George W. 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 2004 and is currently serving his second and final term. He formerly served as the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. A Republican, he belongs to one of the most politically influential American families, being the son of former President George H. W. Bush and elder brother of Jeb Bush, the present Governor of Florida. Supporters and detractors alike refer to him by the nickname Dubya.

Bush was an entrepreneur in the oil industry in Texas and an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978. After working on his father's presidential campaign, he purchased a share of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and in 1994 he was elected Governor of Texas. As governor, Bush worked on education reform, school finance and tort reform and sponsored the largest tax cut program in Texas history. He was re-elected as governor of Texas in 1998. Bush won the 2000 presidential election as the Republican candidate in a close and controversial contest. Although he did not secure a majority of the popular vote, he did win the required number of electoral votes after a very close battle in the state of Florida. As President, Bush pushed through a $1.3 trillion tax cut program and the No Child Left Behind Act, and has made efforts to privatize Medicare and Social Security. Bush has also pushed for socially conservative efforts such as the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, faith-based welfare initiatives, the Palm Sunday Compromise and the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which aims to define marriage as between one man and one woman, and thus prevent recognition of same-sex marriage in the United States.

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush declared a global War on Terrorism and ordered the invasion of Afghanistan which he publicly stated was in order to overthrow the Taliban, destroy Al-Qaeda and to capture Osama Bin Laden. His response to 9/11 led to an immediate surge in his popularity. Following an unsuccessful attempt at mandating Saddam Hussein diplomatically to yield to further weapons inspections, Bush ordered an invasion of Iraq. At the time, the inspections that were in progress had not yet concluded, and weapons of mass destruction had not been found. The weapons of mass destruction that the Coalition of the Willing invaded to capture have been found, but not in great quantities. To date no significant evidence of nuclear or biological weapons have been found. There has been over 500 artillery shells found containing weaponized chemicals specifically Sarin and Mustard agents. These chemical agents, specifically Sarin gas have been used at times against US troops by Iraqi insurgents. Following the overthrow of Saddam's regime, Bush committed the U.S. to establishing democracy in the Middle East, and specifically in both Afghanistan and Iraq in the short term. 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 being re-elected in 2004, Bush has received increasingly heated criticism, even from former allies, on the Iraq War and the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal, as well as domestic issues such as federal funding of stem cell research, Hurricane Katrina, NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, record budget deficits, the nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, and a number of scandals, such as the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal and the Plame CIA leak controversy. According to opinion polling, his popularity has declined.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Bush is the eldest son of George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush. His family moved 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 age 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. His brother Jeb is a two-term governor of Florida. The Bush family has long-standing and strong involvement in the U.S. Republican Party.

Bush attended the 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 described this period of his life as his "nomadic" period of "irresponsible youth" and admitted to drinking "too much" in those years. On September 4, 1976, near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, having been drinking with former Australian world number-one tennis player John Newcombe and his former advisor, Raphael Rosenast. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150, and had his driver's license suspended for 30 days within Maine.

After obtaining an MBA from Harvard, 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, TX. His twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were born in 1981. Bush also left his family's Episcopalian Church to join his wife's Methodist Church.

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, 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. Faced with serious drinking issues and difficulties in his professional and personal life, Bush abandoned his socializing lifestyle and began attending church regularly. In 1986, he quit drinking alcohol, and, following a personal meeting and exchange with Reverend Billy Graham, he became a born-again Christian. Bush studied the Bible and Christian philosophy, participating in church and community study groups.

Bush moved with his family to Washington, D.C. in 1988, to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency. He worked with Lee Atwater and Doug Wead 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 part 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 over 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.

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 favourite, 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. 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 "urged 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", in reference to the disenchantment with the incumbent Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. 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 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 advisors 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 favoured 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, giving him 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266; Bush carried 30 of the 50 states.

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 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 channelling 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 provide 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 favour 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. Bush also increased funding significantly for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, creating education programs to strengthen the grounding in science and mathematics for American high school students.

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.

During the latter years of the Clinton administration, there was a total ban on federal funding for stem cell research. Bush is a supporter of stem cell research, but only to the extent that human embryos are not destroyed in order to harvest additional stem cells. Toward that end, on August 9, 2001, Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 21 existing "lines" of stem cells. These lines are able to reproduce in laboratories, obviating the need to destroy embryos.

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 advisors 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.

Federal spending in constant dollars increased under Bush by 26% in his first four and one-half years. The tax cuts, a recession, and significant increases in military and domestic outlays all contributed to record budget deficits. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate based on the Household Survey started at 4.7% in January 2001, peaked at 6.2% in June 2003, and retreated to 4.6% in May 2006. The New York Stock Exchange traded for a record 61 consecutive trading sessions above 11,000.

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.

Public perceptions of Bush were reputedly of lacking interest in foreign affairs. The Bush Administration, however, implemented major changes in U.S. foreign policy by withdrawing its participation in the 1998 Kyoto Protocol (although in 1998 the Senate vote to participate in the treaty was 0 for and 95 against) and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, in order to pursue national missile defense. International leaders also criticized the U.S. for withdrawing support for the International Criminal Court soon after he assumed the presidency. The U.S. voiced concern that the court could conceivably co-opt the authority of the United States' judicial system. Although Bush was lauded by Republicans and conservatives, global public opinions rose against U.S. policies and its status the world's sole superpower, which presented a hegemonistic image. Bush publicly condemned Kim Jong-Il of North Korea and his Stalinist regime. 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 specifically disowned Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his support of the violence and militant groups, but following urgings from European leaders, he became the first American President to embrace a two-state solution envisaging an independent Palestine existing 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 life and 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 plane crashing, Bush remained with the class for seven minutes while they finished reading a story and then left the school and flew to an air base, 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 Ground Zero, meeting with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and firefighters, policemen and volunteers. In a moment captured by press and media, Bush addressed the roused gathering 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 speech to the U.S. Congress, Bush declared war on terrorist groups and nations supporting terrorism across the world, and specifically endorsing the overthrow of the Taliban regime of Afghanistan, which had been harbouring training camps for Al-Qaeda militants. Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, which resulted in the overthrow of the Taliban by the Northern Alliance with the help of U.S. special forces and bombing campaigns. Bush also backed secret programs to gather intelligence through the monitoring of bank funds and telephone records, and signed the USA Patriot Act, which gave law enforcement agencies increased powers.

Following the successful overthrow of the Taliban, the U.S. 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 full-scale hostilities, 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; also Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as well as 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".

Military hostilities commenced on March 20, 2003, ostensibly to pre-empt Iraqi WMD deployment and remove Saddam from power, and ended 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. The 9/11 Commission report concluded that Saddam's government was actively attempting to acquire technology that would allow Iraq to produce WMD as soon as U.N. sanctions were lifted. The Commission found no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed stockpiles of WMD. 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." Critics such as Benjamin Ferenccz, a former chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials, and author Mark Littman have argued that the invasion of Iraq is illegal under international law and a violation of the U.N. Charter. 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.

Bush commanded strong 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 strongly stressed a vision and commitment for spreading freedom and democracy across the world.

Building a strong treasury of campaign funds, the campaign began running television and radio advertisement campaigns across the nation against Democratic candidates as well as Bush's emerging opponent, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Kerry and Democrats attacked Bush on 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 and increase government control and attacked him for his opposition to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. The Bush campaign continuously criticized Kerry's allegedly contradictory statements on the war in Iraq, and claimed Kerry lacked decisiveness and a vision for success in the war on terrorism. Popular conservative politicians like Rudy Guiliani, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and conservative Democrat Zell Miller campaigned actively for Bush, who travelled 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 286 Electoral College votes and collected the most popular votes ever (62,040,610 votes/50.7%), thanks to the highest voter turnout since 1968. This was the first time since 1988 that a President had received a popular majority and was the smallest margin of victory for a re-elected president in American history.

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, there was an attempt to assassinate Bush by Vladimir Arutinian, whose live grenade failed to detonate after hitting a girl and landing in the large crowd 18.6 meters (61 feet) from the podium where he was delivering a speech. In 2006, Bush would replace long-time chief of staff Andrew Card with Joshua Bolten and undertake major staff and cabinet changes to re-vitalize his Administration.

President Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to reform Social Security, which was facing record deficit projections beginning in 2015. 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 "fifth 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 whim of the market. Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning vigorously for his initiative in media events ("Conversations on Social Security") in an unsuccessful attempt to gain support from the general public. Bush failed to convince the public that the Social Security program was in crisis, and he failed to generate political momentum for his inititiative in face of rising criticism of the plan, and concerns over the Iraq War and the budget deficit.

In 2006, Bush 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 deployed 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 allowing intelligent design in public schools, Bush answered, "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting - you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes." The National Academy of Sciences and the established scientific community regard this a political decision, and point out that intelligent design is a reframing of creationism and is religion, not science.

On August 17, 2006, a court in Detroit decided that an official national programme of watching telephones and e-mails needs the decision of a judge.

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.

Major progress was achieved in Iraq immediately following Bush's re-election, with large turnouts during elections in January and December 2005, as well as in a referendum to approve a constitution. Since then, however, the fighting in Iraq has escalated, and the country is on the brink of, if not already in, civil war. Bush's leadership against global terrorism and in the war in Iraq has met increasing criticism, with increasing demands within the U.S. 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, which has led to the deaths of more than 2,500 U.S. soldiers. Allegations of abuse by U.S. troops have accompanied calls from European leaders to shut down detention centers in Guantanamo Bay. 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.

Time magazine named George W. Bush as its Person of the Year for 2000 and for 2004. 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 for many reasons. 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 May 24, 2006, an average of major polls indicated that Bush's approval rating stood at 36.8%.

At the beginning of his first term, Bush was portrayed as lacking legitimacy, because he lost the popular vote. Although working with Democrats such as Ted Kennedy and Joseph Lieberman on major legislation, Bush has been criticized for squandering opportunities for uniting Americans across party lines. While routinely criticized by Democrats, Bush has also divided Republicans, American celebrities, 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 case for war in Iraq. Apart from Russia, some countries in Eastern Europe and Israel, peoples 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 to heated criticism in the 2002 elections in Germany and the 2006 elections in Canada. Bush has been openly condemned by centrist and liberal politicians such as Gerhard Schröder, Jean Chrétien, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Romano Prodi and Paul Martin. Diplomatic visits made by Bush have been characterized by small-scale but significant protests.

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, and even Republicans have 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, as well, 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.”Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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