George Bush

— 41st President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery


January 20, 1989 to January 20, 1993

BORN: June 12, 1924
Milton, Massachusetts

OCCUPATION: Oilman, public official
Barbara Pierce
George, Robin, John, Neil, Marvin

George Bush's popularity soared when he directed the U.S. troops to storm Iraq in the 1991 Desert Storm invasion, but by the time his bid for reelection came, the country was mired in a recession, unemployment was up, and George Bush lost to Bill Clinton.

A heavy youngster, Bush was nicknamed "Fatty McGee McGaw" by his father, Prescott Bush, a businessman and U.S. senator. Bush grew up in a wealthy family and was driven to school by the family chauffeur. A baseball fan who would later play for Yale University, Bush often went with his father to Yankee Stadium to watch his boyhood idol, Lou Gehrig. His favorite memories of childhood are the summer vacations in Kennebunkport, Maine, also a favorite vacation spot during his presidency.

In prep school, Bush was active in sports and clubs. He was president of the senior class, captain of the baseball and soccer teams, manager of the basketball team, and was voted third best athlete, third most popular, and third most handsome.

Young George Herbert Walker Bush enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday and became the youngest pilot in the Navy in 1943. He flew 58 combat missions in World War II and was one of just four out of 14 pilots from his original squadron to survive the war. Bush was shot down over the ocean, but he was rescued by a submarine crew before he fell into enemy hands.

Bush's first elected office was that of U.S. representative in 1967. He had a long career of public service before becoming Ronald Reagan's vice president, including chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in China, chairman of the Republican National Committee, and director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis in the presidential election of 1988.

Bush's term as president was marked by personal ups and downs. One of the ups was Operation Desert Storm, when a United Nations contingent of mostly U.S. troops bombarded Iraq mercilessly after the Iraqis had invaded neighbor Kuwait. The Iraqis put up little fight, and the mission was handled with few U.S. casualties. At the time, Bush's popularity rating was as high as any president has ever had. During the same period, some people credited the collapse of communism around the world partly to Bush and Reagan.

President Bush's administration was plagued with problems. The savings and loan industry collapsed and the government expended billions of dollars to help bail out failed institutions. His famous campaign slogan "Read my lips. No new taxes." came back to haunt him when he had to raise taxes two years into his presidency. The "Iran-Contra" scandal of the Reagan administration continued to haunt him. Finally, a declining national economy hurt him, especially during his campaign for re-election.

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