Friday, September 07, 2012

10 Fun Facts About George W. Bush

George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States

1. George W. Bush was born in the summer of 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut.  His father, the future 41st president, was an ex-Navy pilot and current student at Yale University when his first child was born.  His grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a successful businessman who would later serve in the U.S. Senate.  The oldest of six children, one of Bush's younger sisters died of leukemia at the age of three.

2. Following his father's graduation from Yale in 1948, the Bush family relocated to Midland, Texas, where the elder Bush got involved in the oil business.  George W. Bush attended public schools in the Midland area until the family moved again, in 1959, to Houston.  In high school, Bush was sent to Massachusetts to attend the prestigious Phillips Academy boarding school.  In the 1960's, Bush attended Yale, graduating with a degree in History, then earned an MBA from Harvard, the only president to have earned such a degree.

3. In 1977, Bush met and married Laura Welch, a school teacher who had also worked as a librarian in the Houston Public Library system.  She gave birth to fraternal twin daughters in 1981, their only children.  When Laura was still in high school, she ran a stop sign two days after her 17th birthday and caused a collision in which a passenger in the other car was killed.  She was not charged with any crimes, and has since stated that the episode caused her to lose her religious faith for a very long time.

4. Shortly after marrying, Bush made his first foray into politics, running for a seat in the House of Representatives from Texas.  Following his defeat by Democrat Kent Hance, Bush left politics and instead went into the oil business like his father before him, creating and overseeing a number of oil exploration companies.

5. In 1988, when his father ran for, and eventually won, the presidency, Bush served as one of his father's primary campaign advisers.  After the successful run, Bush returned to his business interests and became a managing partner in the Texas Rangers baseball team.  When he sold his shares in the team nine years later, he made more than 14 million dollars over his initial investment.

6. After serving again as a campaign adviser for his father's failed bid at re-election in 1992, Bush, who was now widely known and recognized, entered politics again, running for Texas governor in 1994.  He faced a strong incumbent in Ann Richards, but Bush defeated her easily by a margin of more than 7%.  A popular governor in Texas, he won reelection in 1998 with nearly 70% of the popular vote, and became the first Texas governor in history to be elected to two consecutive 4-year terms.  During his second term, he controversially declared June 10, 2000, to be "Jesus Day" in Texas, a day when Texans were encouraged to help those in need.

7. Throwing his name into the hat for the 2000 presidential election, Bush very quickly moved to the head of the pack of potential Republican nominees, and it came down to a race between Bush and Senate icon John McCain.  The primary was a nasty business, with both candidates accused of running a smear campaign, and in the end Bush came out ahead, winning his party's nomination.  One of the accusations of smearing leveled by McCain's camp was a rumor that McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter was actually a black child that he had fathered out of wedlock.

8. The general election proved to be no less divisive.  Polls throughout the year showed both Bush and Democratic candidate Al Gore neck and neck, and in the end, Gore won the popular vote, but Bush won more of the electoral vote, and thus won the presidency.  The electoral vote count was contested based on problems with vote-counting in Florida, leaving the results in limbo until early December when the Supreme Court reversed a decision by the Florida Supreme Court and put a halt to all recounts, effectively giving Bush Florida, and thus the presidency.

9. Bush's time as president was one of increasing political cynicism in the U.S., and increasing political instability abroad.  He won reelection in 2004 over Democratic challenger John Kerry, but many saw the election as one deciding between the lesser of two evils.  Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Bush enjoyed the highest approval rating of any president since polling began, but by the end of his second term, his approval rating had plummeted and he actually attained the highest disapproval rating of any president - 71%.  This was largely due to the global economic collapse that occurred during the final few months of Bush's second term as president.  Bush was applauded by his supporters for his leadership in the War on Terror, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his educational reforms, but criticized by his foes for blurring the lines of Church and State, not responding adequately to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, and for turning a large government surplus into a large national debt.

10. In retirement, Bush has kept a low profile, rarely appearing in public and staying almost entirely out of the political arena.  He and his wife purchased a home in the Dallas area, and Bush published his memoirs in 2010.   He was forced to cancel a speaking engagement in Switzerland in 2011 due to increasing pressure on the Swiss government by human rights groups to arrest him for human rights violations if he ever enters the country.  These accusations are related to his administration's use of torture on suspected terrorists.  In 2010, he teamed up with former president Bill Clinton to raise funds for earthquake victims in Haiti.  

1 comment:

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