George HW Bush

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George HW Bush (1989)
Signature of George HW Bush

George Herbert Walker Bush , usually simply George Bush or George Bush senior (born  June 12, 1924 in Milton , Massachusetts , †  November 30, 2018 in Houston , Texas ), was an American politician of the Republican Party . He served from 1989 to 1993 as the 41st  president of the United States and was the father of the 43rd US President George W. Bush and former governor of Florida , Jeb Bush.

After various entrepreneurial activities in Texas , Bush's political career began in 1967 when he became a member of the House of Representatives for Texas. President Richard Nixon appointed him Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations in 1971 , from 1974 to 1975 under President Gerald Ford he was head of the United States' liaison office in the People's Republic of China and from 1976 to 1977 director of the CIA . After Bush tried in vain for his party's presidential candidacy in 1980 , he served as Vice President under Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989 . He won the 1988 presidential election , succeeding Reagan in the White House . Four years later he had to surrender to the Democrat Bill Clinton in the presidential election in 1992 , which he was replaced in 1993 after one term in office.

Early years

The name George Herbert Walker Bush is reminiscent of his maternal grandfather, George Herbert Walker . George Bush was the second eldest son of Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895-1972), a Senator from Connecticut , and Dorothy Walker Bush (1901-1992). His older brother was Prescott Bush Jr. (1922-2010), he also has three younger siblings: Nancy Walker Bush Ellis (1926-2021), Jonathan James Bush (1931-2021) and William Henry Trotter Bush (1938-2018). George Bush grew up in Greenwich and attended Phillips Academy in Andover , Massachusetts, where he was the captain of the baseball team.

Use during the Second World War

George Bush (1943)

He graduated in June 1942. Motivated by Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, he decided to join the US Navy . Shortly before his 19th birthday, he took the oath that made him the youngest pilot in the US Navy at the time. In September 1943, Bush was transferred to the USS San Jacinto as part of a Grumman TBF squadron . There he was employed as a photography officer and made reconnaissance flights over enemy territory; he was also involved in dogfights . He had to ditch on June 19, 1944 and was rescued by the crew of the USS Clarence K. Bronson . On August 1, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade . He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his behavior in an aerial battle on September 2nd . He led a swarm of four Grumman TBFs in an aerial combat and was the only one of the four pilots to survive. Bush received three Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation . He flew a few more missions in various locations before he was transferred to Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk , Virginia in early 1945 . After the surrender of Japan, he was honorably discharged from the US Navy in September 1945.

Marriage and family

George and Barbara Pierce Bush with their first son George W. (1947)

On January 6, 1945, Bush married Barbara Pierce (1925-2018), who was one year his junior . The two had six children:

Barbara Bush died on April 17, 2018 after 73 years of marriage. By October 18, 2019, this was the longest marriage in the history of American presidents. Since then, the record holders have been former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter .

Study time

After serving during World War II , Bush attended Yale University and became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic community . He was accepted at the university even before his war deployment. After his return from the war and his marriage, he began his studies at Yale. He enrolled in a special program that allowed him to complete his studies in two and a half instead of four years. Bush became the captain of the Yale baseball team. In 1948 he left Yale with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics .

Activities in business and politics

George HW Bush (1969)

Bush's father Prescott Bush was a Senator, himself President and Vice-President, his son George W. President and Governor of Texas, and son Jeb, Governor of Florida . Bush was the second president after John Adams, whose son also became president.

Bush was successful in the oil business in Texas, in 1953 he founded Zapata Oil .

His political career began in 1962 as the leader of the Republican Party in Harris County, Texas . In 1964 he ran for the Senate and narrowly lost to his Democratic rival Ralph Yarborough . In 1966, Bush was elected to the US House of Representatives in a Houston district and was re - elected in 1968. In 1970, with Nixon's support, he made another attempt to be elected Senator. It failed against Lloyd Bentsen , who held the office until 1993.

George Bush as director of the CIA

In the 1970s he held numerous important offices: from 1971 to 1973 he was US ambassador to the United Nations for President Nixon and 1973/74 chairman of the Republican National Committee , 1974/75 head of the American liaison office in Beijing for President Ford and thus US diplomatic representative in the People's Republic of China and director of the CIA secret service in 1976 and 1977 . From 1977 to 1979 Bush was a director of the Council on Foreign Relations , one of the most influential private think tanks in the United States.

In 1980, Bush ran for Republican presidential nomination. Ronald Reagan had the highest number of states in the primaries, Bush the second highest. Reagan offered to run for his side as a running mate . Together they won the election against incumbent President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale .

Vice President of the USA (1981–1989)

Official portrait of President Reagan and Vice President Bush 1981

As Vice President, Bush was guided by Richard Nixon's tenure , who was Dwight D. Eisenhower's deputy from 1953 to 1961 . That meant he wanted to be loyal and advisory to the president and not to make a name for himself at his expense. After the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in March 1981, a few months after taking office, he represented the president informally for a few weeks. However, Bush refused to take over formal powers from the president such as appointing officials or signing laws. His refusal to have Reagan temporarily incapacitated made a big impression on the president. As a result, both men developed a closer personal relationship after previously having been more formal with each other. From then on, Reagan made it a rule to have lunch with his Vice President in the Oval Office once a week . In February 1984 Bush attended the memorial service of the late Soviet CPSU General Secretary Yuri Andropov in the Kremlin, representing President Reagan .

In the November 1984 presidential election , Reagan and Bush were re-elected by a clear majority.

In March 1985, Bush again traveled to Moscow for a memorial service as the representative of the President. At the funeral of the late Soviet General Secretary Konstantin Ustinowitsch Tschernenko , he was the first high-ranking US representative to meet the new General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev . Bush wired Reagan to tell him that Gorbachev was a new type of Soviet leader.

Bush campaigning, October 1988

While Reagan underwent cancer surgery in July 1985, Bush served as the first Vice President in history for a few hours as "Acting President" under the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution . 1988 - Reagan was not allowed to run for a third time - Bush ran again for the presidential candidacy of the Republicans and won it. On the nomination Republican convention he made a promise to tax increases to veto as president ( " Read my lips: no new taxes " - it Read my lips: No new taxes ). In the 1988 presidential election , Bush drew vice-candidate Dan Quayle in his own election campaign, which he clearly won against Democrats Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen with 426 votes to 111. In the congressional elections held at the same time, the Democrats retained their majority in both houses of Congress . What followed was the presidency transition .

Presidency (1989-1993)

Bush when he was sworn in as President on January 20, 1989

On January 20, 1989, Bush was sworn in as the 41st President of the United States. In his inauguration speech , he expressed his will to be non-partisan and emphasized the need for budget consolidation . Regarding world politics, he said the " totalitarian era" would "fall away like leaves on a lifeless tree."

Domestic politics

Bush's domestic policy was marked by domestic struggles to reduce the United States' budget deficit. He wanted to push through cuts, while the Democrat-dominated Congress sought tax increases. In October 1990, Bush and Congress reached a compromise. Bush agreed to tax increases after all, breaking his 1988 election promise. The background to this was an impending government shutdown , a possible insolvency of the American federal government, which was ordered without an agreement based on an earlier budget accompanying law from the Reagan era. The agreement with Congress met with criticism in particular from conservative and libertarian Republicans around the later Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich . In environmental policy, the Clean Air Act was passed during Bush's tenure . In 1990 he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act , a federal law prohibiting discrimination against the disabled.

Foreign policy

President Bush Receives a Piece of the Berlin Wall from
Hans-Dietrich Genscher (November 21, 1989)

Bush was one of the few US presidents with foreign policy experience. In the 1970s he had worked for President Nixon as the UN ambassador and later for President Ford as the head of the US Liaison Office in China. He nominated his close friend and campaign manager James Baker as Secretary of State . For national security adviser was Brent Scowcroft appointed who already as a deputy Kissinger had served under Nixon and National Security Advisor for President Ford.

The first challenge for Bush was the Chinese massacre on Tian'anmen Square in June 1989. Contrary to the mood in the United States and not least because of his own experiences in China, Bush decided to maintain Sino-US relations under all circumstances. He was of the opinion that it was important for the future of the USA and world peace to maintain relations with the most populous country on earth.

At the beginning of his presidency, there was widespread belief in the United States and Western Europe that Gorbachev's reform policies would end the Cold War . Bush and Security Advisor Scowcroft were far more reluctant to assess the situation. Although they welcomed Gorbachev's reform efforts, they believed that the Cold War would not be over until the Soviet satellite states regained full sovereignty without fear of a repetition of the events of 1968 ( Prague Spring ). They also feared that the far-reaching arms control proposals could strengthen the Soviet Union in the medium term without substantial reforms in the Soviet Union and without the sovereignty of the Eastern bloc states. Ultimately, lower armament costs strengthened the ailing Soviet economy. Instead, Bush expressed his willingness to cooperate, but made it clear that this would only be possible on the basis of substantial reforms. When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 , Bush reacted cautiously. Under no circumstances did he want to humiliate the Soviet Union in this situation and avoid acting provocative. When asked whether he wanted to go to Berlin to dance on the wall, he said to a reporter that he was not an emotional person.

George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev signing START I in Moscow, July 31, 1991

The President met with the Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev for a summit on December 2-3, 1989 in front of Malta. Bush supported Germany's reunification as the sole leader of the four victorious powers; the other two western ones were the British Margaret Thatcher and the French François Mitterrand . The prerequisite would have to be that Germany remains a member of NATO. That was indirectly accepted by the Soviet Union. It was agreed that a united Germany would be sovereign over the question of its membership in an alliance. This decision came at a summit meeting between Bush and Gorbachev in Washington in May 1990. On July 31, 1991, Bush and Gorbachev signed the Start I Treaty for the Reduction and Control of Nuclear Weapons in Moscow .

Bush on the phone regarding Operation Just Cause, here with Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and Chief of Staff John H. Sununu , 1989
George Bush and Boris Yeltsin signing the START II treaty in Moscow, January 1993

Intervention in Panama, 1989

In December 1989, he ordered the " Operation Just Cause " military operation directed against the Central American state of Panama , had its dictatorial ruler Manuel Noriega arrested and taken to federal prison in Florida .

Gulf War , 1990–1991

In August 1990, the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait . Bush and Gorbachev condemned the attack on the grounds that international law must apply in the post-Cold War era . Bush repeated the incubator lie at least five times . Following a request from Saudi Arabia in August 1990, Bush sent troops to the Arabian Peninsula ( Operation Desert Shield ). He decided against the advice of British Prime Minister Thatcher to liberate Kuwait without a UN mandate. The US sought a condemnation of Iraq in the United Nations Security Council. In November 1990 the Security Council passed a resolution giving Iraq until January 15, 1991, to withdraw from Kuwait. Shortly before the ultimatum expired in January 1991, Bush sent his foreign secretary James Baker to Geneva to negotiate with the Iraqi foreign minister about the possibility of an Iraqi withdrawal. The meeting failed. On January 17, 1991, a coalition of 28 states carried out air strikes against Iraq ( Operation Desert Storm ). After Iraq accepted the terms of the United Nations on February 28, 1991 and began an immediate, unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait, the coalition stopped fighting. Although there was an opportunity to continue the war and take Baghdad, Bush and his advisors decided against it. They feared that the occupation of Iraq would bring with it the possibility of an Iraqi civil war and that America had no security interest in the occupation of Iraq. They hoped Saddam would be overthrown in the post-war period, which did not happen.

Candidacy for second term

Although his popularity soared during and shortly after the war, during the presidential campaign in 1992 the impression arose that Bush had lost touch with the country's everyday problems, which were exacerbated by an economic crisis. Surveys show that most Americans recognized his foreign policy successes, but with the end of the Cold War, foreign and security policy was no longer the focus. His democratic challenger Bill Clinton , who was 22 years younger than he was in foreign policy, inexperienced in foreign policy but with a dynamic demeanor , took advantage of this change in mood by focusing the election campaign entirely on economic policy, which is reflected in his slogan " It's the economy, stupid " ("It's about the economy, stupid ") came to expression. Unpopular was the breach of Bush's famous promise "Read my lips: no new taxes" by the tax increases made in 1990, which became necessary in view of the high deficits from Reagan's tenure. In addition, the Texan billionaire Ross Perot ran as a non-party candidate for the presidency, which made a re-election of Bush far less likely in view of the American majority suffrage, since Perot was particularly popular with more Republican voters. These were the main reasons for his defeat in the November 3, 1992 presidential election by Bill Clinton.

Even after being voted out of office , Bush was active in foreign policy: In December 1992, he sent troops to Somalia to carry out a UN mandate . The aim was to ensure humanitarian aid for the local population ( Operation Restore Hope ). On January 3, 1993, Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the START II treaty on nuclear disarmament in Moscow . Bush's term ended with the inauguration Clinton on January 20, 1993rd

After the presidency

Bush and Obama in the Oval Office, 2010

After leaving office in 1993, Bush declined to comment on everyday American politics. In a 1998 interview, he emphasized the need for US-Chinese cooperation and justified his decision not to break ties with China in 1989. In two farewell speeches in December 1992 and January 1993, Bush warned the US against isolationism. Since Gerald Ford's death in December 2006, he was the oldest living former US president and, as of November 25, 2017, the one who had reached the highest age of all presidents. On March 22, 2019, he was surpassed in this regard by Jimmy Carter.

For his services to German reunification, Bush was awarded the special level of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (highest order level) on December 20, 1993 . In 1997 he took part in the celebrations for the anniversary of German unity in Stuttgart and gave a speech. In the same year, the Presidential Library named after him was inaugurated at Texas A&M University . Bush became an honorary citizen of Berlin in 1999. During the celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1999, Bush gave a speech in the German Bundestag together with Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl . In 2008 he received the Henry Kissinger Prize in Berlin for his services to the transatlantic partnership and opened the new building of the US embassy in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel . In 2009 the BILD newspaper awarded him its " Osgar Media Prize ". In November 2009, Bush took along with Gorbachev and Kohl in the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall in Berlin in part. On February 15, 2011, US President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Bush last lived in Houston , Texas and with Walker's Point had a summer residence at Kennebunkport in Maine , which during his presidency was used for state visits alongside the official summer residence at Camp David . In 1989, President Bush received the then French President François Mitterrand there . In September 2013, Bush was the best man for a lesbian couple in his neighborhood. In July 2015, he broke a cervical vertebra in a fall in his summer seat. In January 2017, he was hospitalized with pneumonia. The airways were cleared under anesthesia. He then had to cancel his participation in Donald Trump's inauguration , which all other former US presidents attended. On February 5, 2017, Bush flipped the coin at Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium . In April 2017, he was again hospitalized for pneumonia. During the MeToo discussion, several women accused Bush of having immorally touched her while taking photos. In April 2018, he was treated for a blood infection.

Bush died on November 30, 2018 at the age of 94, a few months after his wife Barbara , who died in April. In addition to the Bush family, incumbent President Donald Trump , former Presidents Jimmy Carter , Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as well as Angela Merkel and Prince Charles attended the memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington .

Naming in honor of Bush

George Bush (right) and his son at the christening of the aircraft carrier named after George H. W. Bush on October 10, 2006

See also


  • George Bush, Victor Gold: Looking Forward. To Autobiography . Doubleday, New York 1987, ISBN 978-0385141819 .
  • George Bush: All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings . Scribner, New York 1999, ISBN 0-684-83958-X .
  • George Bush, Brent Scowcroft: A World Transformed . Knopf, New York 1998, ISBN 0-679-43248-5 .


  • George W. Bush: A portrait of my father. Koch, Höfen 2015, ISBN 978-3-85445-485-4 (original edition: 41: A Portrait Of My Father ).
  • Ryan J. Barilleaux, Stuckey, Mary E .: Leadership and the Bush Presidency: Prudence or Drift in an Era of Change . Praeger, New York 1992, ISBN 0-275-94418-2 .
  • Stephen J. Ducat: The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity. Beacon Press, Boston 2004, ISBN 0-8070-4344-3 , Chapter III: "The Wimp Factor: Performing Masculinity in the Presidential Career of George Herbert Walker Bush" ( review ).
  • Michael Duffy, Goodgame, Dan: Marching in Place: The Status Quo Presidency of George Bush . Simon & Schuster, New York 1992, ISBN 0-671-73720-1 .
  • Marlin Fitzwater: Call the Briefing . Times Books, New York 1995, ISBN 978-0-7388-3458-0 .
  • John Robert Greene: The Presidency of George Bush . University Press of Kansas, Lawrence 2000, ISBN 0-7006-0993-8 .
  • Joe Hyams: Flight of the Avenger: George Bush at War . Harcourt Brace Jovanovic, San Diego 1991, ISBN 0-15-131469-1 .
  • Jon Meacham: Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. Random House, New York 2015 ( , review at USA Today , review at ).
  • John Podhoretz: Hell of a Ride: Backstage at the White House Follies, 1989-1993 . Simon & Schuster, New York 1993, ISBN 0-671-79648-8 .
  • Jean Edward Smith: George Bush's War . Henry Holt & Company, New York 1992, ISBN 0-8050-1388-1 .
  • Webster G. Tarpley , Anton Chaitkin: George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography . Executive Intelligence Review, Washington 1991, ISBN 0-943235-05-7 .
  • Timothy Naftali: George HW Bush (= The American Presidents Series: The 41st President). Times Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0-8050-6966-2 .

Web links

Commons : George HW Bush  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
Wikisource: George HW Bush  - Sources and full texts (English)

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i Lieutenant Junior Grade George Bush, USNR on the pages of the Naval Historical Center ( Memento from November 27, 2015 in the web archive )
  2. a b c d e The school education of the presidents at (English)
  3. ^ History of CFR. In: Accessed March 1, 2015 .
  4. Ulrich Schiller: Quite satisfied with Tschernjenko . In: The time . No. 8 , 1984 ( online ).
  5. Norbert F. Pötzl: The agent's broker . In: Der Spiegel . No. 34 , 1997, pp. 66-74 ( online ).
  6. "The President has learned a lot" . In: Der Spiegel . No. 30 , 1985 ( online ).
  7. Poppy's dream . In: Der Spiegel . No. 33 , 1985 ( online ).
  8. ^ US Electoral College: Historical Election Results 1789-1996. In: September 14, 1901, accessed March 1, 2015 .
  9. ^ The Avalon Project: Inaugural Address of George Bush. In: January 20, 1989, accessed March 1, 2015 .
  10. ^ Inaugural Address (January 20, 1989) —Miller Center. In: January 20, 1989, archived from the original on April 2, 2015 ; accessed on March 1, 2015 .
  11. ^ Address to the Nation on the Budget (October 2, 1990). ( January 2, 2017 memento on the Internet Archive ) Miller Center
  12. ^ A b Timothy Naftali: George HW Bush: The American Presidents Series: The 41st President, 1989-1993 .
  13. ^ Remarks on the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (July 26, 1990). ( January 2, 2017 memento on the Internet Archive ) Miller Center
  14. ^ Commencement Address at Texas A&M University (May 12, 1989). ( January 2, 2017 memento on the Internet Archive ) Miller Center
  15. ^ Address to the Nation on Panama (December 20, 1989). ( January 2, 2017 memento on the Internet Archive ) Miller Center
  16. ^ Glenn Kessler: Presidential deceptions - and their consequences - Washington Post, March 27, 2014
  17. Address on Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait (August 8, 1990) ( Memento January 2, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) - Miller Center
  18. ^ Address to the Nation on the Invasion of Iraq (January 16, 1991) —Miller Center. In: January 16, 1991, archived from the original on July 2, 2014 ; accessed on March 1, 2015 .
  19. See Eric A. Miller and Steve A. Yetiv: The New World Order in Theory and Practice: The Bush Administration's Worldview in Transition. In: Presidential Studies Quarterly. Vol. 31, no. 1, March 2001, ISSN  0360-4918 , pp. 56-68.
  20. ^ Address to the Nation on the Invasion of Iraq (January 16, 1991). ( January 2, 2017 memento on the Internet Archive ) Miller Center
  21. ^ Address on Somalia (December 4, 1992). ( Memento of January 2, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Miller Center (English)
  22. ^ Charlie Rose - An hour with George HW Bush and Brent Scowcroft about their administration. In: Retrieved February 6, 2017 .
  23. ^ Remarks at Texas A&M University (December 15, 1992) —Miller Center. In: December 15, 1992, archived from the original on October 11, 2011 ; accessed on March 1, 2015 .
  24. ^ Address at West Point (January 5, 1993) —Miller Center. In: Accessed March 1, 2015 .
  25. ^ Alana Abramson: George HW Bush Is the Longest Living President in US History. In Time , November 26, 2017
  26. ^ Jimmy Carter just became the oldest living former president ever. On CNN , March 22, 2019
  27. Michael Brunner: George Bush becomes an honorary citizen. In Der Tagesspiegel , November 5, 1999
  28. German Bundestag - Speech by George Bush (November 9, 1999). In: November 9, 1999, accessed October 13, 2016 .
  29. German Bundestag - Speech by George Bush, former President of the United States of America. In: November 9, 1999, accessed October 13, 2016 .
  30. Honor: George Bush senior awarded the Kissinger Prize . In Berliner Morgenpost , July 3, 2008
  31. M. Zips: honors and confusions . In Süddeutsche Zeitung , May 17, 2010
  32. ^ Presidential Medal of Freedom given to former president George HW Bush, 14 others . In The Washington Post , February 15, 2011
  33. Ex-President as best man: George Bush senior assists gay weddings . In: Spiegel Online
  34. ( Memento from January 19, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  35. Ex-US President Bush in intensive care. In: January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017 .
  36. Former President George HW Bush hospitalized in Houston , Telegraph, April 19, 2017 (English)
  37. ^ Former President HW Bush to oversee Super Bowl coin toss . In on February 2, 2017
  38. Rozina Sabur: Sixth woman accuses former president George HW Bush of groping her during photo shoot . Telegraph , November 13, 2017
  39. Former President George Bush at the age of 93 in intensive care . In , April 24, 2018
  40. ^ Memorial service for George HW Bush: Goodbye Mister President, goodbye Dad . Spiegel Online , May 5, 2018; accessed on May 5, 2018