of war. 

Cabinet and advisors 

  • Secretary of State - Colin Powell (2001-2005), Condoleezza Rice (2005-)
  • Secretary of Defense - Donald Rumsfeld 
  • Secretary of the Treasury - Paul O'Neill (2001-2003), John William Snow (2003-) 
  • Attorney General - John Ashcroft (2001-2005), Alberto R. Gonzales (2005-)
  • Secretary of the Interior - Gale Norton 
  • Secretary of Agriculture - Ann Veneman (2001-2005), Mike Johanns (2005-)
  • Secretary of Commerce - Donald Evans (2001-2005), Carlos M. Gutierrez (2005-)
  • Secretary of Labor - Elaine Chao 
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services - Tommy Thompson (2001-2005), Michael O. Leavitt (2005-)
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development - Mel Martinez (2001-2003),  Alphonso R. Jackson (2004-)
  • Secretary of Transportation - Norman Mineta 
  • Secretary of Energy - Spencer Abraham (2001-2005), Samuel W. Bodman (2005-)
  • Secretary of Education - Roderick Paige (2001-2005), Margaret Spellings (2005-)
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs - Anthony J. Principi (2001-2005), Jim Nicholson (2005-)
  • Secretary of Homeland Security - Tom Ridge (2003-2005), Michael Chertoff (2005-)
Among the more criticized appointments have been John Negroponte, Elliot Abrams, Otto Reich, and John Poindexter for their roles in the Iran Contra Scandal and for covering up human rights abuses in Central and South America . Additionally, some appointments have been accused of being nepotism, including (in addition Michael Powell, son of Secretary of State Colin Powell): 28-year-old J. Strom Thurmond Jr (Sen. Strom Thurmond 's son) as South Carolina's US Attorney, Eugene Scalia (Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 's son) as Solicitor for the Labor Department, Janet Rehnquist (Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist 's daughter) as Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (later fired for firearms charges and inappropriate job terminations), and Elizabeth Cheney (Dick Cheney's daughter) to the newly-created position Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near-East Affairs. 

Supreme Court appointments

-    John G. Roberts, Jr. – Chief Justice, 2005 
-    Harriet E. Miers –  2005 

Legislation 

Among Bush's most important legislation were several tax cuts , the No Child Left Behind Act , and the Medicare reforms. While Bush's supporters claim that the tax cuts increase the pace of economic recovery and job creation, his opponents accuse them to favor the wealthy and special interests and that Bush reversed a national surplus into a historic deficit. Of the $2.4 trillion budget for 2005 about $450 billion are planned to be spent on defense. Congress approved $87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan in November, and had approved an earlier $79 billion package last spring. Most of those funds were for U.S. military operations in the two countries. ( [14] ) No Child Left Behind targets supporting early learning, measures student performance, gives options over failing schools, and ensures more resources for schools. Critics state schools were not given the resources to help meet new standards. Concerning health care plans some claim that they still are not affordable for every American but Bush states his policies offered more choice and help with the high costs of health care and prescription drugs. 

Partial list: 

  • June 7 , 2001 : Economic Recovery and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 
  • September 18 , 2001 : Authorization for Use of Military Force 
  • September 28 , 2001 : United States-Jordan Free Trade Area Implementation Act 
  • October 26 , 2001 : USA PATRIOT Act 
  • November 28 , 2001 : Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act 
  • January 8 , 2002 : No Child Left Behind Act 
  • March 9 , 2002 : Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 
  • March 27 , 2002 : Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 
  • May 13 , 2002 : Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 
  • July 30 , 2002 : Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 
  • October 16 , 2002 : Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq 
  • November 25 , 2002 : Homeland Security Act of 2002 
  • March 11 , 2003 : Do-Not-Call Implementation Act 
  • April 30 , 2003 : PROTECT Act of 2003 [15] 
  • May 27 , 2003 : United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 
  • May 28 , 2003 : Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 
  • September 3 , 2003 : United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act 
  • September 3 , 2003 : United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act 
  • November 5 , 2003 : Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 
  • December 8 , 2003 : Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 
  • December 16 , 2003 : Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) 
  • April 1, 2004: Unborn Victims of Violence Act (Laci and Conner's Law) 
  • February 18, 2005: Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 
  • April 20, 2005: Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 
  • August 2, 2005: Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement
  • August 8, 2005: Energy Policy Act of 2005 
  • August 10, 2005: Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 (SAFETEA) 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 

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