George W. Bush/Barack Obama

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Tena VaughnEng. 11103.09 Comp 1November 12, 2010Comparison/Contrast Essay

George W. Bush / Barack Obama

Many would argue that former president George W. Bush and current president Barack Obama are very different. While this is true some would be surprised at the similarities between these presidents. The differences between the two presidents go beyond style, of course. However, if one looked at the major economic and defense policies the differences, when any, are fairly minor.

George W. Bush was born on July 6, 1946, in New Haven, Connecticut. Bush was the oldest of six children of George Bush, who served as the forty-first president of the United States (1989-93), and Barbara Bush. He grew up in a well- to -do family who made their money in the oil industry and politics. Bush went to all of the best schools but never excelled in academics or sports. After graduating he then went into the oil business, later selling his company for millions which he used to sponsor his campaign when he decided to run for governor of Texas. After serving consecutive four-year terms as governor of Texas Bush decided to run as the Republican candidate for the president of the United States. With his inauguration, Bush became only the second son of a president to assume the nation’s highest office.

While former president George W. Bush grew up privileged, from a well-to-do family; President Barack Obama had a very different upbringing. Barack Hussein Obama was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was raised by his mother, Ann Dunham and went to live with his paternal grandparents when he was ten years old. His mother was from Wichita, Kansas and his father was born of Lou ethnicity in Nyanza Province, Kenya. He excelled in athletics and graduated with academic honors. Barack Obama worked as a civil rights lawyer in Chicago for several years, helping the underprivileged before deciding to run for the Illinois State Senate as a Democrat. He won the election in 1996. In February 2007, Obama made headlines when he announced his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. On November 4th, 2008, Barack Obama defeated Republican presidential nominee John McCain for the position of U.S. President. On January 20, 2009 Obama became the forty- fourth president of the United States – and the first African American to hold this office.

While one can find many similarities, which will later be mentioned, many differences also separated these two president’s policies and beliefs regarding the Middle East and War on Terror, their bailout and stimulus packages, healthcare reforms, and religion and federally funded faith-based groups.

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To understand the difference between the Bush and Obama world views, a good place to begin is by examining their respective definitions of the strategic threat. In the aftermath of September eleventh, Bush was faced with a choice: to declare a narrow war against al-Qaeda, with Afghanistan as the central target; or to adopt a more expansive definition of the enemy. Bush went wide. He defined the strategic threat as “Nexus” – as, that is, the convergence of State sponsors of terrorism, terrorist groups, and weapons of mass destruction. That definition placed the United States in conflict not only with al-Qaeda, but also with Saddam’s Iraq, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Bush did not regard all of these adversaries as direct enemies of the United States; nevertheless the War on Terror drew a bright line, and then lumped together all of these adversaries on the other side of it.

Obama considered this lumping process crude. The idea of a War on Terror was a classic example of strategic overreach. The effort to osterize terror sponsors backfired. It forced a number of potentially helpful countries, such as Iran and Syria, solidly into the enemy camp. These regimes, though unsavory and...
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