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George W. Bush
A portrait shot of a smiling older male looking straight ahead. He has short grey hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a blue styled tie over a white collared shirt. In the background is an American flag hanging from a flagpole.

In office
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
Vice President Dick Cheney
Preceded by Bill Clinton
Succeeded by Barack Obama

In office
January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000
Lieutenant Bob Bullock (1995–1999)
Rick Perry (1999–2000)
Preceded by Ann Richards
Succeeded by Rick Perry

Born July 6, 1946 (1946-07-06) (age 63)
New Haven, Connecticut
Birth name George Walker Bush
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Laura Bush
Children Barbara Pierce Bush
Jenna Welch Hager
Residence Preston Hollow, Dallas, Texas
Crawford, Texas
Alma mater Yale University (B.A.)
Harvard Business School (M.B.A.)
Occupation Businessman
(oil, baseball)
Religion Episcopalian (before 1977)[1]
United Methodist (after 1977)[2][3]
Signature
Website Bush Presidential Library
Bush Presidential Center
The White House Archived
Military service
Service/branch Texas Air National Guard
Alabama Air National Guard
Years of service 1968–1974
Rank First Lieutenant

George Walker Bush (En-us-George Walker Bush.ogg /ˈdʒɔrdʒ ˈwɔːkər ˈbʊʃ/ ; born July 6, 1946) served as the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

Bush is the eldest son of President George H. W. Bush, who served as the 41st President, and Barbara Bush, making him one of only two American presidents to be the son of a preceding president.[4] After graduating from Yale University in 1968, and Harvard Business School in 1975, Bush worked in his family's oil businesses. He married Laura Welch in 1977 and unsuccessfully ran for the House of Representatives shortly thereafter. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before defeating Ann Richards in the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election. In a close and controversial election, Bush was elected President in 2000 as the Republican candidate, defeating then-Vice President Al Gore.

Eight months into Bush's first term as president, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred. In response, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan that same year and an invasion of Iraq in 2003. In addition to national security issues, Bush promoted policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. He signed into law broad tax cuts,[5] the No Child Left Behind Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors. His tenure saw national debates on immigration and Social Security.[6]

Bush successfully ran for re-election against Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004, garnering 50.7% of the popular vote to his opponent's 48.3%. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism from conservatives.[7][8][9] In 2005, the Bush Administration dealt with widespread[10][11] criticism over its handling of Hurricane Katrina.[12] In December 2007, the United States entered its longest post-World War II recession.[13][14] This prompted the Bush Administration to take more direct control of the economy, enacting multiple economic programs intended to preserve the country's financial system. Though Bush was popular within the U.S. for much of his first term,[15] his popularity declined sharply during his second term.[16][17][18][19]

After leaving office, Bush returned to Texas and purchased a home in a suburban area of Dallas, Texas. He is currently a public speaker and is writing a book about his presidency.[20]

Childhood to mid-life

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Bush was the first child of George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush (née Pierce). He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas, with his four siblings, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died from leukemia at the age of three in 1953.[21] Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut.[22] Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, served as U.S. Vice President from 1981 to 1989 and U.S. President from 1989 to 1993. Bush is of primarily English and German descent, and also has distant Welsh, Irish, French and Scottish ancestry.[23]

Education

As a child, Bush attended public schools in Midland, Texas until the family moved to Houston after he completed seventh grade. He then went to The Kinkaid School, a prep school in Houston, for two years.[24]

Bush finished his high school years at Phillips Academy, a boarding school (then all-male) in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball and during his senior year was the head cheerleader.[25][26] Bush attended Yale University from 1964 to 1968, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.[27] During this time, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, being elected the fraternity's president during his senior year.[28][29] Bush also became a member of the Skull and Bones society as a senior.[30] Bush was a keen rugby union player, and was on Yale's 1st XV.[31] He characterized himself as an average student.[32]

Beginning in the fall of 1973, Bush attended the Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA. He is the only U.S. President to have earned an MBA.[33]

Texas Air National Guard

Lt. George W. Bush while in the Texas Air National Guard.

In May 1968, Bush was commissioned into the Texas Air National Guard.[34] After two years of active-duty service while training,[35] he was assigned to Houston, flying Convair F-102s out of Ellington Air Force Base.[36] Critics, including former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Russ Baker, have alleged that Bush was favorably treated due to his father's political standing, citing his selection as a pilot despite his low pilot aptitude test scores and his irregular attendance.[37] In June 2005, the United States Department of Defense released all the records of Bush's Texas Air National Guard service, which remain in its official archives.[38]

In late 1972 and early 1973, he drilled with the Alabama Air National Guard, having moved to Montgomery, Alabama to work on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton M. Blount.[39][40] In October 1973, Bush was discharged from the Texas Air National Guard and transferred to inactive duty in the Air Force Reserve. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974, at the end of his six-year service obligation.[41]

Marriage and family

George and Laura Bush with their daughters Jenna and Barbara, 1990.

In 1977, he was introduced by friends at a backyard barbecue to Laura Welch, a schoolteacher and librarian. Bush proposed to her after a three-month courtship and they were married on November 5 of that year.[42] The couple settled in Midland, Texas. Bush left his family's Episcopal Church to join his wife's United Methodist Church.[2] In 1981, Laura Bush gave birth to fraternal twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara;[42] they graduated from high school in 2000 and from the University of Texas at Austin and Yale University, respectively, in 2004.

Prior to his marriage, Bush had multiple episodes of alcohol abuse.[43] In one instance, on September 4, 1976, he was arrested near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine for driving under the influence of alcohol. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150 and had his Maine driver's license suspended until 1978.[44] Bush's alleged usage of drugs is less clear; when asked questions about past alleged illicit drug use, Bush has consistently refused to answer. He defended his refusal to answer in a publicized casual conversation with a friend saying that he feared setting a bad example for the younger generation.[45][46][47]

Bush says his wife has had a stabilizing effect on his life,[42] and attributes influence to her in his 1986 decision to give up alcohol.[48] While Governor of Texas, Bush said of his wife, "I saw an elegant, beautiful woman who turned out not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time."[42]

Early career

In 1978, Bush ran for the House of Representatives from Texas's 19th congressional district. His opponent, Kent Hance, portrayed him as being out of touch with rural Texans; Bush lost the election by 6,000 votes (6%) of the 103,000 votes cast.[49] He returned to the oil industry and began a series of small, independent oil exploration companies.[50] He created Arbusto Energy,[51] and later changed the name to Bush Exploration. In 1984, his company merged with the larger Spectrum 7, and Bush became chairman.[50] The company was hurt by a decline in oil prices, and as a result, it folded into Harken Energy.[50][52] Bush served on the board of directors for Harken.[50] Questions of possible insider trading involving Harken arose, but the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) investigation concluded that the information Bush had at the time of his stock sale was not sufficient to constitute insider trading.[50][53]

Bush moved his family to Washington, D.C. in 1988 to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency.[54][55] He worked as a campaign adviser and served as liaison to the media;[50] he assisted his father by campaigning across the country.[50] Returning to Texas after the successful campaign, he purchased a share in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in April 1989, where he served as managing general partner for five years.[56] He actively led the team's projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans.[57] The sale of Bush's shares in the Rangers in 1998 brought him over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment.[58]

In December 1991, Bush was one of seven people named by his father to run his father's 1992 Presidential re-election campaign as "campaign advisor".[59] The prior month, Bush had been asked by his father to tell White House chief of staff John H. Sununu that he should resign.[60]

Governor of Texas

Governor Bush with wife, Laura, and father, former President George H. W. Bush, at the dedication of the George Bush Presidential Library, November 1997.

As Bush's brother, Jeb, sought the governorship of Florida, Bush declared his candidacy for the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election. His campaign focused on four themes: welfare reform, tort reform, crime reduction, and education improvement.[50] Bush's campaign advisers were Karen Hughes, Joe Allbaugh, and Karl Rove.[61]

After easily winning the Republican primary, Bush faced popular Democratic incumbent Governor Ann Richards.[50][62] In the course of the campaign, Bush pledged to sign a bill allowing Texans to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. Richards had vetoed the bill, but Bush signed it after he became governor.[63] According to The Atlantic Monthly, the race "featured a rumor that she was a lesbian, along with a rare instance of such a tactic's making it into the public record — when a regional chairman of the Bush campaign allowed himself, perhaps inadvertently, to be quoted criticizing Richards for appointing avowed homosexual activists' to state jobs".[64] The Atlantic, and others, connected the lesbian rumor to Karl Rove,[65] but Rove denied being involved.[66] Bush won the general election with 53.5% against Richards' 45.9%.[67]

Bush used a budget surplus to push through Texas's largest tax-cut ($2 billion).[61] He extended government funding for organizations providing education of the dangers of alcohol and drug use and abuse, and helping to reduce domestic violence.[68] Critics contended that during his tenure, Texas ranked near the bottom in environmental evaluations, but supporters pointed to his efforts to raise the salaries of teachers and improved educational test scores.[50]

In 1998, Bush won re-election with a record[50] 69% of the vote.[69] He became the first governor in Texas history to be elected to two consecutive four-year terms.[50] For most of Texas history, governors served two-year terms; a constitutional amendment extended those terms to four years starting in 1975.[70] In his second term, Bush promoted faith-based organizations and enjoyed high approval ratings.[50] He proclaimed June 10, 2000 to be Jesus Day in Texas, a day on which he "urge[d] all Texans to answer the call to serve those in need".[71]

Throughout Bush's first term, national attention focused on him as a potential future presidential candidate. Following his re-election, speculation soared.[50] Within a year, he decided to seek the Republican nomination for the presidency.

Presidential campaigns

2000 Presidential candidacy

Bush in Concord, New Hampshire signing to be a candidate for president
Bush stands with supporters in Concord, New Hampshire after filing to run for the presidency

Primary

In June 1999, while Governor of Texas, Bush announced his candidacy for President of the United States. With no incumbent running, Bush entered a large field of candidates for the Republican Party presidential nomination consisting of John McCain, Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, Orrin Hatch, Elizabeth Dole, Dan Quayle, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, John Kasich, and Robert C. Smith.

Bush portrayed himself as a compassionate conservative. He campaigned on a platform that included increasing the size of the United States Armed Forces, cutting taxes, improving education, and aiding minorities.[50] By early 2000, the race had centered on Bush and McCain.[50]

Bush won the Iowa caucuses, but, although he was heavily favored to win the New Hampshire primary, he trailed McCain by 19% and lost that primary. However, the Bush campaign regained momentum and, according to political observers, effectively became the front runner after the South Carolina primary, which according to The Boston Globe made history for its negativity; The New York Times described it as a smear campaign.[72][73][74]

General election

On July 25, 2000, Bush surprised some observers by asking Dick Cheney, a former White House Chief of Staff, U.S. Representative, and Secretary of Defense, to be his running mate. Cheney was then serving as head of Bush's Vice-Presidential search committee. Soon after, Cheney was officially nominated by the Republican Party at the 2000 Republican National Convention.

Bush continued to campaign across the country and touted his record as Governor of Texas.[50] Bush's campaign criticized his Democratic opponent, incumbent Vice President Al Gore, over gun control and taxation.[75]

When the election returns came in on November 7, Bush won 29 states, including Florida. The closeness of the Florida outcome led to a recount.[50] The initial recount also went to Bush, but the outcome was tied up in courts for a month until reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.[76] On December 9, in the Bush v. Gore case, the Court reversed a Florida Supreme Court ruling ordering a third count, and stopped an ordered statewide hand recount based on the argument that the use of different standards among Florida's counties violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[50] The machine recount showed that Bush had won the Florida vote by a margin of 537 votes out of six million cast.[77] Although he received 543,895 fewer individual votes than Gore nationwide, Bush won the election, receiving 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266.[77]

2004 Presidential candidacy

George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in 2004

In 2004, Bush commanded broad support in the Republican Party and did not encounter a primary challenge. He appointed Kenneth Mehlman as campaign manager, with a political strategy devised by Karl Rove.[78] Bush and the Republican platform included a strong commitment to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,[79] support for the USA PATRIOT Act,[80] a renewed shift in policy for constitutional amendments banning abortion and same-sex marriage,[79][81] reforming Social Security to create private investment accounts,[79] creation of an ownership society,[79] and opposing mandatory carbon emissions controls.[82] Bush also called for the implementation of a guest worker program for immigrants,[79] which was criticized by conservatives.[83]

The Bush campaign advertised across the U.S. against Democratic candidates, including Bush's emerging opponent, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Kerry and other Democrats attacked Bush on the Iraq War, and accused him of failing to stimulate the economy and job growth. The Bush campaign portrayed Kerry as a staunch liberal who would raise taxes and increase the size of government. The Bush campaign continuously criticized Kerry's seemingly contradictory statements on the war in Iraq,[50] and argued that Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the war on terrorism.

In the election, Bush carried 31 of 50 states, receiving a total of 286 electoral votes. He won an absolute majority of the popular vote (50.7% to his opponent's 48.3%).[84] The previous President to win an absolute majority of the popular vote had been Bush's father in the 1988 election. Additionally, it was the first time since Herbert Hoover's election in 1928 that a Republican president was elected alongside re-elected Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress. Bush's 2.5% margin of victory was the narrowest ever for a victorious incumbent President, breaking Woodrow Wilson's 3.1% margin of victory against Charles Evans Hughes in the election of 1916.[85][86]

Presidency

Official portrait of George W. Bush

Bush was sworn in as president on January 20, 2001. Though he originally outlined an ambitious domestic agenda, his priorities were significantly altered following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.[87] Wars were waged in Afghanistan and later Iraq while significant debates regarding immigration, healthcare, Social Security, economic policy, and treatment of terrorist detainees took place within the United States. Over an eight year period, Bush's once-high approval ratings[19] steadily declined throughout his Presidency while his disapproval numbers increased significantly over the same time frame.[16] During 2007, the United States entered into the longest post World War II recession and the administration responded by enacting multiple economic programs.[88]

Domestic policy

Economic policy

Facing opposition in Congress, Bush held town hall-style public meetings across the U.S. in 2001 to increase public support for his plan for a $1.35 trillion tax cut program—one of the largest tax cuts in U.S. history.[50] Bush argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers, saying "the surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money."[50] 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.[89] Others, including the Treasury Secretary at the time Paul O'Neill, were opposed to some of the tax cuts on the basis that they would contribute to budget deficits and undermine Social Security.[90] By 2003, the economy showed signs of improvement, though job growth remained stagnant.[50]

Under the Bush Administration, real GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.5%,[91] considerably below the average for business cycles from 1949 to 2000.[92][93] Bush entered office with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 10,587, and the average peaked in October 2007 at over 14,000. When Bush left office, the average was at 7,949, one of the lowest levels of his presidency.[94] Unemployment originally rose from 4.2% in January 2001 to 6.3% in June 2003, but subsequently dropped to 4.5% as of July 2007.[95] Adjusted for inflation, median household income dropped by $1,175 between 2000 and 2007,[96] while Professor Ken Homa of Georgetown University has noted that "after-tax median household income increased by 2%"[97] The poverty rate increased from 11.3% in 2000 to 12.3% in 2006 after peaking at 12.7% in 2004.[98] By October 2008, due to increases in domestic and foreign spending,[99] the national debt had risen to $11.3 trillion,[100][101] an increase of over 100% from the start of the year 2000 when the debt was $5.6 trillion.[102][103] By the end of Bush's presidency, unemployment climbed to 7.2%.[104] The perception of Bush's effect on the economy is significantly affected by partisanship.[105]

In December 2007, the United States entered the longest post-World War II recession,[13] which included a housing market correction, a subprime mortgage crisis, soaring oil prices, and a declining dollar value.[106] In February, 63,000 jobs were lost, a five-year record.[107][108] To aid with the situation, Bush signed a $170 billion economic stimulus package which was intended to improve the economic situation by sending tax rebate checks to many Americans and providing tax breaks for struggling businesses. The Bush administration pushed for significantly increased regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003,[109] and after two years, the regulations passed the House but died in the Senate. Many Republican senators, as well as influential members of the Bush Administration, feared that the agency created by these regulations would merely be mimicking the private sector’s risky practices.[110][111] In September 2008, the crisis became much more serious beginning with the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac followed by the collapse of Lehman Brothers[112] and a federal bailout of American International Group for $85 billion.[113]

Many economists and world governments determined that the situation became the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.[114][115] Additional regulation over the housing market would have been beneficial, according to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.[116] Bush, meanwhile, proposed a financial rescue plan to buy back a large portion of the U.S. mortgage market.[117] Vince Reinhardt, a former Federal Reserve economist now at the American Enterprise Institute, said "it would have helped for the Bush administration to empower the folks at Treasury and the Federal Reserve and the comptroller of the currency and the FDIC to look at these issues more closely", and additionally, that it would have helped "for Congress to have held hearings".[111]

In November 2008, over 500,000 jobs were lost, which marked the largest loss of jobs in the United States in 34 years.[118] The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in the last four months of 2008, 1.9 million jobs were lost.[119] By the end of 2008, the U.S. had lost a total of 2.6 million jobs.[120]

Education and health

Bush undertook a number of educational priorities, such as increasing the funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in his first years of office, and creating education programs to strengthen the grounding in science and mathematics for American high school students. Funding for the NIH was cut in 2006, the first such cut in 36 years, due to rising inflation.[121]

Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act into law, January 2002

One of the administration's early major initiatives was the No Child Left Behind Act, which aimed to measure and close the gap between rich and poor student performance, provide options to parents with students in low-performing schools, and target more federal funding to low-income schools. This landmark education initiative passed with broad bipartisan support, including that of Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.[122] It was signed into law by Bush in early 2002.[123] Many contend that the initiative has been successful, as cited by the fact that students in the U.S. have performed significantly better on state reading and math tests since Bush signed "No Child Left Behind" into law.[124] Critics argue that it is underfunded[125] and that NCLBA's focus on "high stakes testing" and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive.[126]

After being re-elected, Bush signed into law a Medicare drug benefit program that, according to Jan Crawford Greenburg, resulted in "the greatest expansion in America's welfare state in forty years;" the bill's costs approached $7 trillion.[127] In 2007, Bush opposed and vetoed State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation, which was added by the Democrats onto a war funding bill and passed by Congress. The SCHIP legislation would have significantly expanded federally funded health care benefits and plans to children of some low-income families from about six million to ten million children. It was to be funded by an increase in the cigarette tax.[128] Bush viewed the legislation as a move toward the liberal platform of socialized health care, and asserted that the program could benefit families making as much as $83,000 per year who did not need the help.[129]

Social services and Social Security

Following Republican efforts to pass the Medicare Act of 2003, Bush signed the bill, which included major changes to the Medicare program by providing beneficiaries with some assistance in paying for prescription drugs, while relying on private insurance for the delivery of benefits.[130] The retired persons lobby group AARP worked with the Bush Administration on the program and gave their endorsement. Bush said the law, estimated to cost $400 billion over the first ten years, would give the elderly "better choices and more control over their health care".[131]

Bush speaks at the United States Coast Guard Academy commencement, May 2007

Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to change Social Security,[132] which, by the projection of the Congressional Budget Office, would exhaust the Social Security Trust Fund in 2052.[133] Bush made it the centerpiece of his domestic agenda despite opposition from some in the U.S. Congress.[132] In his 2005 State of the Union Address, Bush discussed what he called the potential impending "bankruptcy" of the program and outlined his new program, which included partial privatization of the system, personal Social Security accounts, and options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments.[132] Democrats opposed the proposal to partially privatize the system.[132]

Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning vigorously for his initiative in media events, known as the "Conversations on Social Security", in an attempt to gain support from the general public.[134] Despite the energetic campaign, public support for the proposal declined[135] and the House Republican leadership decided not to put Social Security reform on the priority list for the remainder of their 2005 legislative agenda.[136] The proposal's legislative prospects were further diminished by the political fallout from the Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005.[137] After the Democrats gained control of both houses of the Congress as a result of the 2006 midterm elections, the prospects of any further congressional action on the Bush proposal were dead for the remainder of his term in office.

Environmental and energy policies

Upon taking office in 2001, Bush stated his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change which seeks to impose mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, citing that the treaty exempted 80% of the world's population[138] and would have cost tens of billions of dollars per year.[139] He also cited that the Senate had voted 95–0 in 1997 on a resolution expressing its disapproval of the protocol.

In 2002, Bush announced the Clear Skies Act of 2003,[140] aimed at amending the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution through the use of emissions trading programs. It was argued, however, that this legislation would have weakened the original legislation by allowing higher levels of pollutants than were permitted at that time.[141] The initiative was introduced to Congress, but failed to make it out of committee.

Bush has said that he believes that global warming is real[142] and has noted that it is a serious problem, but he asserted there is a "debate over whether it's man-made or naturally caused".[143] The Bush Administration's stance on global warming has remained controversial in the scientific and environmental communities. Critics have alleged that the administration[144] misinformed the public and did not do enough to reduce carbon emissions and deter global warming.[145]

In 2006, Bush declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument, creating the largest marine reserve to date. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument comprises 84 million acres (340,000 km²) and is home to 7,000 species of fish, birds, and other marine animals, many of which are specific to only those islands.[146] The move was hailed by conservationists for "its foresight and leadership in protecting this incredible area".[147]

In his 2007 State of the Union Address, Bush renewed his pledge to work toward diminished reliance on foreign oil by reducing fossil fuel consumption and increasing alternative fuel production.[148] Amid high gasoline prices in 2008, Bush lifted a ban on offshore drilling.[149] The move was largely symbolic, however, as there is still a federal law banning offshore drilling. Bush said, "This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil reserves is action from the U.S. Congress."[149] Bush had said in June 2008, "In the long run, the solution is to reduce demand for oil by promoting alternative energy technologies. My administration has worked with Congress to invest in gas-saving technologies like advanced batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.... In the short run, the American economy will continue to rely largely on oil. And that means we need to increase supply, especially here at home. So my administration has repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production."[150]

In his 2008 State of the Union Address, Bush announced that the U.S. would commit $2 billion over the next three years to a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change, saying, "Along with contributions from other countries, this fund will increase and accelerate the deployment of all forms of cleaner, more efficient technologies in developing nations like India and China, and help leverage substantial private-sector capital by making clean energy projects more financially attractive." He also announced plans to reaffirm the United States' commitment to work with major economies, and, through the United Nations, to complete an international agreement that will slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases; he stated, "This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride."[151]

Stem cell research and first use of veto power

Federal funding for medical research involving the creation or destruction of human embryos through the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health has been forbidden by law since the passage in 1995 of the Dickey Amendment by Congress and the signature of President Bill Clinton.[152] Bush has said that he supports adult stem cell research and has supported federal legislation that finances adult stem cell research. However, Bush did not support embryonic stem cell research.[153] On August 9, 2001, Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 71 existing "lines" of stem cells,[154] but the ability of these existing lines to provide an adequate medium for testing has been questioned. Testing can only be done on twelve of the original lines, and all of the approved lines have been cultured in contact with mouse cells, which creates safety issues that complicate development and approval of therapies from these lines.[155] On July 19, 2006, Bush used his veto power for the first time in his presidency to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. The bill would have repealed the Dickey Amendment, thereby permitting federal money to be used for research where stem cells are derived from the destruction of an embryo.[156]

Immigration

Bush discusses border security with Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff near the El Paso, Texas, United States-Mexico border, November 2005

In 2006, Bush urged Congress to allow more than twelve million illegal immigrants to work in the United States with the creation of a "temporary guest-worker program". Bush did not support amnesty for illegal immigrants,[157] but argued 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.

The President also urged Congress to provide additional funds for border security and committed to deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexico – United States border.[158] In May-June 2007, Bush strongly supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 which was written by a bipartisan group of Senators with the active participation of the Bush administration.[159] The bill envisioned a legalization program for undocumented immigrants, with an eventual path to citizenship; establishing a guest worker program; a series of border and work site enforcement measures; a reform of the green card application process and the introduction of a point-based "merit" system for green cards; elimination of "chain migration" and of the Diversity Immigrant Visa; and other measures. Bush contended that the proposed bill did not amount to amnesty.[160]

A heated public debate followed, which resulted in a substantial rift within the Republican Party, the majority of conservatives opposed it because of its legalization or amnesty provisions.[161] The bill was eventually defeated in the Senate on June 28, 2007, when a cloture motion failed on a 46-53 vote.[162] Bush expressed disappointment upon the defeat of one of his signature domestic initiatives.[163] The Bush administration later proposed a series of immigration enforcement measures that do not require a change in law.[164]

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina, which was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, struck early in Bush’s second term. Katrina formed in late August during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and devastated much of the north-central Gulf Coast of the United States, particularly New Orleans.[165]

Bush shakes hands with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on September 2, 2005 after viewing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina

Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on August 27,[166] and in Mississippi and Alabama the following day;[167] he authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to manage the disaster, but his announcement failed to spur these agencies to action.[168] The eye of the hurricane made landfall on August 29, and New Orleans began to flood due to levee breaches; later that day, Bush declared that a major disaster existed in Louisiana,[169] officially authorizing FEMA to start using federal funds to assist in the recovery effort. On August 30, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff declared it "an incident of national significance",[170] triggering the first use of the newly created National Response Plan. Three days later, on September 2, National Guard troops first entered the city of New Orleans.[171] The same day, Bush toured parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and declared that the success of the recovery effort up to that point was "not enough".[172]

As the disaster in New Orleans intensified, critics charged that Bush was misrepresenting his administration's role in what they saw as a flawed response. Leaders attacked Bush for having appointed apparently incompetent leaders to positions of power at FEMA, notably Michael D. Brown;[173] it was also argued that the federal response was limited as a result of the Iraq War[174] and Bush himself did not act upon warnings of floods.[175][176][177] Bush responded to mounting criticism by accepting full responsibility for the federal government's failures in its handling of the emergency.[171] It has been argued that with Katrina, Bush passed a political tipping point from which he would not recover.[178]

Midterm dismissal of U.S. attorneys

During Bush's second term, a controversy arose over the Justice Department's midterm dismissal of seven United States Attorneys.[179] The White House maintained that the U.S. attorneys were fired for poor performance.[180] Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would later resign over the issue, along with other senior members of the Justice Department.[181][182] The House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for advisers Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten to testify regarding this matter, but Bush directed Miers and Bolten to not comply with those subpoenas, invoking his right of executive privilege. Bush has maintained that all of his advisers are protected under a broad executive privilege protection to receive candid advice. The Justice Department has determined that the President's order was legal.[183]

Although Congressional investigations have focused on whether the Justice Department and the White House were using the U.S. Attorney positions for political advantage, no official findings have been released. On March 10, 2008, the Congress filed a federal lawsuit to enforce their issued subpoenas.[184] On July 31, 2008, a United States district court judge ruled that Bush's top advisers were not immune from Congressional subpoenas.[185]

In August 2009, Karl Rove and Harriet Miers testified before the House Judiciary Committee. A Justice Department inquiry into the firing of U.S. attorneys concluded that political considerations played a part in as many as four of the dismissals.[186]

Foreign policy

President George W. Bush, President of Mexico Vicente Fox and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper stand in front of El Castillo in Chichen Itza, March 30, 2006
Countries visited by President George W. Bush during his terms in office.

During his Presidential campaign, Bush's foreign policy platform included support for a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, especially Mexico, and a reduction of involvement in "nation-building" and other small-scale military engagements. The administration pursued a national missile defense.[187]

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bush launched the War on Terrorism, in which the United States military and an international coalition invaded Afghanistan. In 2003, Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, which he described as being part of the War on Terrorism.[188]

Those invasions led to the toppling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq as well as the deaths of many Iraqis, with surveys indicating between four hundred thousand to over one million dead, excluding the tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan.[189][190][191]

Bush began his second term with an emphasis on improving strained relations with European nations. He appointed long-time adviser Karen Hughes to oversee a global public relations campaign. Bush lauded the pro-democracy struggles in Georgia and Ukraine.

In March 2006, a visit to India led to renewed ties between the two countries, reversing decades of U.S. policy.[192] The visit focused particularly in areas of nuclear energy and counter-terrorism cooperation.[193] This is in stark contrast to the stance taken by his predecessor, Clinton, whose approach and response to India after the 1998 nuclear tests was that of sanctions and hectoring. The relationship between India and the United States was one that dramatically improved during Bush's tenure.[194]

Midway through Bush's second term, it was questioned whether Bush was retreating from his freedom and democracy agenda, highlighted in policy changes toward some oil-rich former Soviet republics in central Asia.[195]

September 11, 2001

Bush addresses rescue workers at Ground Zero in New York, September 14, 2001

The September 11 terrorist attacks were a major turning point in Bush's presidency. 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, firefighters, police officers, and volunteers. Bush addressed the gathering via a megaphone while standing on a heap of rubble, to much applause:

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.[196]

In a September 20 speech, Bush condemned Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, and issued an ultimatum to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was operating, to "hand over the terrorists, or ... share in their fate".[197]

War on Terrorism

After September 11, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism. The Afghan Taliban regime was not forthcoming with Osama bin Laden, so Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime.[198] In his January 29, 2002, State of the Union address, he asserted that an "axis of evil" consisting of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq was "arming to threaten the peace of the world" and "pose[d] a grave and growing danger".[199] The Bush Administration proceeded to assert a right and intention to engage in preemptive war, also called preventive war, in response to perceived threats.[200] This would form a basis for what became known as the Bush Doctrine. The broader "War on Terror", allegations of an "axis of evil", and, in particular, the doctrine of preemptive war, began to weaken the unprecedented levels of international and domestic support for Bush and United States action against al Qaeda following the September 11 attacks.[201]

Some national leaders alleged abuse by U.S. troops and called for the U.S. to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and other such facilities. Dissent from, and criticism of, Bush's leadership in the War on Terror increased as the war in Iraq expanded.[202][203][204] In 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate expressed the combined opinion of the United States' own intelligence agencies, concluding that the Iraq War had become the "cause célèbre for jihadists" and that the jihad movement was growing.[205][206]

Afghanistan

President George W. Bush and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan appear together in 2006 at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

On October 7, 2001, U.S. and Australian forces initiated bombing campaigns that led to the arrival on November 13 of Northern Alliance troops in Kabul. The main goals of the war were to defeat the Taliban, drive al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, and capture key al Qaeda leaders. In December 2001, the Pentagon reported that the Taliban had been defeated[207] but cautioned that the war would go on to continue weakening Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders.[207] Later that month the UN had installed the Afghan Interim Authority chaired by Hamid Karzai.[208][209]

Efforts to kill or capture al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden failed as he escaped a battle in December 2001 in the mountainous region of Tora Bora, which the Bush Administration later acknowledged to have resulted from a failure to commit enough U.S. ground troops.[210] Bin Laden and al Qaeda's number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as the leader of the Taliban, Mohammed Omar, remain at large.

Despite the initial success in driving the Taliban from power in Kabul, by early 2003 the Taliban was regrouping, amassing new funds and recruits.[211] In 2006, the Taliban insurgency appeared larger, fiercer and better organized than expected, with large-scale allied offensives such as Operation Mountain Thrust attaining limited success.[212][213][214] As a result, Bush commissioned 3,500 additional troops to the country in March 2007.[215]

Iraq

Beginning with his January 29, 2002, State of the Union address, Bush began publicly focusing attention on Iraq, which he labeled as part of an "axis of evil" allied with terrorists and posing "a grave and growing danger" to U.S. interests through possession of weapons of mass destruction.[199]

In the latter half of 2002, CIA reports contained assertions of Saddam Hussein's intent of reconstituting nuclear weapons programs, not properly accounting for Iraqi biological and chemical weapons, and that some Iraqi missiles had a range greater than allowed by the UN sanctions.[216][217] Contentions that the Bush Administration manipulated or exaggerated the threat and evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities would eventually become a major point of criticism for the president.[218][219]

In late 2002 and early 2003, Bush urged the United Nations to enforce Iraqi disarmament mandates, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. In November 2002, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei led UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, but were forced to depart the country four days prior to the U.S. invasion, despite their requests for more time to complete their tasks.[220] The U.S. initially sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force but dropped the bid for UN approval due to vigorous opposition from several countries.[221]

Bush, with Naval Flight Officer Lieutenant Ryan Philips, in the flight suit he wore for his televised arrival and speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.

The war effort was joined by more than 20 other nations (most notably the United Kingdom), designated the "coalition of the willing".[222] The invasion of Iraq commenced on March 20, 2003, and the Iraqi military was quickly defeated. The capital, Baghdad, fell on April 9, 2003. On May 1, Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq. The initial success of U.S. operations increased his popularity, but the U.S. and allied forces faced a growing insurgency led by sectarian groups; Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech was later criticized as premature.[223] From 2004 until 2007, the situation in Iraq deteriorated further, with some observers arguing that the country was engaged in a full scale civil war.[224] Bush's policies met with criticism, including demands domestically to set a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq. The 2006 report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, led by James Baker, concluded that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating". While Bush admitted that there were strategic mistakes made in regards to the stability of Iraq,[225] he maintained he would not change the overall Iraq strategy.[226][227]

Bush shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In January 2005, free, democratic elections were held in Iraq for the first time in 50 years.[228] According to Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie, "This is the greatest day in the history of this country."[228] Bush praised the event as well, saying that the Iraqis "have taken rightful control of their country's destiny".[228] This led to the election of Jalal Talabani as President and Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister of Iraq. A referendum to approve a constitution in Iraq was held in October 2005, supported by the majority Shiites and many Kurds.[229]

On January 10, 2007, Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office regarding the situation in Iraq. In his speech he announced a surge of 21,500 more troops for Iraq, as well as a job program for Iraqis, more reconstruction proposals, and $1.2 billion for these programs.[230] On May 1, 2007, Bush used his veto for only the second time in his presidency, rejecting a congressional bill setting a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.[231] Five years after the invasion, Bush called the debate over the conflict "understandable" but insisted that a continued U.S. presence there is crucial.[232]

In March 2008 Bush praised the Iraqi government's "bold decision" to launch the Battle of Basra against the Mahdi Army, calling it "a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq".[233] He said he would carefully weigh recommendations from his commanding General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker about how to proceed after the end of the military buildup in the summer of 2008. He also praised the Iraqis' legislative achievements, including a pension law, a revised de-Baathification law, a new budget, an amnesty law, and a provincial powers measure that, he said, set the stage for the Iraqi elections.[234]

On July 31, 2008, Bush announced that with the end of July, American troop deaths had reached their lowest number—thirteen—since the war began in 2003.[235] Due to increased stability in Iraq, Bush announced the withdrawal of additional American forces, which reflected an emerging consensus between the White House and the Pentagon that the war has "turned a corner".[235] He also described what he saw as the success of the 2007 troop surge.[235]

Surveillance

Following the events of September 11, Bush issued an executive order authorizing the President's Surveillance Program which included allowing the NSA to monitor communications between suspected terrorists outside the U.S and parties within the U.S. without obtaining a warrant as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[236] As of 2009, the other provisions of program remained highly classified.[237]) Once the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel questioned its original legal opinion that FISA did not apply in a time of war, the program was subsequently re-authorized by the President on the basis that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists.[238] The program proved to be controversial, as critics of the administration, as well as organizations such as the American Bar Association, argued that it was illegal.[239] In August 2006, a U.S. district court judge ruled that the NSA electronic surveillance program was unconstitutional,[240] but on July 6, 2007, that ruling was vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing.[241] On January 17, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed U.S. Senate leaders that the program would not be reauthorized by the President, but would be subjected to judicial oversight.[242]

Interrogation Policies

Bush authorized the CIA to use waterboarding as one of several enhanced interrogation techniques.[243][244][245] Between 2002 and 2003 the CIA considered certain enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to be legal based on a secret Justice Department legal opinion arguing that terror detainees were not protected by the Geneva Conventions' ban on torture.[246] The CIA had exercised the technique on certain key terrorist suspects under authority given to it in the Bybee Memo from the Attorney General, though that memo was later withdrawn.[247] While not permitted by the U.S. Army Field Manuals which assert "that harsh interrogation tactics elicit unreliable information",[246] the Bush administration believed these enhanced interrogations "provided critical information" to preserve American lives.[248] Critics, such as former CIA officer Bob Baer, have stated that information was suspect, "you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough."[249]

On October 17, 2006, Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006,[250] a law enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006),[251] which allows the U.S. government to prosecute unlawful enemy combatants by military commission rather than a standard trial. The law also denies them access to habeas corpus and bars the torture of detainees, but allows the president to determine what constitutes torture.[250]

On March 8, 2008, Bush vetoed H.R. 2082,[252] a bill that would have expanded Congressional oversight over the intelligence community and banned the use of waterboarding as well as other forms of interrogation not permitted under the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations, saying that "the bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror".[253] In April 2009, the ACLU sued and won release of the secret memos that had authorized the Bush administration's interrogation tactics.[254] One memo detailed specific interrogation tactics including a footnote that described waterboarding as torture as well as that the form of waterboarding used by the CIA was far more intense than authorized by the Justice Department.[255]

North Korea

Bush publicly condemned Kim Jong-il of North Korea, naming North Korea one of three states in an "axis of evil", and saying that "the United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."[199] Within months, "both countries had walked away from their respective commitments under the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of October 1994."[256] North Korea's October 9, 2006, detonation of a nuclear device further complicated Bush's foreign policy, which centered for both terms of his presidency on "[preventing] the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world".[199] Bush condemned North Korea's position, reaffirmed his commitment to "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula", and stated that "transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States", for which North Korea would be held accountable.[235] On May 7, 2007, North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear reactors immediately pending the release of frozen funds held in a foreign bank account. This was a result of a series of three-way talks initiated by the United States and including China.[257] On September 2, 2007, North Korea agreed to disclose and dismantle all of its nuclear programs by the end of 2007.[258] By May 2009, North Korea had restarted its nuclear program and threatened to attack South Korea.[259]

Syria

Bush expanded economic sanctions on Syria.[260] In early 2007, the Treasury Department, acting on a June 2005 executive order, froze American bank accounts of Syria's Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Electronics Institute, and National Standards and Calibration Laboratory. Bush's order prohibits Americans from doing business with these institutions suspected of helping spread weapons of mass destruction[261] and being supportive of terrorism.[262] Under separate executive orders signed by Bush in 2004 and later 2007, the Treasury Department froze the assets of two Lebanese and two Syrians, accusing them of activities to "undermine the legitimate political process in Lebanon" in November 2007. Those designated included: Assaad Halim Hardan, a member of Lebanon's parliament and current leader of the Syrian Socialist National Party; Wi'am Wahhab, a former member of Lebanon's government (Minister of the Environment) under Prime Minister Omar Karami (2004–2005); Hafiz Makhluf, a colonel and senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate and a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; and Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik, identified as a close adviser to Assad.[263]

Assassination attempt

On May 10, 2005, Vladimir Arutyunian, a native Georgian who was born to a family of ethnic Armenians, threw a live hand grenade toward a podium where Bush was speaking at Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was seated nearby. It landed in the crowd about 65 feet (20 m) from the podium after hitting a girl, but it did not detonate. Arutyunian was arrested in July 2005, confessed, was convicted and was given a life sentence in January 2006.[264]

Other issues

Bush, Mahmoud Abbas, and Ariel Sharon meet at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, June 4, 2003

Bush withdrew U.S. support for several international agreements, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) with Russia. Bush emphasized a careful approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; he denounced Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat for his support of violence, but sponsored dialogues between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Bush supported Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and lauded the democratic elections held in Palestine after Arafat's death.

Bush also expressed U.S. support for the defense of Taiwan following the stand-off in April 2001 with the People's Republic of China over the Hainan Island incident, when an EP-3E Aries II surveillance aircraft collided with a People's Liberation Army Air Force jet, leading to the detention of U.S. personnel. In 2003–2004, Bush authorized U.S. military intervention in Haiti and Liberia to protect U.S. interests. Bush condemned the attacks by militia forces on the people of Darfur and denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide.[265] Bush said that an international peacekeeping presence was critical in Darfur, but opposed referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.

Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko meeting with Bush on April 1, 2008.

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.[266] This program is believed by some to be a positive aspect of Bush's legacy across the political spectrum.

On June 10, 2007, he met with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and became the first president to visit Albania.[267] Bush has voiced his support for the independence of Kosovo.[268]

In 2002, Bush opened the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Departing from previous practice, he stood among a group of U.S. athletes rather than from a ceremonial stand or box, saying: "On behalf of a proud, determined, and grateful nation, I declare open the Games of Salt Lake City, celebrating the Olympic Winter Games."[269] In 2008, in the course of a good-will trip to Asia, he attended the Summer Olympics in Beijing.[270]

Judicial appointments

Supreme Court

Following the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement on July 1, 2005, Bush nominated John G. Roberts to succeed her. On September 5, following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, this nomination was withdrawn and Bush instead nominated Roberts for Chief Justice to succeed Rehnquist. Roberts was confirmed by the Senate as the 17th Chief Justice on September 29, 2005.

On October 3, 2005, Bush nominated White House Counsel Harriet Miers for O'Connor's position; after facing significant opposition, she asked that her name be withdrawn on October 27. Four days later, on October 31, Bush nominated federal appellate judge Samuel Alito for the position and he was confirmed as the 110th Supreme Court Justice on January 31, 2006.

Other courts

In addition to his two Supreme Court appointments, Bush appointed 61 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals and 261 judges to the United States district courts. Each of these numbers, along with his total of 324 judicial appointments, is third in American history, behind both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Bush experienced a number of judicial appointment controversies, as 39 people nominated to 27 federal appellate judgeships were blocked by the Senate Democrats either in the Senate Judiciary Committee or on the Senate floor using a filibuster.[271]

Public image and perception

Domestic

     approve      disapprove      unsure Gallup/USA Today Bush public opinion polling from February 2001 to January 2009. Blue denotes approve, red disapprove and green unsure. Large increases in approval followed the September 11 attacks, the beginning of the 2003 Iraq conflict and the capture of Saddam Hussein
Image

Bush's upbringing in West Texas, his accent, his vacations on his Texas ranch, and his penchant for country metaphors contribute to his folksy, American cowboy image.[272][273] "I think people look at him and think John Wayne", says Piers Morgan, editor of the British Daily Mirror.[274] It has been suggested that Bush's accent was an active choice, as a way of distinguishing himself from Northeastern intellectuals and anchoring himself to his Texas roots.[275] Both supporters and detractors have pointed to his country persona as reasons for their support or criticism.[273]

Bush's intellectual capacity has been satirized by the media,[276] comedians, and other politicians.[277] Detractors tended to cite linguistic errors made by Bush during his public speeches, which are colloquially termed as Bushisms.[278] Editorials in Harper's Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Common Dreams NewsCenter, and The Nation have referred to Bush as "the worst president ever".[279][280][281][282][283]

In contrast to his father, who was perceived as having troubles with an overarching unifying theme, Bush embraced larger visions and was seen as a man of larger ideas and associated huge risks.[284]

Approval

Bush's popularity was highly variable during his two terms. He began his presidency with approval ratings near 50%.[285] After the September 11, 2001, attacks, Bush gained an approval rating of 90%,[286] maintaining 80–90% approval for four months after the attacks. It remained over 50% during most of his first term.[15]

In 2000 and again in 2004, Time magazine named George W. Bush as its Person of the Year, a title awarded to someone whom the editors believe "has done the most to influence the events of the year".[287] In May 2004, Gallup reported that 89% of the Republican electorate approved of Bush.[288] The support waned, however, due mostly to a minority of Republicans' frustration with him on issues of spending, illegal immigration, and Middle Eastern affairs.[289]

Within the United States armed forces, according to an unscientific survey, the president was strongly supported in the 2004 presidential elections.[290] While 73% of military personnel said that they would vote for Bush, 18% preferred his Democratic rival, John Kerry.[290] According to Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who has studied the political leanings of the U.S. military, members of the armed services supported Bush because they found him more likely than Kerry to complete the War in Iraq.[290]

Bush's approval rating went below the 50% mark in AP-Ipsos polling in December 2004.[291] Thereafter, his approval ratings and approval of his handling of domestic and foreign policy issues steadily dropped. Bush received heavy criticism for his handling of the Iraq War, his response to Hurricane Katrina and to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, NSA warrantless surveillance, the Plame affair, and Guantanamo Bay detention camp controversies.[292]

Polls conducted in 2006 showed an average of 37% approval ratings for Bush,[293] the lowest for any second-term president at that point of his term since Harry S. Truman in March 1951, when Truman's approval rating was 28%,[291][294] which contributed to what Bush called the "thumping" of the Republican Party in the 2006 mid-term elections.[295] Throughout 2007, Bush's approval rating hovered in the mid-thirties,[296] although in an October 17, 2007, Reuters poll, Bush received a lower approval rating of 24%,[297] the lowest point of his presidency.[298]

Bush thanks American military personnel, September 2007

By April 2008, Bush's disapproval ratings were the highest ever recorded in the 70-year history of the Gallup poll for any president, with 69% of those polled disapproving of the job Bush was doing as president and 28% approving.[299] In September 2008, in polls performed by various agencies, Bush's approval rating ranged from 19%—the lowest ever[300]—to 34%.[18][301] and his disapproval rating stood at 69%.[16][17][19][302][303] Bush left the White House as one of the most unpopular American presidents, second in unpopularity only to Richard Nixon.[304][305]

In response to his poll numbers and "worst president" accusations,[306][307] Bush said, "I frankly don't give a damn about the polls.... To assume that historians can figure out the effect of the Bush administration before the Bush administration has ended is ... in my mind ... not an accurate reflection upon how history works."[308]

In 2006, 744 professional historians surveyed by New York-based Siena College regarded Bush's presidency as follows: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%.[309] Thomas Kelly, professor emeritus of American studies at Siena College, said that "In this case, current public opinion polls actually seem to cut the President more slack than the experts do."[309] Similar outcomes were retrieved by two informal surveys done by the History News Network in 2004[310] and 2008.[311]

A March 13, 2008, poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported that 53% of Americans—a slim majority—believe that "the U.S. will ultimately succeed in achieving its goals" in Iraq.[312] That figure was up from 42% in September 2007 and the highest since 2006.[312]

Calls for Bush's impeachment were made, though most polls showed a plurality of Americans did not support the president's impeachment.[313] The reasoning behind impeachment usually centered on the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy,[314] the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq,[315] and alleged violations of the Geneva Conventions.[316] Representative Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, introduced 35 articles of impeachment on the floor of the House of Representatives against Bush on June 9, 2008, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that impeachment was "off the table".[317]

Foreign perceptions

Bush with President Pervez Musharraf of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in late 2006

Bush has been criticized internationally and targeted by the global anti-war and anti-globalization campaigns, particularly for his administration's foreign policy.[318][319] Views of him within the international community are more negative than previous American Presidents, with France largely opposed to what he advocated.[320]

Bush was described as having especially close personal relationships with Tony Blair and Vicente Fox, although formal relations were sometimes strained.[321][322][323] Other leaders, such as Afghan president Hamid Karzai,[324] Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni,[325] Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero,[326] and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez,[327] have openly criticized the president. Later in Bush's presidency, tensions arose between himself and Vladimir Putin, which has led to a cooling of their relationship.[328]

In 2006, a majority of respondents in 18 of 21 countries surveyed around the world were found to hold an unfavorable opinion of Bush. Respondents indicated that they judged his administration as negative for world security.[329][330] In 2007, the Pew Global Attitudes Project reported that during the Bush presidency, attitudes towards the United States and the American people became less favorable around the world.[331]

Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pope John Paul II during a visit to the Vatican, June 2004

A March 2007 survey of Arab opinion conducted by Zogby International and the University of Maryland found that Bush was the most disliked leader in the Arab world.[332]

The Pew Research Center's 2007 Global Attitudes poll found that out of 47 countries, a majority of respondents expressed "a lot of confidence" or "some confidence" in Bush in only nine countries: Israel, India, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, and Uganda.[333]

During a June 2007 visit to the predominantly Muslim[334] Eastern European nation of Albania, Bush was greeted enthusiastically. Albania has a population of 3.6 million, has troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the country's government is highly supportive of American foreign policy.[335] A huge image of the President now hangs in the middle of the capital city of Tirana flanked by Albanian and American flags.[336] The Bush administration's support for the independence of Albanian-majority Kosovo, while endearing him to the Albanians, has troubled U.S. relations with Serbia, leading to the February 2008 torching of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade.[337]

Post-presidency

George and Laura Bush wave to a crowd of 1000 at Andrews Air Force Base before their final departure to Texas, January 20, 2009

Following the inauguration of Barack Obama, Bush and his family boarded a presidential helicopter typically used as Marine One to travel to Andrews Air Force Base.[338] Bush, with his wife, then boarded an Air Force Boeing VC-25 for a flight to a homecoming celebration in Midland, Texas. Because he was no longer President, this flight was designated Special Air Mission 28000, instead of Air Force One. After a welcome rally in Midland, the Bushes returned to their ranch in Crawford, Texas, by helicopter.[338] They bought a home in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, where they planned to settle down.[339]

Since leaving office, Bush has kept a relatively low profile.[340] However, he has made appearances at various events throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, most notably when he conducted the opening coin toss at the Dallas Cowboys first game in the team's new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.[341] An April 6, 2009, visit to a Texas Rangers game, where he gave a speech thanking the people of Dallas for helping them settle in (and specifically, the people of Arlington, where the game was held), was met with a standing ovation.[342]

His first speaking engagement occurred on March 17, 2009, in Calgary, Alberta. He spoke at a private event entitled "A conversation with George W. Bush" at the Telus Convention Centre and stated that he would not criticize President Obama and hoped he succeeds, specifically stating, "[President Obama] deserves my silence."[343][344] During his speech, Bush announced that he had begun writing a book, which is expected to be published under the title Decision Points in 2010.[20] The book will focus on "12 difficult personal and political decisions" Bush faced during his presidency.[20]

Bush made a video-taped appearance on the June 11, 2009, episode of The Colbert Report during the show's trip to Baghdad, Iraq. Bush praised the troops for earning a "special place in American history" and for their courage and endurance. He joked that it would come in handy, saying, "I've sat through Stephen's stuff before," in reference to Colbert's performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association dinner as well as The Colbert Report's history of criticizing Bush's administration.[345]

On August 29, 2009, Bush, with his wife Laura, attended the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy.[346] Bush made his debut as a motivational speaker on October 26 at the "Get Motivated" seminar in Dallas.[347]

In the aftermath of the shooting that took place on November 5, 2009, at the Fort Hood U.S. Army post in Texas, Fox News revealed that the former President and his wife had paid an undisclosed visit to the survivors and victims' families the day following the shooting, having contacted the base commander requesting that the visit be private and not involve press coverage.[348] The Bushes own a property less than 30 minutes from Fort Hood and spent one to two hours at the base.

In January 2010, at the request of President Obama, Bush and former President Bill Clinton established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to raise contributions for relief and recovery efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[349]

When asked in February 2010 about his isolation and low profile since leaving office, Bush replied "I have no desire to see myself on television... I don't want to be a panel of formers instructing the currents on what to do. ... I'm trying to regain a sense of anonymity. I didn't like it when a certain former president -- and it wasn't (George H.W. Bush) or (Bill Clinton) -- made my life miserable." Bush was referring to 39th President Jimmy Carter, who was an outspoken critic of President Bush throughout his presidency.[350]

See also

References

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  319. ^ CBC News (December 14, 2005). "Was the American ambassador meddling in a Canadian election?". CBC.ca Reality Check Team. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. http://web.archive.org/web/20071013152857/http://www.cbc.ca/canadavotes/realitycheck/americans.html. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 
  320. ^ Walt, Vivienne (February 13, 2003). "French see Bush as the ugly American". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-02-13-france-usat_x.htm. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 
  321. ^ Keeping the U.S. at Bay, Mexican Presidential Candidate Looks to Move Past Fox's Failures Marcela Sanchez (March 3, 2006).
  322. ^ Mexico's President Snubs Bush, Vicente Fox Cancels Visit To Bush Ranch To Protest Execution (August 15, 2002).
  323. ^ Row over Bush security as Blair defends visit Ewen MacAskill, Hugh Muir, and Julian Borger in Washington, The Guardian (November 11, 2003).
  324. ^ Gall, Carlotta (April 26, 2008). "Afghan Leader Criticizes U.S. on Conduct of War" (Registration required). The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/26/world/asia/26afghan.html&OQ=_rQ3D2Q26orefQ3Dslogin&OP=1aa239b9Q2FQ5EPQ5CIQ5EQ2FQ60A)qQ60Q60ioQ5Eovv_Q5EvQ25Q5EopQ5EPQ60qQ22Q2FQ5Ek)RkQ5Eopk6-8kQ3DQ5D8iSQ22. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 
  325. ^ Wasswa, Henry (October 14, 2004). "Uganda’s president criticizes Bush administration’s handling of war in Iraq". Sudan Tribune. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article5951. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 
  326. ^ Tremlett, Giles (March 16, 2004). "Spanish leader accuses Bush and Blair". Guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/mar/16/usa.iraq. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 
  327. ^ Ed Pilkington in New York. "Chávez attacks 'devil' Bush in UN speech|World news|The Guardian". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/sep/21/usa.venezuela. Retrieved October 20, 2008. 
  328. ^ Condon, George E. Jr. (July 21, 2006). "Bush, White House now leery of Putin as Russian turns back on democracy". San Diego Union Tribune. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20060721-9999-1n21usrussia.html. Retrieved September 1, 2008. 
  329. ^ "In 18 of 21 Countries Polled, Most See Bush’s Reelection as Negative for World Security". BBC World Service and Program on International Policy Attitudes. 2004. http://www.globescan.com/news_archives/bbcpoll.html. Retrieved September 1, 2008. 
  330. ^ "Polls: World Not Pleased With Bush". Associated Press. March 4, 2004. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/04/world/main604135.shtml. Retrieved September 1, 2008. 
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  334. ^ Pew Research Center-A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population
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External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to George W. Bush article)

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Our gains are not measured in the losses of others. They are counted in the conflicts we avert, the prosperity we share and the peace we extend.

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) was the 43rd President of the United States, serving from 2001 to 2009. He is a son of George H. W. Bush, the husband of Laura Welch Bush, and a grandson of Prescott Bush.

Contents

1997

1998

  • You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier.

1999

  • I've heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for President.
    • As recalled by minister James Robison in a telephone conversation with Bush, and first reported in the book The Faith of George W. Bush (2004) by Stephen Mansfield.
  • I watched his interview with her, though. He asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor Bush?' 'What was her answer?' I wonder. 'Please,' Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, 'don't kill me.'
    • From: "Devil May Care" by Tucker Carlson, Talk Magazine, September 1999, p. 106 (During the Larry King-Karla Faye Tucker exchange, Tucker never actually asked to be spared)
  • My appointees to the [Texas] board of pardons and paroles reflect my no-nonsense approach to crime and punishment. They believe people who commit crimes against innocent Texans should pay the consequences; they believe sentences imposed by juries should be carried out.

2000

  • I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.
    • Speech to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce in New Hampshire (27 January 2000)
  • The state can do what they want to do. Don't try to trap me in this state's issue like you're trying to get me into.
  • I care what 51 percent of the people think about me.
    • On the Oprah Winfrey Show (20 September 2000)[2]
  • We can do better in Washington D.C. We can have new leadership in Washington D.C., leadership that will lift this country's spirits and raise our sights. George P. knows what thousands of other youngsters know, that just because the White House has let us down in the past, that doesn't mean it's going to happen in the future. George P. joins us in a campaign that's going to restore honor and dignity to the White House.
  • I know the human being and the fish can coexist peacefully.
    • Speech in Saginaw, Michigan (29 September 2000),[3] referring to a widely reported dispute in the Klamath region of Oregon between farmers with irrigation rights and Native Americans with fishing rights.
  • I told all four [congressional leaders] that I felt like this election happened for a reason; that it pointed out — the delay in the outcome should make it clear to all of us — that we can come together to heal whatever wounds may exist, whatever residuals there may be. And I really look forward to the opportunity. I hope they've got my sense of optimism about the possible, and enthusiasm about the job. I told all four that there are going to be some times where we don't agree with each other, but that's okay. If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier... [Bush laughs out loud, audience laughs out loud] ...just so long as I'm the dictator [more laughter].
    • Online NewsHour interview, Washington, DC, (December 18, 2000)' during his first trip to Washington as President-elect. The last sentence is also included in Fahrenheit 9/11.

2001

  • My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire.
    • Presidential Radio Address (24 February 2001) [4]
  • I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue.
  • Dealing with Congress is a matter of give and take. The president doesn't get everything he wants, the Congress doesn't get everything they want. But we're finding good common ground. A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it.

Listen to an original recording of this quote:

  • A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
    America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.
    Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America — with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.
  • 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.
  • When I take action, I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.
    • Spoken at a September 13, 2001 meeting with the four senators from New York and Virginia. Reported in "A President Finds His True Voice", Newsweek (September 24, 2001)
  • This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.
  • Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
  • [O]ne of the great goals of this nation's war is to restore public confidence in the airline industry. It's to tell the traveling public: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida.
  • Well, you know, I think the American people are sacrificing now. I think they're waiting in airport lines longer than they've ever had before.
    • Press conference, in response to reporter asking why he hasn't called for any sacrifices from the American people (in the war on terror), and whether he intends to do so. (October 11, 2001)
  • Lucky me, I hit the trifecta.
    • Statement to budget director Mitchell Daniels, mid-September; as quoted by him in an address to the OMB Conference Board (October 16, 2001) repeated as a dubious joke through 2002: at Robin Hayes for Congress and Elizabeth Dole for Senate luncheon, Charlotte NC, February 27; [9] at Latham for Congress Luncheon, DesMoines IA, March 1;[10] at Saxby Chambliss for Senate Dinner, Atlanta GA, March 27;[11] at Graham for Senate Luncheon, Greenville SC, March 27;[12] at Cornyn for Senate Luncheon, Dallas TX, March 29;[13] at Fisher for Governor Reception, Philadelphia PA, April 3;[14] at Leaders of the Fiscal Responsibility Coalition, Eisenhower Executive Office Bldg, April 16;[15] at Heather Wilson for Congress Luncheon, Albuquerque NM, April 29;[16] at Simon for Governor Luncheon, Santa Clara CA, May 1;[17] at Taft for Governor Luncheon, Columbus OH, May 10;[18] at 14th Annual World Pork Expo, DesMoines IA, June 7;[19] at 21st Century High Tech Forum, Eisenhower Executive Office Bldg, June 13;[20] at Texans for Rick Perry, Houston TX, June 14.[21]
  • I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower. The TV was obviously on. I used to fly myself and I said, "There's one terrible pilot."
    • Quoted in Elisabeth Bumiller (2001-12-05) "A Nation Challenged: The President" New York Times. Colloquial English allows Bush's remark to be interpreted as "I saw that an airplane had hit the tower."
  • "We're going to get [Bin Laden] Dead or alive, it doesn't matter to me." 12/14/2001 [22] Bush's words elsewhere was that he is "determined" to capture Bin Laden dead or alive, and is confident about succeeding [23]

2002

  • We are working hard to convince both the Indians and the Pakis there's a way to deal with their problems without going to war.
    • Meeting with Alan Greenspan (7 January 2002). The use of the word "Paki" as a slur is primarily a British phenomenon and not widely known in the US.
  • States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.
    • Bush referring to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "Axis of Evil" in his State of the Union Address (January 29, 2002)
  • Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today’s threats, and the magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries’ choice of weapons, do not permit that option.We cannot let our enemies strike first.
  • I hope the message that we fight not a religion, but a group of fanatics which have hijacked a religion is getting through. I understand the propaganda machines are cranked up in the international community that paints our country in a bad light. We'll do everything we can to remind people that we've never been a nation of conquerors; we're a nation of liberators. And I would ask the skeptics to look at Afghanistan, where not only this country rout the Taliban, which was one of the most barbaric regimes in the history of mankind, but thanks to our strength and our compassion, many young girls now go to school for the first time.
  • There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — [pauses] - shame on you. Fool me — You can't get fooled again.
  • "..Terror is bigger than one person..So I don't know where [Bin Laden] is..You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. ...I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him."

2003

  • Why don't they ask [Saddam's intelligence chief, Tahir Jalil Habbush] to give us something we can use to help us make our case [to link 9/11 and Saddam]?
    • from Ron Suskind, The Way of the World, p. 364, on Bush's frustration at the results of secret meetings between British intelligence and Saddam's intelligence chief, Tahir Jalil Habbush
  • I'm an optimist because I believe that I'm right. I'm a person at peace with myself. It was our turn to face a serious threat to peace.
    • Conversation with Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, Crawford, Texas, February 22, 2003 [25]
  • All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.
    • Ultimatum to Iraq (17 March 2003) [26]
  • In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished. And it will be no defense to say, "I was just following orders."
    • Ultimatum to Iraq (17 March 2003) [27]
  • Every Iraqi atrocity has confirmed the justice and the urgency of our cause. (Applause.) Against this enemy we will accept no outcome except complete victory.
  • Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
  • 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. -George W. Bush, May 29, 2003 [29]
  • I said you were a man of peace. I want you to know I took immense crap for that.
  • The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example.
  • I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it.
  • See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction.
  • We're fighting on many fronts, and Iraq is now the central front. Saddam holdouts and foreign terrorists are trying desperately to undermine Iraq's progress and to throw that country into chaos. The terrorists in Iraq believe their attacks on innocent people will weaken our resolve. That's what they believe. They believe that America will run from a challenge. They're mistaken. Americans are not the running kind.
  • Saddam's rape rooms and torture chambers and children's prisons are closed forever. His mass graves will claim no victims.
  • I love freedom of speech.
    • Said in reference to a protest by Greens member Bob Brown during his address to the Australian Parliament as Brown was ordered to leave the parliament. October 23, 2003 [35]
  • The enemy in Iraq believes America will run, that's why they're willing to kill innocent civilians, relief workers, coalition troops. America will never run. America will do what is necessary to make our country more secure.
  • My Geordie is probably just about as bad as my English.
  • The people have given us the duty to defend them, and that duty sometimes requires the violent restraint of violent men.
    • Speech 11/19/2003 Whitehall Palace, London [39]
  • So what's the difference?
    • Interview with Diane Sawyer (16 Dec. 2003), on the question of whether Saddam Hussein had prohibited weapons or only wanted to acquire them.[40][41]

2004

  • Returning to the moon is an important step for our space program. Establishing an extended human presence on the moon could vastly reduce the costs of further space exploration, making possible ever more ambitious missions. Lifting heavy spacecraft and fuel out of the Earth's gravity is expensive. Spacecraft assembled and provisioned on the moon could escape its far lower gravity using far less energy, and thus, far less cost. Also, the moon is home to abundant resources. Its soil contains raw materials that might be harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air. We can use our time on the moon to develop and test new approaches and technologies and systems that will allow us to function in other, more challenging environments. The moon is a logical step toward further progress and achievement.
  • No President has ever done more for human rights than I have.
  • This is my chance to help this lady put some money in her pocket. Let me explain how the economy works. When you spend money to buy food it helps this lady's business. It makes it more likely somebody is going to find work. So instead of asking questions, answer mine: are you going to buy some food?
    • Remarks by the President to the Press Pool, Nothin' Fancy Cafe, Roswell, New Mexico — Whitehouse Transcript[42], Office of the Press Secretary, January 22, 2004.
  • Right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al-Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.
    • 2004 Feb 7, interview with Tim Russert (broadcast next day)[43]
  • I fully understand it takes time for free societies, truly free societies to evolve. I don't expect instant success.
  • Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.
    • Joke at the Radio and Television News Correspondents Association [45], March 25, 2004
  • ...because the 9/11 Commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions. [...] Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9/11 Commission is looking forward to asking us, and I'm looking forward to answering them.
  • Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
  • My meetings with [Ahmed Chalabi] were very brief. I mean, I think I met with him at the State of the Union and just kind of working through the rope line, and he might have come with a group of leaders. But I haven't had any extensive conversations with him.
  • Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
  • Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a — you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.
    • When asked what sovereignty would mean for Native Americans in the 21st century
    • August 6, 2004 [49]
  • That's why I cut the taxes on everybody. I didn't cut them. The Congress cut them. I asked them to cut them.
    • Unity Journalists of Color Convention, Washington, D.C. (August 6, 2004)[citation needed]
  • This young century will be liberty's century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America.
    • Acceptance speech at Republic National Convention (September 2, 2004) [citation needed]
  • I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.
    • In response to the question of whether we can win the war on terror (August 30, 2004) [50]
  • In this different kind of war, we may never sit down at a peace table. But make no mistake about it, we are winning, and we will win.
    • Speech at the national convention of the American Legion, in Nashville, Tennessee (August 31, 2004) [51]
  • I believe it is the job of a President to confront problems, not pass them on to future Presidents and future generations.
  • [W]e're creating... an ownership society in this country, where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, welcome to my house, welcome to my piece of property.
    • Remarks to the National Association of Home Builders, Columbus, Ohio, October 2, 2004 [54]
  • I'm asking Congress to pass my Zero Down Payment Initiative. We should remove the 3 percent down payment rule for first time home buyers with FHA-insured mortgages.
    • Remarks to the National Association of Home Builders, Columbus, Ohio, October 2, 2004 [55]
  • I hear there's rumors on the internets [pause] that we're going to have a draft. We're not going to have a draft, period.
  • I wasn't happy when we found out there wasn't weapons [of mass destruction in Iraq]
  • Our health care system is the envy of the world.
  • I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.
  • I made it very plain: We will not have an all-volunteer army. [Crowd boos] Let me restate that. We will not have a draft. [Crowd Cheers]
  • A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief.
  • Now that I've got the will of the people at my back, I'm going to start enforcing the one-question rule. That was three questions.
  • Again, he violated the one-question rule right off the bat. Obviously, you didn't listen to the will of the people.
  • America would do it again for our friends.
    • at July 6th 2004, Normandy, France [62]
  • And as a result of the United States military, Taliban no longer is in existence.
    • Speech in Springfield, Ohio, September 27, 2004 [63]

2005

  • We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections.
  • Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the — like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate — the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those — if that growth is affected, it will help on the red. (4 February 2005)[65]
  • I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you're not equally as patriotic if you're not a religious person. ... I've never said that. I've never acted like that. I think that's just the way it is. (Washington Times, 12 January 2005)
  • Because he's hiding.
    • Asked why his administration had been unable to locate and arrest Osama Bin Laden. (16 January 2005) [67]
  • This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. (Short pause) And having said that, all options are on the table. (Laughter) (25 February 2005) [69]
  • "Hello, what's your name?"
    "My name is Mr. Fischer, what's your name?"
    "Bush. I'm Mr. Bush."
    • Dialogue with German foreign minister and Vice Chancellor Joschka Fischer during his visit in Germany, 24. February 2005 [70]
  • I made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money to promote science which destroys life in order to save life is — I'm against that. And therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it. (emphasis added) AP, 21 May 2005
  • See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. — May 24, 2005 [72]
  • I was going to say he's a piece of work, but that might not translate too well. Is that all right, if I call you a 'piece of work'?
    • to Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg (June 20, 2005) [citation needed]
  • On United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States reaffirms its commitment to the worldwide elimination of torture. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right, and we are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law…Throughout the world, there are many who have been seeking to have their voices heard, to stand up for their right to freedom, and to break the chains of tyranny. Too many of those courageous women and men are paying a terrible price for their brave acts of dissent. Many have been detained, arrested, thrown in prison, and subjected to torture by regimes that fail to understand that their habits of control will not serve them well in the long-term. — June 26 [73]
  • I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will. — September 1, 2005. [74]
  • What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong.... I think one of the things that people want us to do here is to play a blame game. We've got to solve problems. We're problem-solvers. There will be ample time for people to figure out what went right and what went wrong. What I'm interested in is helping save lives. That's what I want to do.
    • Answering a question regarding Katrina aftermath and what went wrong with government response — September 6, 2005. [75]
  • I understand not everybody agrees with the decisions I've made, but that's not unique to Central or South America. Truth of the matter is, there's people who disagree with the decisions I've made all over the world. But that's what happens when you make decisions.
  • Thank you. God told me to wear it.
    That's a joke.
    • Responding to a compliment on his suit from European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso (November 2005) [77]
  • As Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop level in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists. These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.
  • There was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the attack of 9/11, I’ve never said that and never made that case prior to going into Iraq.[81]

2006

  • One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq with the war on terror.
    • September 7, 2006 interview with Katie Couric [YouTube]
  • I want to share some thoughts with you before I answer your questions [...] First of all, I expect this conversation we're about to have to stay in the room. I know that's impossible in Washington.
  • Pakistan "will be a steadfast partner…. A force for freedom and moderation in the Arab world."
  • I say I listen to all voices, but mine’s the final decision. And Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He’s not only transforming the military, he’s fighting a war on terror. He’s helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I’m the decider, and I decide what is best. And what’s best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense.
  • I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake.
    • Revealing his "best moment since he took office in 2001" to a German newspaper reporter, Bild am Sonntag. [82] (May 7, 2006)
  • Eventually, these people will have trials and they will have counsel and they will be represented in a court of law.
  • I traveled to Baghdad to personally show our nation's commitment to a free Iraq, because it is vital for the Iraqi people to know with certainty that America will not abandon them after we have come this far. The challenges that remain in Iraq are serious. We face determined enemies who remain intent on killing the innocent, and defeating these enemies will require more sacrifice and the continued patience of our country. But our efforts in Iraq are well worth it, the mission is necessary for the security of our country, and we will succeed.
  • Liberty can be delayed, but it cannot be denied.
  • In the long term, we’ve got to defeat an ideology of hate with an ideology of hope. There’s a reason why people like (al-Qaida leader Osama) bin Laden are able to recruit suiciders, because if you don’t have hope, you’re attracted to an ideology which says, it’s OK to kill people and kill yourself.
  • If there’s any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it’s flawed logic. It’s just — I simply can’t accept that. It’s unacceptable to think that there’s any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.
  • I know the American people understand the stakes in Iraq. They want to win. They will support the war as long as they see a path to victory. Americans can have confidence that we will prevail because thousands of smart, dedicated military and civilian personnel are risking their lives and are working around the clock to ensure our success.
  • So if you happen to bump into a Democrat candidate, you might want to ask this simple question: What's your plan? If they say they want to protect the homeland, but oppose the Patriot Act, ask them this question: What's your plan? If they say they want to uncover terrorist plots, but oppose listening in on terrorist conversations, ask them this question: What's your plan? If they say they want to stop new attacks on our country, but oppose letting the CIA detain and question the terrorists who might know what those plots are, ask them this question: What's your plan? If they say they want to win the war on terror, but call for America to pull out from what al Qaeda says is the central front in this war, ask them this question: What's your plan?...The truth is, the Democrats can't answer that question. Harsh criticism is not a plan for victory. Second-guessing is not a strategy.
  • ...Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they're going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.
    • The President's reasoning for telling reporters in the Oval Office that the current Defense Secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, would be staying on, although Bush had already selected potential replacements. Given at a news conference (November 8, 2006)
  • You know, I think an interesting construct that General [Peter] Pace uses is, "We're not winning, we're not losing."
  • ...I believe that we're going to win; I believe that -- and by the way, if I didn't think that, I wouldn't have our troops there. That's what you got to know. We're going to succeed.
    • In response to a question concerning Bush stating two months prior "Absolutely we're winning" in Iraq and then saying in the Washington Post "We're not winning, we're not losing." Press Conference from the White House Indian Treaty Room (December 20, 2006)
  • ...The battle against the Sunnis - Sunni extremists - some of them Saddamists, some of there are al Qaeda, but all of them aiming to try to drive the United States out of Iraq before the job is done.

2007

  • Address to the Nation (January 10, 2007) -
    • The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.
    • I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act.
    • Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail.
    • Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
  • Some say our approach is really just more troops for the same strategy. In fact, we have a new strategy with a new mission: helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad. Our plan puts Iraqis in the lead.... Members of Congress have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully. But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.
  • Well, no question decisions have made things unstable. But the question is can we succeed. And I believe we can. Listen, I'd like to see stability and a unified Iraq. A young democracy will provide the stability we look for. I will tell you that if we just isolate ourselves from the Middle East and hope for the best, we will not address the conditions that had led young suiciders to get on airplanes to come and attack us in the first place.
  • Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night.
    • NewsHour interview with Jim Lehrer in response to the question “Why have you not asked more Americans to sacrifice something?” regarding the Iraq War (January 16, 2007)
  • ...One of the things I have discovered is, in Washington, D.C. most people understand the consequences of failure. And if failure is not an option, then it's up to the president to come up with a plan that is more likely to succeed.
  • One of the things I've found in Congress is that most people recognize that failure would be a disaster for the United States. And in that I'm the decision maker, I had to come up with a way forward that precluded disaster. In other words, I had to think about what's likely to work. And so I worked with our military and I worked with Secretary Gates to come up with a plan that is likely to succeed. And the implementor of that plan is going to be General Petraeus. And my call to the Congress is, is that I know there is skepticism and pessimism, and that they are -- some are condemning a plan before it's even had a chance to work. And they have an obligation and a serious responsibility, therefore, to put up their own plan as to what would work. I've listened a lot to members of Congress. I've listened carefully to their suggestions. I have picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed, because I understand, like many in Congress understand, success is very important for the security of the country.
  • I think that the vice president is a person reflecting a half-glass-full mentality, and that is he's been able to look at – as have I, and I hope other Americans have – the fact that the tyrant was removed, 12 million people voted, there is an Iraqi constitution in place that is a model for – and unique for the Middle East.
  • What we're trying to do with this reinforcement of our troops is to provide enough space so that the Iraqi government can meet certain benchmarks or certain requirements for a unity government to survive and for the country to be strong.
  • George Washington's long struggle for freedom has also inspired generations of Americans to stand for freedom in their own time. Today, we're fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life. And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone. He once wrote, "My best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever in any country I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom." President Washington believed that the success of our democracy would also depend on the virtue of our citizens. In his farewell address to the American people, he said, "Morality is a necessary spring of popular government." Over the centuries, America has succeeded because we have always tried to maintain the decency and the honor of our first President. His example guided us in his time; it guides us in our time, and it will guide us for all time.
  • It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home. That may be satisfying in the short run, but I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating. If American forces were to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, a contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country. In time, this violence could engulf the region. The terrorists could emerge from the chaos with a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they had in Afghanistan, which they used to plan the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. For the safety of the American people, we cannot allow this to happen.
  • Our nation is shocked and saddened by the news of the shootings at Virginia Tech today...Schools should be places of safety, and sanctuary, and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community. Today our nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones at Virginia Tech. We hold the victims in our hearts; we lift them up in our prayers; and we ask a loving God to comfort those who are suffering today.
    • Statement on the massacre at Virginia Tech University from the Diplomatic Room of the White House (April 16, 2007) [citation needed]
  • Laura and I have come to Blacksburg today with hearts full of sorrow. This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community -- and it is a day of sadness for our entire nation. We've come to express our sympathy. In this time of anguish, I hope you know that people all over this country are thinking about you, and asking God to provide comfort for all who have been affected.

    Yesterday began like any other day. Students woke up, and they grabbed their backpacks and they headed for class. And soon the day took a dark turn, with students and faculty barricading themselves in classrooms and dormitories -- confused, terrified, and deeply worried. By the end of the morning, it was the worst day of violence on a college campus in American history -- and for many of you here today, it was the worst day of your lives.

    It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering. Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now they're gone -- and they leave behind grieving families, and grieving classmates, and a grieving nation.

  • It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing. All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength -- and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq. I believe setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East, and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments. Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure -- and that would be irresponsible.
  • As you watch the developments in Baghdad, it's important to understand that we will not be able to prevent every al Qaeda attack. When a terrorist is willing to kill himself to kill others, it's really hard to stop him. Yet, over time, the security operation in Baghdad is designed to shrink the areas where al Qaeda can operate, it's designed to bring out more intelligence about their presence, and designed to allow American and Iraqi forces to dismantle their network.

    We have a strategy to deal with al Qaeda in Iraq. But any time you say to a bunch of cold-blooded killers, success depends on no violence, all that does is hand them the opportunity to be successful. And it's hard. I know it's hard for the American people to turn on their TV screens and see the horrific violence. It speaks volumes about the American desire to protect lives of innocent people, America's deep concern about human rights and human dignity. It also speaks volumes about al Qaeda, that they're willing to take innocent life to achieve political objectives.

    The terrorists will continue to fight back. In other words, they understand what they're doing. And casualties are likely to stay high. Yet, day by day, block by block, we are steadfast in helping Iraqi leaders counter the terrorists, protect their people, and reclaim the capital. And if I didn't think it was necessary for the security of the country, I wouldn't put our kids in harm's way.

    ...Either we'll succeed, or we won't succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that's what we're trying to achieve.

  • You helped our nation celebrate its Bicentennial in 17- [hastily corrects himself] in 1976. [Queen gives him a sharp look and mutters inaudibly] She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child.
  • If you want to kill the bill, if you don't want to do what's right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people. Or you can show leadership and solve this problem once and for all, so the people who wear the uniform in this crowd can do the job we expect them to do.
  • I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that.
    • speaking with the Sun on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (June 27, 2007) [citation needed]
  • I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
  • It's more of a theological perspective. I do believe there is an Almighty, and I believe a gift of that Almighty to all is freedom. And I will tell you that is a principle that no one can convince me that doesn't exist.
  • Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust... Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere, and the United States is rallying friends and allies to isolate Iran's regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late.
  • At APEC Sydney 2007
  • (Speaking to military in Afghanistan) (He) ... said he'd like to be there but "One, I'm too old to be out there, and two, they would notice me."
  • I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, where's Mandela? Well, Mandela is dead, because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.
  • United States can't impose peace. We can encourage the development of a state.... We can facilitate that. But we can't force people to make hard decisions. They're gonna have to do that themselves.... Gotta ask yourselves, why don't they want there to be a democracy. The answer is, because it doesn't fit in with their ideological vision.
    • Oct. 17, 2007 press conference, talking about the Palestinians (not the Iraqis) [citation needed]
  • We got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.
  • Sometimes we must fight terror with tyranny. Press Conference (November 7, 2007 press conference, talking about Pakistan)

2008

  • ...a clear lesson I learned in the museum was that outside forces that tend to divide people up inside their country are unbelievably counterproductive. In other words, people came from other countries — I guess you’d call them colonialists — and they pitted one group of people against another.
    • Press Availability with President Kagame of Rwanda (February 19, 2008) [85] [86]
  • Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4 a gallon gasoline?. . . That's interesting. I hadn't heard that.
    • Whitehouse Press Conference, after being asked about the prospect of Americans facing $4 for a gallon of gasoline (February 28, 2008)
  • I hadn’t heard that.... I, frankly, have been focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices.
    • Explaining, first, that he hadn't heard gas prices were climbing to $4, then explaining he was focused on gas prices in response to a question of what groups fund his library; press conference, February 28, 2008 Watch video
  • The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror -- the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives.
    • President's Radio Address, regarding the President's veto of a bill that would have banned waterboarding as an interrogation technique (March 8, 2008)
  • I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks.
  • And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.... I told the country we did that. And I also told them it was legal. We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it.
    • In an interview regarding his awareness that his top national security advisors had discussed the details of harsh interrogation tactics to be used on detainees (April 11, 2008)
  • Goodbye, from the world's biggest polluter.
    • Concluding a private address at the Tokyo G8 summit; July 12, 2008; [87]
  • Amigo, amigo!
    • Calling over Italian PM Berlusconi at Tokyo G8 summit; July 10, 2008; the Italian word for friend is amico; [88]
  • If money isn't loosened up, this sucker could go down.
    • Summing up the risk to the global economy if Congressional leaders failed to approve Treasury Secretary Paulson's $700 billion financial bailout plan, at a bipartisan meeting hosted by the White House (September 26, 2008); [89]
  • I suspected there would be a good-size crowd once the word got out about my hanging.
    • Comments at the unveiling of his National Portrait (19 December 2008) [90]

2009

  • Never tire, never falter, and never fail.
    • On his Farewell to the Nation address [citation needed]
  • I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened.

Speeches

A Period of Consequences (September 23, 1999)

Speech at the Citadel, Military College of South Carolina

  • The protection of America itself will assume a high priority in a new century. Once a strategic afterthought, homeland defense has become an urgent duty. For most of our history, America felt safe behind two great oceans. But with the spread of technology, distance no longer means security.
  • Let me be clear. Our first line of defense is a simple message: Every group or nation must know, if they sponsor such attacks, our response will be devastating.
  • We will defend the American homeland by strengthening our intelligence community – focusing on human intelligence and the early detection of terrorist operations both here and abroad. And when direct threats to America are discovered, I know that the best defense can be a strong and swift offense – including the use of Special Operations Forces and long-range strike capabilities.
  • I will put a high priority on detecting and responding to terrorism on our soil. The federal government must take this threat seriously – working closely with researchers and industry to increase surveillance and develop treatments for chemical and biological agents.
  • Defending our nation is just the beginning of our challenge. My third goal is to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity – given few nations in history – to extend the current peace into the far realm of the future. A chance to project America’s peaceful influence, not just across the world, but across the years.
  • Yet today our military is still organized more for Cold War threats than for the challenges of a new century -- for industrial age operations, rather than for information age battles. There is almost no relationship between our budget priorities and a strategic vision. The last seven years have been wasted in inertia and idle talk. Now we must shape the future with new concepts, new strategies, new resolve.
  • In the late 1930s, as Britain refused to adapt to the new realities of war, Winston Churchill observed, "The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences."
  • Our military and our nation are entering another period of consequences – a time of rapid change and momentous choices.
  • Now comes our time of testing. Our measure is taken, not only by what we have and use, but what we build and leave behind. And nothing this generation could ever build will matter more than the means to defend our nation and extend our peace.

A Distinctly American Internationalism (November 19, 1999)

Speech at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California

  • In the defense of our nation, a president must be a clear-eyed realist. There are limits to the smiles and scowls of diplomacy. Armies and missiles are not stopped by stiff notes of condemnation. They are held in check by strength and purpose and the promise of swift punishment.
  • The most powerful force in the world is not a weapon or a nation but a truth: that we are spiritual beings, and that freedom is "the soul's right to breathe."
  • American foreign policy must be more than the management of crisis. It must have a great and guiding goal: to turn this time of American influence into generations of democratic peace.
  • Some have tried to pose a choice between American ideals and American interests — between who we are and how we act. But the choice is false. America, by decision and destiny, promotes political freedom — and gains the most when democracy advances. America believes in free markets and free trade — and benefits most when markets are opened. America is a peaceful power — and gains the greatest dividend from democratic stability. Precisely because we have no territorial objectives, our gains are not measured in the losses of others. They are counted in the conflicts we avert, the prosperity we share and the peace we extend.
  • The case for trade is not just monetary, but moral. Economic freedom creates habits of liberty. And habits of liberty create expectations of democracy.
  • We are no longer fighting a great enemy, we are asserting a great principle: that the talents and dreams of average people — their warm human hopes and loves — should be rewarded by freedom and protected by peace. We are defending the nobility of normal lives, lived in obedience to God and conscience, not to government.
  • America has never been an empire. We may be the only great power in history that had the chance, and refused — preferring greatness to power and justice to glory.

First Inaugural Address (January 20, 2001)

Washington, DC [91]

  • The peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings.
  • America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens.
  • We are not this story's author, who fills time and eternity with His purpose. Yet His purpose is achieved in our duty, and our duty is fulfilled in service to one another. Never tiring, never yielding, never finishing, we renew that purpose today; to make our country more just and generous; to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life.
    This work continues. This story goes on. And an Angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.
    • Bush concluded his address with these lines, paraphrasing a quotation by John Page he had used earlier within it: We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?. Page himself, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson (20 July 1776), was quoting a phrase from Ecclesiastes 9:11: I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to the intelligent, nor yet favour to men of knowledge; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Remarks by the President to United Nations General Assembly (November 10, 2001)

  • We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty. To inflame ethnic hatred is to advance the cause of terror.

Address to the National Endowment for Democracy (November 6, 2003)

United States Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC [92]

  • The prosperity, and social vitality and technological progress of a people are directly determined by the extent of their liberty. Freedom honors and unleashes human creativity — and creativity determines the strength and wealth of nations. Liberty is both the plan of Heaven for humanity, and the best hope for progress here on Earth.
  • Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free.
  • The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.
  • The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom — the freedom we prize — is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.
  • This is, above all, the age of liberty.

Remarks on U.S.-British relations and foreign policy (November 19, 2003)

Whitehall Palace, London [93]

  • Americans traveling to England always observe more similarities to our country than differences. I've been here only a short time, but I've noticed the tradition of free speech exercised with enthusiasm is alive and well here in London. We have that at home too. They now have that right in Baghdad as well.
  • The United States and Great Britain share a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple pursuit of interest. We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom brings.
  • We cannot rely exclusively on military power to assure our long-term security. Lasting peace is gained as justice and democracy advance.
  • If the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation and anger and violence for export. And as we saw in the ruins of two towers, no distance on the map will protect our lives and way of life. If the greater Middle East joins the democratic revolution that has reached much of the world, the lives of millions in that region will be bettered, and a trend of conflict and fear will be ended at its source.
  • We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq and pay a bitter cost of casualties and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins.

Speech to United Nations General Assembly (September 21, 2004)

UN Headquarters, New York, NY [94]

  • For decades, the circle of liberty and security and development has been expanding in our world. This progress has brought unity to Europe, self-government to Latin America and Asia, and new hope to Africa. Now we have the historic chance to widen the circle even further, to fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity, to achieve a true peace, founded on human freedom.
  • We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace. We know that oppressive governments support terror, while free governments fight the terrorists in their midst. We know that free peoples embrace progress and life, instead of becoming the recruits for murderous ideologies.
  • Every nation that wants peace will share the benefits of a freer world. And every nation that seeks peace has an obligation to help build that world.
  • The security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind.
  • Peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women, or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace.
  • When it comes to the desire for liberty and justice, there is no clash of civilizations. People everywhere are capable of freedom, and worthy of freedom.
  • The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way.
  • For too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused, oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability. Oppression became common, but stability never arrived. We must take a different approach. We must help the reformers of the Middle East as they work for freedom, and strive to build a community of peaceful, democratic nations.
  • The advance of liberty is the path to both a safer and better world.

Second Inaugural Address (January 20, 2005)

  • 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.
  • From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.
  • We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation — the moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right.
  • As hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well — a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.
  • In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character — on integrity and tolerance toward others and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self.
    That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards,and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before — ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today and forever.
  • The exercise of rights is ennobled by service and mercy and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.
  • From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. 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?
  • We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes — and I will strive in good faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.
  • We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as he wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages, when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty, when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" — they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled.
  • History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction set by liberty and the author of liberty. When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength — tested, but not weary — we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

Address to the National Endowment for Democracy (October 6, 2005)

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, DC [95]

  • Our nation stood guard on tense borders; we spoke for the rights of dissidents and the hopes of exile; we aided the rise of new democracies on the ruins of tyranny. And all the cost and sacrifice of that struggle has been worth it, because, from Latin America to Europe to Asia, we've gained the peace that freedom brings.
  • We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers — and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.
  • Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future.
  • Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization.
  • There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it's not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence.
  • In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory.

Address to the Nation on Iraqi Elections (December 18th, 2005)

[96]

  • My conviction comes down to this: we do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.
  • If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone. This is not the threat I see. I see a global terrorist movement that exploits Islam in the service of radical political aims — a vision in which books are burned, and women are oppressed, and all dissent is crushed.
  • To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor and I will not allow it.

State of the Union (January 31, 2006)

[97]

Listen to an original recording of these quotes:

  • In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting — yet it ends in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people ... the only way to secure the peace ... the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership — so the United States of America will continue to lead.
  • Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal — we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it.
  • No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam — the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death.
  • Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan or blow up commuters in London or behead a bound captive the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.
  • In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat.
  • But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil. America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire. Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed, and move this world toward peace. We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or captured many of their leaders — and for the others, their day will come.
  • Members of Congress: however we feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the American military in its vital mission.
  • This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it — because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.
  • Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy — a war that will be fought by presidents of both parties, who will need steady bipartisan support from the Congress. And tonight I ask for yours. Together, let us protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead this world toward freedom.
  • Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.
  • America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.
  • As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists wrong before — and we will do it again.
  • Fellow citizens, we have been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We have entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. And sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore. Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing.
  • Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well? Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward — optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to come.

United Nations General Assembly in September 2006

[98]

  • Imagine what it's like to be a young person living in a country that is not moving toward reform...While your peers in other parts of the world have received educations that prepare them for the opportunities of a global economy, you have been fed propaganda and conspiracy theories that blame others for your country's shortcomings.
  • Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror.

Attributed

Misquotations

  • I don't know where he [Osama Bin Laden] is. I have no idea and I really don't care.
    • This misquotation is frequently attributed to a White House press conference, March 13, 2002 [99]
    • Correct quote should read: "And, again, I don't know where he [Osama Bin Laden] is. I — I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him."
    • The relevant parts of the White House transcript reads:
      THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is — really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission. Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just — he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is — as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide — if, in fact, he's hiding at all. So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.
      Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?
      THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I — I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.
  • The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.
    • Alleged to have been made in a September 13, 2001 press conference. This wording has not been confirmed.
  • If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road.
    • Quotation is from the October 3, 2000 Presidential debate with Al Gore, but is taken out of context. Bush was paraphrasing Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf:
      • The other day, I was honored to be flanked by Colin Powell and General Norman Schwarzkopf, who stood by my side and agreed with me. They said we could, even though we're the strongest military, that if we don't do something quickly, we don't have a clearer vision of the military, if we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I'm going to prevent that. I'm going to rebuild our military power. It's one of the major priorities of my administration.[100]

Misattributed

  • More and more of our imports come from overseas.
    • This quotation is most often attributed to a speech in Beaverton, Oregon (25 September 2000) discussing US oil imports. See Michael Daly (2000-10-18), "This Is a Choice? Well, Boola-Boola," New York Daily News. A very similar remark was attributed much earlier to Australian politician Keppel Enderby and has been the subject of jokes in Australia, as well as being reprinted in the Ann Landers advice column (17 May 2000)
      • Traditionally, Australia obtains its imports from overseas.
        • Kep Enderby (1974, attributed [101])
  • We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of our great nation.
    • The quote is from Bush at War by Bob Woodward, but it was not said by Bush. Woodward attributes the quote to one among "about 25 men representing three different Special Forces units and three CIA paramilitary teams" during the dedication of a September 11th memorial in the mountains of Afghanistan on February 5, 2002.
  • No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.

Private

These remarks were allegedly made by Bush outside the presence of reporters, and have not been confirmed by Bush's representatives nor denied by representatives of anyone present.

  • I will screw him in the ass.
    • Ariel Sharon, speaking to Israeli reporter Uri Dan, claimed that Bush said this when asked what he would do if he caught Osama bin Laden. See Uri Dan (2007), Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait
  • I thought the Iraqis were Muslims.
    • Meeting with three Iraqi-Americans before the invasion of Iraq, regarding a potential conflict between followers of Shia and Sunni Islam. See Peter Galbraith (2006), The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End.
  • Haven't we already given money to rich people? This second tax cut's gonna do it again. Didn't we already, why are we doing it again?… shouldn’t we be giving money to the middle?
  • Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It's just a goddamned piece of paper!
    • Remarks during an oval office meeting (November 2005), attributed in Doug Thompson (2000-12-10), The Rant: Bush on the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper'," Capitol Hill Blue. Thompson claims to have contacted three unidentified people who attended the meeting for verification. Thompson acknowledges that he has often written reports without authenticating his sources and has ended up retracting many of them, but he stands by this particular report.[102]

Disputed

  • The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for "entrepreneur."
    • Shirley Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby, described this as a remark to Tony Blair in a discussion of the French economy during the G8 Summit, according to Jack Malvern (9 July 2002), "Bush and Blair, The Times . Alastair Campbell, Blair's director of communications, later said that Blair never heard Bush say this and never told Baroness Williams that he said it. See Lloyd Grove (2002-07-10) "The Reliable Source," Washington Post.
  • We're not going to have any casualties.
    • Pat Robertson claims that Bush said this to him in Nashville, Tennessee before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Bush campaign advisor Karen Hughes, who was not working in Washington at the time of the invasion, claimed in 2004 that Bush did not say this. See John King (2004-10-21), "No casualties? White House disputes Robertson comment," CNN.com.
  • I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did, and then God would tell me, George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq… And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East. And by God I'm gonna do it.
    • According to Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath, said by Bush to him, apparently in the same June 2003 meeting, as reported by BBC News [103]. Shaath later clarified this with "We understood that he was illustrating [in his comments] his strong faith and his belief that this is what God wanted." [104], i.e. Shaath didn't take Bush's statement literally.
    • Denied by White House spokesperson Scott McClellan, October 6, 2005. Denied also by Mahmoud Abbas, who attended the meeting in question. Abbas said "This report is not true. I have never heard President Bush talking about religion as a reason behind the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush has never mentioned that in front of me on any occasion and specifically not during my visit in 2003." [105].

Quotes about Bush

  • I call him Governor Bush, as that's the only office he's held legally.
  • He does not believe that God told him to run for president. He does not believe that God told him he would win, and he certainly does not believe that God told him to drop bombs anywhere in the world.
    • Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, friend of Bush; quoted in Ann Rodgers (2004-09-11) "Pastor says Bush is no zealot." Pittsburg Post-Gazette
  • In a 2003 poll, most Indonesians had a higher opinion of Osama bin Laden than they did of George W. Bush.
  • El diablo está en casa. Ayer estuvo el diablo aquí, en este mismo lugar. Huele a azufre todavía.
    • The devil is at home. The devil was here yesterday, in this very place. Smell the sulfur even now.
    • Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, addressing the United Nations General Assembly (20 September 2006)[106]
  • You know, Vince Lombardi once said that success is not about strength, it's not about knowledge, but it's about will. And that's the leadership that President George W. Bush has provided. Thank you, Mr. President.
  • That international criminal, I mean George Bush... If there is any justice in the world, undoubtedly, this man and his ilk, without a doubt, should be sentenced to 100 deaths. There is no doubt about it.
  • Who will demand accountability for the failure of our national political leadership involved in the management of this war? They have unquestionably been derelict in the performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders would immediately be relieved or court martialed.
    • Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, 10-12-07, [107]
  • Whether you love or loath George W. Bush, you can not deny that he has learned how to read a teleprompter.
  • US President Bush is a great leader, great friend of Israel and a source of inspiration.
  • I heard Bush say, "You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.' I remember thinking to myself, How can that be? How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn't make a lot of sense.
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, on the cocaine rumors that surfaced during the 2000 campaign, What Happened, pp. 48-49
  • As I have heard Bush say, only a wartime president is likely to achieve greatness, in part because the epochal upheavals of war provide the opportunity for transformative change of the kind Bush hoped to achieve. In Iraq, Bush saw his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness.
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, on Bush's need to be a wartime president to improve the chance of a "great" legacy, What Happened, pp. 131
  • I do not believe that the President was in any way directly involved in the leaking of her identity, but that was a very disillusioning moment for me when I found out when it initially hit the press, and I was in North Carolina, if I remember correctly, and a reporter shouted out to the President, "Is it true that you authorized the secret leaking of this classified information?" We walked onto Air Force One, and the President asks, "What was the reporter asking?", and I said, "He asserted that you were the one who authorized Scooty Libby leaking this information," and he said, "Yeah, I did."
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, on illegal leaking of counter-terrorist CIA agent identity; May 29, 2008; Countdown
  • As a Texas loyalist who followed Bush to Washington with great hope and personal affection and as a proud member of his administration, I was all too ready to give him and his highly experienced foreign policy advisers the benefit of the doubt on Iraq. Unfortunately, subsequent events have showed that our willingness to trust the judgment of Bush and his team was misplaced.
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, What Happened [109]
  • This is the dysfunctions and motivations of the Bush administration laid bare.
    • U.S. Congressman Ed Markey, on former EPA advisor Jason Burnett's claim that the Bush administration ordered portions of Congressional testimony regarding the public health effects of global warming deleted.[110] [111]
  • Do as George Bush said, not as he didn't do
    • Stephen Colbert (on The Colbert Report 12/3/09)

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