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Was Bush an imperial President ?

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To what extend was Bush an imperial President? An imperial President is referring to a presidency characterised by the misuse and abuse of the powers of the presidency. The Bush administration was seen as imperialistic as it has ignored standing law, violated treaty obligations, undermined the most basic of civil liberties and on the whole, used its powers to avoid congressional, judicial and public oversight. Firstly, terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 offered Bush an opportunity to reassert presidential leadership. The crisis gave Bush the chance to exercise his constitutional power as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. As such, he was able to launch attacks on Afghanistan as an emergency act of self-defence, without a formal declaration of war of Congress. Additionally, he coordinated the creation of an international coalition and worked to ensure that American military operations ran smoothly. In all these actions, he received the overwhelming support of both Democrats and Republicans alike, and from a broad cross-section of the American people. Therefore, this exemplifies his power as an imperial president. ...read more.


By putting the detainees outside the reach of the U.S. courts, it prohibited challenges to those detentions by writs of habeas corpus. Furthermore, Bush has an overwhelming number of signing statements, far more than any president. As of 2008, he had signed 157 signing statements challenging over 1,100 provisions of federal law. Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, requirements that Congress be told about immigration service problems and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research. His most controversial one of all is the signing statement associated with the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. As such, we can see the Bush uses his power of such to make and influence public policy which establishes his imperial presidency. Nonetheless, although foreign policy issues have allowed Bush to exercise his power and to set expansive agenda, his actions have been endorsed by Congress. For example, it was Congress that granted him the extraordinary powers to deal with the 9/11 crisis. ...read more.


For example, in the case of Rasul v. Bush (2004), the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay did not have access to the US federal courts to challenge their detention regarding the war on terror. Also, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), the Court declared unconstitutional the military commissions which the Bush administration had set up to try Guantanamo Bay detainees. As such, this limits the presidential power hence undermines Bush as an imperial president. Lastly, Bush suffered his first veto override in 2007 on the Water Resources Development Bill. He suffered three more veto overrides in 2008. This left him with the lowest success score on vetoes of any modern-day president at just 64%, and the third lowest of any president. He only had a total of just 11 regular vetoes in 8 years. Also, Congress amended the National Defense authorisation Bill in 2007 before allowing Bush to sign it into law. Additionally, the Patriot Act was reauthorized which created new provisions relating to the death penalty for terrorism, enhancing security at seaports and new measures to combat the financing of terrorism. Therefore, this illustrates that Bush's powers are heavily limited by congress which does not make him an imperial president. ...read more.

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