Bush's presidency, like every administration before his, was plagued with the unexpected. Some of them were history-making, however.
As the documentary lays out: Nine months into his time in office, the country was hit by the deadliest terror attack in its history. In the middle of his tenure, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans and questioned his capability to manage ongoing emergencies at home. And in the final months of his presidency, a financial crisis that threatened to be worse than the Great Depression ravaged the country's economy and forced Bush to make drastic decisions.
In these moments, American Experience suggests, the U.S. was steered through an obstacle course of crisis by a political heir whose own life lacked direction until he was 40 and was later defined by the eight years he spent in the White House.
In a particular irony, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were the toughest moments of Bush's presidency but, in their wake, the country rallied around him in what would prove to be rare bipartisan approval.
(In the years since he left office, as he's retreated from politics, Bush, now 73, has seen his reputation rebound as he's focused on more personal projects such as helping wounded veterans.)
"That's a moment when I think every American was proud of George W. Bush," journalist Eugene Robinson said at one point in American Experience. "He had a measure of support that no president could ever dream of and, in a sense, he squandered it."
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