George H. W. Bush

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George H. W. Bush
41st President of the United States
Term of office
January 20, 1989 - January 20, 1993
Vice President Dan Quayle
Preceded by Ronald Reagan
Succeeded by Bill Clinton
43rd Vice-President of the United States
Term of office
January 20, 1981 - January 20, 1989
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Walter Mondale
Succeeded by Dan Quayle
Born June 12, 1924
Milton, Massachusetts
Spouse Barbara Bush
Religion Episcopalian

George Herbert Walker Bush (Milton, Massachusetts June 12, 1924-present) is a World War II veteran who served as the 41st President of the United States of America, serving January 20, 1989 - January 20, 1993.


During most of his public career, George Bush served other presidents loyally in a number of important positions. Not until 1988, after eight years as vice president under Ronald Reagan, did Bush, a self-effacing man, step into the limelight as the Republican nominee for president. For the first time he had an opportunity to articulate his vision for America's future.

Few presidential candidates had entered a campaign so ill defined in the eyes of the American voters. Bush's two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, the only office to which he had been elected, were almost two decades in the past by 1988. His service in appointive positions—as U.S. delegate to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, envoy to China, and director of the Central Intelligence Agency—had provided only an occasional hint of his political philosophy. He had sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 as a moderate, but after becoming Reagan's running mate he had taken conservative positions identical to those of Reagan.

Early life

George Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts to Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker, on June 12, 1924. His father was a wealthy investment banker and later a partner in the Wall Street firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman and Company. Prescott Bush was also a two-term Republican senator from Connecticut from 1952 to 1963.

Bush's maternal grandfather, for whom he was named, was George Herbert Walker, a wealthy businessman and important figure in American golf history.

With his sister and three brothers, Bush was raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. George Bush attended Greenwich Country Day School before entering Phillips Academy from 1936 to 1942 in Andover, Massachusetts. At Andover, he played Varsity baseball, was captain of the basketball and soccer teams, and president of the senior class. He was also a member of an exclusive fraternity called the A.U.V, or "Auctoritas, Unitas, Veritas" – Latin for "Authority, Unity, Truth". His roommate at the boarding school was a young man named Edward G. Hooker. It was at Phillips Academy that Bush learned of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

War hero

When George Bush graduated from Andover, he had already been admitted to Yale University, but the United States had entered World War II, and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve on his 18th birthday instead. After completing the 10-month course, he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve at Corpus Christi at 18 years old, which made him the youngest naval aviator to that date.

Serving in the Pacific theater, he flew 58 combat missions. On one mission over the Pacific, as a torpedo bomber pilot his aircraft was hit by Japanese antiaircraft fire and his engine caught on fire. Despite the fact that his plane was on fire, he completed his attack and released the bombs over his target, scoring several damaging hits. With his engine on fire, Bush flew several miles from the island, where he and one other crew member on the TBM Avenger bailed out of the aircraft.

While Bush waited four hours in his inflated raft, several fighters circled protectively overhead until he was rescued by the lifeguard submarine USS Finback. For this action Bush received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action. During the month he remained on the USS Finback, Bush participated in the rescue of other pilots.

Postwar years

While at Yale, he joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and was elected President. He also captained the Yale baseball team. A left-handed first baseman, Bush played in the first College World Series. As a Senior he was, like his son George W. Bush in 1968 and his father Prescott S. Bush in 1917, inducted into the Skull and Bones secret society in 1948, helping him to build friendships and political support.

He married Barbara Pierce on January 6, 1945. George and Barbara Bush have six children: George W., Pauline Robinson ("Robin") (1949–1953, died of leukemia), John (Jeb), Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy Walker.

In 1964, Bush ventured into conventional politics by running against Texas' Democratic Senator Ralph Yarborough. However, he lost in the 1964 Democratic landslide. Bush did not give up on elective politics, and was elected in 1966 and 1968 to the House of Representatives from the 7th District of Texas.

Bush lost his second attempt at a Senate seat in 1970 to Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, who had defeated the incumbent Yarborough in the Democratic primary.

Distinguished career

After the 1970 election loss, Bush was nominated and confirmed to the position of United States Ambassador to the United Nations, at which he served from 1971 to 1973.

After President Richard Nixon was re-elected President in 1972, he asked Bush to become Chairman of the Republican National Committee. After Nixon's resignation in 1974, Bush was considered for appointment as the replacement Vice President, but new President Gerald Ford chose Nelson Rockefeller instead. Ford appointed Bush to be Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China. (Since the United States at the time maintained official relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan and not the PRC, the Liaison Office did not have the official status of an embassy and Bush did not hold the position of "ambassador" even though he unofficially acted as one.)

In 1975, Ford brought Bush back to Washington to become Director of Central Intelligence. The CIA had been rocked by a serious of revelations about illegal and unauthorized activities, and Bush helped to restore the agency's morale and integrity. In 1999, the CIA headquarters facility in Langley, Virginia was renamed the George Bush Center for Intelligence.

After Democrat Jimmy Carter took the presidency in 1977, Bush became Chairman of the First International Bank in Houston. He also became a board member of the Committee on the Present Danger.

1980 presidential campaign

In the 1980 presidential election, Bush ran for the office, stressing his wide range of government experience. In the contest for the Republican Party nomination, despite Bush's establishment backing the front-runner was Ronald Reagan, the former Governor of California, who was now running for President for the second time. The Bush campaign team coined the term "voodoo economics" to describe the supply-side economic theory that Reagan supported, but later he said he became "converted" and supported the policies as Vice President.

Bush won the Iowa caucus to start the primary season. However, Reagan came back to decisively win the following New Hampshire primary. With a growing popularity among the Republican voting base, Reagan won most of the remaining primaries and the nomination.

After some preliminary discussion of choosing former President Gerald Ford as his running mate, Reagan selected Bush as his Vice President, placing him on the winning Republican Presidential ticket of 1980.

Vice presidency

As Vice President, Bush had influence on Reagan's staffing and was given many foreign affairs responsibilities. Bush was kept busy on overseas diplomatic trips; Bush attended so many state funerals that he famously quipped, "I'm George Bush. You die, I fly."

In 1984, the Reagan/Bush ticket was re-elected in a landslide against the Democrats' Walter Mondale/Geraldine Ferraro ticket.

During his second term as Vice President, Bush had the distinction of becoming the first Vice President to become Acting President when, on July 13, 1985, President Reagan underwent surgery to remove polyps from his colon. Bush served as Acting President for approximately eight hours.

1988 presidential campaign

In 1988, after seven years as Vice President, Bush ran for President. Though considered the early front-runner for the nomination, Bush came in third in the Iowa caucus, beaten by winner U.S. Senator Bob Dole and runner-up televangelist Pat Robertson. However, Bush rebounded to win the New Hampshire primary. Once the multiple-state primaries such as Super Tuesday began, Bush's organizational strength and fundraising lead were impossible for the other candidates to match, and the nomination was his.

Leading up to the 1988 Republican National Convention, there was much speculation as to Bush's choice of running mate. Bush chose little-known U.S. Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana. On the eve of the convention, Bush trailed Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, then Massachusetts governor, by double digits in many polls. Bush, often criticized for his lack of eloquence compared to Reagan, surprised many by giving possibly the best speech of his public career, widely known as the "Thousand points of light" speech for his use of that phrase to describe his vision of American community. Bush's acceptance speech and a generally well-managed Convention catapulted him ahead of Dukakis in the polls, and he held the lead for the rest of the race. Bush's acceptance speech at the convention included the pledge, Read my lips: no new taxes.

The Bush-Quayle ticket beat Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen soundly in the Electoral College, by 426 to 111 (Lloyd Bentsen received one vote). In the nationwide popular vote, Bush took 53.4% of the ballots cast while Dukakis gained 45.6%.


Foreign policy drove the Bush presidency from its first days. In his January 20, 1989 Inaugural Address upon taking the Presidency, Bush said:

"I come before you and assume the Presidency at a moment rich with promise. We live in a peaceful, prosperous time, but we can make it better. For a new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn; for in man's heart, if not in fact, the day of the dictator is over. The totalitarian era is passing, its old ideas blown away like leaves from an ancient, lifeless tree. A new breeze is blowing, and a nation refreshed by freedom stands ready to push on. There is new ground to be broken, and new action to be taken."

Leading up to the first Gulf War, on September 11, 1990 President Bush addressing the United Nations stated: Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective -- a New World Order -- can emerge: a new era thus becoming the first President of the United States of America to openly state and work toward global governance.

As President, Bush is perhaps best known for leading the United Nations coalition in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In 1990, led by Saddam Hussein, Iraq invaded its oil-rich neighbor to the south, Kuwait. The broad coalition sought the limited objective of removing Iraqi forces from Kuwait and ensure that Iraq did not invade Saudi Arabia. Bush summed up his and the entire free world's position succinctly when he said, "This aggression will not stand," and "this is not a war for oil. This is war against aggression."

President Bush achieved his stated objectives of "liberating" Kuwait and forcing Iraqi withdrawal. President Bush's popularity rating in America soared during and immediately after the success of the military operations.

As the Soviet Union was unraveling, President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev declared a U.S.-Soviet strategic partnership at the summit of July 1991, decisively marking the end of the Cold War. President Bush declared that U.S.-Soviet cooperation during the Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991 had laid the groundwork for a partnership in resolving bilateral and world problems.

Bush's government, along with the Progressive-Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, spearheaded the negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Bill Clinton signed in 1993.

George Bush resisted efforts by American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) and other organizations to secure American loan guarantees to assist Israel in the construction of new settlements in territories Israel occupied after the 1967 Six Day War. Bush's larger goal was to undermine the conservative Likud government and replace it with a leftist Labor coalition led by Yitzhak Rabin. Having secured the election of an Israel government more to its liking, Bush gave his support to a new loan guarantee package.

During the 1980s, as President Reagan lead efforts to enable the Soviet Union to collapsed defense spending was increased, which later lead to the end of the Soviet empire as the Soviets could not compete with U.S. military ingenuity. However, in addition to this increase of spending to protect the United States, the Democrat-controlled Congress increased spending on socialist welfare program. And this lead to an economic recession dogged most of Bush's term in office, was a contributing factor to his defeat in the 1992 Presidential election.

Several other factors were key in his defeat, including siding with Congressional Democrats in 1990 to raise taxes despite his famous "Read my lips: No new taxes" pledge not to institute any new taxes. In doing so, Bush alienated many members of his conservative and libertarian base, losing their support for his re-election. The largest factor, which is the main reason Bill Clinton defeated Bush in the 1992 election, was the candidacy of Ross Perot. Perot won 19% of the popular vote, and Clinton, still a largely unknown quantity in American politics, was able to win the election due to Perot splitting the Republican vote in many states.

Despite his loss, George H.W. Bush left office in 1993 with a 56 percent job approval rating.


Since leaving office, Bush has largely retired from public life. The Bushes live in Houston and their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He holds his own fishing tournament in Islamorada, an island in the Florida Keys.

In April 1993, the Iraqi Intelligence Service attempted to assassinate former President Bush via car bomb during a visit to Kuwait. However, Kuwaiti security foiled the car bomb plot. On June 26, 1993, the U.S. launched a missile attack targeting Baghdad intelligence headquarters in retaliation for the attempted attack against Bush.

Bush has never written a memoir of his political life, and says he does not plan to. He has, however, published a book containing a series of collected letters (All The Best, George Bush, 1999), and co-authored a book on recent foreign policy issues with his former National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft (A World Transformed, 1998). He has given a number of paid speeches and participated in business ventures with the Carlyle Group.

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is located on the Southwest corner of the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas was renamed after the former president in 1997. The tenth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier will be named USS George H. W. Bush when it is launched in 2009.

In 2001, he became the first president since John Adams to be father of another president when his son George W. Bush, previously Governor of Texas, took office as President of the United States. During his term of office, George H. W. Bush was simply known as President George Bush, since his son had never held elective office and was not especially well-known to the public. He is now commonly referred to with his initials as "George H.W. Bush" as well as by various nicknames and titles, including "Former President Bush," "Bush the Elder," "the first President Bush," "Bush 41," and simply "41", in order to avoid confusion between his presidency and that of his son. Although the names of the two men are similar, they are not identical—George W. Bush lacks his father's first middle name Herbert—so they are not known as "senior" and "junior."

On June 12, 2004, he went skydiving in honor of his 80th birthday. It was his third parachute jump since World War II. He also made a jump on June 9, 1999, before his 75th birthday, and told reporters then he had also parachuted in Arizona two years earlier. The day before his 80th birthday jump, he and his son both took part in eulogizing his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, at the latter's state funeral.

On November 22, 2004, New York Republican Governor George Pataki named Bush and the other living former presidents (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton) as honorary members of the board rebuilding the World Trade Center.

On January 3, 2005, Bush and Bill Clinton were named by the current President Bush to lead a nationwide campaign to help the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Bush and Clinton both appeared on the Super Bowl XXXIX pre-game show on FOX in support of their bipartisan effort to raise money for relief of the disaster through the USA Freedom Corps, an action which Bush described as "transcending politics." Thirteen days later, they both traveled to the affected areas to see how the relief efforts are going.

In August 31, 2005, following the devastation of the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, Bush again teamed with Clinton to coordinate private relief donations. Reports were common that Bush and Clinton had developed a friendship by now, despite the latter having defeated the former in the 1992 election. (Such friendships were not unknown, as Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter had developed one despite a similar history.) When Gerald R. Ford died in December, 2006 he became the oldest surviving President.


George Bush was the son of Prescott Bush, US Senator from Connecticut from 1952-1963.

Upon his return from the war, George Bush married Barbara Pierce. Their marriage later produced six children: George Walker Bush, Pauline Robinson Bush, John Ellis "Jeb" Bush, Neil Mallon Bush, Marvin Bush, and Dorothy Bush Koch.

On Dec. 5, 2006 President George H. W. Bush, addressing Florida lawmakers and others, broke down in tears as he cited his son, Gov. John Ellis "Jeb" Bush, as an example of leadership.[1]

The Bush dynasty is generally considered to be one of the greatest American political families, along with the Adams and the Kennedy family.

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