The Political Strengths and Weaknesses of the Bush Presidency Essay
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A United States president is a prominent personality, not only in shaping the country’s future, but, more importantly, that of the world. Because his power and influence is so immense, citizens of America, as well as those of other countries, always have their watchful eyes over the president. Thus, his policies, programs, and decisions receive both praises and massive criticisms from around the world.
President George Walker Bush, one of the most controversial leaders of the United States of America, is the 43rd President of the country and currently serving his second term.
His original inauguration took place on 20 January 2001, after Bush won the seat, even when he narrowly lost the popular vote, for the 2000 presidential election over democrat Al Gore.
(The American Presidency 2007) Despite significant domestic and international criticisms during his first term, especially because of his method of fighting terrorism, he was re-elected in 2004 and, this time, won the majority of the popular vote – the greatest number of popular votes of any presidential candidate in history – against his opponent Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. (Borger 2004) President George W. Bush is the son of former President George Bush. Being the son of an esteemed former leader of the country, his name commands great respect and influence.
This facilitated his successful penetration of the world of politics. However, his extraordinary political success cannot be attributed solely to this, but is probably due to at least five vital things: “great political fundamentals, including an ability and willingness to raise large sums of money; an ability to propose a clear, coherent and easily understandable policy agenda; an ability to attract, manage and retain a strong team of advisers; a willingness to go for the jugular repeatedly and without remorse; and a willingness to take a risk repeatedly.
” (Watson 2004) Moreover, his decisiveness and steadfastness in his policies have also helped him in his success as President. Presently, however, his political strength lies greatly in the fact that this is the final term of President Bush’s presidency. He does not necessarily need to fret about whether or not the United States citizenry would approve of his programs and political decisions, risking the possibility of reelection. Thus, this allows him to make decisions on the sole reason that he believes it would benefit the country and the citizens of United States, without the need to worry about his popularity.
However, the political strengths of President George W. Bush are also some of his political weaknesses. For instance, being the son of an esteemed former president of the United States of America, President George W. Bush is prone to criticisms and comparison with his father. He needs to ensure that he does not taint the name of his father because of his actions. Thus, there is great pressure on his part to be cautious about his decisions, the way he presents himself in public, and the way he deals with people, which, in a way, compromises the way he is supposed to run the country. President George W.
Bush has made many controversial decisions during the duration of his administration that resulted to numerous domestic and international criticisms; to name a few: his decision to withdraw the support of the government to the Kyoto Protocol, his support of the legislation interpreted to bring about the delimitation of American civil liberties, the dismissal of seven United States Attorneys initiated by his administration, his decision to continue reading with elementary school children for seven minutes after being informed about the 11 September 2001 attacks, and his foreign policy to combat terrorism.
Under the first term of President Bush, the support of the United States government to the Kyoto Protocol, which is an amendment to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change that seeks to impose mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, was withdrawn. The withdrawal was executed after the Senate had expressed its disapproval through a vote of 95-0 on a resolution in 1997.
(Wikipedia 2007) This was only one of a number of controversial decisions regarding the environment for which President Bush received criticism from national environmental groups. The criticisms were not misplaced, however, because according to the National Resources Defense Council (2005): “After four years in office, the George W. Bush administration has compiled an environmental record that is taking our nation in a new and dangerous direction. Last year alone, Bush administration agencies made more than 150 actions that weakened our environmental laws.
Over the course of the first term, this administration led the most thorough and destructive campaign against America’s environmental safeguards in the past 40 years. ” On the moment of the September 11 World Trade Center Attacks, Bush was reported to continue with the reading lesson with elementary school children for seven minutes after being told by Chief of Staff Andrew Card that the United States was under attack. (Achenbach 2004) This particular decision of President Bush, although minor in nature, produced great political criticism against him.
His misplaced priorities were ridiculed, thus, then Democratic 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry commented, “Americans want to know that the person they choose as president has all the skills and ability, all of the mental toughness, all of the gut instinct necessary to be a strong commander in chief. ” (Healy 2004) In September 2002, the ‘National Security Strategy’ was released, which is the pronouncement of the Bush administration of its new foreign policy to combat terrorism.
Although this was a concrete and decisive response of the president to the threats of terrorism to the United States, it was nevertheless a “justification for a proactive military response to the threat of terrorism; at its heart was a proposition that represents an astonishing departure from past policy in that it sanctioned the preemptive use of force before an enemy threat emerges… Preemptive military attacks are justified in international law if they are a response to an imminent threat, provable by pristine and undeniably trustworthy intelligence, and carried out in way that is proportional to the threat.
” (Matthew 2004) People from all over the world criticized this particular action of President Bush to be selfish and conceited. Many countries, which are very critical of the way the United States manipulate the international economy, empathized with the bravado that the terrorist manifested in assaulting the world’s perceived greatest manipulator, even if they may not agree with the inclusion of the civilians in the casualties. Thus, public international outcries and antagonism bombarded President Bush.
However, the most controversial resolve that he has made was his decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Many people believed that this decision will produce more harm than good. It was mere responding to the terrorism attack with another terrorism attack and this will greatly endanger the life, not only of the inhabitants of Iraq, but will also bring immense danger to the peace and stability throughout the world. Because he was at the forefront of organizing this endeavor and ordered the invasion himself, the criticisms thrown were directly borne by the president.
(Hickman 2006) Moreover, because under the system of the United Nations, “no force may be used to settle any international dispute without the sanction of the Security Council… [but,] without waiting for the final report of the inspection team, the US military forces and allies invaded Iraq,” (Coquia and Santiago 2005) great concerns were raised regarding the obsession of the Bush administration with the war on terrorism.
Instead of airing grievances against the terrorism attack made by the group from the Middle East, many countries expressed their disapproval and opposition to President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. Without a doubt, the political standing and influence of the United States President, like President George W. Bush, impacts not only the country that he governs, but also the rest of the world. To this end, seventy-three percent of the respondents in a survey conducted by Newsweek in June 2007 expressed their disapproval of the way President Bush handled the war in Iraq.
(Newsweek 2007) After the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers, President Bush has approved a number of laws interpreted to be delimiting United States citizens’ civil liberties, the most prominent of which is the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that diminishes the right to privacy. In this regard, he received criticisms from the conservatives, for increased government spending after his promise during his candidacy that he would reduce spending and make government smaller, as well as from the liberals, for purging basic civil liberties.
Moreover, President Bush was criticized for his administration’s seeming support of using torture against people deemed to endanger the security of the United States, following the suggestion of the Pentagon that anyone believed to be a threat to security can be legally tortured by the President. (BBC News 2004) The criticism stretched out to his administration’s utilization of “extraordinary rendition,” through which individuals are sent to countries where torture can easily occur without any form of oversight. (Isaacs 2005) To this, President Bush presented the following defense:
“The United States government has an obligation to protect the American people. It’s in our country’s interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm’s way. And we will do so within the law, and we will do so in honoring our commitment not to torture people. And we expect the countries where we send somebody to, not to torture, as well. But you bet, when we find somebody who might do harm to the American people, we will detain them and ask others from their country of origin to detain them. It makes sense. The American people expect us to do that.
” (2005) In 2006, the Department of Justice under President George Bush’s administration dismissed seven United States Attorneys and replaced the latter by interim appointees under provisions of the 2005 Patriot Act reauthorization. The controversy is currently making waves in the political arena. Comprehensible elucidation regarding the dismissal of these United States Attorneys is yet to be achieved. It has been argued that the scandal has damaged the “integrity of the Department of Justice” (Carr 2007) and “the non-partisan tradition of the United States Attorneys.
” (Leahy 2007) President Bush’s political strength has not waned yet throughout the years that he has served. Despite the many criticisms that he has received, he still continues to command great influence over America and the rest of the world. However, his critics would say that President Bush has already hit the bottom because of the many antagonistic remarks against him regarding his position with concerning domestic and international policies, especially his position in the war against terrorism. This, they cannot deny, though: President George W.
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