Taking the Measure: The Presidency of George W. Bush

By Donald R. Kelley; Todd G. Shields | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Studying the “W”
Either You Loved Him ….

Donald R. Kelley

There wasn’t much ambiguity about the way people reacted to George W. Bush, the forty-third president of the United States. Either you loved him or you hated him, at least at first. The sharp dichotomy touched on everything he did: decisions on foreign and domestic policies; the choice of a vice president; his efforts that seemed to unite the country while actually dividing it; his handling of Katrina; his Texas-bred sense of self-assurance and swagger; and his troubled relationship with the English language. Even his most important moment as chief executive—rallying the nation in the first days after September 11—quickly deteriorated in an increasingly bitter and partisan argument over protecting US interests abroad and a new sense of “homeland security,” whatever that meant. Whatever else the commentators could disagree about concerning his presidency, almost all could agree that “W” left office as one of the most controversial chief executives in recent history.

To some, “W” was a reasonably talented man, born to privilege into a family with a long-standing history of public service, who found himself in the oval office at an important turning point in US history. And many would add that he rose to the occasion quite nicely. Facing the devastation and uncertainty that followed September 11, he rallied the nation, redefined the world around us, and shaped our military, ideological, and institutional response along lines now defined by the “Homeland Security State.” In rising to the occasion, he provoked controversy, which then evoked deep emotional responses and drew

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