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Tuesday, 2 October, 2001, 02:55 GMT 03:55 UK
George W Bush: Wartime president
President Bush
George Bush is enjoying applause at home and abroad
By BBC Washington Correspondent Rob Watson

On the face of it, George W Bush is not the most obvious choice for a wartime president.

Only the third man to enter the White House having lost the popular vote, he came to Washington only grudgingly accepted by a weary electorate.

At his inauguration, the streets were lined with demonstrators, the US congress filled with deeply disappointed Democrats.

He also arrived something of a political novice, his only experience, two terms as a rather hands off governor of the state of Texas.

Before that he'd been a rather unsuccessful oil man and then a very successful and ultimately very rich owner and manager of a Texas baseball team.

President Bush addresses Congress
There is a broad consensus that President Bush is off to a good start in responding to the attacks
His critics felt his eventual financial success was largely the result of his President father's wealthy contacts rather than business acumen of the son.

But like Abraham Lincoln, the once obscure Illinois lawyer, thrust into prominence by the outbreak of the civil war, George W Bush is also being shaped by his times.

It is of course too early to make direct comparisons.

Lincoln's leadership was proved after four years of bitter fighting, George W Bush's is still largely untested.

But there is broad consensus here that he has made a good start, both in what he has said and what he has done.

The president's closest aides insist he was the calmest man around during the chaos immediately following the 11 September attacks, a calmness he is also said to have displayed during the long-disputed election.

Winning hearts and minds

Though often strange sounding to foreign ears, the president's cowboy style directness also goes down well with many Americans.

His description of Osama Bin Laden as wanted dead or alive, and his promise to smoke out his followers, is seen as good old-fashioned plain speaking here.

Former President Bush
President Bush enjoys the advice of a seasoned team of advisers including his father
And unlike in Lincoln's day, President Bush has the luxury of a large team of loyal and talented advisers.

Among them are Gulf War veterans, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, and lurking in the background his own father former President Bush.

There is a sense perhaps that George W Bush is often overshadowed by these advisers and that he still lacks the gravitas to fill his office.

But he has captured the hearts and minds of the American people, something few would have predicted when he first entered the White House.

There is of course a great deal of political irony in the way things have turned out.

Before 11 September, George W Bush was being criticised abroad for what was seen as his muscular unilateralism on such issues as Kyoto and missile defence.

At home he was being criticised for governing from too far to the right, ignoring the closeness of his election victory.

Now the president is talking about the need for broad international coalitions overseas, embracing the traditionally Democrat idea of government intervention in these economically and politically troubled times, and all to the applause of former foes at home and abroad.

See also:

01 Oct 01 | Americas
US told of new terror threat
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