By DANIEL BRENNAN ‘19
George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States who is considered one of the most successful one-term presidents, passed away on Friday, November 30. He was 94 years old.
Bush first entered politics in 1963 when he was elected chairman of the Harris County, Texas Republican Party. And in 1966, he bolstered enough support with the Republican Party to win the election for the 7th Texas Congress seat making him the first Republican to represent Houston since Reconstruction.
And by the late 1970s, Bush knew he wanted to run for the nation’s highest office. He campaigned heavily in the 1980 Republican primary, especially to win the early Iowa caucus; he beat the front runner Ronald Reagan in this state by over 2 percentage points. However, after former California governor Reagan reorganized his campaign, it was clear that Bush would not win the nomination for that year. Instead, Reagan made a last minute decision to place the centrist Republican in as his running mate, and the two were elected President and Vice President.
As Vice President, Bush went on many official national and international tours trying to unify both the country and the world. He made a number of trips to Cleveland, even stopping by St. Ignatius to use the Wasmer track for one of his daily jogs. There were two times that Presidential duties fell on Bush: one after Reagan had been shot in 1981 and another when Reagan was having surgery on his colon in 1985. Overall, Bush’s two terms as VP are seen as supportive to Reagan, filling the duties that the Commander in Chief could not do himself.
Bush took the highest office after the1988 election; one that was considered very ugly because of personal attacks on both sides. Bush ran on the “thousand points of light” model, where America was a generous place that took up Reaganesq conservative values.
He had a number of successes in domestic policy, including the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act and the creation of the volunteer group Points of Light Foundation. However, Mr. Bush faced an incredible deficit in the aftermath of the Reagan administration. His answer to the problem was the 1990 budget, which raised taxes on the rich. Although his decision would stabilize the economy (causing about 60% of the Clinton era economic boom), his plan broke the major promise of his election: “Read my lips, no new taxes.”
Bush’s tenure as president would only last one term. But, George Bush saw his loss as a good thing. The presidency had taken so much out of him. And, his kindness and genuineness stands out in the increasingly hostile political world.