Bush, pres­i­dent and po­lit­i­cal pa­tri­arch, led long life of ser­vice

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY JARED GILMOUR AND STEVE THOMMA jil­[email protected]­clatchy.com

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush – who buried his wife, Bar­bara, ear­lier this year – died Fri­day at 94.

Serv­ing for a sin­gle term, Bush oc­cu­pied the Oval Of­fice from 1989 to 1993. Dur­ing that time, Bush led the United States to vic­tory in a 1991 ef­fort to drive Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

Bush lost his bid for re-elec­tion to Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, but saw his son, Ge­orge W. Bush, elected pres­i­dent eight years later. That es­tab­lished his fam­ily as a po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty along­side the Adams and Kennedy fam­i­lies.

Be­fore be­com­ing pres­i­dent, Bush was elected to Con­gress and served as the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency and vice pres­i­dent un­der Ron­ald Rea­gan.

Bush has suf­fered from res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems in re­cent years, and about a year ago he was hos­pi­tal­ized for two weeks to treat pneu­mo­nia and chronic bron­chi­tis.

Bush also suf­fered from vas­cu­lar parkin­son­ism, a rare con­di­tion whose symp­toms are sim­i­lar to Parkin­son’s Dis­ease. For the last sev­eral years, he had re­lied on a wheel­chair.

The elder Bush was the last pres­i­dent from the gen­er­a­tion that en­dured the Great De­pres­sion of the 1930s, won World War II, built a pros­per­ous and pow­er­ful post­war Amer­ica and

won the Cold War against Soviet com­mu­nism.

Born June 12, 1924, to wealth and priv­i­lege, Bush chose a life of duty and ser­vice that spanned five decades, from his ser­vice as the Navy’s youngest pi­lot in World War II to stints in Con­gress, as am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, chair­man of the Repub­li­can Party, li­ai­son to China, di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency, vice pres­i­dent and fi­nally to his elec­tion as the coun­try’s 41st pres­i­dent.

With a uniquely per­sonal style of lead­er­ship and di­plo­macy, Bush will be remembered as the pres­i­dent who as­sem­bled an in­ter­na­tional coali­tion against Iraqi dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein af­ter Sad­dam’s army in­vaded neigh­bor­ing Kuwait and threat­ened oil-rich Saudi Ara­bia.

Bush res­o­lutely drew what he called a “line in the sand” and de­clared that the in­va­sion would not stand.

Fac­ing re­luc­tance at home and abroad, Bush first con­vinced the Amer­i­can peo­ple that it was in their in­ter­est to push Iraq back. Then, in a stream of per­sonal phone calls to world lead­ers, he mar­shaled an in­ter­na­tional coali­tion the likes of which had not been seen since World War II.

He shared a con­cern that he might face im­peach­ment if a war proved long and un­suc­cess­ful, but added that he viewed the con­fronta­tion with Iraq and Sad­dam as one of good vs. evil, akin to the war against Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Just weeks later, in Jan­uary 1991, a U.S.-led jug­ger­naut slaugh­tered Iraq’s forces and lib­er­ated Kuwait. Agree­ing with his mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers, Bush or­dered an end to the as­sault with Iraq’s forces in re­treat, a move that left Sad­dam in power.

A venge­ful Sad­dam later plot­ted to have Bush as­sas­si­nated af­ter he’d left of­fice. In re­tal­i­a­tion, Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton bombed the Iraqi na­tional in­tel­li­gence head­quar­ters.

Sad­dam re­mained in power un­til he was top- pled in 2003 by an in­va­sion led by Bush’s son.

The elder Bush also over­saw the West’s vic­tory over Soviet com­mu­nism af­ter 50 years of Cold War. The vic­tory had been won over the decades, but Bush got credit for his even-handed re­sponse when the Soviet Union fi­nally col­lapsed.

Two weeks af­ter the war against Iraq ended, 91 per­cent of the Amer­i­can peo­ple said they liked Bush and ap­proved of the job he was do­ing. Yet just be­neath the eu­pho­ria of vic­tory was eco­nomic anx­i­ety – sim­mer­ing anger at a pres­i­dent who’d raised taxes in vi­o­la­tion of his “read my lips” cam­paign pledge not to do so and growing angst over the toll a broad re­ces­sion had taken on wages and per­sonal fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity.

Bush, a pa­tri­cian and wealthy man, was of­ten ac­cused of fail­ing to em­pathize with his less priv­i­leged coun­try­men. In one of the most amaz­ing falls from grace in mod­ern po­lit­i­cal his­tory, he was turned out of of­fice just 18 months af­ter the war, de­feated by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clin­ton.

Bush spent the first of his re­tire­ment years ac­tively, golf­ing, fish­ing, play­ing horse­shoes, parachut­ing with mem­bers of the mil­i­tary Golden Knights para­chute team. Near­ing 80, he had to give up some of the more stren­u­ous ac­tiv­i­ties such as ten­nis and con­fessed that he some­times found his mind growing “a lit­tle lazy” as he strug­gled to re­mem­ber some things.


Be­fore his death, for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush had lived with a rare con­di­tion whose symp­toms are sim­i­lar to Parkin­son’s dis­ease.


For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, and his wife, for­mer first lady Bar­bara Bush, ar­rive for the pre­miere of HBO’s doc­u­men­tary on his life in 2012. Bush died Fri­day night at age 94, about eight months af­ter her death.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.