What Was George W. Bush’s Greatest Achievement?

What Was George W. Bush’s Greatest Achievement?

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Much of the legacy of President George W. Bush is wrapped around the war on terror and military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, but what many consider his greatest achievement is a public health effort steeped in humanitarianism that won accolades across the political spectrum: Bush has probably done more than any other president to combat AIDS, particularly in Africa.

Bush was already interested in fighting African poverty, but his concern widened during the 2000 campaign when Condoleezza Rice presented him with the details of the AIDS crisis in Africa and stressed the need for more action. The United States had already devoted $500 million to the problem.

Bush led the UN efforts in creating a global fund to fight AIDS.

Following talks with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in early 2001, the United States became the first contributor to a global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, pledging $200 million. That amount more than doubled the next year, but Bush felt the problem required more spending and believed the UN was not speedy enough in its efforts.

In 2002 Bush unveiled the Mother and Child HIV Prevention Initiative targeting one million mothers in Africa and the Caribbean for treatment in an effort to save the lives of 150,000 babies.

Bush then pushed to devote $15 billion over the next five years. These funds would go to drugs and medical care for about 10 million patients, and also help millions of children orphaned by their parents’ deaths from AIDS. It was considered the largest health initiative ever to target one single disease.

Bush’s PEPFAR effort received strong bipartisan support.

That initiative became known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. Bush selected 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and two in the Caribbean to receive its help and announced PEPFAR in his 2003 State of the Union address.

The bill passed the House of Representatives the following May, 375 to 41. Forty of the no votes came from Bush’s fellow Republicans, but it was otherwise a popular bipartisan effort.

PEPFAR proved to be an impressive achievement: In 2007, the program was considered so successful that Bush asked for a funding increase, totaling $30 billion for the following five year period. In 2008, $39 billion was marked for PEPFAR.

PEPFAR was successful, but far from perfect.

PEPFAR did have some controversies, such as abstinence-only programs that were shown to make no impact. Funding for these has shrunk to a quarter of previous numbers.

PEPFAR also initially placed a condition requiring private groups to enact policies opposing sex work, but this was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013.

A Stanford University analysis of PEPFAR’s first three years calculated 1.1 million lives saved with a 28 percent reduction in HIV/AIDS. Other studies have revealed that adult mortality rates have improved in Africa as much as 20 percent thanks to PEPFAR programs.

Funding levels have since come under attack.

By the time of the election of Barack Obama, PEPFAR had treated 2 million AIDS patients and assisted to 10 million more, with further millions receiving help during pregnancies and being tested for HIV/AIDS.

Under Obama, funding for PEPFAR fell. More recent developments have seen the program included in attempts by President Donald Trump to weaken the broader swathe of global health initiatives.

Congress overruled the cuts in the 2018 budget, voting to continue funding PEPFAR at the same level, but the pressure for spending cuts and the reality of budget deficits continue to threaten the effectiveness of President Bush’s public health legacy.

What Was George W. Bush’s Greatest Achievement? - HISTORY


President George W. Bush’s first term has been among the most consequential and successful in modern times. Under his leadership, the United States is waging and winning the war against global terrorism. The United States and its coalition partners liberated more than 50 million people from two regimes of extraordinary brutality that had provided safe haven to terrorists. And we are promoting democracy in regions of the world that have never known it.

The United States military is receiving the strongest support from a commander-in-chief in two decades. President Bush has taken unprecedented steps to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction – and he has signed one of the most sweeping arms reduction pacts in history. America is in the process of deploying a missile defense that will help protect the United States and its allies from catastrophic attacks. President Bush signed into law landmark legislation that better prepares our defense establishment to meet the challenges of the 21st century – and he announced the most comprehensive restructuring of US military forces overseas since the end of the Korean War.

During his first term, President Bush has signed into law three major tax cuts, including the largest in two decades – and since the summer of 2003, America has had the fastest-growing economy of any major industrialized nation in the world. Under President Bush’s leadership, the economy has been growing at rates as fast as any in nearly 20 years. The homeownership rate has been at a record high. Interest and mortgage rates have been near historic lows. The core rate of inflation over the past year ranks among its lowest in 40 years. The rate of growth of Federal spending is slowing, jobs are being created at a brisk pace (1.3 million jobs in the first six months of this year), and the unemployment rate today remains below the average unemployment rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s.

President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, the most important Federal education reform in history, one that insists that testing, accountability, and high standards will accompany record new resources. Medicare has been modernized, prescription drug coverage has been added, and Americans now have the opportunity to use Health Savings Accounts, tax-free accounts designed to help individuals save for health expenses. Faith-based groups are receiving unprecedented support and encouragement. And President Bush signed into law the most far-reaching reform of American business practices since the time of Franklin Roosevelt.

To ensure the safety of our citizens, President Bush has implemented the most sweeping changes in the organization of our national security institutions since World War II. With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, America has seen the most extensive reorganization of the Federal government since President Truman. President Bush has proposed the most thoroughgoing reorganization of the intelligence community in more than a half century. And thanks to the USA PATRIOT Act, Federal law enforcement agencies can better share information, track terrorists, and protect American lives.

President Bush has strongly advocated open markets for American goods affordable, reliable, and secure energy supplies and environmental standards that are making America’s water and air cleaner. In the social realm, he has championed a culture of life and a new culture of responsibility the strengthening and defense of marriage judges who strictly and faithfully interpret the law and stronger work requirements for welfare recipients. He has made civility a touchstone of his rhetoric. He has put together an Administration comprising enormously talented men and women – and one with more diversity in senior positions than any in history.

These achievements are anchored in a set of core beliefs: America is a defender and promoter of freedom – and the advance of freedom brings peace. We must lead the world with strength and confidence. Religion should not be banned from the public square. Government should encourage ownership and opportunity, compassion and responsibility. The proper role of government is to create the environment in which small business owners and entrepreneurs will take risks and invest, hire workers and spark economic growth.

The last four years have been a time of extraordinary challenges. They include the horrific terrorist attack on the American homeland global wars an economy that was sliding toward recession when President Bush took office and the revelation of corporate scandals long in the making that undermined investor confidence.

Such times demand a leader of clear convictions and determination, hope and vision, integrity and the courage to act. These qualities are the hallmarks of the Bush Presidency. There is much that remains to be done – yet as this document illustrates, an enormous amount has already been accomplished. President George W. Bush put forward a historically ambitious agenda and restored dignity to the office he holds. He has provided steady leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges. The United States is safer and stronger, more resilient and better for his efforts.

George W. Bush Successes and Failures

-Tax Cuts for upper 1% of society (2001)
Bush and Cheney advocated significant tax cuts, privatizing Social Security to reduce government costs, and the further deregulation of the energy industry.

-Bush and Cheney ended U.S. support for international health programs that advocated abortion.
They strongly supported faith-based social welfare organizations.

- US war in Afghanistan
Operation Enduring Freedom begins Oct. 7, 2001
Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was the official name used by the U.S. government for the Global War on Terrorism. On October 7, 2001, in response to the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush announced that airstrikes targeting Al Qaeda and the Taliban had begun in Afghanistan.

- US Patriot Act becomes law Oct. 26, 2001
It authorized the indefinite detention of immigrants, searching homes of suspected terrorists without their knowledge or approval, FBI powers to search telephone, email, and financial records without a court order, and increased access to business records.
Represented part of the government's effort to root out terrorist cells in America in the wake of 9/11 much like HUAC efforts to oust communists

-Election 2004
Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Foreign policy was the dominant theme throughout the election campaign, particularly Bush's conduct of the War on Terrorism and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

-Iraq war links with Vietnam War 2005-2009
War begins with a lie by a president (LBJ)
The Iraq War, like the Vietnam War, began with a lie by the president. Bush justified the war based on the idea that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, thus necessitating American invasion and was unpopular (2005-2009)

-Bush economy 2001-2009
1.8 million people lost their jobs and credit built up like during the 1930s and the Great Depression.

16 Replies to &ldquoThe 100 accomplishments of the George W. Bush administration&rdquo

The economy has such a huge affect on the decision.

he certainly did better than barak is.

Let’s also not forget the Bush steel tariffs that saved the US steel industry from complete collapse. Many unionized democrats have jobs because of GW Bush. You can also go to to see what the White House Website has to say about GW Bush.

Wasn’t it the Bush administration who implemented children remaining on their parents insurance until 26?

Didn’t his administration increase spending on Aids research by a large amount?

Katrina did NOT hit New Orleans. It hit the coast line of Mississippi.
New Orleans “problems” AFTER Katrina was due to the levels breaking, which was a man-made mistake from the Army Corp of Engineers.
I really wish the media,etc. would et this right.

President Bush, was the most honest and caring US President we have had in office in my lifetime. I truly appreciate everything he did to help our country! Thank you, Mr. President!
1. Was the greatest humanitarian of any president. He formed an emergency organization known as PEPFAR. more than 10 million or more people are alive today and saved from AIDS due to this policy and the funding President Bush allowed to help save lives. These were primarily Africans of all ages.
2. President Bush emplemented and formed Homeland Security to help protect Americans from terrorism.
3. He tried to get an immigration reform bill passed through congress and Social Security reform. But, the Democrats stopped this effort.
4. Regarding Katrina, once the president’s office was finally notified by the mayor and governor of New Orleans and Louisiana, he acted immediatly and ordered FEMA to send troops to help flood victims. It was the governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans that waited days before requesting help from Washington DC.
5. Order the invasion of Afghanistan ,Over threw the Taliban and helped capture Osama Bin Laden.
6. Launched several economic initiatives to prevent banking sytem collapse, stopping foreclosures, and stimulating the economy.
7. Signed the US-India Nuclear agreement with India, greatly improving relations with both countries.

Bush is pure evil. Barbara Isaacs, you’ve totally drunk the Kool Aid.

Yeah, Bush helped get some good things done! Medicare part D, AIDS relief, other healthcare reforms, foreign trade deals, and some other thoughtful changes.

George Bush was president for 8 months on 9/11… Plenty of time to get your anti terrorism policy in order. Amazing how the kool aid drinkers continue to ignore this simple fact.

Made the national debt soar at a higher percentage than any other president including Obama

Left office with what is now referred to as the Great Recession and brought unemployment to over 10% when it hit its peak in 2009.

If everybody wants to blame Obama for an economic catastrophe that started two years before his presidency, yet continue to blame Bill Clinton for a singular event that happened DURING the Bush presidency.

The ability of people to bend time and reality is simply amazing

Thanks- great list! I read a comment about Obama doing nothing and looked at his accomplishments, which were pretty substantial (not that everyone agrees with them). Then I looked at GWB’s and his were substantial also (not that everyone agrees with them). Both Obama and Bush did things that benefited everyone, regardless of party, and certainly did things that benefited only their party, but I can clearly state the Trump hasn’t done anything except for a few disturbing executive orders and appointing people diametrically opposed to the mission of the group they are supposed to be leading.

Hopefully, Mr. Trump will achieve something that is substantial for the good of the country.

you are an amazing president of the U.S.A

We should know this 100 accomplishments of the late George W. Bush’s administration. Thanks for notching.

executive orders doesn’t really solve the problems inherent in trying to quantify how productive a new administration is. Increasingly, accomplishing something in government means undoing policies you don’t agree with. This is especially important for Republican administrations, who normally seek office on the promise of less government, not more. (Although the incoming administration may be an exception.) Obama’s early legislative accomplishments included things like expanding health insurance coverage for children in low-income households, a policy that had been vetoed by George W. Bush in 2007, and the passage of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, an initiative to combat wage discrimination, also opposed by the Bush White House. Both were major bills that expanded government influence, and they were also visible repudiations of the previous administration. In other words, these were accomplishments for Obama, but preventing them from becoming law had been a mark of success for Bush.

PEPFAR: George W. Bush’s Greatest Foreign Policy Success

Bush’s foreign policy legacy has been rightfully tainted, but he somewhat redeems himself in this one way.

Unlike most other American presidents, George W. Bush is best remembered for his foreign policy initiatives rather than anything he ever accomplished here at home. Bush’s legacy has been reduced to unpopular neoconservative policies that some Americans believe represent a warmongering, America-last establishment. Of course, there is certainly truth to these sentiments given the current instability in the Middle East. But Bush’s legacy shines in one undervalued aspect: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR for short.

AIDS is an immunodeficiency disease that occurs at the late stage of an HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection. In the mid-1980s, the same decade HIV was discovered, AIDS began to spread quickly in generally poor countries in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. While wealthier countries like the United States were quick to develop antiviral drugs and effective therapies against AIDS, discrepancies grew between North America and regions with low hygiene standards and limited access to pharmaceuticals. As a result, the United States was spending a measly $500 million per year to curb an epidemic that had already taken millions of lives. Then came PEPFAR.

Launched in 2003, PEPFAR is the United States’ global health effort to address an HIV/AIDS epidemic so desperately in need of foreign assistance. PEPFAR is a bipartisan effort that has lasted through four presidential administrations and symbolizes the power of a committed foreign assistance strategy. It’s led by the Department of State’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy with seven federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, working together to eradicate the evil that is HIV/AIDS. PEPFAR focuses on thirteen African countries, all in sub-Saharan Africa, with multiple approaches. First, it expands HIV testing strategies to understand the most innovative testing methods, which includes self-testing. Second, PEPFAR partners with faith-based organizations and the private sector through partnerships like DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe) that support caregiver programs, education subsidies, and gender violence prevention. Third and perhaps most importantly, PEPFAR emphasizes HIV prevention through, among other initiatives, encouraging male circumcision and making contraceptive healthcare widely available. Of course, this is far from an exhaustive list of PEPFAR’s strategies. Yet the very fact that PEPFAR has lasted almost twenty years is a testament to its renewed creativity. PEPFAR’s close monitoring of the HIV/AIDS situation in Africa demonstrates a willingness to adapt to challenging obstacles and view the disease through an economic, political, and cultural lens no other country has been able to.

As for what PEPFAR has achieved, that list is as long as it is underappreciated. The State Department estimates PEPFAR has saved 18 million lives, supported antiretroviral therapy for 15.7 million people, reduced HIV diagnoses in young females by 25 percent, provided care to 6.3 million orphans, and ensured voluntary circumcision for 22.8 million males.

Figure 1. Swaziland – Pathway to reaching epidemic control

The figure above shows the path to epidemic control in Swaziland, one of the thirteen “high-burdened” countries PEPFAR focuses on. Epidemiologists measure epidemic control as the number of new HIV infections compared to the total number of deaths from HIV-infected individuals. Epidemic control is reached when the first number falls below the second. As we observe in the graph, Swaziland saw a peak in infections (about 24,000) in 1996, after which it consistently dropped. Thanks to PEPFAR’s proliferation of antiretroviral therapy and public-private partnerships like DREAMS, Swaziland was able to achieve epidemic control ahead of schedule.

Swaziland is far from the only country that’s seen such progress. Since 2003, life expectancy in countries like Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Uganda has only been climbing up. It’s safe to say PEPFAR offers one of the biggest returns on investments of any U.S. program. Though it has already been two decades, PEPFAR’s achievements so far are only a fraction of what it will be capable of in the future.

Bush’s PEPFAR initiative must symbolize a renewed commitment to transparent foreign assistance for not only the Biden administration but future administrations. Polls consistently show Americans believe foreign aid makes up 25 percent of the federal budget. This is shamefully false: foreign aid makes up less than 1 percent, generally does not directly end up in the hands of dictators, and comes with stringent requirements. In 2023, President Joe Biden will oversee PEPFAR’s twentieth anniversary. But before then he must confront the many challenges PEPFAR faces including Covid-19 infections, vaccine rollouts, and political instability in Africa (especially Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Central African Republic, and Uganda). Foreign assistance has come under fire recently, with many believing the United States is wasting taxpayer dollars overseas. Those who view this spending as nothing more than pennies here having a disproportionately positive impact elsewhere willfully ignore American contributions to improved international welfare. Luckily, PEPFAR seems to have escaped these controversies. But President Biden must continue PEPFAR’s achievements if we are to recommit to strong U.S.-Africa relations. Too many Africans rely on American generosity for prevention and treatment programs to simply turn a blind eye.

For all of George W. Bush’s faults, PEPFAR stands out as an example of compassionate foreign policy both Republicans and Democrats should model when setting policy. With China tightening its grip on Africa and Latin America, there is no better time to ramp up long-time international programs. From $2.19 billion a year in 2004 to $6.9 billion in 2020, PEPFAR has come a long way since a life-changing conversation between Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. Some may believe Bush’s foreign relations to be irredeemable, undeserving of the slightest modicum of praise. However, PEPFAR shows a different story. George W. Bush is considered Africa’s favorite president as many remember the death sentence HIV used to equal in the 1980s and 1990s. A wonderful role model for all foreign assistance, PEPFAR has saved the lives of 18 million citizens so far in two decades. For the next two, let’s save 18 million more.

Sam Abodo is a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University focusing on the rise of terrorism through presidential administrations. Sam is also the chief political editor of the advocacy group Gen Z GOP, as well as the President of Carnegie Mellon’s public policy review The Triple Helix.

George H.W. Bush’s biggest failure? The war on drugs.

There are good reasons to mourn the passing of George H.W. Bush. To many Americans, Bush was a decent man and a leader with integrity, a politician from a bygone era.

And Bush’s complicated legacy does include much good, from his handling of the end of the Cold War to his support for climate science and the Americans With Disabilities Act. But it also includes some bad — specifically, a profound escalation in the War on Drugs. Ronald Reagan may have reoriented public attitudes about drugs when he pronounced in 1982, “Drugs are bad, and we’re going after them . . . And we’re going to win the war on drugs.” But, it was Bush — and later, Bill Clinton — who put real resources into the effort.

When Bush took office, the federal drug control budget was around $5 billion. When he left office in 1993, it was over $12 billion. This was the sharpest escalation in the history of the drug war and it locked the country into a strategy of punishment, deterrence and intolerance. Based on instinct rather than evidence, Bush’s approach did little to alleviate the public health crisis of addiction or halt the flow of drugs to American shores. And we remain trapped within this largely punitive approach today. So while we remember Bush as a “gentle soul,” we should also remember his role in fomenting a drug war that harmed millions of American citizens, particularly in communities of color.

In a tale retold quite a bit over the last few days, one of those citizens was an 18-year-old D.C. resident named Keith Jackson, who was arrested as part of a White House publicity stunt. In September 1989, Bush astonished the American public by brandishing a bag of crack cocaine during a nationally televised address. The drug, a seemingly bemused president remarked, “looked like candy, but it’s turning our cities into battle zones, and it’s murdering our children.”

Rather than address the underlying poverty, despair or thrill-seeking that drives destructive drug use, Bush sought to wipe out the drug menace by punishing everyone involved to the fullest extent of the law and doubling down on policing. The solution, Bush said, was “more prisons, more jails, more courts, more prosecutors,” and a $1.5 billion increase in federal police spending, the greatest single increase in the history of drug enforcement.

Jackson, meanwhile, was a hapless pawn in Bush’s theatrics. When the DEA learned that Bush’s people wanted to use crack seized near the White House as a prop for the speech, they lured the local high school student to Lafayette Square, even giving him directions to get him there. An obvious setup, the case was subsequently thrown out by two juries, but Jackson was eventually sentenced to a mandatory 10 years for selling to an undercover agent in the months leading up to his fateful September arrest.

Bush was widely mocked for the incident but remained unrepentant and paid little price. That’s because the fundamental strategy of escalating the War on Drugs enjoyed widespread bipartisan support, including significant buy-in from the black political class. Politicians from across the ideological spectrum were desperate to do something about the problem of urban crime, and Bush offered an appealing solution: focus policing on public housing projects, so that children wouldn’t have to “dodge bullets on the way home from school.”

That was a noble but misguided sentiment. Policing can’t solve poverty, and targeting specific neighborhoods turned them into occupation zones where low-level dealing was one of the few viable job opportunities. Focusing on the retail end merely drew more and more people, predominantly people of color, into legal custody but did little to stem the tide — as the cops interviewed in the widely seen CBS news special “48 Hours on Crack Street” readily acknowledged — while dishing out punishment to inner city communities.

The instinct to punish drug users, particularly the poor, runs deep in American political thought, and the consensus supporting these tough-on-crime attitudes continued to harden as Bush championed the growing War on Drugs. On the first anniversary of Bush’s speech, Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates told the Senate that casual drug users “ought to be taken out and shot.” This wholly punitive approach reached its apotheosis with the 1994 Clinton crime bill and its notorious “three-strikes” provision.

For Bush, however, the War on Drugs offered more than just a chance to look tough on crime. It also had a powerful foreign policy purpose. An internationalist, Bush was eager to project American power abroad as the Cold War was ending. The drug war offered up a new evil to combat and an opportunity to restore faith that America’s military might could be successfully used as a force for good.

In his September 1989 speech, Bush drew a direct connection between crime in the inner city and cocaine production in Colombia and South America. He accused American drug users of fostering instability and “paying for murder” in those countries. Pledging $2 billion in military and police assistance to Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, Bush announced, “The rules have changed,” because he was officially bringing the U.S. armed forces into the fight. Wherever traffickers operated, they could expect to be met by American power. Between the time of Reagan’s 1982 declaration of war and the end of Bush’s presidency, the Pentagon’s counternarcotics budget increased by over 100,000 percent.

Bush’s initial investment in Colombia evolved into Plan Colombia, incubated in the Clinton White House and largely hatched by the administration of George W. Bush. It poured about $10 billion into that country and created a sizable military presence. On Sept. 10, 2001, the most active CIA station in the world was in Bogota, and the country remained an overlooked theater of covert operations until very recently.

Governor of Texas

In 1994 Bush challenged Democratic incumbent Ann Richards for the governorship of Texas. A major issue in the campaign concerned Bush’s sale of all his Harken stock in June 1990, just days before the company completed a second quarter with heavy losses. An investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1991 into the possibility of illegal insider trading (trading that takes advantage of information not available to the public) did not uncover any wrongdoing. Bush won the election with 53 percent of the vote (compared with 46 percent for Richards), thus becoming the first child of a U.S. president to be elected a state governor.

As governor, Bush increased state spending on elementary and secondary education and made the salaries and promotions of teachers and administrators contingent on their students’ performance on standardized tests. His administration increased the number of crimes for which juveniles could be sentenced to adult prisons following custody in juvenile detention and lowered to 14 the age at which children could be tried as adults. Throughout his tenure Bush received international attention for the brisk use of capital punishment in Texas relative to other states. Bush signed into law several measures aimed at tort reform, including one that imposed new limits on punitive damages and another that narrowed the legal definition of “gross negligence.” Reelected in 1998 with nearly 70 percent of the vote, Bush became the first Texas governor to win consecutive four-year terms (in 1972 voters had approved a referendum that extended the governor’s term from two years to four).

Bush formally announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in June 1999. He described his political philosophy as “compassionate conservatism,” a view that combined traditional Republican economic policies with concern for the underprivileged. Despite Bush’s refusal to give direct answers to questions about his drinking and possible use of illegal drugs (he implied that he had not used illegal drugs since 1974), he won the Republican nomination, taking a strong lead in public opinion polls over Vice Pres. Al Gore, the Democratic Party nominee Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate and political journalist Patrick Buchanan, the nominee of the Reform Party. His running mate was Dick Cheney, former chief of staff for Pres. Gerald Ford and secretary of defense during the presidency of Bush’s father.

As the general election campaign continued, the gap in the polls between Bush and Gore narrowed to the closest in any election in the previous 40 years. On election day the presidency hinged on the 25 electoral votes of Florida, where Bush led Gore by fewer than 1,000 popular votes after a mandatory statewide machine recount. After the Gore campaign asked for manual recounts in four heavily Democratic counties, the Bush campaign filed suit in federal court to stop them. For five weeks the election remained unresolved as Florida state courts and federal courts heard numerous legal challenges by both campaigns. Eventually the Florida Supreme Court decided (4–3) to order a statewide manual recount of the approximately 45,000 “undervotes”—ballots that machines recorded as not clearly expressing a presidential vote. The Bush campaign quickly filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to delay the recounts until it could hear the case a stay was issued by the court on December 9. Three days later, concluding (7–2) that a fair statewide recount could not be performed in time to meet the December 18 deadline for certifying the state’s electors, the court issued a controversial 5–4 decision to reverse the Florida Supreme Court’s recount order, effectively awarding the presidency to Bush. By winning Florida, Bush narrowly won the electoral vote over Gore by 271 to 266—only 1 more than the required 270 (one Gore elector abstained).

With his inauguration, Bush became only the second son of a president to assume the nation’s highest office the other was John Quincy Adams (1825–29), the son of John Adams (1797–1801).

What Was George W. Bush’s Greatest Achievement? - HISTORY

The governor of Texas is the chief executive officer of the state, elected by the citizens every four years. The duties and responsibilities of the governor include serving as commander-in-chief of the state's military forces convening special sessions of the legislature for specific purposes delivering to the legislature at the beginning of each regular session a report on the condition of the state, an accounting of all public money under the governor's control, a recommended biennial budget, an estimate of the amounts of money required to be raised by taxation, and any recommendations he deems necessary signing or vetoing bills passed by the legislature and executing the laws of the state. The governor can grant reprieves and commutations of punishment and pardons, upon the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and revoke conditional pardons. He appoints numerous state officials (with the consent of the Senate), fills vacancies in state and district offices (except vacancies in the legislature), calls special elections to fill vacancies in the legislature, fills vacancies in the United States Senate until an election can be held, and serves as ex officio member of several state boards.

The office of governor was first established by the Constitution of 1845 and superseded the office of president of the Republic of Texas. The position now exists under authority of Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution of 1876 and Texas Government Code, Chapter 401. To be elected governor, a person must be at least thirty years old, a United States citizen, and a resident of Texas for at least five years preceding the election. In 1972, the term of office was extended from two to four years, effective in 1975. Since 1856 the governor has had the use of the Governor's Mansion.

In 1999 there were 198 full time equivalent employees in the Office of the Governor. Thirteen divisions outside of the Executive Office assist the governor in carrying out his functions: Administration, Appointments, Budget & Planning, Communications, General Counsel, Legislative, Policy, Scheduling, Criminal Justice Division, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities, Office of Film, Music, Television and Multimedia Industries, Women's Commission, and Texas Council on Workforce and Economic Competitiveness.

(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, 9th and 10th eds., 1996 and 1999 the contents of the records versions of the Governor's Office web site during Governor Bush's term available on the Internet Archive at*/, accessed on March 3, 2009.)

George W. Bush Biographical Sketch

George W. Bush served as governor of Texas from January 17, 1995 to December 21, 2000, resigning as governor in the middle of his second term to become president of the United States.

As a Republican, he challenged the incumbent governor, Democrat Ann Richards, running on promises to improve public education and to reform the juvenile justice system, welfare, and the state's tort laws -- the system under which an injured person may sue for damages. During the 74th Texas Legislature in 1995, he worked with the Democrats who controlled both houses of the state legislature and managed to get bills passed that dealt with the four issues he had emphasized in his campaign. Bush was seen as pro-business and a consensus-builder.

Bush advocated and signed the two largest tax cuts to date in Texas history, totaling over $3 billion. To pay for the cuts, he sought (unsuccessfully) federal approval of a plan to privatize Texas' social services. Education reform was a priority throughout his terms, with legislation emphasizing local control of schools, higher standards, and a revised curriculum. Controversy has followed, with charter schools mired in financial scandals and protests against one test determining a child's promotion. After winning reelection in 1998, Bush began his bid for the presidency and was not as involved in the 76th Legislature in 1999.

George W. Bush was born July 6, 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut and grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas. He graduated from Andover Academy, and received a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a master's from Harvard Business School. He served as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. In 1978, Bush was defeated in a run for the U.S. Congress in West Texas. He was involved in energy exploration from the 1970s into the 1980s. From 1989 until his election as governor, Bush worked with the Texas Rangers baseball organization, leading a group of partners in purchasing the team, and then serving as managing general partner. He married Laura Welch in 1977 they have two daughters.

(Sources include: Versions of the Governor's Office web site during Governor Bush's term available on the Internet Archive at*/, accessed on March 3, 2009.)

Scope and Contents of the Records

George W. Bush served as governor of Texas from January 17, 1995 to December 21, 2000. These records were created during George W. Bush's terms as Governor of Texas. Types of records include correspondence, memoranda, legal records, legislative records, financial records, speeches, reports, meeting records, publications, printed material, lists, calendars and schedules, audio and video tapes, 3.5-inch computer disks, and photographs, dating 1854 to 2001 and undated, bulk 1995 to 2000. Included are records of Bush's executive assistant, Joe Allbaugh, and Senior Advisor Margaret LaMontagne, as well as records of the following offices: Appointments, General Counsel, Policy, Legislative, Budget and Planning, Grants Team, First Lady, Press, Executive, Scheduling, Correspondence/Constituent Services, and the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities. The Criminal Justice Division and Film Commission are also represented by a small amount of materials. Major subjects represented in the records are criminal justice, economic development, education, emergency management, executions, legislation, and the state budget.

This finding aid serves as an introduction to the records of the Texas Governor George W. Bush. Most divisions within the Governor's Office have their own detailed finding aids, partly due to earlier electronic file size limitations imposed by the online finding aid web site (TARO).

Organization of the Records

  • Subject files, 1944, 1947, 1960, 1962, 1967, 1977-1978, 1980-1981, 1983-1999, undated, bulk 1995-1999, 21.65 cubic ft.
  • Correspondence file, 1991-1998, bulk 1995-1998, 0.35 cubic ft.
  • Requests and recommendations, 1987-1989, 1992-1999, undated, bulk 1994-1999, 1.1 cubic ft.
  • Governors' association files, 1990-1999, bulk 1994-1999, 0.9 cubic ft.
  • General files, 1993, 1995-2000, 1.2 cubic ft.
  • Calendars, 1998-1999, 0.2 cubic ft.
  • Dale Laine's files, 1996-1997, bulk 1997, 0.4 cubic ft.
  • Education issues files I, 1978, 1980-1983, 1986-1999, undated, bulk 1995-1998, 13.5 cubic ft.
  • Education issues files II, 1986, 1988-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 36 cubic ft.
  • Education reference materials, 1988, 1990-2000, undated, bulk 1995-1997, 24.67 cubic ft.
  • Debbie Esterak's issues file, 1986-1987, 1995-2000, undated, bulk 1999-2000, 6 cubic ft.
  • Miscellaneous education files, 1964, 1982, 1987, 1995-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 3.67 cubic ft.
  • Education bill files, 1998-1999, bulk 1999, 0.5 cubic ft.
  • Margaret LaMontagne's correspondence, 1995-2000, undated, bulk 1998-2000, 1.66 cubic ft.
  • Appointments files, 1948, 1965, 1987, 1990-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 2.5 cubic ft.
  • Legal opinions and advice, 1892, 1918, 1921, 1925, 1932, 1942-1944, 1948, 1954, 1956, 1963, 1965, 1968-1969, 1972-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 14 cubic ft.
  • Execution files, 1886, 1892, 1903, 1912-1921, 1925, 1932, 1939-2000, bulk 1986-2000, 68.24 cubic ft.
  • Executive clemency files, 1961, 1965, 1968, 1974, 1983-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 1.5 cubic ft.
  • Litigation files, 1859, 1880s, 1896, 1905, 1924, 1940s, 1955, 1968-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 20.7 cubic ft., 2 videocassettes, 6 audiocassettes, 153 maps
  • Claims against the state, 1990-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 3.6 cubic ft.
  • Settlement files, 1991-1996, bulk 1995-1996, 7 cubic ft.
  • Legislation, 1999, 0.65 cubic ft.
  • Public information requests, 1976, 1980, 1982-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 25 cubic ft.
  • General correspondence, 1963-1964, 1975, 1985-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 6.4 cubic ft.
  • Agency rules, policies, and procedures, 1981, 1990-2000, undated, 0.35 cubic ft.
  • Calendars, 1998-2000, 0.3 cubic ft.
  • Memoranda, 1995-2000, 1.75 cubic ft.
  • Correspondence, 1970, 1983-2000, bulk 1997-2000, 3 cubic ft.
  • Texas Strategic Economic Development Planning Commission records, 1982, 1989, 1997-1998, 1.1 cubic ft., 19 videocassettes, and 7 audiocassettes
  • Records of the Governor's Advisory Task Force on Faith-Based Community Service Groups and implementation of charitable choice, 1993, 1996-1998, undated, bulk 1996-1997, 1.25 cubic ft.
  • Questionnaire replies, 1993-1994, undated, bulk 1994, 0.25 cubic ft.
  • Bill files, 1995-1999, 54 cubic ft.
  • Records regarding the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, 1996, 1998-2000, 1.45 cubic ft.
  • Technology education reports, 1998-2000, 0.25 cubic ft.
  • Assorted records, 1996-2000, undated, 0.1 cubic ft.
  • Director Dan Shelley's correspondence, 1994-1995, bulk 1995, 0.2 cubic ft.
  • Deputy Director Lizzette Gonzales' files, 1988, 1990, 1992-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 2.8 cubic ft.
  • Bill files, 1995-1999, 110 cubic ft.
  • Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission bill files, 1999, 1 cubic ft.
  • Administrative correspondence, 1995-2000, 5.6 cubic ft.
  • State budget development files, 1978, 1988-1999, undated, bulk 1995-1999, 3.2 cubic ft.
  • Statewide cost allocation plans, 1971, 1989-1999, bulk 1990-1998, 3.75 cubic ft.
  • Property tax relief records, 1976-1996, bulk 1996, 1.5 cubic ft. and 54 audiocassettes
  • Records of the Grants Team, 1967-2001, 17.45 cubic ft.
  • Publications, 1995-2000, 0.2 cubic ft.
  • Staff files, 1995-2000, 2.4 cubic ft.
  • Speech files, 1986, 1989-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 1 cubic ft.
  • News releases, 1990-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 30 cubic ft.
  • Web site development files, 1890-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 5.4 cubic ft.
  • Videotapes and audiotapes, 1990-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 7 cubic ft.
  • Speech and press files for First Lady Laura Bush, 1980-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 6.5 cubic ft.
  • Clippings, 1995-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 103 cubic ft.
  • Speeches, [ca. 1994]-2000, bulk 1995-1999, 4.71 cubic ft.
  • Schedules and calendars, 1995-2000, 3.7 cubic ft.
  • Transition Office correspondence, 1983, 1993-1995, 0.3 cubic ft.
  • Out-of-state letters, 1999-2000, undated, 0.1 cubic ft.
  • Autograph and photo request correspondence and logs, 1995-2000, bulk 1998-1999, 0.9 cubic ft.
  • Photo op requests, 1996-1999, bulk 1998-1999, 0.9 cubic ft.
  • Gift logs, 1976, 1982, 1984, 1987, 1989-2000, bulk 1989-2000, 7.3 cubic ft.
  • Visitors' registers, 1995-2000, 0.5 cubic ft.
  • Press Christmas party photographs, 1995-1998, 360 photographs
  • Invitations, 1994-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 94.4 cubic ft.
  • Travel arrangement files, 1994-1999, bulk 1995, 1 cubic ft.
  • General office files, 1993-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 0.6 cubic ft.
  • Polly Sowell's correspondence, 1995-2000, 0.2 cubic ft.
  • Appointment application files, 1946, 1955, 1959-2000, bulk 1994-2000, 117.75 cubic ft.
  • Resignation letters, 1994-2000, 0.75 cubic ft.
  • Central correspondence file, 1955-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 1000 cubic ft., 2 oversize rolled items
  • Bulk mail not logged, 1994-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 26.8 cubic ft.
  • Proclamation files, 1854, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1943, 1949-1950, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1980-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 13 cubic ft.
  • Robos research and background files, 1993-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 10.5 cubic ft.
  • Autopen copies of correspondence from other divisions, 1995-2000, bulk 1996-2000, 5.6 cubic ft.
  • Staff files, 1948-2001, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 10.5 cubic ft.
  • Speeches, probably 1994-1999, bulk 1995-1999, 4.75 cubic ft.
  • Daily schedules, 1995-1999, 3.58 cubic ft.
  • Itinerary information, 1995-1999, 7 cubic ft.
  • Correspondence, 1994-1999, bulk 1995-1999, 4.8 cubic ft.
  • Press releases and news clippings, 1994-1999, bulk 1995-1999, 0.9 cubic ft.
  • Invitations and regrets, 1994-1999, bulk 1995-1999, 3.3 cubic ft.
  • Texas Book Festival notebooks, 1996-1999, 1.1 cubic ft.
  • Foundation files, 1996-2000, bulk 1998-2000, 1.1 cubic ft.
  • Office files, 1995-2000, bulk 1995-1996, 1998-1999, 0.2 cubic ft.
  • Correspondence, 1989-2000, undated, bulk 1995-2000, 5.5 cubic ft.
  • Meeting files, 1984-1991, 1995-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 0.96 cubic ft.
  • Manuals and directories, 1995, 1997-2000, bulk 2000, 0.4 cubic ft.
  • Correspondence, 1995-2000, undated, bulk 2000, 0.2 cubic ft.
  • Calendars, 1999-2000, bulk 2000, 0.2 cubic ft.


Restrictions on Access

Because of the possibility that portions of these records fall under Public Information Act exceptions including, but not limited to, attorney-client privilege (V.T.C.A., Government Code Section 552.107), agency memoranda and working papers (V.T.C.A., Government Code Section 552.111), driver's license numbers (V.T.C.A., Government Code Section 552.130), account information (V.T.C.A., Government Code Section 552.136), email addresses (V.T.C.A., Government Code Section 552.137), social security numbers (V.T.C.A., Government Code Section 552.147), records relating to allegations of child abuse (V.T.C.A., Government Code Section 552.101, Family Code Section 261.201 (a)) psychiatric evaluations (V.T.C.A., Government Code Section 552.101, Health and Safety Code Section 611.002) a citizen and a legislator and/or lieutenant governor (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Chapter 306) social service recipients (V.T.C.A, Human Resources Code, Title 2 - Department of Human Services and Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, Section 12.003) home addresses, phone numbers, and personal family information of government employees and officials (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.117) government information related to security issues for computers (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.136) and proprietary and trade secret information that may be subject to V.T.C.A. Texas Government Code Section 552.110 and other information protected under common law privacy (V.T.C.A., Government Code Sections 552.101), an archivist must review these records before they can be accessed for research. The records may be requested for research under the provisions of the Public Information Act (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Chapter 552). The researcher may request an interview with an archivist or submit a request by mail (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, P. O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711), fax (512-463-5436), email ([email protected]), or see our web page ( Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the archivist to accurately identify and locate the information requested. (Note: The Governor's Office has requested that the State Archives contact the Public Information Coordinator for the Governor's Office when we receive a Public Information Act request for these records.) If our review reveals information that may be excepted by the Public Information Act, we are obligated to seek an open records decision from the Attorney General on whether the records can be released. The Public Information Act allows the Archives ten working days after receiving a request to make this determination. The Attorney General has 45 working days to render a decision. Alternately, the Archives can inform you of the nature of the potentially excepted information and if you agree, that information can be redacted or removed and you can access the remainder of the records.

Records series described in this finding aid have access restrictions specific to each of them. The terms of access are found in the finding aids for series and office records.

Restrictions on Use

Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Technical Requirements

Researchers are required to wear gloves provided by the Archives when reviewing photographic materials.

To view the VHS videotapes or listen to the audiotapes please contact Archives staff.

Records contain electronic information.

Indices to portions of Governor Bush's records are available electronically in Microsoft Access, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel.

Records contain information on Beta videotapes and 3.5-inch disks. Researchers wishing to view any of the information on these tapes or disks should consult with Archives staff and be aware that the archives may not own the equipment needed to access some information. Some information on the disks may be exempted from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act, and the disks themselves may or may not still be readable.

Index Terms

Related Material

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item and cite the series and office), Texas Governor George W. Bush records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession numbers: 2002/151, 2003/026, 2005/144, 2006/390, 2009/144, 2011/418, 2013/086

In December 2000, Governor George W. Bush designated the George Bush Presidential Library as the repository for the records from his tenure as Governor of Texas, under authority of Texas Government Code, Section 441.201. Shortly after he left office, the records were shipped to the Bush Library in College Station, Texas. Texas Attorney General John Cornyn ruled the records are state records subject to the Texas Public Information Act and the management of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission even after transfer to a federal facility (Opinion No. JC-0498, May 3, 2002). In July 2002 the records were transferred from the Bush Library to the Texas State Archives in Austin for preparation for research use. In June 2003, a memorandum of understanding signed by representatives of the National Archives and Records Administration, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and George W. Bush replaced a January 2002 interim memorandum of understanding. The records were moved to the George W. Bush Presidential Library in February 2013. Additional records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission from the Texas Office of the Governor on October 9, 2002, May 18, 2005, August 1, 2006, July 2, 2009, August 4, 2011, and February 1, 2013.

Processing Information

Texas State Archives staff, February 2003 to December 2011

Finding aid converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by TARO conversion stylesheet v1to02.xsl, July 2003

Finding aid revised to conform to TARO file size restrictions by Tonia J. Wood, June 2004

Finding aid revised by Jessica Tucker, October 2011

Finding aid revised by Tonia J. Wood, December 2012

Finding aid updated by Tonia J. Wood, April 2013

Other Finding Aids

Electronic files containing finding aids created by the Governor's Office and a folder listing begun by the Bush Library and completed at the Texas State Archives are available upon request.

Bush and Public Opinion

As George W. Bush prepares to leave the White House, the United States is in many ways dramatically different from when he took the oath of office in 2001. His first few months as president were largely unremarkable, despite the contentious 2000 election. But the horrific terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 greatly altered the course forward.

The attacks transformed American public opinion and fundamentally reshaped Bush’s image. His job approval rating reached 86% by late September. The public expressed broad willingness to use military force to combat terrorism. But then controversies over the build-up to war in Iraq and other Bush policies started to take their toll – at home and abroad.

U.S. forces quickly ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003, but could not create a lasting peace. As the fighting dragged on, Bush won re-election by a narrow margin. In his second term, he failed in his bid to build support for a partial privatization of Social Security. American deaths continued in Iraq, the government bungled the response to the devastating Hurricane Katrina in late 2005 and political scandal reached directly into the White House.

Soon, economic troubles started to mount, and in 2008, the economy went into a dangerous free fall that led to controversial and expensive government intervention in financial markets. The president’s approval ratings slid over time to historic lows. His approval last hit 50% as he started his second term. It stood at just 24% in early December.

Not surprisingly, the public’s verdict on the Bush presidency is overwhelmingly negative. In a December 2008 Pew Research Center survey, just 11% said Bush will be remembered as an outstanding or above average president – by far the lowest positive end-of-term rating for any of the past four presidents. Yet Bush’s impact on public opinion over the past eight years is seen in ways that go well beyond his personal unpopularity.

He helped shape the post-9/11 climate of opinion that was broadly accepting of a muscular approach to U.S. national security. And even after much of the public came to oppose the war in Iraq, there continued to be considerable support for the Bush doctrine of preemptive military action. In spite of the public’s shock over pictures of abuse of detainees at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison, nearly half of Americans consistently said that the torture of terrorists to gain key information was at least sometimes justified.

In the final year of his presidency, even as his approval rating steadily declined to historic lows, most Americans continued to say Bush’s anti-terror policies deserve at least a fair amount of credit for preventing more terror attacks.

In his first term, Bush scored several early legislative successes on domestic issues – such as the No Child Left Behind education reform, two rounds of tax cuts and the launch of a significant Medicare drug plan.

But after those successes, the instances when Bush was able to mobilize – and maintain – public support for his agenda were rare. Even in the realm of national security, the public increasingly rejected the idea that a large military presence overseas would reduce the threat of terror at home.

Public backing for what was to have been Bush’s signature second-term achievement – reforming the Social Security system – withered within months of his reelection. His immigration reform proposal faced opposition within his own party, even though it was an issue – like Social Security – where Americans recognized major change was needed.

What might have damaged Bush’s legacy most was his administration’s mixed record of competent governance. Between Iraq, the government’s flawed relief effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and more minor missteps over the Dubai ports issue and other matters, the government “brand” deteriorated badly during the Bush years. In late April 2008, just 37% expressed a favorable view of the federal government, about half of the percentage of five years earlier (73%).

Final Judgments

In a Pew survey conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,489 adults, the American public paints a harshly negative picture of Bush’s tenure. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say his administration will be remembered more for its failures than its accomplishments, and a plurality (34%) says Bush will go down in history as a poor president. Fully 68% say they disapprove of Bush’s performance and most of those – 53% of the public – say they disapprove strongly. That is the highest rate of strong disapproval measured by Pew surveys in Bush’s eight years in office.

As his second term ends, only 13% say Bush has made progress toward solving the major issues facing the country 37% say he has made those problems worse and 34% say he has tried but failed in his efforts. Another 11% say he has not addressed the major problems facing the country.

More than three times as many people say Bush will go down in history as a poor president (34%) than said the same of Bill Clinton at the end of his presidency (11%). About a quarter (24%) say Bush will be seen as below average and close to three-in-ten (28%) say he will be seen as average. Just 11% say he will go down in history as above average or outstanding.

Not surprisingly, the most critical assessments come from Democrats. More than half (53%) say Bush will go down in history as a poor president, while 25% say he will be remembered as below average. More than four-in-ten Republicans (44%) say he will be remembered as an average president 21% say below average and 6% say poor. Two-in-ten say he will be remembered as above average, while 7% say outstanding.

Americans by a wide margin (64% to 24%) also say that in the long run the failures of the Bush administration will outweigh its accomplishments. The assessment of Clinton in 2001, despite controversy over how he had conducted himself in office, was virtually a mirror image. Six-in-ten said the accomplishments would outweigh the failures, and 27% said the failures would outweigh the accomplishments.

Just over half (52%) of Republicans say the Bush administration will be best known for its accomplishments. That number is significantly smaller for independents (20%) and Democrats (8%). When Clinton was leaving office, his own party (77%) and independents (60%) were much more convinced he would be remembered for his accomplishments.

Second Term Approval Slide

Between the start of his second term and December 2008, Bush’s approval rating dropped from 50% to 24%, a level that rivals the historic lows recorded by Gallup for Harry S Truman as he left office in 1952. Declines came across demographic and political groups, though significant divides still exist among those with differing political ideologies.

Approval among moderate and liberal Republicans saw one of the sharpest drops – from 82% to 50%. Conservative Republican approval dropped from 94% to 66%. Independent approval started at below half in 2005 – 47% – but dropped to 18% by December 2008. The change among Democratic groups, already highly critical of Bush, proved less dramatic. Approval among conservative and moderate Democrats dropped from 22% t
o 8%, while approval among liberal Democrats dropped from 7% to 2%.

Bush’s approval dropped significantly among all education levels. In terms of age groups, the largest decline came among the youngest voters – those age 18-29. Within that group, approval dropped from 50% to 19%. The oldest group – age 65 and up – experienced a smaller decline, dropping from 47% to 26%.

A Legacy of War

When people are asked what they think Bush will be most remembered for after he leaves office, the most frequent responses volunteered are tied to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism. More than half (51%) of responses mention facets of the Global War on Terror, with close to three-in-ten (29%) specifically mentioning Iraq.

About 17% include specific negative assessments of Bush and his performance. Small percentages within that group refer to his competence (2%), his negative impact on the country (2%) or label him the “worst president” (2%). Another 13% refer to the impact of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, with 9% mentioning the attacks specifically and 3% noting that Bush had kept the country safe from major attack since that day. Another 12% mentions economic issues, including 7% who refer to the economy specifically, 4% who mention the current crisis and 3% referring to the recession. Another 4% offer positive assessments of Bush’s performance in office.

Meanwhile, concerns about Bush’s effectiveness are also seen in the one-word answers people give to describe their impressions of the president. In mid-2005, positive one-word descriptions outnumbered negative ones, but in more recent lists, the responses have been more negative. The most frequently mentioned description in the latest survey was “incompetent,” just as it was in February 2007 and March 2006. Many of the terms offered by respondents in the December 2008 survey are negative, though the second most frequently mentioned description was honest. Good and honorable also make the list.

The Global Outlook

On the foreign stage, a solid majority of Americans say the country is significantly less respected than in the past – and many of those people see that as a major problem. Many Americans are eager to turn inward to deal with this nation’s problems: fully 60% said in September 2008 that domestic policy should be the primary focus of the new president. And a greater percentage than before the Iraq war now say the best way to reduce the threat of terror is to reduce America’s military presence overseas, not increase it.

Meanwhile, a 2008 survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project showed that majorities in 19 of the 24 nations – including several strong U.S. allies – had little confidence in Bush as he neared the end of his presidency. A 2007 survey of 45 nations found anti-American sentiment extensive as well as increasing disapproval for key elements of U.S. foreign policy.

And the image of the U.S. in the Muslim world remained abysmal. Iraq, the war on terrorism and American support for Israel continued to generate animosity in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere. In many nations considered central to the war on terror, the general public deeply distrusted the United States. Even in countries like Kuwait that have long been considered relatively pro-American, the U.S. image had declined.

Among the few bright spots for Bush in the Global Attitudes surveys were the African nations that had benefited from administration programs to boost economic growth and reduce the spread of AIDS. In 2008, majorities in Tanzania and Nigeria expressed confidence in the president.

Still, Bush has had some success at home building support for tough tactics – including harsh interrogation policies for foreign detainees and government monitoring of phone calls or e-mails without warrants – to gather information about possible terrorists and stop potential attacks. On balance, more Americans say they worry that anti-terror policies have not gone far enough in protecting the United States than say they feel the anti-terror policies have “gone too far in restricting civil liberties.”

The Political Legacy

When Bush took office, Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House. But voter party preferences shifted significantly during Bush’s second term as missteps, bad news and scandals took their toll on Bush and GOP congressional leaders. In the 2006 midterm elections, more independents and moderates aligned themselves with the party out of power and Democrats took control of the House and the Senate.

In 2008, Bush was barely seen during the presidential campaign. Both Barack Obama and John McCain persistently criticized his administration, vowing to bring “change” to Washington. Obama’s significant win and additional Democratic gains in Congress signaled a continuing decline of the Republican Party under Bush.

In surveys conducted in the fall of 2008, 51% of all voters said they thought of themselves as Democrats or leaned toward the Democratic Party. That was up five points from 46% during the same period in 2004. Meanwhile, the number identifying with or leaning toward the Republican Party fell from 45% to 41%.

The greatest gains came among younger voters. Only among voters age 65 and older did the percentage identifying with the Democratic Party decrease – from 49% in 2004 to 47% in 2008. The percentage of voters age 18 to 29 identifying with the Democratic Party increased from 48% in the fall of 2004 to 61% in the fall of 2008. Democrats now outnumber Republicans by a margin of nearly two-to-one (61% to 32%) in this age group, up from only a seven-point advantage in 2004.

What Was George W. Bush’s Greatest Achievement? - HISTORY

Very nice guy, class act, war hero. And his wife Barbara was down to earth and seemed like everyone's grandmother.

But the problem was while he was brilliant at foreign policy, he neglected domestic policy. And even with foreign policy, despite all his achievements, he made one crucial mistake. Whatever the diplomatic reasoning, he let Saddam Hussain stay in power.

It wasn't 'diplomatic reasoning', it was simply a matter of objectives. The Gulf War was fought to restore Kuwaiti sovereignty. That was achieved. It was then far cheaper to contain the Ba'athist regime than to take it down and replace it. This was demonstrated in unmistakable terms a dozen years later. It was also understood that removing Saddam Hussein from power would disastrously destabilize the Middle East. This, too, was demonstrated when regime change was undertaken.

History is not going to conclude that one of Bush's failures was not letting mission creep turn a clearly-defined war into some completely unnecessary fiasco. And nothing that occurred post-1991 made regime change any more worth the cost. Those who asserted otherwise have had every last one of their excuses for that assertion shown to be false.

Did you live through 1992? Because the fact that Bush didn't march on Baghdad had precisely zero to do with the failure of his reelection bid.

No historian and no history book is ever going to claim that Bush didn't get a second term because he declined to topple Saddam Hussein.

He lost not only because of the economy but instead of keeping his promise of no new taxes he signed the bill to raise them. Now the press are praising him, but during his term they hated him, called him a coward and a lot of other negative comments about him.

He isn’t a coward and was a good loving family man who served his country with honor and I believe if he kept his promise about not raising taxes those who were angry with him wouldn’t have voted for Perot.

I was in the Army and a GS civilian employee for every president from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama. Looking back, President George HWBush was the best to work for. Quick clean missions. Clear steady vision and guidance. Excellent international statesmanship and communication with world leaders. And I particularly like what he didn't do, (e.g. topple Suddam, go into Serbia, go after warlords in Somalia, etc).

He was a wise head of state and he set a high bar of standards. and I have found over time, that my appreciation of his stewardship has grown with my own learning and growth.

The things I don't care for (e.g. inclusion in the 'world order', chumminess with the 'in club', NAFTA,etc) really don't amount to a hill of potatoes in the big picture.

I think history will remember him relatively well.

Very nice guy, class act, war hero. And his wife Barbara was down to earth and seemed like everyone's grandmother.

But the problem was while he was brilliant at foreign policy, he neglected domestic policy. And even with foreign policy, despite all his achievements, he made one crucial mistake. Whatever the diplomatic reasoning, he let Saddam Hussain stay in power.

Bush at one point was registering approval rating in the high 80s (compare that to Trump or Obama) but he still lost the 1992 reelection campaign because of his neglect of the domestic economy and his letting Saddam Hussain off the hook.

Short term, it was disappointing to the US public that Saddam was not removed, but the goal was to get him out of Kuwait, and frankly, that's all we could afford to do at the time. Budget pressures were looming and the petrodollar system was not as advanced in the early 90's as it would become. Interest rates were much higher then, including the amount we had to pay on borrowed money with debt securities, T-notes, bonds, ect ect. Bush built a coalition of allies, and got hundreds of millions in funding from them, to help pay for Desert Storm. HW Bush legacy looks much better today when we see how difficult it was to establish a new government in Iraq in the 2000's. not to mention the Arab Spring events and ISIS which followed. We can easily get mired down in so many wars in the Middle East, despot dictators are a dime a dozen there, and most of those countries have little respect for freedom and democracy.

We must stay focused on the countries with vast oil wealth, because those are the ones who pose the most danger, have the potential to fund terrorism. Iraq was worth it because they have the second largest oil reserves behind Saudi Arabia, and Saddam made the decision to abandon the petrodollar system in 2003. He had become a mortal enemy of the US and would have used Iraq's oil wealth against our interests every step of the way from then on, and carried that policy down thru his sons, becoming similar to the Kim Dynasty in North Korea, only more powerful because of the oil. You can't have ISIS getting their hands on vast oil reserves either, that would be a long term disaster for the free world. Personally, I think we should be getting a percentage of Iraq's oil for past military endeavors, to repay the US taxpayer for the necessary efforts we had to make in Iraq.

HW Bush did manage to take down a strong man, Manuel Noriega, in Panama, which was a success. His dealing with Russia at the end of the cold war was perfect, in not rubbing it in, and setting us up for a good relationship with Yeltsin, which did bring capitalist ideals to Russia and helped them shake communism for good. As it turns out, Russians do prefer an authoritarian style government and this is what holds them back from being fully westernized. The advantage is ours, because the business climate in Russia is retarded from mafia policy, and they can't grow outside the energy sector in any meaningful way. They are a rival held in check, and their people are still much better off than they were under the old communist system.

I think the biggest mistake of the HW Bush administration, was giving China most favored trading status after Tiananmen Square. When you look at how powerful they have become and look at the future potential they have, we may have created a monster that could destroy the petrodollar/federal reserve system someday, and bring eventual collapse to the US economy. I think it would have been much wiser to set up factories in Central and South America to produce low end consumer products for the US. They are far less dangerous to us, than China, and would also work cheap and probably allowed companies as much leeway on environmental laws as China did for their industry.