“Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
“Leadership to me means duty, honor, country. It means character, and it means listening from time to time.”
George W. Bush followed in his father’s footsteps to the White House – the first to do so since John Quincy Adams followed John Adams. Bush didn’t always aspire to be President. As a teen, he wanted to play baseball professionally. George, like his father, attended Yale, first as a history major and later as a grad student studying business administration.
He owned a reasonably prosperous oil company and a baseball team before being elected governor of Texas. Wildly successful, he served two terms there before heading to the White House.
Bush beat Al Gore in one of the closest presidential elections in history. His campaign platform was “compassionate conservatism.” He wanted to cut taxes and boost the economy, giving individuals the freedom they needed to improve their own lives. His priorities changed, though, on September 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked and flew three planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing almost 3,000 people (a fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field). Instantly, Bush’s attention was diverted to the task of crushing terrorist activity and securing America’s safety.
- George Bush was born July 6, 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut.
- George’s family moved to Texas when he was two, but spent summers at the family compound in Maine. George enjoyed a peaceful, happy childhood for the most part.
- When he was seven, his younger sister, Robin, died of leukemia. The whole family grieved deeply over her loss. Barbara’s hair turned white, even though she was only in her twenties.
- George grew up in the political arena. His grandfather was a senator. George watched his father run for office (sometimes successfully, but not always) too.
- George attended the same private preparatory high school his father had. He was not a particularly good student.
- George joined the National Guard and became a pilot during the Vietnam War.
- He met librarian, Laura Walker, at a barbecue in 1977. Quiet and confident, she countered George’s boyish exuberance. The two fell in love and married three months later. They have twin girls.
- George had a temper and drank too much. Laura threatened to leave him. In 1985, George began reading the Bible, praying, and attending church. He gave up alcohol, smoking, and chewing tobacco.
- After 9/11, Bush created a Department of Homeland Defense. He ordered troops to Afghanistan to capture the terrorists responsible for the attacks. He also ordered an invasion of Iraq, believing that Saddam Hussein harbored nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein was thrown from power, but no weapons were found. Many people disagreed with Bush’s tactics.
- Bush won a second term as President, but his popularity was slipping. The economy was in a recession and his tax cuts had contributed to a large federal budget deficit.
Questions and Answers
Question: What is Bush remembered for?
Answer: Bush’s presidency was altered by the events of 9/11. He came out swinging after the attacks, igniting a surge of patriotism and unity. He made sweeping tax cuts and instituted federal education reforms. Many people appreciated his commitment to his family and religious faith.
On the other hand, Bush took more presidential power than most presidents, changing the role of Commander in Chief. People disagreed strongly with his foreign policies, particularly in the Middle East. Many thought his forceful attacks increased hatred of Americans among Middle Eastern countries.
Visit the Office of George W. Bush to learn more.