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Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Is George W Bush fit to fill his father's shoes?
At the climax of the party convention in Philadelphia, Mr Bush said the United States was enjoying a time of great promise and he intended to seize the moment.
He accused President Clinton of having presided over the erosion of American power and influence.
Can nice guy George junior shed his image as a political lightweight and demonstrate that he's made of steel?
Has he got what it takes for one of the most powerful jobs in the world?
This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your e-mails are posted below.
Alex White, UK
Can George fill his rich father's shoes? His IQ level appears to be the same as a shoe size which may be the only thing Georgey boy has in common with his father. If he wins, it will be the usual Republican way of pandering to the one dimensional attitudes of the materialistic hordes of white middle-America, who have access to all the wealth. Obviously, the slight nod towards ethnic minorities and the disadvantaged is mere tokenism and an election ploy. Hopefully too those groups realise it.
If I were living in the good ol' US of A and I was black, brown, gay, disabled, poor, unemployed or just plain different - I would be an extremely worried man at the prospect of GWB in the White House - as for the rest of us outside of the USA? No worries - he doesn't know where we are!
Other than start a war what did George Bush do? He didn't finish it, the so called reason it started is still going on, he was afraid to incase he was blamed for a USA death. George W. has the same kind of qualifications.None. He is riding on the name.
If George Bush Jr is elected president, would the last person to leave America please turn off the lights.
Seriously Al Gore has the experience from working within goverment at the second heighest level, (8 years worth) he is his own man as the coming months will show. He has chosen a running mate who is strong and is not afraid to speak up. His only problem is the shadow cast by Clinton. Mr Bush needs more time and more experience.
GW is a lot like Reagan in that he is frighteningly unqualified for the job of President. Reagan and George Sr. caused the murder of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans, the near collapse of the US economy, and the victor-less Gulf War. Please, America, don't bring the Bush/Reagan legacy back into the world.
George W. Bush is not even capable of filling his mother's shoes, let alone his father's. He is nothing more than the epitome of nepotism run amok.
Paul W, USA
If I evaluate George Bush by his agenda then he seems quite reasonable to me. Prosperity with a purpose, a realistic plan for the defence of one's own nation, low taxes rather than high spending, charity rather than welfare.
What my country is looking for now is integrity.
Well I hope George W. Bush does a better job than his father - like when he was playing golf while a war was going on.
Of course he is - he is daddy's little boy. How can he go wrong with his daddy telling him what to do?
Bush Jr. sure can fill his father's shoes. But, with what?
Not statesmanship - Jr. doesn't know of the world beyond Texas. Not intelligence - he can't even recognise the stunningly prosperous decade in US history. Not foresight - he makes promises he doesn't know how to implement and fund.
Given his spectacular grasp of foreign policy initiatives, I hope you can all rest easy knowing he's planning to bring back the Star Wars system to protect the US against missile attacks. So, for all his supporters in the UK, next time someone feels like attacking the West, you know where they'll be sending their missiles for the best results, don't you?
I read all the comments from around the world, and see that no-one knows who the most powerful person in the United States is. It is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The President of the USA cannot do anything without the consent of Congress. Congress has only the power that people empower it with.
G.W. Bush Jr is nothing but his father's son. Without his name he'd never have arrived at the position he's at now. Gore isn't any better, but at least he'd carry on Clinton's way, which ensures a strong world economy and an adequate part played by the USA on the global stage.
Ralph Sato, United States
I can't believe all of these comments. The US has experienced an incredible economic boom affecting everyone. It has a $10 trillion GDP. Everyone income level has benefited. A majority of Americans DO NOT live in poverty. Where does this come from? Government is not the answer to all social ills; it is a private business- government alliance that works best. GW, more than Gore understands this, and would be the better President.
Jr. does not strike me as being particularly bright, but on the domestic front he has a few admittedly fresh ideas (e.g., school choice). Nevertheless, both sides of the "republicrat" coin reveal the same repressively statist face. On that note, it is worth mentioning to an international audience that both Gore and Bush Jr. are vaguely interventionist in their rhetoric and in their circle of policy advisors. Furthermore, both have a vested interest in taxing the people to a level that would make Washington, Jefferson, and Patrick Henry roll in their graves.
Rajeev Soorma, USA
Bush, simply put, just isn't bright enough for the Presidency and can accurately be described as a dimwit. The best analogy I can think of for UK observers is that he wouldn't last 5 minutes of the Houses of Parliament's "Question Time".
On the subject of bringing back integrity to the White House... That's not exactly a difficult job "any" prospective Chief Executive.
Bush Snr. was a great President for the USA, and it was 'the economy, stupid' that was the key to him losing the run for a second term, an event that was out of his control. In comparison to his son, this question ought to be asked in 4 or 8 years, only then will there be a rash of books comparing the two. As to Clinton, Bush Jnr. cannot drag the office any lower than cumulatively Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan and Clinton have done. It's time America got some pride back in its primary office, rather than letting it be the soap box of the least-undesirable in the race, as recent Presidential runs have too often shown it to be.
George W. Bush was born and has been groomed to lead the United States Of America in the honest and shining tradition of Ronald Reagan!
George W. Bush Jr. spent the first 40 years of his life drinking and partying.
This wouldn't make the average man qualified to collect garbage, and yet, because Bush has money, he is somehow qualified to run the country.
Patrick Seurre, UK
Bush has got to be one of the dumbest candidates I have ever seen presented to the American people but, on the other hand, there's Gore. No wonder Americans don't vote!
If George W. doesn't make it as US President, can you please send him over to the UK? Right now, we need someone like him...
George W. does not have to fill his father's shoes (this he could probably do) but he has to fill Clinton's and this he quite obviously cannot do.
That cynical display in Philadelphia
should answer anyone's question
about why Americans generally hate
politics. They desperately scrounge
around looking for speakers to make
them look "diverse", and we are
supposed to forget and ignore their
stand on every issue.
And to all the Republicans on this
board who (rather frighteningly) quote
the party line on W "restoring integrity
to the White House", exactly what
moral advantage does this draft-dodging, womaniser have over
He will always be over-shadowed by his father, as Major was overshadowed by Thatcher - but worse since this time it's in the family.
He is every inch his father's son - from his indebtedness to big business, to his seeming inability to see the moral inconsistency of opposing abortion whilst supporting the death penalty. I am baffled that the Americans would seemingly want as President a man whose past includes alcoholism, drug abuse, financial irregularity and draft dodging. Or maybe they don't. Maybe that's why George W Bush is prepared to spend more money than any candidate in history to persuade them that they do.
I'm over in the US for business and after watching the Republican Campaign on TV (shown on at least 5 channels) I'm pretty worried for the future.
I've just watched a man caked in make-up making a speech of the most extremist, ideological nature that had no realistic substance of note while not looking away from the auto-cue for more than two words.
No wonder they call this the silly season in the US.
Stanley, Texas, USA
Honestly, Who can say? Lincoln was regarded as a backwoods dunce until the civil war erupted and proved his mettle. Bush is no intellectual giant, but America is not governed by a "centralised brain" system, as are the horrible socialist "utopias". Those who want a father figure who "feels their pain" as president are far more likely to get disgusting hypocrites like Clinton who only care about and feel their own pleasure.
I believe George W's acceptance speech was energising and encouraging to the great majority of Americans who look for leadership with integrity. He has an exceptional track record of achievements as Governor of Texas, a far greater and more complex state than Arkansas, where President Clinton gained his experience. Bush has superb, experienced and knowledgeable advisors, one of which is his own father. I have not talked to anyone who has a high regard for President Clinton or his clone, VP Gore.
I find the Republican Party policy on the American missile defence system very worrying. George Bush referred to 'oudated treaties' in his keynote conference speech. I doubt the Russians and Chinese see them as 'outdated'. It is always going to be much easier to develop a smarter missile than a smarter defence system. I think this policy is a disgrace and illustrates just how little international law ventures into the minds of American politics. But then, a new arms race is very much in the financial interest of the big businesses behind the Republican Party.
Neither Bush nor Gore is a convincing candidate. Neither has charisma, like Clinton or Reagan, neither has brains like Johnson or Nixon. But Bush is bravely beating the right drum: while most Americans (I'm only guessing and I apologise for that) are happy with the strength of their economy, they don't feel particularly loyal to Clinton for it. They seem to want a new direction which Bush is trying his hardest to think up.
George Bush scares the living daylight out of me! Unfortunately, I can see him becoming the president. My husband (a Republican) and I will not vote for this man, neither do we particularly want to vote for Mr Gore.
The worst thing that can happen to George Bush and the Republican Party is winning the election. The economy and general wellbeing in the country cannot get much better. It is downhill from here regardless of who becomes president.
While I am no fan of GW Bush as a
nominee, nor of the Republican
Party, I have to say Mr. Mark
Green's comments are ludicrous
beyond belief. All I can truly say to
you, sir, is you have no idea of what
you're talking about.
Bush Junior is a lightweight. He is disingenuous. But, worst of all, he is also monstrously indifferent. With grave doubts as to whether Gary Graham was guilty of the crime for which he was convicted, Bush did nothing to find out whether he was guilty or not. This is the man who is going to "restore dignity to the office of the President?" I think not.
I am appalled by the number of people who are taking the Democrat attacks at face value. No wonder the world is in such a mess.
As Dick Cheney said the other night:
"It's time for them to go."
The whole Clinton/Gore administration
needs to be put out of office.
Obviously the focus is on George W at the moment because the Republicans are having their selection bash this week. Whatever his weaknesses, I think that we should wait and see what the man "who invented the internet" has to say for himself when the Democrats hold their own love-fest. Maybe it's not the most inspiring choice that Americans have to make, but at least Mr Bush seems to be a real man and not a plastic creation like Mr Gore.
You can tell when a politician is lying, because their lips are moving. Need I say any more about any of the options?
I'm a disabled person who needs to rely on Social Security in order to make ends meet. It's the only thing that stands between me and the street. If Bush gets elected, I'm as good as dead.
George W. Bush has a solid integrity that can restore the honour of the White House that has been lost.
He's fit to fill his father's shoes only in the sense that he would be an equally bad President.
Of course Bush can fill his father's shoes. But, let's face it, so could Homer Simpson.
Bush Jr is just a political demagogue with little care for the poor black American minority. He's just following the legacy of his Dad. Like father like son and I don't think he can fit in Clinton's shoes.
I have no choice but to agree with the obvious. Bush is a naive, wealthy fellow who in my opinion feels obliged to "follow in his father's footsteps".
Who cares whether Bush can fill his fathers shoes? In fact who really cares who wins this election. Both candidates are as anodyne as each other and both represent the hegemony that has a stranglehold on US politics. It really doesn't matter who wins, only that when they do, they fail.
MR, Texas, USA
I think what is most disturbing about George Bush is that he is the electorally acceptable face of the far-right in the US, who hate minorities, despise the poor and the disadvantaged, encourage division, and champion inequality in their own overwhelming self-interest. They take pride seemingly in opposing most of the great socially progressive movements of the past. They will do their best to restrict the freedoms and aspirations of minorities, while enriching themselves. I think a Bush Presidency will see a decline in America's ability to claim any sense of moral leadership in the world today.
George W. Bush's lack of substance brings back to mind the "infamous" comment his father made on his political opponents:
Where is the beef?
George Bush, by picking Dick Cheney, has already proved that he shares a similar strength of character to Ronald Reagan in being able to choose the very best without fear of being out-shone. He has the character to contain people with more skill and experience than himself. This is an enormously important quality. George Bush will win, and he will be fine.
America has thrived over the past eight years with a deadlocked political system. Hopefully the American people will again see deadlock as a positive political alternative.
I seem to recall that the great US electorate dumped George Bush the elder in favour of you know who! That tells me that anyone must have a chance!
Matthew Perkins, UK
I cannot believe anyone would consider a person for the top job who only had 6 years experience. Especially over someone with 8 years vice president experience and who has been in government for over 25 years. Get real people, he is a front man for the big companies.
As American influence worldwide is undeniably huge, it may not be ridiculous to suggest that the citizens of the free world have a say in electing the US President, as such a decision will affect them as much as it affects Americans. As things stand, it appears that just over half of US citizens support Bush, but very few outside the USA would vote for him. Such a state of affairs is detrimental to global socio-economic politics.
Prestigious, he will most certainly
improve the image of American
leadership. Yep! He got the right
stuff for the job .... President Bush.
Dave Strong, UK
As an American I have certainly been embarrassed over Clinton's lack of integrity, but dear God, George W. certainly doesn't have any. Fifteen years ago, he was one of the men who "got away" with God knows how much money belonging to others in the Savings and Loan Scandal. His father got him out of that one. I think the most embarrassing thing about this election, as well as the last several we've had, is the supposition that we are a super-power and out politicians are so pathetic.
I think it's time that America rids itself from Bill Clinton and his corrupt administration. George W Bush has the charisma and experience to do a better job.
From an overseas view Bush Jr has not nearly enough charisma and certainly no grasp of international issues to carry the Global Mantle the US wishes to have and fortunately, for us and for the US citizens, has decided to carry on it's broad shoulders. Let's not delude ourselves the World deserves a strong person in the White House not an incompetent, bumbler.
A rebirth is a reverse to the Republican way of doing things. The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. On what's best for America, uniting its people just to mention a few.
Dave G, UK
It is so wonderful to see GW to be surround by his father's old aides. Would it not be better the next election run by GB senior rather than by proxy.
Please notice that he is only the puppet of the Establishment. They are the ones who really govern the US of A today, as they did for quite a few years.
Frank Cobain, South Africa
I fear for not only the future of America but that of the world if this man is elected to the White House. One only has to look at his policies to see that behind that facade of 'compassionate conservatism' he is nothing of the sort.
At worst he is populist or at best a calculating marketing manager (as one commentator wrote today).
God help America, and God help the world if this man is elected.
Bush was one of the greatest US leaders of all time. His son will be the same - 'like father like son!'
Nathan Gomkassi, Dallas, TX, USA
I am of the opinion that Bush does not have sufficient skill on foreign political aspects and he does not have any charisma.
People get the government they deserve. Politics on both sides of the Atlantic are becoming more about presentation and image rather than vision and conviction. As long as voters are too disinterested or lazy to seek the real issues and policies of their politicians, the man with the most money and most efficient PR machine will always dupe them. In this respect Bush Jnr will win the election hands down. As long as the media pander to the politicians' agenda and the public refuse to look beyond the gloss and posing the best man will not win.
Isn't it about time America had a good socialist president for the first time? Somebody who cared about America's poor, sick and old people instead of somebody whose main concern is big business and giving power to the elite? And how can a president with so little foreign insight be expected to run a country without being aware of the failures and successes of his counterparts across the world?
Well, I'm not much into politics but I don't have to be a politician to say that Mr George W. Bush is a no good person for this position. As President of the USA, he has to know what the world outside the USA is like - which he doesn't. Politics is a brain game perhaps, but not a game played with dice!
That boyish grin; the perpetual lack of insight; lack of moral fibre. No!
Ewout Boks, Oregon, USA
Like father like son - enough said. I feel for the poor and the minorities in the US if any Bush becomes president.
Bush Jr is not running against Bush Sr, he's running against Al Gore. The "lightweight" Bush has done an excellent job in Texas as Governor (look at the data). He's also smart enough to know what he doesn't know and will have good advisors (e.g. Cheney and Powell). Gore, on the other hand, has inherited Clinton's propensity for lying, and has no sense of reality (he claims to have invented the Internet). He's as phoney as Blair. And by the way, Adam, UK, if Bush Sr had not provided timely leadership in defending Kuwait, you'd be paying even more for your petrol than your current outrageous cost.
George W. Bush needs some world geograph/ history lessons to prove that he can hold office to the fullest. Americans in general know little about the outside world. It took the Bill Clinton administration 8 years to finally open America's eyes into world affairs that affected the country. Will George W. Bush, restore or handle the world interaction effectively? I doubt it.
What is this about lack of foreign policy experience? Bush, as governor of Texas, has dealt on several occasions with Mexico about NAFTA and immigration issues, conducting meetings in Spanish, without the need of a translator.
Sue Chamberlain, USA
George Bush Sr. was at best an average US President. During his tenure, the United States witnessed a terrible recession, worsening race relations and an overall decrease in the quality of American life. His only "crowning moment" was the Gulf War and the last time I checked, Saddam Hussein was still in power. Those are not difficult shoes to fill and Bush Jr. with his amazing ignorance of world (and domestic) affairs will have no problem in doing that.
There is no way George Jr. is fit to fill his father's shoes. His father was/ is a life long politician and somewhat keen on foreign policy (at least he knew the names of foreign leaders). George Jr. has only run for public office 3 times in his life. The most recent two times were for the same office (Gov. of Texas). The first time he ran for the US Congress (mid 70s) he lost because he was seen as an outsider. George Jr. is a political rookie and it shows, big time. He needs to spend several more years out on the stump before he runs for high office again.
Since American presidents are mere puppets, desiring the title only, who cares who fills this meaningless role?
The left has done an excellent job of painting GWB as an intellectual lightweight. The fact is he is a graduate of two of the country's elite universities and earned grades higher than those of his opponent. This is a familiar tactic and one that actually plays in Bush's favour. After all, most Americans fondly remember two other notorious lightweights - Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt - as their best presidents of the last century. In contrast are the "intellectuals" - Jimmy Carter, Woodrow Wilson - whose records, if they are remembered at all, are disastrous.
Governor Bush's path is littered with politicians and others who've underestimated him. Like Ronald Reagan, his genial nature makes it easy to make this mistake. I suggest all to take a close and serious look.
When I talk to average people in the US, there is a general dismay about the condition of the government here. It seems obvious to most that the powers existing here are props to big money and they feel powerless to do anything about it. This combination is rather frightening as I feel it will promote increasing social distress that the media will no longer be able to tamper with fluff. It appears to be a new dynamic of economic and ideological fascism - and I must say that I fear for the future of this country and the world should Bush get elected.
He is riding his campaign on the money from big industries which are lobbying against the implementation of environmental laws. This would not be good for the future of the world.
The domestic US landscape doesn't change dramatically, regardless of who's in power (or the changes seem microscopic to us Eastern Europeans).
On the foreign affairs field, it's different. One person, no matter how balanced and checked, can make a big difference.
Against this background, George W's ignorance of the outside world is alarming. In charge of the only superpower he may be, as we say, "an elephant in a china shop" (symbolic, isn't it). But there are good signs: take the presence of a Russian parliamentary delegation consisting of Bears (nickname for the Unity party) at the convention of their American equivalents. If the Bears and Elephants come along, the prospects for the outside world are not bad.
At least ignorant Bush is better than outwardly right-wing McCain: he may call Greeks "Grecians" but treat them well.
John Griffith, Texas, USA
Clinton may be lacking in sexual morals, but don't people know about the scandals (both alleged and proven) of Bush Jr's past? He is a lightweight, and when he is occasionally more than that, he is just plain loopy. I mean, the fact he wants to introduce faith and religious tenets to government life shows how dangerous he can be and makes a mockery of the States' fervent declarations of the separation of Church and State. What is the world coming to? The Americans will be electing a washed-up actor next! Give me dull, pragmatic, monotonous, experienced Gore over Bush any day.
George W. has followed his father's prestigious legacy all his life, only to have failed miserably. At Andover he was a terrible baseball player, at Yale he was an average student, as for business, he lost many people. I suspect that George Jr will follow his father to the White House only to fail at that also, except this time it will be America's problem.
Who cares? They're all corrupt.
According to many US friends of mine, Bush is as mediocre as they come. He is very charming but that is about all. It's beginning to look like the US people are going to have to choose between two mediocre people as Al Gore is not much better. One thing is certain, whoever is chosen, the environment will suffer as both Gore as well as Bush will not make any real effort to reduce CO2 emissions.
Bush Jnr's claim of a new "compassionate conservatism" is nothing more than a facade to make him seem more electable. His background is clear: a conservative governor of one of the most, if not the most, conservative state in the US, who has made a fortune in oil amongst other things, and who is running on the back of his father's name. He will appeal only to the right and ruling elites and will do little for "ordinary" people, many of whom live in poverty. He also does not have the experience to be president.
George W Bush, like father like son,
eh? Let's hope not. Bush senior, a
former CIA director was terrible for
America and the world. His son is
nothing more than the product of
big money, crushing all who oppose
it. His only purpose is to implement
the agenda of the ruling elite. If we
are subjected to another Bush in the
White House, there will be another
serious conflict in the Middle East.
Peter C. Kohler, USA
It is beyond one's comprehension how a politician of parochial US politics (a) who does not even know the names of the democratically elected prime minister of the largest working democracy the world has ever known or of the chief executive of the military dictatorship of Pakistan, lethally armed with nuclear weapons; and (b) who considers the military take over in Pakistan as good; could ever hope to strut around the world, preening himself as the leader of the free, democratic world.
It's seems amazing that these two people come from the same family. George W's ignorance as far as the world outside the USA is unbelievable. Recently he referred to people from Greece as 'Grecians'. I despair.
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