George Herbert Walker Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush was the one term Republcian 41st President of the United States (1989-1993). Previously, he had served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1971–1973), Director of the CIA from 1976-1977, and the 43rd Vice President of the United States under President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). He was defeated by President Bill Clinton, a man who rose from humble origins by the dint of his own efforts. Bush, by contrast, was born an American aristocrat.
His son, George W. Bush, is the 43rd President of the United States. As a result George H. W. Bush is sometimes referred to as "the Elder Bush", "Bush the Elder", "Bush Senior", "Bush 41", or "the first President Bush" in order to avoid possible confusion between his presidency and that of his son.1 Technically speaking, for official protocol, his son is "The President" and he is " Former President Bush". This will not change until his son leaves office. (Note that the former President Bush and the current President Bush are not "senior" and "junior" but rather just father and son with very similar names.)
In retirement George Herbert Walker Bush frets about news media treatment of his son, Pres. George W. Bush. "It's one thing to have an adversarial ... relationship -- hard-hitting journalism," he is quoted as saying, "it's another when the journalists' rhetoric goes beyond skepticism and goes over the line into overt, unrelenting hostility and personal animosity." Honest news coverage of George W. Bush's shameful incompetence violates George Herbert Walker Bush's sense of entitlement as a member of one of America's ruling class. No doubt he is also worried by the increasingly regugnant Bush family legacy. Where George Herbert Walker Bush was merely a poor president, George W. Bush is in the running to be the worst president in American history.
George Bush was born on June 12, 1924 to Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker. His father served as a Senator from Connecticut and was a partner in the prominent investment banking firm Brown Brothers Harriman.
George Bush attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts from 1936 to 1942, where he demonstrated early leadership, captaining the baseball team, and was 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, and after graduating in June, 1942, he joined the US Navy.
After the War he attended Yale University where he joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and was inducted into the Skull and Bones secret society, helping him to build friendships and political support. Joining the Skull and Bones a year after him at Bush's request was William Sloane Coffin, a fellow classmaste from the Phillips Academy. They would remain friends and, at times, enemies, throughout their lives, though Coffin became a notable anti-war activist of the political left.
He married Barbara Pierce on January 6, 1945. Their marriage produced 6 children: George W., Pauline Robinson "Robin" (December 20, 1949–October 11, 1953, died of leukemia); John (Jeb); Neil; Marvin; and Dorothy Walker (August 18, 1959—). The family has built on his and his father's political successes, with his son George W. Bush's Governorship of Texas and subsequent election as President, and his son Jeb Bush's election as Governor of Florida. The Bush political dynasty has been compared to that of John Adams and the Kennedy family.
Bush ventured into the Texas oil business after the war with mixed results. He secured a position with Dresser through his father's investment banking relationship with the company. His son, Neil Mallon Bush, is named after his employer at Dresser, Neil Mallon, a close family friend. Dresser, decades later, merged with Halliburton, whose former CEO's include Dick Cheney, George H. W. Bush's Secretary of Defense during the Gulf War and now (2004) Vice President of the United States and former George W. Bush campaign manager. There have been allegations that Bush's business ventures were CIA backed, and that alll during this time he moonlighted for the CIA. During the time of the Cuba crisis and the asassination of John Kennedy his activities are very shadowy. Remarkably he is probably the only person in America of his age who does not know where he was on November 22nd 1963. (!) Mark Lane, in Plausible Denial, recounts that the CIA had some boats ready to reinvade Cuba -- and that one of them was named "Barbara". Describing the Bush family as American aristocrats is like describing the Snopes family as Southern gentry.
Rise in Politics
In 1964, Bush ventured into conventional politics by running against Democratic Senator Ralph Yarborough, making an issue of Yarborough's vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which almost all Southern politicians (including the Republican Sen. John Tower of Texas) opposed. He called Yarborough an "extremist" and a "left wing demagogue" while Yarborough said Bush was a "carpetbagger" trying to buy a Senate seat "just as they would buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange". Bush lost in the 1964 Democratic landslide.
He was later elected in 1966 and 1968 to the House of Representatives from the 7th District of Texas. He later lost his second attempt at a Senate seat in 1970 to Democrat Lloyd Bentsen who defeated the incumbent Yarborough in the Democratic primary. Throughout the 70s, under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Bush briefly served in a number of positions, including Chairman of the Republican National Committee, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, US Envoy to China, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and board member of the Committee on the Present Danger.
In 1980, Bush ran for President, losing in the Republican Party primaries to Ronald Reagan, the former Governor of California. After nearly 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. Bush had been many things Reagan had not been, a military man, a life-long Republican, and an internationalist with UN, CIA and China experience.
The Reagan/Bush ticket won again in 1984, against the Democrats' Walter Mondale/Geraldine Ferraro ticket. In 1988, after 8 years as Vice President, Bush ran for President with little known Senator Dan Quayle as his running mate and beat Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen, 426 to 111 Electoral College votes. (Bentsen received one Electoral Vote.)
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 Ronald Reagan underwent surgery to remove cancerous polyps from his colon. Bush served as Acting President for approximately 8 hours, during which time he is reported to have spent most of the time playing tennis.
A Presidency Defined By the Gulf War
As President of the United States, George Bush is remembered for leading the United Nations coalition in the 1990-1991 Gulf War. In 1990, led by Saddam Hussein, Iraq invaded its oil-rich neighbor to the south, Kuwait. Iraq claimed, with as much historical justification as any other territorial claim to sovereignty in the Persian Gulf, that Kuwait was actually a province of Iraq. The borders of Iraq and Kuwait were both products of British imperialism.
To prepare American public opinion for the coming war, the executive branch and news media undertook a propaganda war worthy of the propaganda effort that took the U.S. into the Spanish American War. Among the most egregious manipulations tok place on October 10, 1990, when the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus heard testimony from a "15 year old girl introduced as 'Nayriah' who claims that she was a volunteer nurse at a hospital in Kuwait and witnesed invading Iraqi soldiers take babies from incubators and throw them on the floor to die. U.S. president George W. Bush repeats the story in speechs and the number of victim incubator babies rises to 312. After the Gulf War it is discovered that Nayriah was the 20-something daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the U.S. and the story was otherwise a total fabrication.
The broad international coalition organized by the U.S. sought to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait and ensure that Iraq did not invade Saudi Arabia. Untold numbers of hapless Iraqi soldiers fleeing Kuwait died from U.S. airstrikes. President Bush's popularity rating in America soared during and immediately after the successful war, but later fell due to economic recession.
A mild economic recession from July 1990 to March 1991 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" pledge not to institute any new taxes. In doing so, Bush alienated many members of his conservative base, losing their support for his re-election.
Some claim that the candidacy of Ross Perot may have helped Bill Clinton defeat Bush in the 1992 election, but this has been shown to be incorrect. Perot won 19% of the popular vote, but a study showed that votes were more likely to be drawn from Clinton's base than from Bush's.
After losing the election, Bush has retired from public life. After retiring, he did, however, notably parachute from an airplane for the first time since World War II. The Bushes live in Houston, Texas and their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Major legislation signed
Major legislation vetoed
Supreme Court appointments
- Bush political family
- U.S. presidential election, 1980
- U.S. presidential election, 1984
- U.S. presidential election, 1988
- U.S. presidential election, 1992
- George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas
- History of the United States (1980–1988)
- History of the United States (1988–present)
- Jennifer Fitzgerald
- List of Notable Right-Wingers
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