Who was George Herbert Walker Bush? (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018)

Who was George Herbert Walker Bush? (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018)
Who was George Herbert Walker Bush? (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018)

George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018), 41st president of the United States (1989-93).Bush was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, and grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. A World War II carrier pilot in the Pacific, he was discharged in 1945 with a Distinguished Flying Cross.

During the war he married Barbara Pierce. They had six children (one died in early childhood). Graduated from Yale University in 1948 with a degree in economics, Bush moved to Texas, where he became wealthy in the oil business.Turning to politics, Bush ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1964 but won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives two years later.

Reelected in 1968, he gave up his seat in 1970 to run for the Senate—again unsuccessfully. President Richard M. Nixon then appointed him ambassador to the United Nations (1971-72), and he subsequently held a series of appointive posts that familiarized him with both the domestic and international politics of the United States: chairman of the Republican National Committee (1973-74); chief liaison officer in Beijing (1974-75), before the United States established full diplomatic relations with China; and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1976-77).

George Herbert Walker Bush competed for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1980 but lost to Ronald Reagan. He accepted Reagan’s invitation to be his running mate, and became vice president in 1981.

The 1988 Campaign

After winning reelection on the Reagan ticket in 1984, Bush won the 1988 Republican presidential nomination; as his running mate he chose Dan Quayle, a U.S. senator from Indiana. During the campaign Bush denounced his opponent, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, for “liberalism” and promised no new taxes.

He became the first incumbent vice president since 1836 to win election to the presidency. George Bush was one of five main candidates to seek the Republican party’s nomination as United States presidential candidate in 1988. Bush capitalized on his reputation as vice president under U.S. President Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) and won the Republican party’s nomination.

George Herbert Walker Bush went on to win the presidential election, defeating Michael Dukakis of the Democratic party. Shown here celebrating at the 1988 Republican National Convention are (left to right): Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush; Vice President and Republican presidential candidate George Bush; Senator Dan Quayle from Indiana, Bush’s vice-presidential running mate; and Quayle’s wife, Marilyn Quayle.

George H. W. Bush as President

Dominating Bush’s domestic agenda during 1989, his first year in office, were measures to rescue the nation’s savings and loan system and to toughen U.S. efforts against illegal drugs. George Herbert Walker Bush responded to rapid political changes in Eastern Europe by offering economic assistance to Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland and by encouraging the unification of East and West Germany into a country that would remain a Western ally, retaining its position in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

George Herbert Walker Bush met with Mikhail Gorbachev, president of the USSR, in December 1989 at Malta, where they agreed to negotiate an end to production of chemical weapons, cut long-range missiles by up to 50 percent, and reduce conventional forces in Europe. Later that month, Bush ordered more than 24,000 U.S. troops into Panama to oust the government of General Manuel Antonio Noriega. Taken into custody and flown to the United States, Noriega was later tried and convicted on drug and racketeering charges.

In 1990 George Herbert Walker Bush and the Congress engaged in a protracted dispute over the size of the federal budget. In the end Bush retreated from his “no new taxes” pledge and signed a deficit-reduction bill that slowed the growth of spending but also increased taxes. In foreign affairs Bush’s leadership was more sure-footed. After Iraq seized Kuwait in August 1990, Bush immediately sent U.S. troops to protect Saudi Arabia and began a vigorous campaign for an international effort to reverse the Iraqi conquest.

After the UN-imposed deadline for Iraqi withdrawal expired on January 15, 1991, a U.S.-led coalition launched a major offensive. Five weeks of air warfare led to a ground attack that drove the Iraqi army from Kuwait in less than 100 hours (see Persian Gulf War). Bush’s popularity soared after the victory and remained high as he met with Gorbachev in July and signed a strategic arms reduction agreement.

During the remainder of 1991 foreign-policy issues, including the breakup of the USSR and the convening on October 30 of the first comprehensive Middle East Peace Conference, continued to claim his attention even as the U.S. economy continued to lag. Both unemployment and the budget deficit increased steadily. By January 1992 Bush’s approval rating in opinion polls was half what it had been in early 1991.

The 1992 Campaign

In Republican primaries, George Herbert Walker Bush beat back a challenge from a conservative commentator, Patrick J. Buchanan. In the general election, however, Bush and Quayle were defeated by Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore, who attacked the Bush administration’s performance on the economy, health care, and the environment.

During his last weeks in office, Bush remained active in foreign policy. George Herbert Walker Bush sent troops to restore order and feed the starving in Somalia, ordered new air strikes against Iraq, and signed a wide-ranging arms reduction treaty with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

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