George W. Bush: The American Presidents Series: The 43rd President, 2001-2009
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The controversial president whose time in office was defined by the September 11 attacks and the war on terror
George W. Bush stirred powerful feelings on both sides of the aisle. Republicans viewed him as a resolute leader who guided America through the September 11 attacks and retaliated in Afghanistan and Iraq, while Democrats saw him as an overmatched president who led America into two inconclusive wars that sapped the nation's resources and diminished its stature. When Bush left office amid a growing financial crisis, both parties were eager to move on.
In this assessment of the nation's forty-third president, James Mann sheds light on why George W. Bush made the decisions that shaped his presidency, what went wrong, and how the internal debates and fissures within his administration played out in such a charged atmosphere. He shows how and why Bush became such a polarizing figure in both domestic and foreign affairs, and he examines the origins and enduring impact of Bush's most consequential actions-including Iraq, the tax cuts, and the war on terror. In this way, Mann points the way to a more complete understanding of George W. Bush and his times.
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$2 trillion. At the time the war started, the estimates of how long the United States would remain in Iraq were in the range of a couple of years. Instead, American troops stayed in Iraq for nearly nine years, suffered 4,500 fatalities, and departed under circumstances that fell far short of the stable, democratic Iraq that Bush had envisioned. One major reason for these faulty estimates was a misjudgment about how Iraqis would respond after the invasion. Four days before the start of the war,
of the Bush administration’s prewar claim that Iraq was actively developing weapons of mass destruction. Libby’s indictment was a blow to the vice president and set the stage for a frosty dispute between Bush and Cheney in their final days in the White House. Looking back at the series of debacles in late 2005, including Hurricane Katrina, the failure of his proposal on Social Security, and the unending violence in Iraq, Bush summarized mordantly: “Just a year earlier, I had won reelection with
that Bush avoided for political reasons: in 2011, he canceled what would have been his first postpresidential trip to Europe, a speech in Geneva, because human rights groups planned major demonstrations and said they would try to arrest him. Before leaving the White House, Bush had told one interviewer that when he stepped down he planned to make money to “replenish the ol’ coffers.” He went at that task determinedly, following Clinton’s example, by amassing millions of dollars through speaking
Congress”: Bush, Decision Points, p. 162. The vice president was the driving force: Cheney, In My Time, p. 348, and Tenet, At the Center of the Storm, p. 237. “I want a plan tomorrow.… They just need to move”: Rice, No Higher Honor, pp. 94–96. new system of tribunals: Gellman, Angler, pp. 162–68. “The Vice President was, as I remember it, the one”: Rice, No Higher Honor, p. 106. no constitutional protections: Bush, Decision Points, p. 166. “weasel out”: Douglas J. Feith, War and Decision: