George W. Bush facts for kids
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George W. Bush
Official portrait, 2003
|43rd President of the United States
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
|46th Governor of Texas
January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000
George Walker Bush
July 6, 1946
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
|Prairie Chapel Ranch, Crawford, Texas, U.S.
|List of awards and honors
|Years of service
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.
The eldest son of the 41st president George H. W. Bush and a member of the Bush family, he flew warplanes in the Texas Air National Guard in his twenties. After graduating from Harvard Business School in 1975, he worked in the oil industry. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball before being elected governor of Texas in 1994. As governor, Bush successfully sponsored legislation for tort reform, increased education funding, set higher standards for schools, and reformed the criminal justice system. He also helped make Texas the United States' leading producer of wind-powered electricity. In the 2000 United States presidential election, he won over Democratic incumbent Vice President Al Gore, despite losing the popular vote after a narrow and contested Electoral College win that involved a Supreme Court decision to stop a recount in Florida.
Upon taking office, Bush signed a major tax cut program and an education reform bill, the No Child Left Behind Act. ..... He also initiated the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in 2003 to address the AIDS epidemic. A decisive event that reshaped his administration was the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, resulting in the start of the war on terror and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Bush ordered the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan in an effort to overthrow the Taliban, destroy al-Qaeda, and capture Osama bin Laden. He signed the Patriot Act to authorize surveillance of suspected terrorists. He also ordered the 2003 invasion of Iraq on the erroneous beliefs that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction and developed ties with al-Qaeda. Hussein was nevertheless overthrown and captured by American forces. Bush later signed the Medicare Modernization Act, which created Medicare Part D. In 2004, Bush was narrowly reelected president, beating Democratic opponent John Kerry and winning the popular vote.
During his second term, Bush reached multiple free trade agreements. He appointed John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. He sought major changes to Social Security and immigration laws, but both efforts failed in Congress. Bush was widely criticized for his handling of Hurricane Katrina and the midterm dismissal of U.S. attorneys. Amid his unpopularity, the Democrats regained control of Congress in the 2006 elections. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars continued, and, in January 2007, Bush launched a surge of troops in Iraq. By December, the U.S. entered the Great Recession, prompting the Bush administration to obtain congressional approval for multiple economic programs intended to preserve the country's financial system, including the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
After finishing his second term, Bush returned to Texas, where he's since maintained a low public profile. At various points in his presidency, he was among both the most popular and unpopular presidents in U.S. history. He received the highest recorded approval ratings in the wake of the September 11 attacks, but also one of the lowest such ratings during the 2007–2008 financial crisis. Although public opinion of Bush has improved since he left office, his presidency has generally been rated as below-average by scholars.
- Early life and career
- Texas governorship (1995–2000)
- Presidential campaigns
- Presidency (2001–2009)
- Post-presidency (2009–present)
- See also
Early life and career
George Walker Bush was born on July 6, 1946, at Grace-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. He was the first child of George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Pierce. He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas, with four siblings: Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died from leukemia at the age of three in 1953. His paternal grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. senator from Connecticut. His father was Ronald Reagan's vice president from 1981 to 1989 and the 41st U.S. president from 1989 to 1993. Bush has English and German ancestry, along with more distant Dutch, Welsh, Irish, French, and Scottish roots.
Bush attended public schools in Midland, Texas until the family moved to Houston after he had completed seventh grade. He then spent two years at The Kinkaid School, a college-preparatory school.
Bush attended high school at Phillips Academy, a boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball and was the head cheerleader during his senior year. He attended Yale University from 1964 to 1968, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. During this time, he was a cheerleader and a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon, serving as the president of the fraternity during his senior year. Bush became a member of the Skull and Bones society as a senior. Bush was a rugby union player and was on Yale's 1st XV. He characterized himself as an average student. His grade point average during his first three years at Yale was 77, and he had a similar average under a nonnumerical rating system in his final year.
In the fall of 1973, Bush entered Harvard Business School. He graduated in 1975 with an MBA degree. He is the only U.S. president to have earned an MBA.
Family and personal life
Bush was engaged to Cathryn Lee Wolfman in 1967, but the engagement did not last. Bush and Wolfman remained on good terms after the end of the relationship. While Bush was at a backyard barbecue in 1977, friends introduced him to Laura Welch, a schoolteacher and librarian. After a three-month courtship, she accepted his marriage proposal and they wed on November 5 of that year. The couple settled in Midland, Texas. Bush left his family's Episcopal Church to join his wife's United Methodist Church. On November 25, 1981, Laura Bush gave birth to fraternal twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna. Bush describes being challenged by Billy Graham to consider faith in Jesus "Christ as the risen Lord", how he began to read the Bible daily, "surrendering" to the "Almighty", that "faith is a walk" and that he was "moved by God's love".
Bush has been an avid reader throughout his adult life, preferring biographies and histories. During his presidency, Bush read the Bible daily, though at the end of his second term he said on television that he is "not a literalist" about Bible interpretation. Walt Harrington, a journalist, recalled seeing "books by John Fowles, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Gore Vidal lying about, as well as biographies of Willa Cather and Queen Victoria" in his home when Bush was a Texas oilman. Other activities include cigar smoking and golf. Bush has also painted many paintings. One of his best-known projects is a collection of 43 paintings of immigrants, titled Out of Many, One. Another painting project was Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute To America's Warrior.
In May 1968, Bush was commissioned into the Texas Air National Guard. After two years of training in active-duty service, he was assigned to Houston, flying Convair F-102s with the 147th Reconnaissance Wing out of the Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base. Critics, including former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, have alleged that Bush was favorably treated due to his father's political standing as a member of the House of Representatives, citing his selection as a pilot despite his low pilot aptitude test scores and his irregular attendance. In June 2005, the Department of Defense released all the records of Bush's Texas Air National Guard service, which remain in its official archives.
In late 1972 and early 1973, he drilled with the 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard. He had moved to Montgomery, Alabama, to work on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton M. Blount. In 1972, Bush was suspended from flying for failure to take a scheduled physical exam. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974.
Bush remains the most recent president to have served in the military.
In 1977, Bush established Arbusto Energy, a small oil exploration company, although it did not begin operations until the following year. He later changed the name to Bush Exploration. In 1984, his company merged with the larger Spectrum 7, and Bush became chairman. The company was hurt by decreased oil prices, and it folded into Harken Energy Corporation, with Bush becoming a member of Harken's board of directors. Questions of possible insider trading involving Harken arose, but a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation concluded that the information Bush had at the time of his stock sale was not sufficient to constitute insider trading.
In April 1989, Bush arranged for a group of investors to purchase a controlling interest in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise for $89 million and invested $500,000 himself to start. He then was managing general partner for five years. He actively led the team's projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans. Bush's sale of his shares in the Rangers in 1998 brought him over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment.
Prior to his eventual gubernatorial campaign, Bush briefly considered a candidacy to become the Commissioner of Baseball in the early to mid-1990s.
Early political involvement
In the 1978 elections, Bush ran for the House of Representatives from Texas's 19th congressional district. The retiring member, George H. Mahon, had held the district for the Democratic Party since 1935. Bush's opponent, Kent Hance, portrayed him as out of touch with rural Texans, and Bush lost the election with 46.8 percent of the vote to Hance's 53.2 percent.
Bush and his family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1988 to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency. He was a campaign advisor and liaison to the media, and assisted his father by campaigning across the country. In December 1991, Bush was one of seven people named by his father to run his father's 1992 presidential re-election campaign as a campaign advisor. The previous month, his father had asked him to tell White House chief of staff John H. Sununu to resign.
Texas governorship (1995–2000)
Bush declared his candidacy for the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election at the same time his brother Jeb sought the governorship in Florida. His campaign focused on four themes: welfare reform, tort reform, crime reduction, and education improvement. Bush's campaign advisers were Karen Hughes, Joe Allbaugh, and Karl Rove.
After easily winning the Republican primary, Bush faced popular Democratic incumbent Governor Ann Richards. 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 into law after he became governor. According to The Atlantic, 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". The Atlantic, and others, connected the lesbian rumor to Karl Rove, but Rove denied being involved. Bush won the general election with 53.5 percent against Richards' 45.9 percent.
Bush used a budget surplus to push through Texas's largest tax cut, $2 billion. ..... Critics contended that during his tenure, Texas ranked near the bottom in environmental evaluations. Supporters pointed to his efforts to raise the salaries of teachers and improve educational test scores.
In 1999, Bush signed a law that required electric retailers to buy a certain amount of energy from renewable sources (RPS), which helped Texas eventually become the leading producer of wind powered electricity in the U.S.
In 1998, Bush won re-election with a record 69 percent of the vote. He became the first governor in Texas history to be elected to two consecutive four-year terms. In his second term, Bush promoted faith-based organizations and enjoyed high approval ratings, which peaked at 81 percent in 1999. He proclaimed June 10, 2000, to be Jesus Day in Texas, a day on which he urged all Texans to "answer the call to serve those in need".
Throughout Bush's first term, he was the focus of national attention as a potential future presidential candidate. Following his re-election, speculation soared, and within a year he decided to seek the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.
2000 presidential candidacy
Bush portrayed himself as a compassionate conservative, implying he was more centrist than other Republicans. He campaigned on a platform that included bringing integrity and honor back to the White House, increasing the size of the military, cutting taxes, improving education, and aiding minorities. By early 2000, the race had centered on Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain.
Bush won the Iowa caucuses and, although heavily favored to win the New Hampshire primary, trailed McCain by 19 percent and lost. Despite this, he regained momentum and effectively became the front runner after the South Carolina primary, which according to The Boston Globe made history for his campaign's negativity. The New York Times described it as a smear campaign.
On July 25, 2000, Bush surprised some observers when he selected Dick Cheney – a former White House chief of staff, representative and secretary of defense – to be his running mate. At the time, Cheney was serving as head of Bush's vice presidential search committee. Soon after at the 2000 Republican National Convention, Bush and Cheney were officially nominated by the Republican Party.
Bush continued to campaign across the country and touted his record as Governor of Texas. During his campaign, Bush criticized his Democratic opponent, incumbent Vice President Al Gore, over gun control and taxation.
When the election returns were tallied on November 7, Bush had won 29 states, including Florida. The closeness of the Florida outcome led to a recount. The initial recount also went to Bush, but the outcome was tied up in lower courts for a month until eventually reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. On December 9, in the controversial Bush v. Gore ruling, the Court reversed a Florida Supreme Court decision that had ordered 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. The machine recount showed that Bush had won the Florida vote by a margin of 537 votes out of six million casts. Although he had received 543,895 fewer individual nationwide votes than Gore, Bush won the election, receiving 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266 (Gore had actually been awarded 267 votes by the states pledged to him plus the District of Columbia, but one D.C. elector abstained). Bush was the first person to win a U.S. presidential election with fewer popular votes than another candidate since Benjamin Harrison in 1888.
2004 presidential candidacy
In his 2004 bid for re-election, Bush commanded broad support in the Republican Party and did not encounter a primary challenge. He appointed Ken Mehlman as campaign manager, and Karl Rove devised a political strategy. ..... Bush also called for the implementation of a guest worker program for immigrants, which was criticized by conservatives.
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, and argued that Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the War on Terror.
Following the resignation of CIA director George Tenet in 2004, Bush nominated Porter Goss to head the agency. The White House ordered Goss to purge agency officers who were disloyal to the administration. After Goss' appointment, many of the CIA's senior agents were fired or quit. The CIA has been accused of deliberately leaking classified information to undermine the 2004 election.
In the election, Bush carried 31 of 50 states, receiving 286 electoral votes. He won an absolute majority of the popular vote (50.7 percent to his opponent's 48.3 percent).
First term, 2001–05
While he was president, George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law. It was an education reform bill.
He added Part D to Medicare, which gives older people free medicine if they can not afford it.
He also signed very large tax cuts (many of them were for the middle and lower class) during his presidency.
..... In 2004, he signed the Unborn Victims Of Violence Act which made it so that if a pregnant woman is murdered, her murderer can also be charged with killing the fetus that the woman was carrying.
Bush tried to do many things to stop another terrorist attack from happening. He ordered an invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. He did this because the leaders of Afghanistan were helping Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for attacking America on September 11, 2001. Almost ten years later, on May 2, 2011 bin Laden was killed on orders of President Barack Obama. Bush asked Congress to do more to stop terrorism. As a result, Congress passed a law that created the Department Of Homeland Security, a government department which tries to prevent terrorist attacks from happening. It also responds to emergencies such as floods or diseases.
He signed the Patriot Act (which allowed the government to listen to people's phone calls so it can track down terrorists which try to communicate with each other).
After Saddam refused to cooperate with the United Nations weapons inspectors and the United States Congress authorized Bush to invade Iraq if its government did not cooperate with the weapons inspectors, Bush decided on the Gulf War in 2003 with several allies. Saddam Hussein was removed from power, and Iraq turned into a democracy. Over 100,000 people were killed in this war.
2004 presidential election
Second term, 2005–09
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina (the most destructive hurricane in American history) happened. It caused over 1800 deaths and caused billions of dollars of destruction. George W. Bush signed several acts into law which would help Hurricane Katrina victims.
In the Iraq War, no weapons of mass destruction were found, and the Bush Administration was criticized for being wrong about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. Bush added more American troops to Iraq (which was called "the surge") to speed up the war. The surge was successful, and in result, Iraq had less violence.
Although the economy was doing very well during much of his presidency, in early 2008, the economy was slowing down. Bush signed a bill into law which would gave $600 to every American citizen, hoping that people would go out and spend the money so that it would prevent a recession (a bad economy) from happening.
Later in 2008, stock market crashed and the country fell into its worst recession since the Great Depression. Bush helped create a 700 billion dollar bailout, which would give money to corporations (large businesses) to prevent them from being bankrupt and to try to prevent the recession from getting worse.
Bush publicly supported Republican candidate John McCain during the 2008 presidential election, but Barack Obama won the election. During the last few days he was president, Bush gave his farewell address. He was succeeded by Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.
Following the inauguration of Barack Obama, Bush and his family flew from Andrews Air Force Base to a homecoming celebration in Midland, Texas, following which they returned to their ranch in Crawford, Texas. They bought a home in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, where they settled down.
Bush made regular appearances at various events throughout the Dallas–Fort Worth area, including the opening coin toss at the Dallas Cowboys' first game in the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and an April 2009 Texas Rangers game, where he thanked the people of Dallas for helping him settle in, which was met with a standing ovation. He also attended every home playoff game during the Rangers' 2010 season and, accompanied by his father, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for Game 4 of the 2010 World Series on October 31. He also threw the first pitch in Game 1 of the 2023 World Series.
On August 6, 2013, Bush was successfully treated for a coronary artery blockage with a stent. The blockage had been found during an annual medical examination.
In reaction to the 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers, Bush said, "Laura and I are heartbroken by the heinous acts of violence in our city last night. Murdering the innocent is always evil, never more so than when the lives taken belong to those who protect our families and communities."
Publications and appearances
Since leaving office, Bush has kept a relatively low profile. Bush has spoken in favor of increased global participation of women in politics and societal matters in foreign countries.
In March 2009, he delivered his first post-presidency speech in Calgary, Alberta, appeared via video on The Colbert Report during which he praised U.S. troops for earning a "special place in American history", and attended the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy. Bush made his debut as a motivational speaker on October 26 at the "Get Motivated" seminar in Dallas. In the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting on November 5, 2009, the Bushes paid an undisclosed visit to the survivors and the victims' families the day following the shooting, having contacted the base commander requesting that the visit be private and not involve press coverage.
Bush released his memoirs, Decision Points, on November 9, 2010. During a pre-release appearance promoting the book, Bush said he considered his biggest accomplishment to be keeping "the country safe amid a real danger", and his greatest failure to be his inability to secure the passage of Social Security reform. He also made news defending his administration's enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, saying, "I'd do it again to save lives."
In 2012, he wrote the foreword of The 4% Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs, an economics book published by the George W. Bush Presidential Center. He also presented the book at the Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
Bush appeared on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on November 19, 2013, along with his wife Laura. When asked by Leno why he does not comment publicly about the Obama administration, Bush said, "I don't think it's good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor." Despite this statement, Bush vocally disagreed with Obama's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, calling it a "strategic blunder". In December, Bush travelled with President Obama to the memorial service of South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela. There, they joined former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Alongside the 2014 United States–Africa Leaders Summit, Bush, Michelle Obama, the State Department, and the George W. Bush Institute hosted a daylong forum on education and health with the spouses of the African leaders attending the summit. Bush urged African leaders to avoid discriminatory laws that make the treatment of HIV/AIDS more difficult. On November 2, Bush spoke at an event to 200 business and civic leaders at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum to raise awareness for the upcoming Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. On November 11, Bush published a biography of his father titled 41: A Portrait of My Father.
In an interview published by Israel Hayom magazine on June 12, 2015, Bush said "boots on the ground" would be needed to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). He added that people had said during his presidency that he should withdraw American troops from Iraq, but he chose the opposite, sending 30,000 more troops to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, and that they indeed were defeated. Bush was also asked about Iran but declined to answer, stating that any answer he gives would be interpreted as undermining Obama.
During the early stages of the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Bush spoke and campaigned for his brother Jeb Bush at a South Carolina rally. However, the party's nomination eventually went to Donald Trump, whom Bush refused to endorse. Furthermore, he did not attend the party's convention. On the eve of Trump's nomination, it was reported that Bush had privately expressed concern about the current direction of the Republican Party, telling a group of his former aides and advisors that "I'm worried that I will be the last Republican president." According to a spokesperson for the Bush family, he did not vote for Trump in the general election, instead choosing to leave his presidential ballot blank.
After the 2016 elections, Bush, his father, and his brother Jeb called Trump on the phone to congratulate him on his victory. Both he and Laura attended Trump's inauguration. Images of Bush struggling to put on a rain poncho during the ceremony became an internet meme. .....
In February 2017, Bush released a book of his own portraits of veterans called Portraits of Courage. In August, following the white nationalist Unite the Right rally, Bush and his father released a joint statement condemning the violence and ideologies present there. Subsequently, Bush gave a speech in New York where he noted of the current political climate, "Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication." He continued, "Bigotry in any form is blasphemy against the American creed and it means the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation", while urging citizens to oppose threats to American democracy and be positive role models for young people. The speech was widely interpreted as a denouncement of Donald Trump and his ideologies, despite Bush not mentioning Trump by name.
On September 1, 2018, Bush and Laura Bush attended the funeral of John McCain at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. On November 30, his father died at his home. Shortly before his death, Bush was able to talk with his father on the phone; his father responded with what would be his last words, "I love you too". Bush attended his father's funeral on December 5, delivering a eulogy.
In May 2019, the tenth anniversary of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun's death, Bush visited South Korea to pay respects to Roh, delivering a short eulogy.
On June 1, 2020, Bush released a statement addressing the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide reaction and protests. In the statement, Bush wrote that he and former first lady Laura Bush "are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country". He also elaborated on the racial injustices perpetrated by the police saying, that "it is time for America to examine our tragic failures", adding "Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions". On July 30, Bush and his wife, along with former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, attended and spoke at the funeral for civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Bush did not give any endorsements during the 2020 presidential election, but held a virtual fundraiser for U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC). All four were up for reelection and were struggling in the polls. He also did not attend the 2020 Republican National Convention where President Trump was re-nominated. In April 2021, Bush told People magazine that he did not vote for either Trump or Joe Biden in the election. Instead, he wrote in Condoleezza Rice, who served as his national security advisor from 2001 to 2005 and as his secretary of state from 2005 to 2009. When the election was called for Biden, Bush congratulated him and his running mate Kamala Harris. He also congratulated Trump and his supporters "on a hard-fought campaign". Bush's outreach to Biden was notable since Republican candidate Donald Trump had not yet conceded. Bush then issued a statement saying that while Trump was within his rights to call for recounts, he believed the election was "fundamentally fair" and that "its outcome is clear", and said he would offer Biden "my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can", as he had for Trump and Obama.
On January 6, 2021, following the U.S. Capitol attack, Bush denounced the violence and attack alongside the three other living former presidents, Obama, Clinton, and Carter, releasing a statement saying that "this is how election results are disputed in a banana republic, not our democratic republic" and that "it is a sickening and heartbreaking sight". He also echoed President-elect Biden's message stating that what occurred at the capitol was an "insurrection". On January 20, Bush and his wife attended Biden's inauguration.
Bush opposed President Biden's withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, saying that the withdrawal made him "concerned" and that it had the potential to "create a vacuum, and into that vacuum is likely to come people who treat women as second class citizens". During an interview with Deutsche Welle on July 14, 2021, Bush reaffirmed his opposition to the troop withdrawal, calling the plan "a mistake".
On September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Bush gave a speech at the Flight 93 National Memorial, praising the heroism of the people on Flight 93 and the spirit of America. He also said that he "saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor's hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know."
In January 2010, at President Obama's request, Bush and Bill Clinton established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to raise contributions for relief and recovery efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake earlier that month.
On May 2, 2011, President Obama called Bush, who was at a restaurant with his wife, to inform him that Osama bin Laden had been killed. The Bushes joined the Obamas in New York City to mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At the Ground Zero memorial, Bush read a letter that President Abraham Lincoln wrote to a widow who had lost five sons during the Civil War.
On September 7, 2017, Bush partnered with former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama to work with One America Appeal to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in the Gulf Coast and Texas communities.
Over the years, President Bush has had a good-natured friendship with Michelle Obama. "President Bush and I, we are forever seatmates because of protocol, and that's how we sit at all the official functions," Obama told the Today Show. "He's my partner in crime at every major thing where all the 'formers' gather. So we're together all the time." She later added, "I love him to death. He's a wonderful man, he's a funny man." Bush and Obama have sat next to each other at many events including the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march in Selma (2015), the interfaith memorial service for the victims in Dallas (2016), the opening at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2016), and at the funerals for Nancy Reagan (2016), and John McCain (2018). Bush famously passed mints to Obama during the McCain funeral in September 2018 and gave them to her again during the funeral of his father in December 2018.
After serving as president, Bush began painting as a hobby after reading Winston Churchill's essay "Painting as a Pastime". Subjects have included people, dogs, and still life. He has also painted self-portraits and portraits of world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Tony Blair. In February 2017, Bush released a book of portraits of veterans, Portraits of Courage. The net proceeds from his book are donated to the George W. Bush Presidential Center. In May 2019, on the tenth anniversary of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun's death, George Bush drew a portrait of Roh to give to his family.
Bush's legacy continues to develop today as supporters credit his counterterrorism policies with preventing another major terrorist attack from occurring in the U.S. after the September 11 attacks and also praise individual policies such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit and the AIDS relief program known as PEPFAR. Critics often point to his handling of the Iraq War, specifically the failure to find weapons of mass destruction after claiming they were in Iraq, as well as Bush's handling of tax policy, Hurricane Katrina, climate change and the 2008 financial crisis, as proof that he was unfit to be president. Ben Ferencz, former chief prosecutor for the United States Army at the Nuremberg Trials, has stated that Bush likely committed war crimes in relation to the Iraq War.
Several historians and commentators hold that Bush was one of the most consequential presidents in American history. Princeton University scholar Julian Zelizer described Bush's presidency as a "transformative" one, and said that "some people hate him, some people love him, but I do think he'll have a much more substantive perception as time goes on". Bryon Williams of The Huffington Post referred to Bush as "the most noteworthy president since FDR" and said the Patriot Act "increased authority of the executive branch at the expense of judicial opinions about when searches and seizures are reasonable" as evidence. Bush's administration presided over the largest tax cuts since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and his homeland security reforms proved to be the most significant expansion of the federal government since the Great Society.
Bush has been widely portrayed in film and television, both during and since his presidency. He has had various nicknames, including "Dubya", "GWB" and "Shrub".
Honors and awards
A street in Tirana, formerly known as Rruga Punëtorët e Rilindjes, situated directly outside the Albanian Parliament, was renamed after Bush a few days before he made the first-ever visit by an American president to Albania in June 2007. In 2012, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves awarded Bush the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana for his work in expanding NATO. Two elementary schools are named after him: George W. Bush Elementary School of the Stockton Unified School District in Stockton, California, and George W. Bush Elementary School of the Wylie Independent School District in St. Paul, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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