George W. Bush/assessment

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This page collects positive and negative points about George W. Bush, as well as debatable points whose significance will be better understood as new facts become known.

This page should probably be reorganized as a structured debate and possibly moved to debate.

Negative Points

see also #Negated Points

A number of negative points fall into the general category of corruption; the following points are attributable specifically to Bush himself:

  • Impeachable offenses [1][2]:
    • [3] misled the Congress and the public regarding the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war against Iraq, intentionally conspired with others to defraud the United States in connection with the war against Iraq in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 371 (main article: US invasion of Iraq)
    • [4] admitted to ordering the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance of American civilians without seeking warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, duly constituted by Congress in 1978, in violation of Title 50 United States Code, Section 1805 (main article: warrantless spying under GWB)
    • [5] conspired to commit the torture of prisoners in violation of the "Federal Torture Act" Title 18 United States Code, Section 113C, the UN Torture Convention and the Geneva Conventions, which under Article VI of the Constitution are part of the "supreme Law of the Land" (main article: torture during GWB administration)
    • [6] acted to strip Americans of their constitutional rights by ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to legal counsel, without charge and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the President of a U.S. citizen as an "enemy combatant", all in subversion of law (main article: Bush's elevation of presidential power)
    • [7] authorized the leaking classified national secrets to further a political agenda, exposing an unknown number of covert U. S. intelligence agents to potential harm and retribution while simultaneously refusing to investigate the matter
  • A general lack of integrity:
    • Lied about his intentions in invading Iraq
    • Has repeatedly insisted on blind trust and subsequently failed to live up to it [8]
    • Glibly dismisses criticism of his performance as unhelpful hindsight
  • Says one thing in public and disavows it later (sometimes quietly, sometimes claiming that he never made the original statement, sometimes taking action which undermines the original statement), of which "stay the course" is just one example [9]
  • Apparently not interested in defending democracy and the Constitution, as he swore to do:
    • Has stated repeatedly that he feels free to carry out a law as he sees fit, not as Congress wrote it. Appears to be essentially trying to destroy the democratic process in America by elevating the office of Presidency above the law
    • Seems at times to be working towards making the U.S. a police state; just one example: "The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 bans the military from participating in police-type activity on U.S. soil. Bush began discussing the possibility of changing the law last month, in the aftermath of the government's sluggish response to civil unrest following Hurricane Katrina." ... "[A] senior editor at the conservative Cato Institute said Bush would risk undermining 'a fundamental principle of American law' by tinkering with the act, which does not hinder the military's ability to respond to a crisis." [10]. (The preceding items were noted before the wiretapping scandal, which is just another example.)
  • Appears to have no concept of budgeting ([11], [12] needs checking & more definitive source):
    • has run the highest deficit in history at $423 billion. If 2006 is included he will have had 4 of the 5 largest deficits in US history; his dad lays claim to the 5th one.
    • 2002: forecast a surplus of $262 billion in 2004; actual 2004 figures show a deficit of $412 billion. As of 2002, he was still insisting that his then-proposed $2 trillion in tax cuts wouldn't cause deficits.
    • 2003: forecast a 3-year cumulative surplus of more than $133 billion; actual situation as of early 2006 is a deficit of over $1.45 trillion.
    • Total federal debt has increased by $2.3 trillion since Bush took office. It took from 1776 to 1987 – 211 years – for the United States to run up its first $2.3 trillion of debt; Bush has reproduced that feat in only 5 years. Presumably the only reason we're a mere $1.45 trillion in the hole, instead of $2.3 trillion, is the surplus left by the Clinton administration.
    • Bush continues to propose more tax cuts (about $2 trillion over ten years).
    • The harm to the economy, in the long term, may well make the terrorist threat seem trivial by comparison
    • 2006-09-15 "We've overcome recession, attacks, hurricanes, scandals, and the economy is growing – 4.7 percent unemployment rate. It's been a strong economy. And I've strongly believed the reason it is because we cut taxes, and at the same time, showed fiscal responsibility here in Washington with the people's money. That's why the deficit could be cut in half by 2009, or before." – GWB (the unemployement rate was 4.2% when he took office; New Orleans is far from recovered, the US economy is worse, and as his administration's budgetary policies are responsible for the current outrageously huge size of the deficit, cutting it in half is at best delaying disaster. This can only be seen as a passle of Big Lies, as far as I can see. --Woozle 17:55, 27 September 2006 (EDT))
  • The US Invasion of Iraq
  • Created the US Department of Homeland Security, a department whose actions often seem contrary to the ideals of a free country
  • Anti-science [13], as is his administration
  • Anti-environment
  • Pro-life and anti-contraception [14], a popular but rationally inexcusable viewpoint
  • Apparently favors insertion of an evangelical Christian point-of-view into all levels of the government [15]; justifies his actions with zealotry and fanaticism that bears more in common with the supposedly-hated Al Qaeda than it does with enlightened American/democratic values [16] [17]
  • Responded to violence (9/11) with violence (unsanctioned invasion of a non-involved country, causing countless deaths to Iraqi civilians and US soldiers)
  • Against same-sex marriage
  • He is sometimes just, I'm sorry, really scary (most notably, search for "reality-based" and read the paragraph which includes it)
  • Claimed, in 2000, to be "a uniter, not a divider", but in fact seems to play heavily on The Red-Blue Divide, both in his 2004 campaign and in his actions while in office [18]
  • Has greatly harmed worldwide opinion of the United States [19]; is uniting the Islamic world in support of extremism and against the United states [20]
  • Personally ignored at least one Pre-9/11 warning (the infamous August 6, 2001, national security briefing)

Negated Positive Points

  • In an announcement on 2006-01-11:
    • Pushed for return to Luna and Mars [21] [22]; as of 2006-02-16, Bush's proposed NASA budget basically pulls the rug out from under any serious effort towards humans visiting Mars [23]
  • In his 2006-01-31 State of the Union Address:
    • Called for increased spending on alternatives to oil, specifically clean energy research [24] but reversed this the next day [25]
  • Supporters often say that he "states his personal views and governs with his morals" ... "you know where you stand with him" ... but there is strong evidence that his statements and his actions are not necessarily in alignment, e.g. claiming he does not condone torture while supporting VP Cheney's efforts to remove torture-restrictive language from an appropriations amendment; see also #Negative Points "Says one thing in public..." and Is George W. Bush a Conservative? "as president, George W. Bush has consistently advanced policies contradictory to his professed values."

To Be Investigated

  • Seems to be deliberately engineering crises, by neglecting or actively harming the mechanisms which would have prevented those crises, so that he will be given license to take "necessary" extreme countermeasures and thus further extend his control
    • The Mexican immigration crisis: Bush gutted the budget for border guards
    • Hurricane Katrina: Bush gutted FEMA and decimated domestic military numbers in the service of the Iraq war (this one may have gotten away from him, as Katrina would have been a challenge even with military capacity at normal levels)
    • The War on Terror is an open-ended, poorly-defined battle with no clear goal; it can be sustained indefinitely
  • There has been some discussion of the idea that Bush may be suffering from pre-senile dementia, mainly in a letter from one Joseph M. Price, M. D. in response to an article by James Fallows in the Jul/Aug 2004 Atlantic Monthly, "When George Meets John" (access requires subscriber log-in):
    • official posting of the letter; requires subscriber log-in
    • reprint on Susan Ohanian's web site
    • Follow-up (2006-11-08): "Has Bush Been Smart All Along?", also by Fallows, seems to show that Bush can recover from his apparent affliction when needed, under pressure from the threat of an incoming Democratic Congress
    • video giving some examples

Positive Points

see also #Negated Positive Points

  • 2006-09-26 Signed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (assuming it didn't get subverted before it reached his desk; need to confirm this)
  • In his 2006-01-31 State of the Union Address:
    • Called for increased research spending [26] (while the Republican-led Congress tends to slash funds for the institutional cornerstones of US science, such as NOAA and NSF [27])
  • Removed Saddam Hussein from power (into which Hussein had been placed by Bush Sr.'s administration [28])
  • Disarmed Libya of its chemical, nuclear, biological WMDs.
  • Signed largest nuclear arm reduction ever with Russia.

Debatable Points

  • The Bush family (including George W. and past president George H.W.) have close ties with Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia
  • Republican; Conservative Christian
  • Supportive of big business (part of the Republican Party platform)
  • Pushed the No Child Left Behind Act
  • Pushed for family-centric reforms (e.g., reformed adoption laws, requiring adopting parents to have background checks before getting children)
  • Nominated John Roberts and Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court
  • Pushed ahead with reconstruction in Iraq when popular opinion was against occupation after the first few weeks (This was originally stated as a positive point, using Vietnam as an example of a disastrous early pullout from reconstruction due to public demand. The US was in Vietnam for many years before pulling out; wouldn't this be an example of the disastrousness of staying too long?)
  • 2002-05-15 Signed the No FEAR Act