The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
15 Points

George W. Bush was a bad president.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/17/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,921 times Debate No: 24752
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (16)
Votes (3)




Resolution: George W. Bush was a bad president.

(1) Debater must have typing experience and internet access.
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(1) Acceptance + Internet High Five
(2) Main Argument
(3) Rebuttal to opponent's main argument
(4) Response to rebuttal + closing arguments + voting issues (one paragraph)

"Full government control of all activities of the individual is virtually the goal of both national parties." -Ludwig von Mises

George W. Bush: The 43rd President of the United States
This guy-->
Bad: Of poor quality; unsatisfactory

I accept this debate which I have thusly created and challenge those of rhetorical wizardry to a verbal duel. With my hand elevated and ready for forearm pronation, I slap yours in a ritualistic manner. Good luck to whomever accepts, and may the Gods smile upon you during this debate.



I accept.

"Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself."
A. H. Weiler
(1909 - 2002)
Debate Round No. 1



“Despots and democratic majorities are drunk with power.” -Ludwig von Mises

Those who write presidential history often give titles of “great” or “good” to presidents who start wars, usurp liberties, and intervene in the economy; however, those actions are often unconstitutional and contrary to human well-being. President George W. Bush’s like all other presidents should be judged based on how his policies affected the nation and the world during his presidency and over the course of history. His policies were terrible.

The “ruler” with which I will categorically evaluate Bush’s presidency is the criteria of peace, prosperity, and freedom. Peace allows human beings to be free from unnecessary suffering at the hands of other men and lays the foundation for sound economics and the protection of civil liberties. Prosperity increases the standard of living of humans within its scope and of trading nations. Freedom allows a human to exercise his protected rights in any manner he chooses (so long as it does not interfere with the exercise of the rights of others) and is a fundamental aspect of human nature’s desires. Bush is scored negatively on all of these criteria; thus, making him a bad president.

Peace 1: Invaded Iraq for no good reason and became enmeshed in a militaristic quagmire that hurt U.S. antiterrorism efforts

Existing intelligence undermined virtually every rationale Bush proposed for war with Iraq, but he decided it was worth 150,000 deaths including 122,000 civilian deaths and over $3t dollars. Some analysts have correctly characterized Bush’s decision to invade Iraq as one of the most colossal foreign policy disasters in US history. This action likely increased the long-term terrorist threat to the US. [1, 2]

a) Bush had plans to invade Iraq prior to 9/11

According to Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill, in January 2001, almost as soon as Bush assumed office and about eight months before the 9/11 attacks, the administration began serious talks about how to change the regime in Iraq. Similarly, according to James Risen, who reports on intelligence for the New York Times, officials from the CIA’s Iraq Operations Group told an April 2002 gathering that Iraq had been on Bush’s agenda from the very start of his administration and that 9/11 had delayed the action. Whereas Bush’s critics have correctly pointed out that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the more important task of counterattacking the 9/11 attackers, the Bush administration, obsessed with settling old scores with Saddam Hussein, believed the opposite: that 9/11 was a distraction from a Bush vendetta against Saddam. [3, 4]

b) Stated the grounds for war in Iraq were “Weapons of Mass Destruction”

The Bush administration generally claimed that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and was rapidly getting nuclear weapons; it implied that Hussein might use such unconventional weapons imminently against the US, directly or through terrorist proxies. In a September 12, 2002 speech before the UN General Assembly, president Bush declared, falsely and without hard evidence, that Iraq had nuclear weapons capacity. Shortly before the invasion of Iraq, Saddam allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspectors to reenter Iraq, and they found no unconventional weapons or weapons programs. The IAEA issued two reports before the invasion declaring that no evidence was found to show that Saddam was reconstituting a nuclear program. [5]

c) Stated that terrorism was the grounds for war in Iraq

The Bush administration repeatedly stated and implied that there was a connection between al Qaeda (even the 9/11 attacks) and Saddam Hussein. On September 25, 2002, Bush claimed, “You can’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam.” Yet just after 9/11, Bush and his advisers were told that no connection existed between Saddam and al Qaeda or the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, the 9/11 Commission, other investigative bodies, and captured senior al Qaeda operatives all have denied a connection. In fact, the terrorist groups Saddam did support were anti-Israeli groups and did not even focus their attacks on US targets. [6]

Prosperity 1: Set the stage for the Great Recession

The economy of Clinton’s second term was a phony bubble-economy, so there would have been a recession early in Bush’s term, but Bush wanted to get reelected, so he chose to exacerbate the economic problems by using stimulus to get a temporary, artificial relief instead of accepting a restructuring of the economy. The result of the economic stimulus was deficit spending, cut taxes, increased government spending; Alan Greenspan cooperated and slashed interest rates down to one percent. Harvard Professor Jeffry A. Frieden writes, "The Fed's loose monetary policy almost certainly was designed to help get Alan Greenspan reappointed in May 2004, and to help get George W. Bush reelected in November 2004." Bush set the stage for the 2nd worst economic fiasco in US history with his monetary, fiscal, and economic policies. These fueled the irrational exuberance in the heavily regulated and controlled real estate and financial services sectors, which culminated in the Great Recession due to the unsustainability of investment trajectories, exposed malinvestments, and the bursting of those aforementioned bubbles. [7, 8]

Prosperity 2: Increased Protectionism

Generally bad on tariffs and trade, Bush was more of a protectionist as a supposed “free market guy” than Clinton. Bush imposed high tariffs on steel, which cost around $600,000 per job saved and were removed only when the WTO renounced them as illegal. He maintained the high sugar tariffs, which results in a government-induced monopoly of ADM controlling around 80% of HFCS and US food and beverage companies being forced to use HFCS. “The great economic error of mercantilist protectionism is the belief that foreign buyers are great but foreign sellers are not, and thus barriers to imports are necessary. For a nation at large, this error can be extremely costly because it dooms producers in the home country to inefficient lines of production and foists unnecessarily high prices on consumers. Mercantilism is also harmful toward foreign nations and thereby gives rise to political conflicts that can lead to war.” [9]

Freedom 1: Falsely sold the war to the public

Cross-apply Peace 1 here. Lying about terrorism, WMDs, and over 900 other documented lies as noted in the book by Vincent Bugliosi, and further acting on those lies to get over 4,000 Americans killed is dishonest, morally despicable, and atrocious. The genocide in which Bush was involved didn’t get him the death penalty, he gets a pension. [10]

Freedom 2: Assaulted Civil Liberties and Raped the Constitution

Bush claimed, as an inherent power of the Presidency,the right to indefinitely detain Americans. He thought that he could simply label anyone in the US, or elsewhere, an enemy combatant and seize and detain them indefinitely without regard for their constitutional rights, a power usually exercised by dictators. Add in the use of torture, and we see a violation of the 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments to the US Constitution. [11]

I wish I could type more: out of characters.

[4] James Risen, State of War, pgs. 214, 229
[10] The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
[11] David Whitley, The American Presidents, pg. 540


Life is to blame for everything.
Robert Musil

A good president is one who defends the United States

The president swears to, with the best of his ability, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That is the primary duty of the president and the standard by which president's are judged and ought to be judged. Pro acknowledges as much when condemning the traditional evaluation of Presidents and proposing new standards whereby the highest plaudits are offered to presidents who refuse to fight attackers and who operate for the benefit of the world rather than the nation. Perhaps the job of the President could be redefined to suit Pro's standards, but our debate is about how the job is now defined.

Pro says historians err in calling wartime presidents “great” or “good.” Are we to take that to mean that FDR was a bad president because he responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor? Applying that to Britain, should we say Chamberlain was good leader and Churchill a bad one? Peace is the goal, but it often comes at a heavy price.

Bush successfully defended the United States

The 9/11 attack and the events that followed dominated the Bush presidency. At the time of the attack, Republicans and Democrats had spent a decade cooperatively dismantling much of the U.S. military force on the grounds that because the Cold War was over, it was no longer needed. Clinton signed legislation that reduced military strength by 600,000 soldiers. There was no Department of Homeland Security and very few defensive measures in place to protect against terrorist attack. Past legislation had built a wall between the FBI and the CIA so as to isolate domestic investigations from from foreign intelligence. The rules of conventional warfare were defined, but the terrorist style of warfare did not fit the conventional model.

Bush lead the country in building the Department of Homeland Security, integrating the intelligence agencies, and defining the rules of warfare needed for the war against terror. In World War II, 500,000 enemy combatants were imprisoned on U.S. soil in accord with the rules of conventional war, all held indefinitely with none given any right to a trial. Bush developed a procedure for classifying terrorists as enemy combatants by military tribunal with one level of appeal civilian courts. The legislation was passed with bipartisan support and ultimately passed Supreme court challenges.

The war in Afghanistan kept the terrorists preoccupied with their own immediate survival while the defensive infrastructure was built. The strategy worked. There was widespread anticipation of additional major terrorist strikes within U.S. borders, but the Bush strategy worked and none occurred.

In the long term struggle against terrorism, the U.S. desperately needed to build credibility among despotic leaders in the Middle East who only respect force. Bush also believed that democracy was a long term solution to terrorism. The Congressional resolution authorizing war in Iraq gave twelve reasons for military action. [1.] Only five of the reasons related to terrorism, and there is no doubt they were harboring members of al Qaeda and giving bounties to anti-Israeli terrorists. The main reasons were that Saddam was attempting to shoot down U.S. aircraft, was defying UN inspections and sanctions, and was widely practicing genocide and torture.

With a well-educated populace, Iraq was also a good candidate for democracy. Signs are reasonably good that democracy will take hold in the Middle East. At the time of Iraq, critics denounced the idea as an utter impossibility. The Arab Spring is off to a rough start, but polls in seven Arab countries show “reform and rights issues now being perceived as political priorities in most countries.”[2.]

War casualties to eliminate Saddam were not genocide. Saddam had killed about 800,000 during his rule. [3.]


We now know from jailhouse interviews that Saddam wanted the world to think he had WMDs in the belief that it would scare Iran and the Kurds. He believed the US would never take action. Saddam intended to resume WMD production as soon as possible. [4. pp 4, 6.] UN inspector Hans Blix said in his book that he too believed that Saddam had WMDs; Blix wanted more time to find them. [5.

Bush, as well as nearly all the prominent Democrats agreed to act based upon honest belief. Journalist Bob Woodard, who took down Nixon with Watergate, verified the vigorous attempts by Bush at verification, and that Bush had asked all the right questions of all the right people. [6.]

Economic issues

Bush inherited an economic downturn from Clinton, and lowering taxes spurred growth and recovery. Low interest rates in fact spur growth, and have been used by the Fed in every downturn in modern times. The economic disaster was not mainly a product of low interest rates, but rather a product of Fannie and Freddie buying bad loans. Fannie and Freddie were run by Democrats throughout the Bush years, under the belief that they were expanding home ownership. The Bush Administration went to Congress three times demanding that Fannie and Freddie be reigned in, and each time Democrats in Congress blocked action using the filibuster and reprimanding the Administration for even suggesting there was a problem. [7.]

"Before the crash of late 2008 President Bush’s budget deficits were 0.6 percentage points smaller than the historic average. Deficits did not “spiral” during the Bush presidency or the decade. The bumped around the historic average, then spiked up in the last year." [8.] Obama's 2009 deficit exceeds all eight years of Bush war spending combined. [9.]

War spending was less than $1 trillion for all the Bush years combined, and it was well within the debt capacity of the country. There is no evidence it had anything to do with the financial crisis. It amounts to less than $ 0.2 T per year, while Obama deficits are over $1.5 T per year. The "tax cuts for the rich" amount to less than $0.1 T. Tax cuts and war spending are thus a small part of the current problem.

Free Trade

Bush caved to pressure from Congress to protect a failing steel industry, but his overall record is excellent. Bush summarized, “When I took office, America had free trade agreements in place with three countries: Canada, Mexico, & Israel. By the time I left, we had agreements with 17, including developing countries such as Jordan & Morocco, and the young democracies of Central America.” [10.]

Bugliosi book

Pro cites Vincent Bugliosi's book, a work of fantasy. Bugliosi admits in the book that no reputable publisher would touch it, and even liberal lawyers wouldn't be associated with it. Bloomberg News said, “Bugliosi's outrage is not in doubt, but it never yields anything more coherent than the blueprint for a publicity stunt.” [11.]

Constitutional rights

Pro cites “Whitley” [Whitney] that Bush violated the Constitution. The original system of detention in GITMO was ruled unconstitutional by the SOCUS, but a new system passed with bipartisan support in Congress is now in place and has passed court scrutiny.

Plans to invade Iraq

President Clinton signed a law in 1998 making it US policy to remove Saddam, and military plans were developed at the time. [12.] Someone once said, "The U.S. military has contingency plans to put land mines on the moon." It's their job.

President Bush was re-elected because he kept the country safe from terrorist attacks after 9/11. That's what history will show.

Debate Round No. 2


Wallstreetatheist forfeited this round.


George W. Bush was a good president coping with very difficult times. The efforts to demonize Bush are so extreme and so hollow one wonders if they speak to some need to have a devil to blame for all the ills of the world.

Bush aid to Africa saved at least 1.3 million lives

President Bush quadrupled aid to Africa and, unlike many ill-conceived foreign aid programs, the aid worked to good effect. the money was spent combating the spread of AIDS. [13.]

When the Bush administration inaugurated the [President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] in 2003, fewer than 50,000 HIV-infected people on the African continent were receiving the antiretroviral drugs that keep the virus in check and halt the progression toward full-blown AIDS. By the time Bush left office, the number had increased to nearly 2 million. Today, the United States is directly supporting antiretroviral treatment for more than 4 million men, women and children in Africa.

This is an amazing accomplishment, especially because it wasn't supposed to be possible.

Before PEPFAR, the conventional wisdom was that the drug treatment regimens that had been saving lives in developed countries would not work in Africa. Poor, uneducated people in communities lacking even the most basic infrastructure could not be expected to take the right pill at the right time every day. When the drugs are taken haphazardly, the virus mutates and becomes resistant. Therefore, this reasoning went, trying to administer antiretroviral treatment in poor African countries might actually be worse than doing nothing at all.

The Bush administration rejected these arguments, which turned out to be categorically wrong.

Africans are every bit as diligent about taking their HIV medications as Americans or other Westerners. While there has been a "modest, contained and not alarming" rise in resistance to one class of drugs, according to a World Health Organization researcher who presented a study at this week's AIDS conference, scientists no longer envision a nightmare scenario in which drug-resistant strains of the virus run rampant." [14.]

In 2008, near the end of the Bush administration, a Pew poll found that "the US image is much stronger in Africa than in other regions of the world". At least 80 per cent of respondents in Ghana, Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire were favourable to the US. In all other sub-Saharan African countries polled, there were more "favourables" than "non-favourables". [op cit 13]

Bush worked with the opposition

President Bush ever had the super majority needed to push legislation through Congress over the objections of Democrats. Everything that was enacted, including the use of force resolutions, education bills, and the expansion of the Medicare prescription drug program was accomplished with bipartisan support.

"In the more than six years since, Mr. Bush has turned to Mr. Kennedy, the long time Massachusetts senator who is his most ardent liberal Democratic critic, time and again to push the biggest items on his domestic agenda: education, prescription drugs and the immigration bill that failed last week." [15.]

The Bush comprehension immigration reform bill that provided for tighter border enforcement and a path to citizenship for illegals, came within one vote of passage. Then-Senator Obama voted against the bill that would have ended the immigration controversy. [16. ] When President Obama was elected, he immediately promised to have an immigration bill in congress by year-end, when Democrats had a super-majority in congress. To date, no such legislation has even been introduced. We are not debating Obama, but it's important to understand the difficulties that Bush overcame to get legislation within one vote of passing on one of the most controversial issues of our time.

The Patriot Act

The Patriot Act has been extended repeatedly with strong bipartisan support. The latest extension passed the house by a vote of 250 to 153 and the Senate by a vote of 72 - 23. When a Senator, Obama voted against it, but as President he pressed for passage.

As of May 2011, "At least 39 terrorist plots have been thwarted since 9/11. The PATRIOT Act has proved essential in halting a number of these attacks. For example, when Najibullah Zazi sought to employ a triacetone triperoxide (TATP) bomb to blow up the New York subway system, counterterrorism investigators were able to use “roving” surveillance to track Zazi and stop him before the public was in danger. A standard provision in counternarcotics operations, “roving” surveillance allows investigators to receive one authorization allowing them to link wiretaps to an individual rather than having to obtain separate authorizations for each telephone number used. Thus, investigators were able to pursue Zazi though multiple means of communication—including disposable cell phones, email, and text messages—streamlining the investigation and helping bring counterterrorism capabilities in line with 21st-century technology." [17.]

Bush recognized the need to make the law enforcement tools used in domestic investigations available for fighting international terrorism. Clearly, Bush was ahead of the game and he has been proved right. Even President Obama now recognizes that.

The rules of war are of necessity different from ordinary criminal procedures. For example, battlefield combatants cannot be subject to requirements for Miranda warnings or forensic evidence. During World War II, 500,000 captured enemy combatants were held in the United States without trials. In the Quirin decision in WWII, the Supreme court ruled at the time that an American who had trained overseas with German forces had de facto renounced American citizenship, and could be treated as a foreign enemy. [18.] The decision stated:

…the law of war draws a distinction between the armed forces and the peaceful populations of belligerent nations and also between those who are lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful.

Bush established the system of retaining unlawful enemy combatants in GITMO with the potential for trying them by military tribunals. The Constitutional sticking point was the classification of individuals as enemy combatants. The system was at first rejected by the Supreme Court, but a modified procedure answering the Court's concerns was passed into law. It allows for n appeal of the classification in a civilian court. President Obama seemed to originally reject the use of military tribunals, but has since embraced the system. Getting the system in place was a major achievement of President Bush.

A "bad president"?

I do not need to prove that Bush was one of the best presidents ever -- although I believe he was a good president. The question is whether President Bush did a bad job in the circumstances he was given. He did not. He responded to terrorist attack by bringing the fight to the terrorists and showing that the U.S. would not accept the contemptuous behavior of Saddam. He built the Homeland Security apparatus and the legal framework for fighting terrorist warfare. He worked with opponents on many issues.

The resolution is negated.

Debate Round No. 3


Vote for Roy Latham. Clearly George W. Bush was a good president. Wars, torture, kidnapping, stealing, murdering, prevaricating, usurping liberty, disregarding principle, and mispronouncing words are all tokens of a defender of the American dream. I reject my framework of peace, prosperity, and freedom; I accept Roy's of government intervention, violence, and oppression.
















"I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." -Tolstoy

A rant is not an argument

I hope my opponent feels a whole lot better after his concludng rant. If so, he will have gotten something out of the debate, unlike those of us who did not benefit from his exhorting demons. That stuff is for a blog, not a debate.

My opponent challenged me to this debate, and he did not respond to my request to make modifications in the challenge. He got the debate on his terms. I think that obliges him to show up, obey his own rules, and to debate the resolution. He seems to me to have conceded on all accounts, particularly in failing to respond to my arguments in a "coherent fashion" as he required. Pro loses conduct for forfeiting, for violating his rules for the debate, and for his abusive response.

The primary duty of the president is to protect the United States

I argued based upon the constitutional oath of office that the primary duty of the President is to defend the United States. The United States was attacked on 9/11 by organized terrorism. President Bush responded by taking the battle to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and by re-establishing U.S. credibility in the Middle East that was sorely lacking.

Peace, freedom, and prosperity

Pro argued for criteria of peace, freedom, and prosperity. I argued each of Pro's claims in those categories.

"Peace" does not equate to accepting attacks without response. FDR was not a bad president because be went to war when attacked, and neither was George Bush. When attacked, the U.S. had no Department of Homeland Security and did not have the tools for countering terrorism in place. Bush built that apparatus from scratch.

Saddam decided to perpetuate the fraud that he had weapons of mass destruction. He ultimately admitted that strategy. Bush cannot be faulted for putting the interests of the U.S. as the top priority.

Pro falsely argued that Bush acted unconstitutionally. The system of detention of unlawful combatants was based on WWII Supreme Court decisions, and was further developed to meet Court requirements. Bipartisan legislation was put in place for classifying unlawful combatants with review by civilian courts. The Patriot Act was passed by large majorities from both Parties, has been endorsed by President Obama, and has passed Court challenges.

The primary cause of the financial collapse was the decision by Democrats running Fannie and Freddie to finance vast quantities of low-quality loans. Democrats in Congress blocked repeated Bush Administration attempts to reform the practice.

Bush did succumb to pressure to protect the steel industry, but overall he advance free trade with a unprecedented number of new free trade agreements.

Through an unprecedented and risky aid policy in Africa, Bush promoted peace and freedom and enhanced the standing of the United States in the world.

Not perfect, but not bad

It's always possible to use hindsight to craft better policies, but that isn't the subject of the debate. Presidents must deal with the situations presented to them, and President Bush had to deal with very difficult times. My opponents concluding rant shows a deep need to make President Bush into a demon. It's unjustified. Bush was not a bad president. The U.S. was protected against further terrorist attack, and disastrous financial policies designed by Democrats to redistribute wealth through the housing markets could not be stopped so long as they blocked reform.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 4
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by donald.keller 3 years ago
I must say... This wasn't one of, but was plainly the best and most informative debate I've read so far... Awesome work.
Posted by makhdoom5 3 years ago
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
Are you sure it wasn't George Bush?
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
Sorry, someone hacked into my account. I suspect FREEDO was behind it.
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
I have an older version of Google Chrome, and it appears as Wingdings to me. However when I copied and pasted them elsewhere they became Times Roman. Problem solved?
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
I'll write the remainder of my arguments in Helvetica, and I'll PM voters my case if they can't read it.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
I tried Explorer and it fails. Works with Firefox.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
@dust, That's odd. I'm using Win 7 and there is no problem. What browser are you using?
Posted by 1dustpelt 4 years ago
Funny, because I can read it in the Beta IE10 in Windows 8 Release Preview, but I cannot read it in my standard operating system Windows 7.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
Get the newest google chrome or mozilla firefox browser, and you'll be able to read it.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for Con because Pro made a rude comment in his fourth round. Spelling and Grammar to Con because Pro made both a spelling and a grammar error in his fourth round. Arguments to Con because Pro conceded. Sources to Con because Pro's said to disregard his good sources in favor of an irrelevant one.
Vote Placed by Chelicerae 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct point for rant.
Vote Placed by MouthWash 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: I think Wallstreet maybe got a bit carried away in that last round? *cough cough*