The story goes that back in the early 1970’s the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was asked what he thought was the significance of the 1789 French Revolution? Enlai’s response was “It is too soon to say.” When evaluating presidents that can also be said. Back when Harry Truman left office to go home in Missouri in January 1953 he was viewed as a failure. His approval ratings were at historical lows. Twenty years later he was viewed as a great or near great president by all the historical survey’s. Eisenhower is another president whose stock -although never as low as Truman’s was- hard risen to that of a great president. So when discussing even more recent presidents it is too soon to say where they will eventually rank. I don’t think history will view the #43rd president well but who knows? He has now been out of office for eight years. Eight years isn’t very long. In decades how will historians view Dubya or Barry Obama, when the passions have died down?
George Walker Bush was born on July 6, 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut. His father the future 41st POTUS George Herbert Walker Bush would move the family to Texas and the oil business when Dubya was two.
Before becoming president, George Dubya continued the family tradition by going to Yale University where he was a “C” student. He then followed his father into the oil business and then part owner-managing partner for the Texas Rangers baseball team. Both George H.W. and Dubya are big into baseball.
George W. Bush in college had been a party boy, a prankster. He was very outgoing and well liked by people. In 1976 he was arrested for drunk driving. Over the years his drinking was getting out of hand. A turning point in his life came in 1986 when he quit drinking.
In 2004 George W. Bush ran for governor in Texas. I was down in Texas that summer for a few days going to some Ranger games. I can remember well a long conversation with a Texan who was assuring me that there was no way in the world Bush would beat Ann Richards that fall in the gubernatorial election and that I’d never hear of him again. Man, I should have placed a bet on that. Bush won the 1994 over Richards with a 53%-46% margin. That man who told me that Bush had no chance against Richards decades later would be the one who told Hillary Rodham Clinton last fall to ‘prepare for a landslide victory.”
Dubya would win a second term in 1998 and then launch a campaign for the GOP nomination in 2000. He would defeat John McCain and others. Bush ran as a ‘compassionate conservative.” He would win the GOP nomination and choose Dick Cheney as his running mate- and face the incumbent Vice President Al Gore in the general election.
The 2000 election is one that will be discussed and the outcome debated forever. Going into it the polls had it close and that is how it turned out. Early into the morning after election day it was clear whoever won the battle state of Florida would be the next president. The networks called it first for Gore, then later changed it to Bush. After declaring George W. Bush the 43rd POTUS- they then pulled it back “too close to call in Florida.” It wouldn’t be until December 12 of 2000 when the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to stop the recount in Florida that the election was decided. Six weeks of talking about hanging chads and dimpled chads. The final tally in the Electoral College was 271-267 for Bush. When it came down to it if Gore would have won his home state of Tennessee he wins, if he could have won West Virginia, at that time a democratic state and their four votes he wins. Gore did win the popular vote 48.4 to Bush’s 47.9. Bush won 31 states to Gore’s 19.
Just over seven months into his presidency an event occurred that would define Bush 43rds presidency and would change America forever. September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon near the nations capital.
Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden were behind the terrorist attacks and Bush did what any president would have had to do- he went after the terrorists. The terrorists were being protected in Afghanistan by the Afghan government the Taliban. Going after Al-Qaeda was the right thing to do.No argument with Bush there- his following move would be one of the worst decisions a president has ever made.
In 2003 there were claims that Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. There were also some bogus claims that Hussein had ties to Al-Qaeda. None of this turned out to be true There were no Iraqi’s involved in the terrorist attacks, most of the terrorists were from Saudi Arabia..After a year of posturing the United States launched their invasion of Iraq on March 2o,2003. Many books have been written about this and its so recent we know what happened. We got rid of Saddam but it turns out that sometimes the enemy you know is better than what replaces him. Maybe Dubya’s father- George H.W. Bush was right when he ended Gulf War I without sending the army to Baghdad to get Saddam. Like all wars, this war in 2003 was sold ahead of time as- it was going to be a slam dunk. The Iraqi people wanted Saddam out and the war would be quick and fairly painless. No one will ever forget in May 2003 when Bush was aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln- with the big banner behind him “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” Turns out it was anything but and fourteen years later Iraq is a gigantic dumpster fire and the war in Iraq is always going to be the first thing people think of when they consider the presidency of George Walker Bush.
Up until the war in Iraq- in 2003 George W. Bush was a popular president. In polls of the public the words most used to describe him were honest, good, leader, great, courageous. In the fall of 2004 he was still popular enough to win re-election against a very weak democratic candidate Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Bush won 31 states again but this time won the popular vote 50.7 to 48.3. The Electoral College was 286-251. Not a landslide by any means and he was lucky to be running against such a poor challenger.
As with many presidents, Bush’s first term was better than his second term. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were dragging on and on. In late summer 2005 the governments slow response to Hurricane Katrina would further lower the public’s opinion of the president. By 2006 his approval ratings were below 40%. By the time he left office it was at 22%. In the last months of his presidency the economic disaster/deep recession hit and his being considered one of the worst presidents ever was probably sealed.
When George W. Bush took over as POTUS he had a 5 trillion dollar surplus, when he left in 2008 the nation was 10 trillion in debt.
One of his big accomplishments in his first term, the No Child Left Behind education reform has turned out to be a disaster.
All throughout his presidency and since the debate has been how much influence did his Vice President Dick Cheney have? Some claimed Cheney was the puppet master? Many insiders say that although Cheney was one of the most influential VP’s ever- Bush was the man in charge.
Like his successor Barry Obama, I think George W. Bush would be a great guy to spend an afternoon watching a ballgame with. I do not think Bush or Obama are ‘bad guys” I think if we knew both these fellows we’d like them. They were just disasters as Presidents of the United States.
What was the greatest moment of the Presidency of George W. Bush? At the top I have a picture of his throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium before the World Series just weeks after the 9-11 attacks. There was still a lot of fear at that moment, America was still in shock and mourning. Many of his people felt that he shouldn’t be doing this- who knows what could happen? He went out and threw a strike. The best moment of his presidency. He did say and do the right things immediately after 9-11. It was even thinking about Iraq that things unraveled.
- Some trivia to tell your friends about George Dubya Bush.
- George Herbert Walker Bush and George Walker Bush are one of two fathers-sons to have held the office of president. John Adams and John Quincy Adams POTUS #2 and #6 are the other set of father-son to be president. William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison were grandfather-grandson.
- In the early 90’s when Dubya was involved in the ownership and management of the Texas Rangers he didn’t have his sights on the governorship of Texas or POTUS but on being the next commissioner of baseball when Faye Vincent was fired. Baseball made the wrong decision and hired a puppet/village idiot named Allan “BudLight” Selig Jr instead.
- The Bush Dynasty appears over. John Ellis Bush aka “Jeb” ran for the Republican nomination in 2016 and after being the front-runner for a few seconds was sunk faster than the Titanic by Donald J. Trump. It wasn’t to be for the Jebster. America didn’t want another Bush in the White House [or another Clinton as it turned out.}
- Dubya had both the highest approval ratings of any president ever- after 9-11, and the lowest-near the end of his presidency in 2008.
- George W. Bush is one of four presidents who were cheerleaders at their college- Ike, FDR and Dutch Reagan were the others.
- In 1993 Bush ran and finished the Houston Marathon in 3 hours and 44 minutes.
- Bush is one of 5ive presidents to have won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote-joining John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison and the current POTUS Donald J. Trump.
- Since leaving the presidency one of Dubya’s hobbies is painting. He has painted over 30 portraits of world leaders using oil and canvas.