George W. Bush photo

George W. Bush

Birth name:
George Walker Bush
Date of Birth:
6 July 1946 New Haven, Connecticut, USA
5' 11½" (1.82 m)
The 43rd President of the United States of America, George Walker Bush (known colloquially as "W" to distinguish himself from his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the U.S.), was born two days after the national holiday of the Fourth of July, 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut where his father was attending Yale College in the Class of 1949. His mother was the former Barbara Pierce, whom his father had married on January 6, 1945. "W" was their first child named after his father. Bush disliked being called "Junior" or Bush II, or even having the term "Jr." abbreviated next to his name.Initially, W's prospects of living up to his illustrious pedigree were dim. Possibly hobbled by dyslexia (a condition little understood and seldom treated during his childhood), Bush proved an uninspired student in high school. He did maintain a gentlemanly "C+" average at Yale and acquired a Masters of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School, but until he turned 40, he seemed to be floundering. He admittedly had a drinking problem in his youth, but a late marriage to Laura Welch helped stabilize him. His rebirth as a believing Christian (he is a Methodist whereas his parents were Episcopalian) in 1986 helped put him on the straight and narrow path that led him to the Presidency.Bush has been discounted many times in his life and career for being wooden and unintelligent due to his fractured speaking style, but in fact, his academic performance was on par if not slightly better than that of his better-spoken, fellow Yalie John Kerry. As Bush's test scores and subsequent achievements suggest an above average intelligence, it is appropriate to believe that he likely has benefited from other's underestimation of his gifts. This was apparent in the first televised debate with Al Gore in 2000, when Bush held his own against the condescending vice president, and in doing so, triumphed in the eyes of the political handicappers.After W. turned his life around in the late 1980s, he began achieving success on his own, though that success inevitably was indebted to his social position and his father's business and political connections, particularly after he himself ascended to the Presidency after the expiration of Ronald Reagan's second term. The first President Bush (Bush 41, as he is colloquially known) had great connections in the Middle East, particularly with the Saudi royal family and the powerful Bin Laden clan. Using his father's Saudi connections, Bush Jr. became a millionaire twice over through Middle Eastern oil projects. His most notable achievement in private life was in becoming president and chief operating partner of the Texas Rangers professional baseball team, which was financially invigorated by the building of a new stadium with taxpayers' funds. For a man whose greatest ambition was not the presidency but to be baseball commissioner, the "job" of Rangers owner suited him just fine, and his stint as the amiable owner of the team helped generate good publicity that wiped out his past image as a playboy. When he cashed out his ownership stake, Bush had a $14 million profit. More importantly, ownership of the Rangers positioned him financially and in the public eye for a successful run for the governorship of Texas, which proved to be his springboard to the presidency.Under the quirky Texas constitution, the governor of Texas is primarily a ceremonial position, somewhat akin to that of the president in a Parliamentary system. The true political power in Texas lies with the lieutenant governor, who acts as a prime minister (or provincial premier in Canada) in that that he/she runs the legislature. In a life characterized by luck, the capricious Bush was luckier still in that he was told by the lieutenant governor, a Democrat, that he would make Bush a great governor if he would let him. Bush did and established an enviable reputation, one that crossed both party lines in Texas, where it would have been futile for the governor to act in a partisan fashion.With his father's Eastern Establishment credentials that linked him to the "Rockefeller Republicans" (conservative on financial matters, liberal on social issues) and his mother's own noted social liberalism, Bush was seen as being a moderate with a difference. That difference was his connections to the powerful evangelical Christian wing of the Republican Party, due to his own rebirth as a believing Christian and his immersion in day-to-day Texas politics. In the Sun Belt, fundamentalists and evangelicals were considered ordinary, run-of-the-day folk, not the exotics that Washington and the Eastern Establishment looked at them as.With a foot in both wings of the party, Bush was seen as a natural candidate for president after Bob Dole's dolorous 1996 candidacy. That he was a "straight shooter" with no scandal attached to him since his misbegotten youth (which he had confessed to and had put behind him) made him attractive to the Republicans, who had tried to terminate William Jefferson Clinton's presidency through impeachment due to his lies linked to his "bimbo eruptions." Bush seemed like a "Man for All Seasons" that would be the GOP's best shot of unseating the Clintonistas as represented by Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election.With the Republican Establishment firmly behind him as a kind of "Great White Hope" of the Grand Old Party, Bush managed to wrap up the nomination easily, after stumbling initially when confronted with the candidacy of the renegade Republican senator from Arizona, John McCain. Although viewed by most Republicans as a RINO (Republican in name only), McCain dominated the early primaries in states that allowed cross over voting by attracting middle-of-the-road independents and conservative Democrats, but stumbled himself when the primary season headed South. He was badly defeated by Bush in South Carolina, a deeply conservative state that had voted for favorite son (and segregationist) Strom Thurmond in 1948, uber-conservative Barry Goldwater in 1964, and segregationist George Wallace in 1968. McCain also was victimized by smear tactics, such as the whispering campaign started by Mississippi Senator Trent Lott that claimed the renegade McCain had been mentally discombobulated by his seven years as a POW in Vietnam. The dirty tricks used against McCain by Bush campaign manager/major domo Karl Rove would prove to be harbingers of the paranoid style of politics that would come to fruition during Bush's first term.)McCain, a maverick senator with the support of many moderate Republicans and Independents as well as a following among conservative Democrats, was not only smeared, but his attempts to get on the ballot in such states as New York were stymied until the federal courts stepped in. (In 2004, even though he endorsed Bush against Kerry, McCain found himself smeared again by elements connected with Karl Rove when he defended Kerry's war record and patriotism.) The Republican Establishment were determined to give the nomination to a true blue Republican who could win (the color red was not associated with the GOP until Election Night 2000, when it was used as the map color for the Party after a century wherein the Republicans were blue and the Democrats red). After his defeat of McCain in South Carolina, Bush had as easy a time wrapping up the nomination as if he had been an incumbent.At the beginning of the fall campaign, what with the U.S. still enjoying the tail end of almost eight years of prosperity under President Bill Clinton, his vice president, Al Gore, started out as a prohibitive favorite to win the presidency. Gore, whoever, turned out to be unable to shed his past reputation as an uninspiring campaigner, and failed to fire up the uncommitted. Bush, on the other hand, a relative unknown commodity who had enjoyed good press for the past decade as a baseball owner and governor, did not make many errors after appearing at Bob Jones University several weeks after it had banned interracial dating during the early Republican primaries (for which he apologized). He capitalized on the low expectations others had for him, and won respect - and votes - for going the distance without stumbling or embarrassing himself, while Gore had to live down the bimbo eruptions of his past running mate and his own faux pas, such as his claim to have invented the "Information Superhighway" (Internet). His stiff, "Wooden Indian" style came off as pompous on the campaign trail, giving Bush's persona a boost as it could have been portrayed as bumbling if he had been up against a natural born campaigner such as Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan.In the game of politics as played in the US, Gore had everything to lose and Bush had everything to gain. Gore had to rise and exceed expectations while Bush merely had to live up to lowered expectations to rise above them and gain credence, and he did, beginning with the first debate. Going into the first debate, pundits expected the better-spoken Gore to eviscerate the syntactically challenged Bush (whose intelligence they disparaged), but it did not happen. Gore was haughty, and since Bush held his own, the governor of Texas was adjudged the winner. From there to the end of the campaign, Gore could never consolidate his early lead, which slipped away.On election day, Bush and Gore were locked in a dead heat. In the closest election in a century, it all came down to a matter of 537 votes in Florida. Out of the nearly six million votes cast in the Sunshine State (5,861,785 total, only 36,742 of which were won by third party candidates), Bush won by a margin representing 0.0087%. That's less than nine one-thousandths of a percentage point.After a long drawn-out process involving recounts and court challenges, Bush took the oath of office on January 20, 2001 and won re-election in November 2004 to become the first son of a president to win two terms in office.
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