I am going to start this post with a statement some may consider to be so bold and controversial that they will not be able to read the rest of the post without attempting to formulate a challenge to my viewpoint throughout: George W. Bush was one of the greatest U.S. Presidents of all time. This, admittedly, unpopular opinion is one that I will attempt to justify throughout the course of this post and, naturally, I welcome those of you who disagree violently to comment with a challenge to the views that I am to express in this article.
Firstly, contrary to stereotypical views of the Republican Party, George W. Bush can be said to have embraced scientific advancements when he became the first president in history to provide federal funding for stem cell research. Moreover, Bush not only became the first president to successfully provide this funding, but he also managed to achieve a compromise through his policy by taking both the interests of scientific researchers and pro-life activists into account by ensuring that, although funding was to be provided for research purposes, the future destruction of human embryos was not to be permitted; this ensure that Bush respected both religious values and the needs of researchers. Bush’s policy on stem cell research is in sharp contrast to that of his successor, Barack Obama, who overturned Bush’s ban on federal funding for research on stem cells created through the future destruction of human embryos and, arguably, attacked religious values by claiming that “miracles do not happen simply by accident”. Unlike his successor, on this issue, Bush showed an ability to compromise whilst also ensuring that science was able to advance further in an attempt to find new cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Moreover, similar to others such as Reagan and Lincoln, Bush was open to the idea that we should confront evil. Through the neo-conservative Bush Doctrine, threats to the United States and the world were identified and confronted ultimately leading to a process of democratisation being introduced in states such as Iraq and Afghanistan which had been brutally oppressed under their former leaders. Although the Bush Doctrine is often criticised, I do not believe that there is many people out there who truly believe that Iraq was a better place under the rule of the genocidal Saddam Hussein nor do I believe that there are many people who believe that Afghanistan was a better place under the rule of the Taliban despite continued restrictions on the rights of women. To believe otherwise would require one to be truly lacking a moral compass. Through his willingness to confront evil, Bush demonstrated courage unknown to many other U.S. Presidents who have preferred to follow a policy of indifference, naturally, allowing the threat of evil to advance.
Moreover, although he must take some of the blame, George W. Bush cannot be held responsible for the financial crisis that unfolded at the end of his time in office. It is likely that history will place on the spotlight on the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 as the key reason as to why the 2008 financial collapse occurred and, although Bush should have perhaps acted earlier to prevent the disaster which was to unfold, it may be said that few would have predicted what was to eventually happen. Regardless, Bush did respond to the crisis by venturing outside of his own ideological beliefs to offer a stimulus package of $700 billion; this further allowed Bush to demonstrate a willingness to compromise, especially where important decisions were to be made.
Bush also successfully appointed two Supreme Court Justices who are now known to be key defenders of the U.S. Constitution, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Roberts, previous to his appointment, had been the law clerk of former Chief Justice Rehnquist and had argued numerous cases in front of the Supreme Court whilst Alito has demonstrated a desire to ensure that the Constitution is respected and that the rules outlined are not bent too far. Even the withdrawn nomination of Harriet Miers can be said to have been a reasonable nomination, after all, she had previously been the president of the State Bar of Texas.
Finally, Bush also has a fantastic humanitarian record with, through the aid of programmes created under his administration, the death rate from AIDS in Botswana falling by around 60% and nearly 50% in Zambia. In addition to this, Bush also created programmes with the aim of controlled other diseases in Africa such as malaria and earned the praise of stars such as Bob Geldof and Bono. Bush’s efforts have worked to further the cause of modernisation in developing states and allowed for these to become more stable with the aid of the U.S. humanitarian effort.
The list, when researched, is endless. Bush’s successes are countless and, with time, it is likely that his reputation will become more and more positive and his place in history will become more significant. Over time, people will move away from the sensationalist news media and look to the history books and find a different story, one that illustrates a President willing to protect his country in hard times and to advance democracy and human rights throughout the world. When people forget about the blunders in W’s speeches, something that was not unique to this President, they will acknowledge a man who aimed to achieve peace throughout the world. I may be proved wrong in years to come or it may transpire that Bush truly should be regarded as one of the United States’ best presidents in a fashion similar to Harry Truman whose average approval rating was even lower than Bush’s yet is today considered to be one of the best Presidents in history.