July 6 - Happy Birthday, George W. Bush!

Posted on July 6, 2018

Born on this date in 1946, in Connecticut, George W. Bush was the oldest child and the namesake of the 41st U.S. president. 

Since it's so confusing having two presidents with almost exactly the same names, George Herbert Walker Bush and George Walker Bush, the younger one (today's birthday "boy") is sometimes called "W" for short. 

"W" was one of the most popular of U.S. presidents AND one of the least popular of U.S. presidents. Serving two terms, it's not that surprising that he had different popularity ratings at different times. Perhaps it is predictable that there was an enormous swelling of support for "W" when the U.S. was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001. I know that I personally wasn't crazy about "W" or his policies, but I thought that by and large, he handled a tremendously difficult situation as well as could be expected, at first. He enlisted international support for a response to the terrorists (Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda), and he didn't give in to the craziest of the fearful voices, who called for nuking any and every Arab country.

So if even I was kinda sorta positive about "W" in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack, you can see why "W" had sky-high ratings then.

However, as time went on, the terrorism-fighting tactics of "W" and his administration turned out to be clearly ineffective, in some cases, and wrong-headed (and just plain wrong), in other cases. 

"W" also allowed a lot of mishandling of the economy, and when the country entered a long recession, the administration doubled down on bad ideas. Because of the awful financial crisis of 2008, his popularity was really low.

Most historians also rank the "W" presidency in the bottom quarter of all presidents - from #30 to #39 out of 44. (Even though we are on President #45 right now, Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, so he gets #22 and #24.) 

To give you some perspective on these rankings, the presidents who didn't do anything to prevent the Civil War (like Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan), a really corrupt president (Warren G. Harding), and the guy who died after just a month in office (William Henry Harrison) are all generally ranked lower than "W." So far, the current president is ranked lowest of all for incompetence, corruption, and possible collusion with Russia.

Even though Bush was famous for misspeaking and bumbling words, when he was able to prepare speeches ahead of time (and utilize speech writers, of course, like every modern president), he often did very well. And although I didn't agree with everything he said, I really liked some of his words and deeds, especially his recent speeches:

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