George W. Bush was appointed by the Supreme Court as the 43rd president
of the United States of America
. He was born on July 6, 1946 to George Bush
, who would also serve as president, and Barbara Bush
, in New Haven, Connecticut
. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Midland, Texas
where George Sr. was in the oil business. As the oldest of six children born to a New England Brahmin
family, George W. could count on some advantages throughout life. He attended the elite Philips Andover Preparatory Academy
boarding school in Massachusetts
, and later returned to New Haven for Yale University
, where he received a BA in history in 1968
Slacker and businessman:
Maintaining a C average, Bush's major interests in college were partying with his fraternity brothers and being one of the few males on the cheerleading squad. Although as president he would later rail against social promotion, a practice where students are allowed to graduate despite poor records, his whole life seems to be the result of 'social promotion.' His admission to Yale, appointment to a cushy position in the Texas Air National Guard instead of the Vietnam draft, later admission to Harvard Business School, and securing of investors in his business ventures would have all been impossible without the clout, contacts, and money of his father.
While most of the young men of his generation were either facing death in Vietnam or opposing the war, Bush's father obtained for him a position with the Texas Air National Guard. The position was so cushy that Bush went AWOL for eighteen months with no consequences1. Those 18 months were likely filled with hard partying, as this was Bush's sole interest in the period. He was a very heavy drinker, and many former friends describe drug use ranging from marijuana to cocaine, which is ironic in light of Bush's later political zero tolerance stance on these drugs. In 1976, he was convicted of drunk driving while on vacation at the family's compound at Kennebunkport, Maine.
In 1973 Bush entered the Harvard Business School, graduating with an MBA in 1975, although his life had not yet picked up any direction beyond partying. During a drunken episode, George W. was confronted by his father and told that the elder Bush was 'very disappointed' in him. The younger Bush actually physically threatened the elder one before leaving, although the incident supposedly had a profound effect, and the story goes that at this point George W. resolved to make something of his life. He met and married his wife, Laura, in 1977.
Bush ran for Congress from Midland, Texas in 1977, and upon losing, went into the oil business. When one of Bush's failing companies, Spectrum 7, was purchased by a firm owned by a friend of his father's, Bush somehow wound up with $300,000 in company stock and a seat on the board. In 1986, he contributed some $600,000 of $86 million that a group of investors put up to buy the Texas Rangers baseball team. For his contribution of less than 1%, Bush was named the managing partner. This is because his father was the Vice President of the country at the time, of course.
Although George W. would later claim that "Government does not generate wealth, people generate wealth," he shamelessly amassed a fortune at the public expense in the early 1990s by getting the city of Arlington, Texas, to invest $200 million of taxpayer money into a privately owned stadium for the Rangers, a type of giant giveaway to business owners that was common in the period.
Bush made it be known that he was interested in becoming the commissioner of major league baseball but it was not to be. Instead, he ran for governor of Texas in 1994 and won with 53 percent of the vote, being re-elected in 1998. As governor, Bush presided over 143 executions, more than any other governor in American history. Bush was not concerned in the slightest with the flaws of the Texas death penalty, which are well documented. Defense lawyers have slept through trials and evidence proving innocence has been shown to have been suppressed in several cases. However, Bush was not moved to do anything about the system, instead choosing to mock condemned prisoners appealing for clemency. It is very likely that Bush executed one or several innocent people.
Bush was largely unknown nationally when he announced he was running for the presidency. In a short time he accumulated the largest campaign war-chest through contributions in American history, some 100 million dollars. Bush was funded by corporations and pro-business political action committees, especially from the oil, energy exploitation, health insurance, and financial services sectors, and although hefty, their considerable 'investment' in George W.'s campaign would pay for itself many times over in government giveaways and decreased regulation.
In the Republican primaries, Bush faced a host of opponents, but Arizona Senator John McCain rose to the forefront, winning the New Hampshire primary. McCain ran on a platform of campaign finance reform and moderation on social issues, while Bush did exactly the opposite. His platform included radically conservative positions such as a trillion dollar tax cut, a plan to partially privatize Social Security, and a plan to contract some government functions to religious institutions. In order to win the South Carolina primary, he aligned himself with the Christian conservative movement, even to the point of attending an event at Bob Jones University, which teaches white supremacist and anti-Catholic rhetoric. McCain refused to do so, and he was no match for Bush's millions, and in the end Bush secured the Republican nomination, selecting as his running mate Dick Cheney, a former secretary of defense in his father's administration who had moved in an out of the public and private sectors.
In the general election, Bush's Democratic opponent was the vice president, Al Gore. For many weeks, pundits declared the race 'too close to call.' In covering the race, the media showed outright bias unprecedented in recent American history, a trend that would continue into his administration. Bush's suspect past and dangerous lack of foreign policy knowledge were not even touched on, while Gore was consistently portrayed as a 'liar' or worse, and the candidacy of Ralph Nader of the Green Party was wholly ignored until the end. However, it was Bush himself who was an outright, bold face liar, by vastly downplaying the damage that his proposed trillion dollar tax cut would do to the federal treasury. Still, he accused Gore of practicing 'fuzzy math.'
When the votes were counted, Gore received over a million more votes than Bush. In fact, Gore garnered the second most votes of any presidential candidate in the nation's history. With the totals of Gore and Nader summed, the candidates of the Left and Center received an outright majority of some two million. However, Bush and Gore were much closer in the Electoral vote totals. The electoral college outcome of the race depended on Florida, where there was not a clear winner. This was immediately glossed over by the pro-Bush media, who declared Bush the winner in Florida with Gore 'challenging' the results. Gore would have won the state easily were it not for myriad ballot errors. The Florida Supreme Court ruled for a recount, at which point the United States Supreme Court stepped in and, with a 5-4 decision, halted the recount, handing the presidency to Bush. Interestingly, the five justices who voted to stop the recount were previously advocates of 'states' rights.'
Bush's inauguration was met with the largest protests since the Vietnam era, which were wholly ignored by the media. Although Bush had won the presidency after the closest election in the nation's history, one in which he in fact had overwhelmingly lost the popular vote, he claimed a mandate and set about pushing his legislative agenda through congress with no accommodation to the closeness of the election or the bitter division following it. He also appointed rabid ideologues to positions in his cabinet, including controversial attorney general John Ashcroft. In a testament to how pro-corporate his administration would be, many if not most Bush appointees to regulatory agencies had previously argued for the elimination of those same agencies, or made careers out of fighting their authority in court. Indeed, the Bush administration has been astonishingly pro-corporate. Every policy position is vetted before business organizations.
Bush's tax cut plan was passed, as was an education bill emphasizing constant standardized testing, although the Social Security privatization, and "Faith-Based" funding initiatives failed after the Democrats regained a Senate majority following the party switch of Senator Jim Jeffords. Other notable policies included a complete rejection of the Kyoto Protocol treaty to address global warming, and in fact a complete denial in the face of all evidence that global warming was even occurring, and a $200 million gift to the Taleban regime in Afghanistan in March of 2001.
During the presidential election, although his proposed tax cuts made them inevitable, Bush had promised not to return to federal deficits except in the case of 'war, recession, or national emergency.' On September 11, 2001, as three thousand New Yorkers lay buried in the ruins of the World Trade Center, Bush exclaimed "I hit the trifecta!" meaning that the nation now had all three. This stunningly inappropriate comment was not heavily reported in the media.
Instead, many people in a nation searching for a reassuring presence astonishingly turned to president Bush, whose first public comment to the nation on September 11 was "I have spoken with the Vice President and he is alright."
According to the media, Bush enjoyed very high 'approval ratings' following the September 11 attacks. September 11 was used as an excuse to propose an agenda that conservatives in his cabinet had wanted for many years, including a significant curtailing of civil liberties, programs of domestic spying, and a more aggressive and unilateral foreign policy. Bush's apparent popularity helped the Republicans pick up two Senate seats and several House seats in the 2002 midterm elections, assuring a Republican majority in the congress.
1 "I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units...Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country."
-Colin Powell, in his autobiography, My American Journey, p. 148