I. INTRODUCTION Bush, George Herbert Walker (1924-), 41 st president of the United States (1989-1993), president at the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Bush also organized an unprecedented global alliance against Iraq during the Persian Gulf War of 1991, but he was less successful in dealing with U. S. domestic problems and was defeated after one term by Bill Clinton in the 1992 election.
II. EARLY LIFE Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, but grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. His parents came from wealthy Midwestern families. His father, Prescott Bush, a partner in a leading Wall Street law firm, was a Republican U. S. senator from Connecticut between 1952 and 1963.
Senator Bush was a moderate Republican and a supporter of President Dwight David Eisenhower. Senator Bush strongly opposed the party's far right wing, represented in the 1950 s by U. S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, who led a campaign against Communist subversion in the United States. Bush's mother, Dorothy Walker, the daughter of a Missouri industrialist, encouraged her children to play sports and learn humility and manners.
Bush graduated from Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts, in 1942, and joined the United States Navy to fight in World War II. He became a pilot, flying bombing missions against Japan. On one mission his plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean. Two crewmen died, but Bush survived unharmed and was rescued by a passing submarine within a few hours. Bush returned to the United States in late 1944. Two weeks later, in early 1945, he married Barbara Pierce, a Greenwich woman whose father was a magazine publisher.
The couple had six children: sons George, John, Neil, and Marvin, and daughters Robin and Dorothy. Robin died of leukemia at the age of three. Bush entered Yale University in 1945. He majored in economics, became captain of the varsity baseball team, and graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1948. He moved his young family to west Texas where, helped by his father's business connections, he went into the oil business, working as an equipment clerk. In 1953 Bush confounded the Zapata Petroleum Corporation, which drilled for oil in the Permian basin in Texas and elsewhere in the West.
The next year, he became president of the Zapata Offshore Company, which specialized in offshore drilling equipment. Bush was a millionaire by the time he was 41. III. EARLY POLITICAL CAREER Bush began to make his mark on the Texas Republican Party in 1962, when he became Harris County Republican chairman. In 1964 Bush ran for the U.
S. Senate against Ralph Yarborough, the Democratic incumbent. Yarborough argued that Bush's views were too extreme, and, like most Republican candidates that year, Bush was defeated in the landslide that accompanied the victory of Texas Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson over U. S. Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona in the presidential election.
Bush's strong showing in the firmly Democratic state, however, won the attention of a former Republican vice president and U. S. senator from California, Richard Nixon. In 1966, with assistance from Nixon, an affluent Houston district elected Bush to the U. S. House of Representatives, and reelected him in 1968.
In the Congress of the United States Bush identified with Republican moderates who were practical and business-oriented, approaches to which his father had subscribed. He won a coveted seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee (which has jurisdiction over financial matters), supported the extension of voting rights to 18-year-olds, and voted to abolish the military draft. After two terms, he gave up his seat in the House to run again for the Senate, expecting to take on his old rival Ralph Yarborough. The Democrats, however, nominated a much more moderate candidate instead, former congressman Lloyd Bentsen, who defeated Bush in the fall. Despite his defeat, Bush was just the kind of business-oriented Republican from the increasingly important Sun Belt-the states in the South and Southwest-that the national leaders of the Republican Party wanted to promote. As a result, during the next six years President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford appointed Bush to a series of posts that kept him in the public eye.
He served as U. S. ambassador to the United Nations (UN) from 1971 to 1973; chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1973 to 1974, in the last days of the Watergate scandal, during which President Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment over charges of covering up burglaries and wiretapping of the Democratic Party offices; U. S. envoy to China from 1974 to 1975; and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1976 to 1977. Although Bush stayed in none of these positions long enough to leave much of an imprint on them, he proved himself a reliable and loyal administrator and gained foreign policy experience, political training, and diplomatic contacts he would later use both to win and to work in the White House.
After 1977 Bush focused on his business interests and on organizing support for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1980. A. Campaigning in 1980 In 1979 Bush launched a long-shot campaign for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination. It was a bold move for a politician who had not been elected to office for a decade. Bush outlasted all of the six candidates in the primaries except former California governor Ronald Reagan. Bush tried to establish himself as the moderate voice of responsible Republicans.
He condemned as "voodoo economics" Reagan's campaign promise to increase military spending and cut taxes while balancing the budget. This would supposedly be possible because cutting taxes would cause the economy to grow and a growing economy would generate additional revenue. But Reagan easily won the nomination with the support of social conservatives, who favored government action to stem what they considered to be the decline of morals in the United States, and economic conservatives, who opposed government regulation of the economy and spending on social programs. To mollify moderate Republicans and increase his appeal to conservative Democrats, Reagan asked Bush to be his running mate. The Reagan-Bush ticket defeated incumbent President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale in 1980, and they were reelected in a landslide in 1984. B.
Vice President As vice president, Bush received a valuable eight years of on-the-job training for the presidency. Bush focused on his strongest interest, foreign policy, traveling to Africa, the Middle East, South America, the USSR, Asia, and Central America. Some of these trips were undoubtedly symbolic, but others were not, and Bush used each trip to meet foreign diplomats on whom he would later rely. He employed the same device at home, crossing the country on various political missions for Reagan and building a list of political contacts who would be called on later to help with Bush's own presidential campaign.
Reagan's policies, however, often tested Bush's loyalty. As president, Reagan cut taxes, especially for higher-income individuals and corporations, and approved the biggest peacetime increase in military spending. Budget deficits (the annual gap between tax revenues and expenditures) soared and the national debt, after accounting for inflation, more than doubled in eight years. As Bush had predicted, the "voodoo economics" did not eliminate the deficit, but as vice president he kept his misgivings to himself.
Loyalty to the president also enmeshed Bush in the most damaging scandal of the Reagan years, the revelation in 1986 that while publicly denouncing Iran as a terrorist state, Reagan's foreign policy advisers had secretly sold weapons to Teheran in exchange for the release of U. S. citizens held by pro-Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. More troubling was the disclosure that agents operating under direct White House supervision used profits from the arms sales to buy weapons for the contras, a group of anti-government Nicaraguan rebels, despite an explicit congressional ban on such aid. Bush later claimed that he opposed the arms-for-hostages deal, but offered little evidence to back his claims (see Iran-Contra Affair).
C. 1988 Presidential Election While the Reagan-Bush program helped produce prosperity for the wealthiest Americans, the economic benefits of the 1980 s were spread far less evenly among middle- and working-class Americans. So when Bush launched his 1988 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, he promised to extend the benefits to all Americans and engineer what he called a "kinder, gentler America" in the process. In the early primaries, Bush quickly eliminated his two chief rivals for the Republican nomination, Senate Republican leader Robert Dole of Kansas and Christian television evangelist Pat Robertson. He promised to veto any attempt to increase income taxes with a stirring pledge made to voters in New Hampshire: "Read my lips: No new taxes." Bush named U.
S. senator Dan Quayle, a young Indiana Republican and a favorite of conservatives, to be his running mate. In the general election, Bush faced Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, who had asked an old Bush rival, U. S. senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, to be his running mate. The Massachusetts governor proved to be a poor campaigner with a weak grasp for what moved voters.
By contrast, Bush skillfully reached out to economic and social conservatives, as well as suburban independents and environmentalists. He criticized Dukakis for his refusal to support the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States in schools, accused him of supporting temporary releases called furloughs for violent criminals in overcrowded prisons, and pointed to what Bush argued was Dukakis's poor record in cleaning up polluted Boston harbor. While promising not to impose new taxes, to cut the capital gains tax, and to continue the Reagan defense program, Bush also vowed to oppose gun control and to try to overturn the 1973 ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that affirmed a woman's right to an abortion. Bush won the election easily, attracting 53 percent of the vote and carrying 40 states and 426 electoral votes. He won the entire South, most of the West and made deep inroads in the industrial Midwest. The election left one obstacle for Bush: the Democrats retained solid majorities in both the House of Representatives and the U.