Presided over first Gulf War

41st pres­i­dent over­saw end of the Cold War

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Michael Graczyk As­so­ci­ated Press

HOUSTON — Ge­orge H.W. Bush, whose pres­i­dency 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 of­fice 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 Cold War, died Fri­day night at his Houston home, said fam­ily spokesman Jim McGrath.

His wife of more than 70 years, Bar­bara Bush, died in April.

The son of a sen­a­tor and fa­ther of a pres­i­dent, Bush was the man with the golden re­sume who rose through the po­lit­i­cal ranks: from con­gress­man to U.N. am­bas­sador, Repub­li­can Party chair­man to en­voy to China, CIA di­rec­tor to two-term vice pres­i­dent un­der the pop­u­lar Ronald Rea­gan. The 1991 Gulf War stoked his pop­u­lar­ity.

But Bush would ac­knowl­edge that he had trou­ble ar­tic­u­lat­ing “the vi­sion thing,” and he was haunted by his de­ci­sion to break a stern, solemn vow he made to vot­ers: “Read my lips. No new taxes.”

He lost his bid for re-elec­tion to Bill Clin­ton in a cam­paign in which busi­ness­man H. Ross Perot took al­most 19 per­cent of the vote as an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date. Still, he lived to see his son, Ge­orge W., twice elected to the pres­i­dency — only the sec­ond fa­ther-and-son chief ex­ec­u­tives, fol­low­ing John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

The 43rd pres­i­dent is­sued a state­ment Fri­day fol­low­ing his fa­ther’s death, say­ing the el­der Bush “was a man of the high­est char­ac­ter.”

“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,” 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 Amer­i­cans.

Once out of of­fice, Bush was con­tent to re­main on the side­lines, ex­cept for an oc­ca­sional speech 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 de­fense of Kuwait.

And he re­turned to China, where he was wel­comed as “an old friend” from his days as the U.S. am­bas­sador 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 cou­ple grew close.

“Who would have thought that I would be work­ing with Bill Clin­ton, of all peopl e?” Bush quipped in Oc­to­ber 2005.

On Fri­day, his suc­ces­sor said in a state­ment that he would “al­ways hold our friend­ship as one of my life’s great­est gifts.”

Those sen­ti­ments were echoed by Barack Obama, the 44th pres­i­dent, who said Fri­day that “Amer­ica has lost a pa­triot and hum­ble ser­vant in Ge­orge Her­bert Walker Bush.”

In his post-pres­i­dency, Bush’s pop­u­lar­ity re­bounded with the growth of his rep­u­ta­tion as a fun­da­men­tally de­cent and wellmean­ing leader who, al- though he was not a stir­ring or­a­tor or a dreamy vi­sion­ary, was a stead­fast hu­man­i­tar­ian. Elected of­fi­cials and celebrities of both par­ties pub­licly ex­pressed their fond­ness.

Af­ter Iraq in­vaded Kuwait in Au­gust 1990, Bush be­gan build­ing an in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary coali­tion that in­cluded other Arab states. Af­ter lib­er­at­ing Kuwait, he re­jected sug- ges­tions that the U.S. carry the of­fen­sive to Bagh­dad, choos­ing to end the hos­til­i­ties a mere 100 hours af­ter the start of the ground war.

“That wasn’t our ob­jec­tive,” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press in 2011. “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 dogged for years by doubts about the de­ci­sion not to re­move Sad­dam Hus­sein. The Iraqi leader was even­tu­ally ousted in 2003, in the war led by Bush’s son 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 news­magazine sug­gested he was a “wimp.”

But his work-hard, play­hard ap­proach to the pres­i­dency won broad pub­lic ap­proval.

It was Bush’s vi­o­la­tion of his no-new-taxes prom­ise that helped sink his bid for a sec­ond term. He cut a deficit-re­duc­tion deal that an­gered many con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans and con­trib­uted to GOP losses in the 1990 midterm elec­tions

Bush said the pain of los­ing in 1992 was eased by the warm re­cep­tion he re­ceived af­ter leav­ing of­fice.

“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 AP in­ter­view 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.”

Ge­orge Her­bert Walker Bush was born June 12, 1924, in Mil­ton, Mass., into the New Eng­land elite, a world of prep schools, man­sions and ser­vants seem­ingly un­touched by the Great De­pres­sion.

His fa­ther, Prescott Bush, the son 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 birth­day in 1942, right out of prep school. He re­turned home to marry his 19-year-old sweet­heart, Bar­bara Pierce, daugh­ter of the pub­lisher of McCall’s mag­a­zine, in Jan­uary 1945.

They were the longest­mar­ried pres­i­den­tial cou­ple in U.S. his­tory. She died on April 17.

Bush ap­proached old age with gusto, cel­e­brat­ing his 75th and 80th birthdays by sky­div­ing over Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas, the home of his pres­i­den­tial li­brary. He did it again on his 85th birth­day in 2009, parachut­ing near his ocean­front home in Ken­neb­unkport, Maine.



For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, right, em­braces his son Jeb Bush as Bar­bara Bush ap­plauds dur­ing a cam­paign rally for Jeb’s first gu­ber­na­to­rial bid, in Or­lando, in 1994. Ge­orge H.W. Bush died Fri­day. Bar­bara Bush died in April.

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