Politics And President George H.W. Bush Dies At 94

George H.W. Bush was the American politician. Bush served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989.

George H.W. Bush was the definition of establishment success: Yale graduate. Prosperous business career. Forty-first president of the United States.

But to one admittedly biased observer, the elder Bush has always been shortchanged.

“As a result of him being a one-term president, historians hadn’t paid much attention to him,” George W. Bush told NPR in a 2014 interview. He called his father “one of the greatest one-term presidents in the nation’s history.”

George Herbert Walker Bush died Friday at the age of 94.

“George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” he said. “The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”

There were fears that after his wife, Barbara, died in April, Bush might die, too. He was admitted to the hospital with a blood infection on April 23, one day after the funeral for the former first lady, and remained there for 13 days. He also spent time in the hospital in May and June, but lived to be the first former president to reach the age of 94.

Bush was the patriarch of a political dynasty that included one son who served as president, another as a governor and a grandson who currently holds statewide office in Texas.

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Texas congressman

The senior Bush had a lifetime of public service before he became president — as a young Navy pilot in World War II, Texas congressman, CIA director and faithful vice president to Ronald Reagan.

“His loyalty to Ronald Reagan was legendary,” said biographer Timothy Naftali. “He did not always agree with Ronald Reagan. And he was so secretive about those moments where he disagreed, we don’t even have good documentation — at least not available yet — on when he disagreed.”

Bush famously disagreed with Reagan when he ran against him in the Republican primary of 1980. Bush branded Reagan’s supply-side faith that government could slash tax rates without losing revenue as “voodoo economic policy.”

History would prove that assessment right. Reagan later had to reverse some of his tax cuts in the face of mounting deficits. But by the time Bush ran to succeed Reagan, he knew what it took to win the confidence of conservative Republicans.

“Read my lips,” Bush pledged at the 1988 GOP convention. “No new taxes.”

Bush trounced Democrat Michael Dukakis that year to win the White House. But he ultimately backtracked on his lip-reading promise.

During 1990 budget negotiations with Democratic congressional leaders, Bush, like Reagan before him, agreed to a tax increase.

His press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, recalled a budget meeting where the deal was presented.

“The minute I saw it, I looked around the table and the Democrats looked like the cat who ate the canary,” Fitzwater said. “They knew they had negotiated a winner.”


The tax hike cut the deficit, but it cost Bush dearly with conservatives. Years later, he would receive a Profile in Courage award from John F. Kennedy’s grandson, who said, “America’s gain was President Bush’s loss.”

Bush’s most notable accomplishments in the White House came in the area of foreign policy. While Reagan is often credited with winning the Cold War, it was Bush who successfully navigated the aftermath. His low-key approach avoided inflaming communist hard-liners and allowed for the peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union.

“The soft landing that occurred, which was not inevitable, is in large measure due to George H.W. Bush’s diplomacy,” said Naftali.

Bush, who served as U.S. envoy to China as well as a globe-trotting vice president, had a thick Rolodex and plenty of experience working the phones. His lifetime of foreign contacts also came in handy when Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait in 1990. Bush methodically assembled an international coalition to push them back.

Ex-US President HW Bush, Who Steered America

Through the Cold War, Dies At 94

 George H.W. Bush — the upper-crust war hero-turned-oilman and diplomat who steered America through the end of the Cold War as president and led a political dynasty that saw his son win the White House — died Friday. He was 94.

George W. Bush called his father a “man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” in a statement announcing his death.

“The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”

Bush’s passing comes just months after the death in April of his wife and revered first lady Barbara Bush — his “most beloved woman in the world” — to whom he was married for 73 years.

The 41st American president was a foreign policy realist who navigated the turbulent but largely peaceful fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and assembled an unprecedented coalition to defeat Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein two years later.

But the decorated war pilot and former CIA chief suffered the ignominy of being a one-term president, denied a second term over a weak economy when he lost the 1992 election to upstart Democrat Bill Clinton.

Donald Trump

His favoring of stability and international consensus stands in sharp contrast to the provocative bluster of fellow Republican and current White House occupant Donald Trump, a man whom Bush did not vote for in 2016.

Bush presided over economic malaise at home, and infuriated his fellow Republicans during a budget battle with rival Democrats by famously breaking his vow: “Read my Lips: No new taxes.”

But he was the respected patriarch of a blue-blood political dynasty — son George spent eight years in the White House, and son Jeb served as governor of Florida.

At the time of his death, Bush was the American president to have lived the longest.

Jimmy Carter was born a few months later, so he could quickly reset the record.

“America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude,” former president Barack Obama said in a statement.

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