George W. Bush's first term as President of the United States
George W. Bush's first term as president of the United States began
January 20 2001and ended January 20 2005, with the beginning of his second term as president.
On his first day in office, Bush moved to block federal aid to foreign groups that offered counseling or any other assistance to women in obtaining abortions. [cite news
author = Office of the Press Secretary
url = http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20010123-5.html
title = Memorandum for Restoration of the Mexico City Policy
The White House
date = 2001-01-22
accessdate = 2006-06-30] Days later, he announced his commitment to channeling more federal aid to faith-based service organizations. At the time, critics feared this would dissolve the traditional separation of church and state. [cite news
first = Thomas E.
last = Buckley
url = http://www.americamagazine.org/gettext.cfm?articleTypeID=1&textID=2601&issueID=411
title = Church, State and the Faith-Based Initiative
publisher = America, The National Catholic Weekly
date = 2002-11-11
accessdate = 2006-06-30] [cite news
first = David
last = Brancaccio
url = http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/churchandstate2.html
title = Faith-based Initiatives
work = God and Government
publisher = NOW,
date = 2003-09-26
accessdate = 2006-06-30] Bush created the
White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiativesto assist faith-based service organizations. In a televised address on August 9 2001, Bush would announce a national policy on stem cell researchthat authorized funding and research work, with federal restrictions over the use of human embryos.
Bush would also successfully push for the
Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, enacted in 2003 with bi-partisan support but criticized by pro-choicegroups as incursive on legalized abortion rights. Following a national furor over the recognition of same-sex marriages in San Franciscoand 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 Amendmentto the United States Constitutionwhich would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
euthanasia, Bush remains staunchly opposed to the procedure, and supported Attorney General John Ashcroft's decision to file suit against the voter-approved Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which was ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Courtin favor of the Oregon law.cite news
first = Kevin
last = Johnson
url = http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002/04/17/court-suicide.htm
title = Federal judge backs Oregon suicide law
date = 2002-04-18
accessdate = 2006-06-30] However, as governor of
Texas, Bush signed a law which gave hospitals the authority to take terminally ill patients off of life supportagainst the wishes of their spouse or parents, if the doctors deemed it medically appropriate.cite news
author = Knight Ridder
coauthors = Newsday
url = http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002215324_texaslaw22.html
title = As governor, Bush signed right-to-die law
date = 2005-03-22
accessdate = 2006-06-30] This became an issue in 2005, when the president signed controversial legislation forwarded and voted on by only three members of the
United States Senateto initiate federal intervention in the court battle of Terri Schiavo, a comatose Floridawoman who ultimately died.cite news
first = Charles
last = Babington
coauthors = Allen, Mike
url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51402-2005Mar20.html
title = Congress Passes Schiavo Measure
publisher = The Washington Post
date = 2005-03-21
accessdate = 2006-06-30]
State of the Unionmessage in January 2003, Bush outlined a five-year strategy for global emergency AIDSrelief, the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief. Bush announced $15 billion for this effort, $3 billion a 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 CEOof Eli Lilly and Companyand Global AIDS Coordinatorat the Department of State. $9 billion is allocated for new programs in AIDS relief for 15 countries most affected by HIV/AIDS. Another $5 billion will go to continuing support of AIDS relief in 100 countries where the U.S. already has bilateral programs established. An additional $1 billion will go to support 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. [cite news
author = Associated Press
url = http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/01/29/quarter-of-bushs-15-bil_n_14689.html
title = Quarter Of Bush's $15 Billion For AIDS Going To Christian Groups
The Huffington Post
date = 2006-01-29
accessdate = 2006-06-30] This budget represents more money contributed to fight AIDS globally than all other donor countries combined.
August 1 2005, in response to a press question about the teaching of intelligent designversus evolutionin public schools, Bush answered, "Both sides ought to be properly taught... so people can understand what the debate is about.... I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought."cite news
first = Ron
last = Hutcheson
coauthors = Ridder, Knight
url = http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2005/08/02/bush_endorses_intelligent_design/
title = Bush endorses 'intelligent design'
publisher = Boston Globe
date = 2005-08-02
accessdate = 2006-06-30] Bush did not elaborate his personal view on intelligent design.
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, and with reports of the threat of recession from
Federal ReserveChairman 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. This was regarded as a major political victory given Bush's controversial election.
During his first term, Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for three major tax cuts in 2001, 2002, and 2003. These cuts reduced taxes for almost every taxpayer, including reducing the lowest
tax bracket, increasing the child tax credit, and eliminating 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. However, complexity was increased with new categories of income taxed at different rates and new deductions and credits; at the same time, the number of individuals subject to the alternative minimum tax increased since the AMT remained unchanged.
Federal spending in
constant dollarsincreased 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 during the Bush administration. 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. During Bush's presidency the New York Stock Exchangetraded for a record 61 consecutive trading sessions at above 11,000.
Bush's imposition of a tariff on imported steel and on Canadian
softwood lumberwas controversial in light of his advocacy of free marketpolicies in other areas, and 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 disputewas reached in April 2006, and the seven-year deal was finalized on July 1 2006.
Education, healthcare and science
President 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 Kennedyas chief sponsor. The legislation aims to close the achievement gap, measures studentperformance, 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 Foundationand 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." Kalanz 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." [cite news
url = http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/12/20031208-2.html
title = President Signs Medicare Legislation
publisher = The White House
date = 2003-12-08
accessdate = 2006-06-30]
In wake of the
Columbia space shuttle disaster, on January 14 2004Bush announced a major re-direction for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.cite news
url = http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/01/20040114-3.html
title = President Kalanz Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program
publisher = The White House
date = 2004-01-14
accessdate = 2006-06-30] Known as the
Vision for Space Exploration, it calls for the completion of the International Space Stationby 2010 and the retirement of the space shuttlewhile developing a new spacecraftcalled the Crew Exploration Vehicleunder the title Project Constellation. The CEV would be used to return American astronautsto the Moonby 2018.
Public perceptions of Bush were reputedly of lacking interest in foreign affairs. However, the Bush administration implemented major changes in U.S. foreign policy by withdrawing its participation in the 1998
Kyoto Protocoland the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treatywith Russia, in order to pursue national missile defense. [cite news
url = http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/abmt/news/010501bush.html
title = President Bush Speech on Missile Defence
publisher = Federation of Americal Scientists
date = 2001-05-01
accessdate = 2006-06-30] International leaders also criticized Bush for withdrawing support for the
International Criminal Courtsoon after he assumed the presidency. The administration voiced concern that the court could conceivably co-opt the authority of the United States' judicial system. cite news
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1970312.stm
title = US renounces world court treaty
publisher = BBC
date = 2002-05-06
accessdate = 2006-12-28] Although 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-Ilof North Koreaand his Stalinist regime. Bush also undertook bold actions by expressing U.S. support for the defense of Taiwanfollowing the stand-off in March 2001 with the People's Republic of Chinaover the crash of a Chinese air force jet and the detention of U.S. personnel. In 2003-04, Bush would authorize U.S. military intervention in Haitiand Liberiato restore order and oversee a transition to democracy.
Bush emphasized a "hands-off" approach to the conflict between
Israeland the Palestiniansin wake of rising violence and the failure of the Clinton administration's efforts to negotiate. Bush specifically disowned Palestinian leader Yasser Arafatfor his support of the violence and militant groups, but following urgings from European leaders, became the first American president to embrace a two-state solution envisaging an independent Palestinian stateexisting side-by-side with Israel. Bush sponsored dialogue between Prime Ministers Ariel Sharonand Mahmoud Abbas, but continued his administration's boycott of Arafat. Bush would also support Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and lauded the democratic elections held in the Palestinian National Authorityfollowing Arafat's death.
First eight months in office (January 20-September 10, 2001)
In President Bush's first eight months in office before 9/11, the administration's focus was largely on matters concerning the economy, relations with
North Koreaand their nuclear efforts, stem cell research, and the job of uniting a nation still bitter over the controversy that surrounded the 2000 presidential election. In that election, Bush actually lost the nationwide popular vote to Vice President Al Gore, yet narrowly defeated Gore in the Electoral College(by a narrow 271-267 margin). The five-week battle over the extremely close results in Floridaended when the U.S. Supreme Courtabruptly terminated the state's month-long recounts on December 13, 2000. As a result, Bush won the state by a mere 537 votes, confirming the results of a November 27 recount that was certified by Florida's Secretary of State, Katharine Harris. This judicial resolution was disputed by the Gore campaign and many other Democrats. Various recounts done following the November 27 certification by Harris showed Bush's lead had narrowed to just 125 votes until the U.S. Supreme Court declared Bush the winner in their December 13th ruling.
Bush's first eight months were dominated by public disenchantment with his controversial and unusual election, something reflected in his rainy inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C., where 10,000 protesters rallied against the president. Much talk circulated over how to deal with
North Koreaduring Bush's first eight months as well how to handle the stem-cell research debate. On August 8, 2001, in a televised address to the nation from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush announced that the federal government would fund the research, yet only use human embryos which had already been destroyed. From the start of his first term, economic indicators were predicting a recession, thus Bush enacted massive tax cuts in July 2001 which changed the way federal taxes were paid and introduced changes to retirement and pension plans of senior citizens. The most public aspect of this act was that most Americans received a check from the Internal Revenue Service(IRS) as "reconciliation" for paying more tax than was necessary.
After the 2000 election, the
U.S. Senatewas split between 50 Democrat-held seats and 50 Republican-held seats while the Republicans still had an extremely slim majority in the House of Representatives. The Vice President, however, is given the constitutional authority in his role as presiding officer of the Senate to break 50-50 ties in the Senate, which meant the 50-50 split was actually a majority for Republicans since Republican Vice President Dick Cheney would cast the deciding vote. However, this situation changed on May 24, 2001, when liberal Republican Senator Jim Jeffordsswitched his party affiliation to become the only Independent senator in the U.S. Senate and announced that he would caucus with the Democrats. This gave the Democrats a narrow one-seat majority in the Senate until the November 2002 midterm elections in which Republicans easily won back Senate control.
On February 9, 2001, A US submarine, the USS Greenville, collided with a Japanese fishing ship and killed 9 people on board the boat. Bush soon apologized to the Japanese for the incident.
In April 2001, a
U.S. military spy planewas forced to land at a Chinese military airport. The U.S.-China spy plane incident or Hainan Island incidentwas one of the first major international challenges that the new administration faced. President Bush also heavily promoted his No Child Left Behindeducation program, visiting schools across the country. His program was surprisingly endorsed by longtime liberal Democrat, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. During this time period Bush's approval ratings fluctuated from 48 percent to 63 percent.
Handling of the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks
Just eight months after Bush had taken office, came the sole day that defined his first term:
September 11, 2001. On that day, terrorists hijacked airliners and flew them into the twin towers of the World Trade Centerin New York City, destroying both 110-story skyscrapers, and into The Pentagonin Arlington, Virginia. On the evening of the day of the attacks, the President declared a war on terror. Soon afterwards, President Bush's approval rating rose to 90%, [cite news | author = Roger Simon | title = One year after 9/11: A Nation Changed | publisher = U.S. News & World Report| url = http://www.usnews.com/usnews/9_11/articles/911opener.htm | accessdate = 2007-01-26 ] the highest approval rating recorded for any president [cite news | author = Bill Sammon | title = Bush's mark of leadership: War, agenda set place in history | publisher = The Washington Times| date = 2005-01-20 | url = http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:66y7GXpNQZoJ:220.127.116.11/national/20050119-123017-8028r.htm&strip=1 | accessdate = 2007-01-26 ] by the Gallup Organization, which began the poll during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Listen
filename = GWBush Oval Office Address 20010911-1-.ogg
title = Statement by the President in his Address to the Nation
description = George W. Bush's address to the people of the United States, September 11, 2001, 8:30pm EDT.
Bush's first policy-related response to
9/11came on October 8 2001, when, during a speech to Congress, he announced the creation of the Office of Homeland Securityand appointed Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania, as its director. This was the first executive-level office to be created since 1988, when President Ronald Reaganappointed a head to 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 Statesfrom terrorist threats or attacks." The department's most public accomplishment came on March 12 2002with the unveiling of the Homeland Security Advisory System, a system of color-coded alerts designed to warn the populace of the assessed level of threat, based on the evaluation of credible intelligence reports, currently posed by terrorists. The "terror alert" level was and continues to be posted on a daily basis.
Bush's military response to the terrorist attacks began in October 2001, with the deployment of 11,000 troops to invade
Afghanistan. The invasion was supported by many countries, but especially by troops from The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germanyand also by The Afghan Northern Alliance, a large group of allied Afghan tribes that had been waging a civil waragainst the Talibanfor many years. The mission was supported by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as well. The stated goal of the invasion was to overthrow the Taliban government, an Islamic fundamentalist regime thought to be harboring Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization that was blamed (and which later claimed 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 was overthrown in Afghanistan and a US-approved government was installed, but the majority of Al-Qaeda members, including Osama Bin Laden, escaped and some are still active to this day. Bush has been criticized for sending an insufficient number of troops into Afghanistan to successfully achieve all of the mission's objectives, although 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.
The mid-term elections
In 2002, Bush began a cross-country barnstorming effort on behalf of the hand-picked Republican Senatorial candidates from states considered potential toss-ups, such as
New Hampshire, Missouri, Georgia, Minnesotaand South Dakota. Defying the conventional wisdom that the party in power loses seats in off-year elections, Bush (according to conservative pundit John Podhoretz) helped to revert Senate control back to the Republicans, albeit only by a two seat majority, which would grow by more two years later. Of the states mentioned above, only South Dakota retained its incumbent Democrat Senator Tim Johnson, but only by some five-hundred or so hotly contested votes in an election that Republicans claimed was rigged. Bush helped install such reliable conservative stalwarts as Norm Coleman, Saxby Chambliss, John E. Sununuand Jim Talent, defeating, respectively, former Vice-President Walter Mondale, incumbent Max Cleland, Governor Jeanne Shaheenand incumbent Jean Carnahan.
Thursday, Aug. 15 "More and more people understand that being a patriot is more than just putting your hand over your heart and saying the Pledge of Allegiance to a nation under God. They're saying... more and more people understand that serving something greater than yourself in life is a part of being a complete American," said the President in his remarks.
Invasion of Iraq
In 2002, during his
State of the Union Address, Bush set forth what has come to be known as the Bush Doctrine. Although the doctrine was technically used for justifying the invasion of Afghanistan, it was not clearly stated until the address. Simply put, because of the "new world" Americans were now living 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 had the luxury of thinking of the world as exclusively made up of sovereign nations. Due to this, the United States would now implement a policy of using a preemptive strike against any nation known to harbor or aid any terrorist organization. President Bush also outlined what he called the Axis of Evil, consisting of three nations that he stated posed a threat to world peace, namely Iraq, North Koreaand Iran.
The Bush administration began announcing that officials had supposedly discovered
weapons of mass destruction(WMDs) in Iraq. The description of these weapons ranged from chemical to nuclear weapons. The administration supported their claim with intelligence documents as well as aerial photographs. Saddam Hussein, then-President of Iraq, was described as being a threat to the world and his own people as long as he remained in power - especially if his regime had access to WMDs. Changes in the political arena, especially since Saddam had been supplied with some conventional weaponsand other assistance during the Iran–Iraq Warby the United States in the 1980s, were largely due to an increasingly hardline stance that Saddam had imposed on Iraq and his subjects, and his arbitrary invasion of Kuwaitin 1990.
The armed forces of the United States and several other countries, dubbed the "Coalition of the Willing", invaded Iraq in 2003. The operation was known in the United States as Operation
Iraqi Freedom. Though the American government, with encouragement from the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, had attempted to gain a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to remove Hussein from power, they were unsuccessful. Proponents of the use of force cited current and previous violations of resolutions and sanctions by the United Nations(UN) and the UN Security Council as substantive enough to justify the military intervention in Iraq by Coalition forces. Bush drew criticism for preemptively attacking a country that had never attacked the United States or threatened to, as well as for disregarding the opinion of the UN and diverting attention away from capturing Osama Bin Laden and others responsible for the 9/11 attacks. When asked during a press conference in March 2002 about what he was doing to capture Osama Bin Laden, the president remarked, "you know, I just don't spend that much time on him" [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/03/20020313-8.html] .
May 2, 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 drew criticism of being premature, as many Coalition forces were still fighting in Iraq. Others counter that the banner, representing a completed military operation, was supposed to be removed before the speech and was not the work of the president.
The group charged with finding the WMDs in post-Hussein was the
Iraq Survey Group(ISG) made up of 1,200 members of British and American experts. In October 3they released their Interim report, which stated that they had found numerous "WMD related materials" but no actual WMDs.
November 27the president made a surprise visit to Iraq to share Thanksgivingdinner with the troops in an effort to raise low morale. He spent two hours eating with troops in Baghdad International Airportbefore returning to the US. The visit was kept top secret, and even the troops had no idea he was coming. Some saw it as a patriotic moment of history; others saw this as a potentially dangerous political stunt. Accompanied by U.S. National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice, the trip went over without incident.
A few weeks later on
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 severely dazed, being poked and prodded by medical examiners circulated in newspapers and on the Internet around the world. This was a definite boost to the Bush presidency and most Americans were glad that Hussein had been found and captured.
January 23 2004, the head of the ISG, David Kay, resigned his position, stating that he believed WMDs would not be found in Iraq. "I don't think they existed," commented Dr. Kay. "What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last Gulf War and I don't think there was a large-scale production programme in the '90s." Kay criticised the intelligence that led to the war in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying, "we were all wrong and that is most disturbing". Kay's successor, named by CIA director George Tenet, is the former UN weapons inspector Charles Duelfer. In May, Bush's approval rating had fallen to 46%. Then on September 30, the ISG released the Duelfer Report, its final report, confirming David Kay's 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 that Bush had committed young Americans lives for financial gain. Furthermore, many people believe Bush continued to lie, even after the invasion, with the May 29th, 2003 statement:
"We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." – [http://www.whitehouse.gov/g8/interview5.html White House]It is now known that the Bush administration had full knowledge from their team of independent experts on May 27th, 2003, that these labs were used for nothing more than filling weather balloons with hydrogen. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/11/AR2006041101888_pf.html] Others felt that the President had had adequate reason to attack and that he truly believed there were WMDs there and thus was acting in the best interest of the United States. In January 2005 the ISG announced the conclusion of its search, that they had failed to find WMDs.
Build-up to re-election
The intense issues in the
Middle East, such as security and the lack of WMDs fueled the fire for the 2004 election. During his campaign, Bush's platform changed little from that of the 2000 election, although he added several claims of success in fighting the war on terror and preventing another 9/11-style attack. Other presidential candidates criticized Bush for his failures in the war on terror, the war in Iraq, his policies on the environment, education, health care, the economy, creating a deficit in the Federal budget and his near-unilateral approach to foreign policy. Bush portrayed his Democratic opponent John Kerryas soft and said he would "flip-flop", or change opinions, on issues for political gain; Kerry portrayed Bush as stubborn, rigid and unyielding in his views. Republicans said that Bush's stubbornness was a positive character attribute. 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 2004 Republican National Conventionmost 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, having gone 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, which media sources saw as a tie, Bush had noticeably straightened up and appeared as firm and confident as he had during past performances. Highly speculative claims that the President might have worn a wire or an earpiece of some kind during the last debate were suggested, based on pictures of Bush's back, taken during the debate, which show an apparent "bulge" clearly visible running down his back. No investigation was ever conducted of the claims and most agree that if the president had been coached through an electronic device his performances would probably have been better. Some technical problems with this scenario have been brought up as well.
On the eve of Election Day, most polls and mass media outlets predicted that John Kerry would win the presidency. Exit polls also reflected this projection. However, as polling centers closed and remaining votes were being counted, it became clear that Bush and Kerry were winning the same states that were won by their parties in 2000. Bush managed to win the swing states of
Florida(by 400,000 as opposed to the 537 margin of 2000) and Ohio(by 119,000). He won his re-election bid by 34 electoral votes(the end total being: Bush-286, Kerry-252). The next afternoon John Kerry conceded his candidacy. During a speech that same day, Bush outlined what he hoped to do in his second term and stated that he interpreted the results of the election as a "mandate" from the American people. The passion for this election and its campaign resulted in a record voter turnout and something of a resurgence in the common American's interest in politics. It was often said that for Bush to have a successful second term, he must bridge the growing gap between Americans and win over his opponent's supporters. However, with a majority in both houses of Congress and the prospect of appointing three new Supreme Court Justices, getting his policies passed swiftly will not be likely to require bi-partisan cooperation.
As part of the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, Congress had planned to pass a major intelligence reform bill in the summer of 2004. However, the bill was slowed down mainly by disagreements between the Republicans in Congress.
Armed Services CommitteeChairman Duncan Hunterfrom Californiadidn't like the bill because it supposedly moved too much control over intelligence operations and budgets from the military to a new national intelligence director. House Judiciary CommitteeChairman James Sensenbrennerof Wisconsinwanted the bill changed to stop states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. The Bush administration, however, continues to push for the intelligence reform bill as part of its "war on terror" initiative. At the end of the congressional year, Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastertpulled the bill from the floor on November 20, after running into opposition. The bill could have passed solely with Democratic votes, but the Republican supporters of the bill did not want to give Democrats the victory of such an important bill. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A381-2004Nov20.html]
December 10an agreement was finally reached on the language of the bill and it was approved by the senate in an 89-2 vote. The bill forced intelligence and law enforcement agencies to share information. It calls for a minimum federal standard for state drivers licenses and for Homeland Security to set a standard for identification used to board airplanes. The bill created a new federal counter-terrorism center and a new, controversial, United States Director of National Intelligence, who will have strong budgetary control. However, the complexity of the bill's language could lead to confusion over the director's exact powers. Bush, who passed the bill into law on December 17, was credited with pressuring Congress to pass the bill before the end of the year. Some considered it to be the largest legislation overhaul in 50 years.
"Time Magazine" Person of the Year
December 19 2004, "Time" chose George W. Bush for its annual Person of the Yearissue. 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, former President George H. W. Bush, received the title in 1990.
Contracts with Armstrong Williams
January 6, 2005, it was discovered that the Department of Education had paid The Graham Williams Group, a company run by columnist and commentator Armstrong Williams, $240,000 to:
* Regularly mention the
No Child Left Behind Actin columns and during broadcasts;
* Create one minute "reads" with Education Secretary
Rod Paigeto be used as ads on radio during 2004 and do not mention that they are government funded;
* Creating a video promotion for No Child Left Behind that appears to be a news story but never indicates that the report was funded by taxpayer dollars;
* For Armstrong to interview Paige and other department officials for television.
The Education Department, through the Ketchum public relations firm, arranged with Williams to use contacts with
America's Black Forum, a group of black broadcasters and journalists, "to encourage the producers to periodically address" No Child Left Behind. Williams also persuaded Steve Harveyto have Paige appear twice on his syndicated radio show. The department already paid Ketchum $700,000 (USD) to rate journalists on how positively or negatively they report on No Child Left Behind. It is questionable whether or not this agreement was legal since congress prohibited the use of propaganda. The Education Department stated that the contract was "permissible use of taxpayer funds under legal government contracting procedures" and it was an attempt to educate poor and minority communities about the benefits of the law. Williams claims that he felt the contract was a way for him to promote something that he truly believed in, although he regretted his decision to participate.
He is one of the leading African-American conservative commentators in the United States and a former aide to Supreme Court Justice
Clarence Thomas. It has been suggested that the department chose Armstrong, rather than another conservative commentator, (such as Rush Limbaugh), because of his minority-based audiences. Since the story has been uncovered Williams's newspaper syndicate, Tribune Media Services, has canceled his column and one television network has dropped his program pending an investigation. The Government Accountability Office(GAO) has already twice ruled that the Bush administration's use of prepackaged videos to promote Medicare and drug policy is "covert propaganda" because their videos do not state that they are creations funded by the United States government.
Response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
The president was beginning his post-Christmas vacation at his
Crawford, Texasranch when he was informed of the devastating tsunami. The first estimates of casualties by the event were 22,000 people killed, of whom, six were Americans. Bush said the earthquake was a "terrible loss of life and suffering". A $15 million aid package was put together to help the Asian countries suffering from the devastation. Immediately after, the US and other Western nations were criticised first by the UN and then by " The New York Times" for not giving enough and being "stingy". They also claimed that this was half as much as Republicans were planning to spend on inauguration festivities; however, that money would all come from private donors. "The New York Times" also criticised Bush for waiting three days to express his condolences to the countries hit by the disaster.
Further criticism pointed to undelivered relief funds for the 2003 Earthquake in Iran and also that foreign aid money makes up less than one quarter of one percent of the United States budget. As further details of the devastation were revealed, Bush stepped up US relief efforts to $35 million in response and sent his brother, Florida Governor
Jeb Bushand Secretary of State Colin Powellto Asiato assess the damage. After Japan announced they were pledging US$500 million, the largest amount of any country so far and the death count was firmly stated as around 150,000, Bush again increased the United States aid package to $350 million, the second largest contribution. On February 9, as relief efforts continued to unfold, Bush asked Congress for a total of $950 million.
It is notable that these financial pledges do not include costs associated with use of U.S. military personnel in the relief effort. As of
January 12, 15,000 troops had been committed, including 25 ships and nearly 100 aircraft. Duties included logistical support, delivery of emergency supplies, and search and rescue. [http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/tsunami/index.htm]
Private relief funding was also substantial. On
January 3 2005, the president named his two immediate predecessors, Bill Clintonand George H. W. Bush, to head up a major campaign to gather private funding to assist the tsunamivictims. By January 11, only eight days later, $360 million had already been raised; the total was expected to eventually reach $700 million. [http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/tsunami/private.htm]
Major bills passed
Although many bills passed during Bush's first term, there are several initiatives that he not only spearheaded, but tend to shape his first term whilst representing his general ideology. Here is a list of these bills and the dates they were passed:
USA Patriot Act- October 26 2001
No Child Left Behind Act- December 13 2001
* Fred Barnes. "Rebel-in-Chief: How George W. Bush Is Redefining the Conservative Movement and Transforming America" (2006)
* L. Paul Bremer III, "My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope" (2006) by Bush's ambassador.
* George W. Bush. "George W. Bush on God and Country: The President Speaks Out About Faith, Principle, and Patriotism" (2004)
* James Mann. "Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet" (2004)
* Bob Woodward. "Plan of Attack" (2003) on Iraq war
* Bruce Bartlett, "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy" (2006), written by former aide
* Seymour M. Hersh. "Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib" (2004)
* Stefan Halper. "America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order" (2004)
* Ron Suskind. "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill" (2004), complaints of ex Treasury Secretary
* George Packer. "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq" (2005)
* James Risen. "State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration" (2006)
* [http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=mozilla&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aunofficial&q=%22victor+ash%22+bush&btnG=Search Victor Ash was the roommate of W. Bush at Andover (Phillip's Academy) and Yale.]
George W. Bush's second term as President of the United States
* George W. Bush main article
President of the United States of America
Bush v. Gore
George W. Bush presidential campaign, 2004
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