20 Dec 2022


President George W. Bush: Life in Brief

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Academic level: College

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George Walker Bush was the 43 rd president of the United States who served for two terms from 2001 to 2009. He was generally forgotten until Donald Trump renewed and reinvigorated the debate about him and his presidency. It is hard to ignore the fact that he was indeed the son to one term Republican president George H Bush, and a Yale University and Harvard Business School graduate. He was an oil magnate and an astute business man who reportedly recouped seventeen times his investment in the Texas Rangers baseball team. 

Having lost the popular vote by over half a million votes, Bush went on to win the presidential vote through a Supreme Court decision regarding Florida, a State where his brother Jed Bush was a governor leading to the popular notion that he had been elected by the Supreme Court (Parsons, 2012) . His popular opinion remained shaky until the 11 th September, 2001 when the greatest terrorist attack in the US and indeed world history took place and the US stood with him in the American spirit of rallying behind the president in times of crisis. Bush was a great man who achieved great success in times of great crisis reminding the world that the US was still the world superpower (Parsons, 2012) . Bush’s character can easily be defined through various parameters. 

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Public communication 

Despite what Bush might have said with good policy speeches prepared by hired technocrats, it is important to assess how he said it. Bush’s oratory skills have become an integral aspect of his legacy and have come to be referred to as Bushism in popular culture (Parsons, 2012) . It has been caricatured all over the world but few comedians can be as amusing as listening to Bush himself. His penchant for a raw Texan accent despite the fact that he was neither born nor brought up in Texas is said to have been an intentional effort to present himself as a rural Texan and create a distinction from the northeastern intellectuals (Greenstein, 2004) . Even in formal discourse, Bush would use unconventional words and phrases punctuated with hideous and acute grammatical and linguistic errors with notable gaffes such as "They misunderestimated me" Said at Bentonville, Arkansas on the 6 th November 2000; and "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" made at Florence, South Carolina on the 11 th January 2000. 

Unfortunately, according to linguist Mark Liberman; along the way, both American and the public started looking at Bush as a comedian even when he made credibly good speeches on matters of national importance and international impact (Parsons, 2012) . It became like a stand-up comedy where everyone only listens out for the jokes and the speech is measured by how many gaffes there were and discussed from a satirical rather than rational perspective. Indeed, celebrated novelist Philip Michael Hensher referred to the term “misunderestimated” as one of the greatest addition to the English language while New York Times columnist David Brooks argued that Bush was actually smarter that he wanted to be perceived hence, Bushism was an act. 

Organizational capacity 

This refers to Bush’s ability to achieve the objectives he sought to achieve as the president of the United States. Among his key obligations were as, chief of State, the CEO of the Federation, the Commander in Chief of the Armed forces, the Chief Diplomatist, Chief Legislator and Chief Diplomatist. Being a president is as much about what is done as it is about what is seemed to be done (Greenstein, 2009) . 

The most important aspect of a president’s organizational capacity is his ability to assemble a credible team and lead it to achieve the desired goals. On this aspect, the Bush administration was seen as a complete failure. From the 9/11 attack to hurricane Katrina debacle, research and investigations have found low anticipation, management and reaction capacities from technocrats appointed by George Bush to an extent that American lives that would have been saved in these catastrophes were lost due to poor leadership. 

Another crucial aspect is the ability to receive, process, and act upon advice from the team so assembled. This was another failure in Bush’s administration (Felzenberg 2008) . The biggest failure in this aspect was leading the United States into a costly war with Afghanistan in a fruitless hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the more costly Iraq war in a hopeless hunt for inexistent weapons of mass destruction (Parsons, 2012) . 

Political skill 

This refers to the ability to capture and retain the interest and support of the populace during a presidency. Bush did not have the support of the populace having lost the popular vote during the election that placed him in the White House. However, he and his team gaffed time and again in selling his ideals to the American public thus his inability to earn or even retain political capital (Greenstein, 2004) . Bush was a lucky politician as it would not have required any political genius to transform the 11 th September, 2001 attacks that occasioned his approval ratings to rise as high as 90%. 


Presidential vision is defined as the ability to both see where you want to take the country you are leading and be able to rally it towards that objective and either reach it or make significant efforts by the end of the term. A good president will be able to decipher the vision, establish the capacity of its implementation then successfully sell the same to the populace (Greenstein, 2004) . It is easy to state that Bush did not have a vision and if he had one, he lost it along the way as most of what he is remembered for is reactionary conduct. He found a budget surplus and reacted to it through budget cuts. He got a terrorist attack and reacted to it with two expensive, unnecessary, and painfully ineffective wars (Parsons, 2012) . The economy plummeted and he reacted with encouraging the passing of the controversial $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. 

Cognitive style 

This refers to the psychological thinking trend and the general mental stratagem he used to analyze information and come up with decision. Some people break down information then construct the meanings while others look for the why behind the what whereas other seek the heart of the issue or problem and seek to resolve the problem from the source (Greenstein, 2004) . Bush’s cognitive style is reactionary and jumpy, reflex actions are initiated in the spine but controlled by the brain. Ordinarily, the brain is able to override the reflex action if its result will be worse than the outcome of the initiating force of the reflex action. Bush’s cognitive style would stick with the initial reaction and push through with it even after the full mental faculty finally albeit belatedly realizing that he might create worse that good (Felzenberg, 2008) . 

Emotional intelligence 

It is in this arena that George W. Bush finally shines. Emotional intelligence is the capacity and ability to retain control of extreme emotions and still be able to do what needs to be done (Greenstein, 2009) . A good example is the virtue of courage, which is defined as the ability to act rationally despite the presence of fear, as opposed to the lack of fear itself. Within three months of the 9/11 attacks, the approval ratings rose to a record 90% and his emotional intelligence had a lot to do with it ( Curt, 2012) . His face showed the fear, panic and pain that the American people shared as one but from his mouth and character came hope, hope that America would rise again and trample on her enemies, hope that this is a phase in the American history and not the beginning of an era. Hope for victory. 


George W. Bush was an infamous and unpopular president who got cheered by his own people after being publicly humiliated in the Arab world by a journalist who threw a shoe at him. His approval ratings were at a record low upon his departure from the White House and his legacy is a thing that America would rather forget than discuss. Indeed he was generally forgotten despite his massive library until Donald Trump came into the national arena. A popular answer to the question, might Trump win is usually retorted to by the answer, didn’t bush win twice? Bush was neither unlucky nor misunderstood, he was a poor leader who ravaged the world and left it a worse place that he found it.  


Curt, N. (2012). The Presidential Ranking Game: Critical Review and Some New Discoveries. Presidential Studies Quarterly , 42(2), 275-99. 

Felzenberg, S. A. (2008). The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game . New York: Basic Books. 

Greenstein, F. (2004). The Qualities That Bear on Presidential Performance”, Frontline: The Choice. Retrieved from <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/choice2004/leadership/greenstein.html 

Greenstein, F. (2009). The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama. 3rd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 

Parsons, T. (2012). George W bush’s legacy: The global village idiot. Retrieved from < http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/george-w-bushs-legacy-the-global-371122/> 

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