Tags: President | George W Bush | Polls | Iraq

George W. Bush: Over Time, Presidential Performance Polls Will Rise

By    |   Monday, 11 Aug 2014 03:50 PM

As president, George W. Bush was widely hailed for a range of domestic achievements, but his popularity was marred by a long and difficult war in Iraq. Largely as a result of that war, Bush is among the worst-rated presidents, according to most historians' polls.

But it has not been unusual for views on a president's performance to become more positive in the years following his departure from the White House.

"It's inevitable that George W. Bush's stock will go up, in my view, because he was rated so low to begin with," said John Geer, a professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University.

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One of the Bush administration's early major initiatives was the No Child Left Behind Act, aimed at closing the student performance gap between rich and poor children and providing options for parents with students in low-performing schools.

In 2003, Bush signed into law a popular Medicare drug benefit program offering seniors aid in paying for prescription medications.

His administration presided over the largest tax cuts since the Reagan administration. Bush was applauded for the AIDS relief program known as PEPFAR, and signed into law the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

But those domestic achievements notwithstanding, America's 43rd president will be most remembered for an event that occurred eight months into his first term — the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon.

Bush responded by announcing a global War on Terror, and ordered an invasion of Afghanistan that overthrew the Taliban regime.

But beginning with his Jan. 29, 2003, State of the Union address, Bush began publicly focusing on Iraq, which he argued posed a "grave and growing danger" to the United States due to its believed possession of weapons of mass destruction.

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On March 20, 2003, the United States led an invasion of Iraq, and the Iraqi military was quickly defeated. However, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. And despite Bush's much criticized "mission accomplished" declaration, the situation in Iraq steadily deteriorated and allied forces faced a growing insurgency led by sectarian groups.

By the time U.S. forces were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, 4,487 Americans had been killed and more than 32,220 had been wounded. In addition to the invasion of Iraq, Bush has also taken much of the blame for the financial crisis that began in late 2007 — although the country's economy was already troubled by the bursting of the dot.com bubble — and his administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina.

But supporters credit Bush's counterterrorism policies with preventing another major terrorist attack from occurring after 9/11.

A 2010 Siena College poll of more than 230 presidential scholars found that Bush was ranked 39th out of 43 presidents, while a 2013 History News Network poll of historians showed that more than half of them rated his presidency as a failure.

However, Bush's approval rating, which stood at just 35 percent in March 2009, rose to 47 percent by April 2013 in a Washington Post/ABC News survey.

Princeton University scholar Julian Zelizer said about Bush: "Some people hate him, some people love him, but I do think he'll have a much more substantive perception as time goes on."

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As president, George W. Bush was widely hailed for a range of domestic achievements, but his popularity was marred by a long and difficult war in Iraq. Largely as a result of that war, Bush is among the worst-rated presidents, but that could change over time.
President, George W Bush, Polls, Iraq
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2014-50-11
Monday, 11 Aug 2014 03:50 PM
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