George H.W. Bush, a patrician New Englander whose presidency of the United States soared with the coalition victory over Iraq in Kuwait, but then plummeted in the throes of a weak economy that led voters to turn him out of after a single term, has died. He was 94.
The World War II hero, who also presided during the collapse of the Soviet Union and the final months of the C War, died late last night at his Houston , said spokesman im McGrath. His of more than 70 years, Barbara Bush, died in April 2018.
The of a senator and her of a president, Bush was the man with the gen resume who rose th the political ranks: from congressman to UN ambador, Rean Py chairman to envoy to China, CIA director to two-term vice-president under the hugely popular Ronald Reagan. The 1991 Gulf War stoked his popularity. But Bush would acknowledge that he had trouble iculating “the vision thing,” and he was hed by his decision to break a stern, solemn vow he made to voters: “Read my lips. No taxes.”
He lost his d for re-election to Bill Clinton in a campaign in which inessman H. Ross Perot took almost 19 percent of the vote as an independent candidate. Still, he lived to see his , George W. Bush, twice elected to the presidency — only the second her-and- chief executives, following ohn Adams and ohn Quincy Adams.
The 43rd president issued a statement Friday following his her’s death, saying the elder Bush “was a man of the highest character.”
“The entire Bush is deeply grateful for 41’s life and , for the compion of those who have ed and prayed for Dad,” the statement read.
After his 1992 defeat, George H.W. Bush complained that media-created “myths” gave voters a mistaken impression that he did not identify with the lives of ordinary US citizens. He decided he lost because he “just wasn’t a good enough communicator.”
Once out of , Bush was content to remain on the sidelines, except for an occasional sch or paid appearance and visits abroad. He backed Clinton on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which had its genesis during his own presidency. He visited the Middle East, where he was revered for his defence of Kuwait. And he returned to China, where he was welcomed as “an ” from his days as the US ambador there.
He later teamed with Clinton to raise tens of millions of dollars for victims of a 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and Hurricane Katrina, which swamped New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005. During their wide-ranging travels, the political odd grew close.
“Who would have thought that I would be ing with Bill Clinton, of all people?” Bush quipped in October 2005.
In his post-presidency, Bush’s popularity rebounded with the growth of his reputation as a fundamentally decent and well-meaning leader who, although he was not a stirring orator or a dreamy visionary, was a steadfast humanitarian. Elected officials and rities of both pies ly expressed their fondness.
After Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Bush ly began building an international military coalition that included other Arab states. After liberating Kuwait, he rejected suggestions that the US ry the offensive to Bagad, choosing to end the hostilities a mere 100 hours after the st of the ground war.
“That wasn’t our objective,” he said in a 2011 from his just a few blocks from his Houston . “The good thing about it is there was so much less loss of human life than had been predicted and indeed than we might have feared.”
But the decisive military defeat did not lead to the regime’s downfall, as many in the administration had hoped.
“I miscalculated,” acknowledged Bush. His legacy was ged for years by doubts about the decision not to rve Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi leader was eventually ousted in 2003, in the war led by Bush’s that was followed by a long, bloody insurgency.
George H.W. Bush entered the White House in 1989 with a reputation as a man of indecision and indeterminate views. One smagazine suggested he was a “wimp.”
But his -, play- approach to the presidency won broad approval. He held more press conferences in most months than Reagan did in most years.
The Iraq crisis of 1990-91 bt out all the skills Bush had honed in a quer-century of politics and service.
After winning United Nations support and a green light from a reluctant Congress, Bush unleashed a ing air war against Iraq and a five-day ground juggernaut that sent Iraqi s reeling in disarray back to Bagad. He basked in the ggest outpouring of patriotism and pride in the US military since World War II, and his approval ratings soared to nearly 90 percent.
The other battles he fought as president, including a war on drugs and a crusade to make US children the educated in the world, were not so decisively won.
He rode into pledging to make the United States a “kinder, gentler” nation and calling on US citizens to volunteer their time for good causes — an effort he said would create “a thousand points of light.”
It was Bush’s of a different pledge, the no–taxes promise, that helped sink his d for a second term. He abandoned the idea in his second year, cutting a deficit-reduction deal that angered many congressional Reans and contributed to GOP losses in the 1990 midterm elections.
An avid sman who took Theodore Roosevelt as a , Bush sought to safeguard the environment and signed the improvements to the Clean Air Act in more than a decade. It was activism with a Rean cast, allowing polluters to buy others’ clean-air credits and giving industry flexility on how to meet tougher goals on smog.
He also signed the landmark Americans with Disalities Act to ban place discrimination against people with disalities and require improved access to places and transportation.
Bush failed to rein in the deficit, which had tripled to US$3 trillion under Reagan and galloped ahead by as much as US$300 llion a year under Bush, who put his finger on it in his inauguration sch: “We have more will than wallet.”
Seven years of economic growth ended in mid-1990, just as the Gulf crisis began to unf. Bush insisted the recession would be “short and shallow,” and lawmakers did not even try to p a s ll or other relief measures.
Foreign affairs legacy
Bush’s true interests lay elsewhere, outside the m of nettlesome domestic politics. “I coping with the problems in foreign affairs,” he t a child who asked what he liked about being president.
He operated at times like a one-man State Depment, on the phone at dawn with his rs — Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, Francois Mitterrand of France, Germany’s Helmut Kohl.
Communism began to crumble on his , with the Berlin Wall coming down, the Warsaw Pact disintegrating and the Soviet satellites falling out of ort.
He seized leadership of the NATO alliance with a b and ultimately successful proposal for deep troop and tank cuts in Europe. Huge crowds cheered him on a triumphal tour th Poland and Hungary.
Bush’s invasion of Panama in December 1989 was a military precursor of the Gulf War: a operation with a resoundingly superior American . But in Panama, the tr seized dictator Manuel Noriega and bt him back to the United States in chains to stand trial on drug-trafficking charges.
Months after the Gulf War, Washington became engrossed in a different sort of confrontation over one of Bush’s nominees to the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas, a little-known federal appeals court judge, was accused of ual harment by a former colleague named Anita Hill. His confirmation hearings exploded into a national spectacle, sparking an intense debate over race, gender and the modern place. Thomas was eventually confirmed.
In the closing days of the 1992 campaign, Bush fought the impression that he was distant and disconnected, and he seemed to struggle against the er, more empathetic Clinton.
During a campaign visit to a grocers’ convention, Bush reportedly expressed amazement when shown an electronic check-out scanner. Critics seized on the ent, saying it indicated that the president had become disconnected from voters.
Later at a town-hall style debate, he paused to look at his wrist — a seemingly glance that became freighted with deeper meaning because it seemed to rein the idea of a bored, impatient inbent.
In the same debate, Bush became confused by a woman’s question about whether the deficit had affected him perally. Clinton, with apparent ease, left his seat, walked to the edge of the stage to address the woman and offered a sympathetic answer.
Bush said the pain of losing in 1992 was eased by the warm reception he received after leaving .
“I lost in ’92 because people still thought the economy was in the tank, that I was out of touch and I didn’t understand that,” he said in an shortly before the dedication of his presidential library in 1997. “The economy wasn’t in the tank, and I wasn’t out of touch, but I lost. I couldn’t get th this hue and cry for ‘change, change, change’ and ‘The economy is horrible, still in recession.’
George Herbert Walker Bush was born une 12, 1924, in Milton, Machusetts, into the New England elite, a world of prep s, mansions and serts seemingly untouched by the Great Depression.
His her, Prescott Bush, the of an Ohio steel magnate, made his fortune as an investment banker and later served 10 years as a senator from Connecticut.
George H.W. Bush enlisted in the Navy on his 18th rtay in 1942, right out of prep . He returned to marry his 19-year- sweethe, Barbara Pierce, of the publisher of McCall’s magazine, in anuary 1945. They were the longest-married presidential in US hi. She died on April 17, 2018.
Lean and athletic at 6–2, Bush became a war hero while still a ager. One of the est pilots in the Navy, he flew 58 missions off the rier USS San acinto.
He had to ditch one plane in the Pacific and was s down on September 2, 1944, while completing a bomng run against a apanese radio tower. An American submarine rescued Bush. His two crewmates perished. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery.
After the war, Bush took just two-and-a-half years to graduate from Yale, then headed west in 1948 to the fields of West Texas. Bush and pners helped found Zapata Petroleum Corp. in 1953. Six years later, he moved to Houston and became active in the Rean Py.
In politics, he showed the same commitment he displayed in iness, adcing his eer th loyalty and subservience.
He was elected to the US Congress in 1966 and served two terms. President Ric Nixon appointed him ambador to the United Nations, and after the 1972 election, named him chairman of the Rean National Committee. Bush struggled to h the py together as Watergate destroyed the Nixon presidency, then became ambador to China and CIA chief in the Ford administration.
Bush made his d for president in 1980 and won the Iowa caucuses, but Reagan went on to win the nomination.
In the 1988 presidential race, Bush trailed the Dcratic nominee, Machusetts governor Michael Dakis, by as many as 17 points that summer. He did little to help himself by picking Dan Quayle, a lightly regarded junior senator from Indiana, as a running mate.
But Bush soon became an aggressor, stressing patriotic themes and flailing Dakis as an out-of-touch liberal. He ried 40 states, becoming the sitting vice-president to be elected president since Min Van Buren in 1836.
He took with the humility that was his hallmark.
“Some see leadership as high drama, and the sound of trumpets calling, and sometimes it is that,” he said at his inauguration. “But I see hi as a book with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning. The breeze blows, a page turns, the unfs.”
Bush approached age with gusto, rating his 75th and 80th rtays by skydiving over College Station, Texas, the of his presidential library. He did it again on his 85th rtay in 2009, parachuting near his oceanfront in Kennebunkport, Maine. He used his presidential library at Texas A&M University as a base for keeping active in civic life.
He became the patriarch of one of the nation’s most prominent political families. In addition to George W. becoming president, another , eb, was elected Florida governor in 1998 and made an unsuccessful run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
The other Bush children are s Neil and Marvin and Dorothy Bush LeBlond. Another , Ron, died of leemia in 1953, a few weeks before her fourth rtay.
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