The Presidency of George W. Bush; Success or Failure?

Bookmark and Share As America sought change in 2008, they swarmed to Barack Obama in the hopes of electing a President better than George W. Bush. I fear that was not accomplished. But what I fear even more is the inability of a large portion of our society to recognize the good that George W. Bush accomplished.

That statement will deliver to me accusations of mental instability, I know. But the truth is in the record, not the impression created by a hate filled anti-Bush media atmosphere.

Now I have had my issues with President Bush. I opposed him on his immigration reform ideas and ludicrous claim that Americans were not willing to do the jobs that illegal immigrants do. I disagreed with the timing of some of President Bush’s spending initiatives, such as his generous financial budget for combating AIDS and other diseases……in Africa. I don’t disagree with it on principle, I just disagree with the money being spent at a time of soaring deficits. But I still list that African initiative as an accomplishment for consideration of a President who is called callous and uncaring.

As for that above mentioned deficit, I hold against George W. Bush his lack of spending cuts, especially in the area of social engineering. I hold against him not eliminating entire federal agencies or departments, especially in light of his total restructuring of the federal government when he created the Department of Homeland security.

On the economy, President Bush presided over one of the longest periods of sustained growth and time periods of an almost non-existent unemployment rate in history. And this after bringing us out of a recession. And while I do not blame him for the economic downturn that ushered in a worldwide banking and economic crisis, I do hold him responsible for not heading it off.

The housing policies and financial lending practices that were largely established by Clinton era policies, were not rectified, despite Republican calls to do so as early as 2006. President Bush should have been in the forefront of this issue. If he had, the natural boom and bust cycle of the economy may not have been quite as severe as it ended up being.

As for what most hold against President George W. Bush, the war in Iraq was in my opinion, just as necessary as everyone from Ted Kennedy and John Kerry to Al Gore and Bill Clinton and the United Nations Security Council believed it was. The only difference between me and them is that I did not forget the reasons that made the removal of Saddam Hussein from office so imperative. On Afghanistan, all I can say is that if one can not see why our presence and effort there is necessary, than they need not point fingers if a terrorist attack again kills hundreds or thousands of Americans on American soil.

The one thing I differ with President Bush on when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan is his not forcing Congress to officially declare war. Even though Congress supported a resolution allowing the President to use force in both cases, we all knew that these actions were not simply going to achieve their goal with one or two missile strikes. A declaration of war should have been required of Congress.

Ultimately, I do not shy away from the fact that unlike an admittedly significant number of people, I credit President Bush with not ignoring the threats that we face and oddly, unlike another significant portion of Americans who now credit Barack Obama for winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I credit George Bush with that too. For it is his plans which President Obama is in large part just continuing……but without the blame that was placed on Bush.

With that said, while many try to paint the Bush Administration as a failure filled with nothing but hurtful policies, I provide you with the following list. It consists of facts, not opinion. As for what is my opinion, there are some accomplishments on this list that I do not agree with. But they are still accomplishments and in many cases they counter the left’s attempts to paint the Bush Administration as anti-humanitarian and anti-human rights. So they are included here for your review:

~Budget, Taxes, and Economy

-Signed two income tax cuts, one of which was the largest dollar-value tax cut in world history.

-Supported permanent elimination of the death tax.

-Turned around an inherited economy that was in recession, and deeply shocked as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

-Sought legislation to amend the Constitution to give the president line-item veto authority.

-Sought to permanently eliminate theIRS marriage penalty.

-Increased small business incentives to expand and to hire new people.

-Initiated discussion on privatizing Social Security and individual investment accounts.

-Killed Clinton’s “ergonomic” rules that OSHA was about to implement; rules would have shut down every home business in America.

-Passed tough new laws to hold corporate criminals to account as a result of corporate scandals.

-Reduced taxes on dividends and capital gains.

-Signed trade promotion authority.

-Reduced and worked to ultimately eliminate the estate tax for family farms and ranches.
-Fought Europe’s ban on importing biotech crops from the United States.

-Exempted food from unilateral trade sanctions and embargoes.

-Provided $20 million to states to help people with disabilities work from home.
-Created a fund to encourage technologies that help the disabled.

-Increased the annual contribution limit on Education IRA’s from $500 to $2,000 per child.

-Made permanent the $5,000 adoption tax credit and provide $1 billion over five years to increase the credit to $10,000.

-Granted a complete tax exemption for prepaid or college tuition savings plans.

-Reduced H1B visas from a high of 195,000 per year to 66,000 per year.

~Traditional Values, Compassion & Volunteerism

-Endorsed and promoted “The Responsibility Era.” President Bush often spoke of the necessity of personal responsibility and civic volunteerism. He said, “In a compassionate society, people respect one another and take responsibility for the decisions they make in life. My hope is to change the culture from one that has said, if it feels good, do it; if you’ve got a problem, blame somebody else.

-Started the USA Freedom Corps, the most comprehensive clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities ever offered. For the first time in history, Americans can enter geographic information about where they want to get involved, such as state or zip code, as well as areas of interest ranging from education to the environment, and they can access volunteer opportunities offered by more than 50,000 organizations across the country and around the world.

-Established the White House Office and the Centers for the Faith-Based and Community Initiative — located in seven Federal agencies. The faith-based initiative supports the essential work of these important organizations. The goal is to make sure that grassroots leaders can compete on an equal footing for federal dollars, receive greater private support, and face fewer bureaucratic barriers. Work focuses on at-risk youth, ex-offenders, the homeless and hungry, substance abusers, those with HIV/AIDS, and welfare-to-work families.

-The White House released a guidebook fully describing the Administration’s belief that faith-based groups have a Constitutionally-protected right to maintain their religious identity through hiring — even when Federal funds are involved.

-Issued an EO implementing the Supreme Court’s Olmstead ruling, which requires moving disabled people from institutions to community-based facilities when possible.

-Increased funding for low-interest loan programs to help people with disabilities purchase devices to assist them.

-Revised the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 rent subsidies to disabled people, permitting them to use up to a year’s worth of vouchers to finance down payments on homes. HUD has started pilot programs in 11 states.

-Committed US funds to purchase medicine for millions of men, women and children now suffering with AIDS in Africa.

-Heeding the words of our own Declaration of Independence, the president laid out the non-negotiable demands of human dignity for all people everywhere. On January 29, 2002, he said, “No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. We have no intention of imposing our culture. But America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.” As stated by the President, they are a virtual manifesto of conservative principles:
—Equal Justice
—Freedom of Speech
—Limited Government Power
—Private Property Rights
—Religious Tolerance
—Respect for Women
—Rule of Law

This is just a small list of positions and accomplishments, not a complete one.  Among many other successes, it does not include the masterful handling of the worst enemy attack on  this nation in its history. So while this list is incomplete, I have yet to see a list of any significance which actually proves the presidency of George W. Bush to have been a failed presidency, a claim that many try to make.

The truth of the matter is, that unlike some recent President’s, George W. Bush was more than a caretaker president.  While I remain disappointed in the lost opportunities of the Bush Administration I cannot deny that his was one of the most significant presidencies in fifty or more years.   And while there were failures, there were actually successes achieved and successful directions created under G.W. Bush.

And so whether you believe it or not, it is still too early to claim where George W. Bush’s historically standing among presidents ranks. I know for sure that he will not be among the top five, but I also know he is certainly not among the bottom half.  And I also know that there were more successes than failures.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Presidency of George W. Bush; Success or Failure?

  1. Let me guess. You’re one of those liberals who refuses to accept being called a liberal so instead you call yourself a progressive. Or are you one those liberals at heart, who call yoursef independent because you think that is the politically correct thing to do. In case you’re not sure. That was in fact a rhetorical question.

    But speaking of partisan propaganda…….you are just chock full of it, aren’t you. Not only are the liberal opinions you spew not facts, you even try deny facts. The economy was in FACT in a recession when G.W. Bush took over the economy. And as to your multiple allegations that Bush tax cuts did not lead to an expansion of the economy, increased employment and business expansion, that is simply a bold faced LIE. Propaganda is one thing, rewriting history is another thing. It is a typical liberal reaction to facts. Can’t handle the facts, so change them. But the Facts are, not only did the Bush policies get us out of the recession and stabilize after 9/11, they kept unemployment at one the longest period of all time lows and near full employment, more small businesses were created during that time than in recent previous years.

    As for your argument that the Bush tax cuts added to the deficit, that is a typically myopic liberal view which believes that income belongs to the government before the people and neglects to realize that the problem is not too little taxation, but rather too much spending. You seem to have ignored the part where I discredit Bush for not cutting spending enough.

    As for your blaming G.W. Bush for 9/11, perhaps you really do need to learn your history. If any one was to blame for 9/11, it was President Bill Clinton, who twice did not permit the CIA and our military to take out Osama bin Laden when intelligence had him in their sights. Such actionable intelligence information had not been discovered at any point since then. I highly doubt that G.W. Bush would not have ordered our forces to carry out the mission if intelligence had located bin Laden under his watch.

    Clearly, you are a liberal apologist and revisionist.

    You are also an obvious Keynesian who is unwilling to accept that the more money which is kept in the hands of the people and the free market, the more revenue and growth is created. This is what happened during most of the Bush years. You also fail to realize that I hold against Bush his lack of spending cuts and reduction in the size and scope of government. I believe that had he done so, not only would our deficit have been far less than it was, and miniscule compared to the debt created by liberals and President Obama, we would have been in much better shape to deal with the global economic collapse we had to deal with.

    But to understand that, one must understand what brought about that economic collapse. While I am sure that people who hold your distorted opinions, would blame that on Bush, the facts dictate differently. Thanks to the proliferation of an overabundance of unqualified, high risk loan recipients, especially in the housing market, banks were forced to suddenly reverse course and stop lending. This was not because of Bush tax cuts. This was because it finally became time for Peter to pay Paul and Peter never had the money or earning potential to pay him back in the first place. Thanks in large part to the Clinton era Clinton American Homeownership initiative, banks were FORCED to issue sub prime loans to unqualified recipients. It was only a matter of time before these loans were defaulted on. Furthermore, the illegal recording practices which liberal Barney Frank refused to change as Chairman of the House Banking Committee, despite Republican calls to reform them, added to the “surprise” of the lending crisis.

    So while I appreciate your attempt to be civic minded, I would suggest that you try to be an educated citizen. Learn how to discern between revisionist liberal history and the truth.. Liberal propaganda and bumper sticker slogans may sound good, but they are quite dangerous. Not only do they dull the senses, they put our national and economic security at great risk.

    But on a final note as to your extraordinarily uneducated opinion, as has been stated in previous analyses of an ideologically balanced group of 130 prominent professors of history, law, political science, and economics, President G. W. Bush will continue to rank in the average to above average rank, anywhere from as low as 24th, to as high as 12th. In previous rankings his was ranked higher than both his father and Bill Clinton and as history reveals itself, I predict he will eventually rise to an above average assessment. While President’s like Bill Clinton were merely caretaker presidents, George W. Bush was anything but a caretaker and he was from the Obama-Carter-like mold of failure.

    But thanks for trying to pull the wool over readers eyes. Like Barack Obama, it was a nice try but no cigar.

  2. Pragmatist

    You assert this: “I provide you with the following list. It consists of facts, not opinion.”

    I respectfully disagree. You provide more opinion than fact because you provide facts selectively and omit the adverse aspects of the facts you do pick. When someone withholds facts that undercut a point, that constituted opinion, not fact in my opinion. My definition of facts is giving ALL the KEY facts necessary for a fair assessment of whether or not an action Bush (or anyone else) took was a success, failure or neutral.

    A couple examples:
    1. “Signed two income tax cuts, one of which was the largest dollar-value tax cut in world history.”
    – true but you didn’t say this: “and those tax cuts reversed the country’s trajectory toward reducing the deficit, massively expanded the deficit and failed to create the massive gusher of jobs that tax cutting ideology says will inevitable follow a big tax cut.”
    - specifically – here the heck are all the jobs that those massive tax cuts created and why didn’t that prevent the near collapse of the economy in 2008-2009, the housing meltdown and the length and depth of current unemployment

    2. Increased small business incentives to expand and to hire new people
    - true but that omits this: “but despite the incentives, small businesses didn’t not expand or hire and that sector of the economy remains very weak in 2011.”

    3. “Supported permanent elimination of the death tax.”
    - true, but you forgot to say: “without creating any additional revenue to compensate for the billions (or trillions) of tax dollars that would be lost over time and thereby greatly and irresponsibly adding to the already massive national deficit.”

    4. “Turned around an inherited economy that was in recession, and deeply shocked as a result of the 9/11 attacks.”
    - false – the economy was not in recession until 2007 and the economic shock was not nearly as deep as the shock and near panic of Bush’s (and Republican) economic failures leading up to the 2008-2009 catastrophe we still struggle with
    - and you omitted this: “The 9/11 attacks occurred on Bush’s watch and those attacks and the fallout was therefore mostly Bush’s fault – he was asleep at the switch.”

    I know partisan propaganda (left and right) when I see it. This is partisan propaganda. Bush will go down in history as one of the worst, maybe even dead last.

  3. Jimf

    Hallucinogens are a wonderful thing.

  4. I don’t think that G.Bu (my nickname for George W. Bush) was a great president, but I also don’t think he was one of the worst. He made some mistakes, and I’m sure he wishes he could take some things back, but like you’ve noted, he also did a lot of good.

    What I think is interesting is that a lot of the things that G.Bu did that had liberals clamoring for his impeachment were things that Obama is doing now. Obama extended the Patriot Act. Obama hasn’t pulled out of Afghanistan. Obama is having his own personal Katrina in the Gulf right now (that actually has a lot of people pissed). And predictably, the Dems are cutting him slack on a lot of things.

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