The United States has an extensive list of presidents that were labeled as ‘’great,” many of which have led the country through countless adversities. However, Americans have also witnessed leaders who did more harm than good during their presidency. George W. Bush, the 43rd president, for example, was one of the most controversial leaders in United States history. As one of the select few presidents to be re-elected for a second term, many people argue that he did an excellent job and played a crucial role into turning the US into the powerhouse it is today. Many events occurred during his administration; events that will forever be cemented in history such as: the 9/11 attack, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2008 Financial Crisis, and the bills that he signed. Was George W. Bush a successful president? Did he do more good for the country than harm? His supporters insist that he helped reform the Education System, strengthen National Security and was even able to receive a positive approval rating. Despite that, he has faced numerous accusations and criticism. Many were very upset at the handling of the Middle Eastern conflicts and the Economic crisis. Subsequently, the consequences of his questionable decisions far outweigh the good that he brought upon the people during his years.
George W. Bush was raised in Houston, Texas. Growing up, he did not experience a normal childhood; his father George H. W. Bush, was a successful businessman in the oil industry and the 41st president of the United States. Therefore, George W. Bush was comfortable throughout his early years. He then attended Yale University, his father’s alma mater and went on to work in the oil industry. From 1995 to 2000, Mr. Bush was appointed as the Governor of Texas. During his time as a governor, he signed a bill that allowed Texans to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons and helped improve the education system in the state. After gaining much popularity and even getting re-elected for a consecutive 4-year term; becoming the first Governor in Texas to do so, Bush decided to run for President in 2000 for the Republican party. In his campaign, George W. Bush promised that he would increase the size of the Armed Forces, cut taxes, improve the education system, improve healthcare and help minorities. However, what is often forgotten is that he signed the most execution orders of any US Governor in history. Now the question arises, did he fulfill the promises he made during his campaign?
The famous 9/11 attacks occurred 8 months into Bush’s presidency. Hijacked planes crashed into the famous Twin towers in an event that forever scarred the hearts of Americans. In response, Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan and the War on Iraq to eliminate Talibans. While many praised him as a hero, the media failed to disclose that thousands of innocent civilians died during the war. Not to mention that he withdrew from signing International Criminal Court Treaty and completely ignored the U.N Security Council’s disapproval to invade the country. There has been speculation that President Bush’s real motives for invading Afghanistan and Iraq was to access oil pits that laid on the territories. Nevertheless, the total cost for the war was around 5 trillion dollars.
The propaganda shown in the media helped him gain many domestic supporters and allowed him to have a positive approval rating. Howbeit, the support he received from the people did not last for long. Instead, it declined exponentially for the rest of his term. From 2000 to 2005, President Bush allowed 8 million immigrants to cross the borders. It was revealed afterwards that around half of that amount were illegal immigrants. The support he showed for a bill that would allow the illegal immigrants to eventually gain American citizenship and stay here legally, infuriated many because Americans were already struggling to get employed. Consequently, the unemployment rate in the US nearly doubled during his presidency. George W. Bush was also famous for imposing a nationwide educational reform. The No Child Left Behind Act that was put in place in 2001. While his intentions were good, the Act emphasized too much on raising test scores and elevating teaching standards. In the following years, studies did show an improvement in standardized testing. Despite that, parents voiced their concerns in the fact that teachers were now focused on improving test performances instead of teaching the students valuable knowledge. Not to mention that the NCLB also set incredibly high qualification standards for teachers, which resulted in a decrease in teaching candidacy in the years following the NCLB.
During the elections, George W. Bush said that he would improve the healthcare system and reduce the poverty rate in the country. A census by the Census Bureau revealed otherwise. After he entered the office, the average household income in the US decreased by 4.2 percent after he entered the office.1 This led to an increase of 26.1% of people living in poverty, which then led to more Americans without access to healthcare. All this while he was on vacation. Reporters analyzing his record found that he took 1020 days off during his 8 years; the most in the history of US presidents. This nonchalant behavior undoubtedly played an important role that ultimately resulted in the 2008 Financial Crisis.
Overall, President Bush showed a lot of patriotism during his administration. He often mentions how Americans should stick together. He did show a bright side, he helped fund services and movements that fought AIDS all over the globe. However, there is irrefutable proof that his presidency did more harm than good for the country. The people showed their displeasure by giving him a disapproval rating of 64.7% at the end of his second term. As for the promises he made during his campaign, most of them were not fulfilled. His handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Healthcare system, Economy system and the Financial Crisis disappointed many.