Tuesday, October 14, 2008

#41 - George H. W. Bush, 1989-1993

[Presidential factoid of the day - On this day in 1890, the 34th President, Dwight Eisenhower was born.]

You almost can feel sorry for 41. Almost. But "not gonna do it, wouldn't be prudent."

A naval aviator in World War II, he was shot down (one of the reasons he jumps out of a plane every year to celebrate his birthday), he and Barbara lost a child to leukemia at the age of 4 (and, of course, another child that is a completely different story that you'll get in two weeks). Bush 41 (as he is now known) came from a family that was dedicated to public service. His father was Prescott Bush, who was a Senator from the state of Connecticut. Seeking to continue the family tradition, H.W. was elected to the House of Representatives, twice lost elections for the U.S. Senate, and only entered higher office at the federal level through a series of appointments (U.N. Ambassador, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Chair of the Republican National Committee). He lost the race for the Republican nomination in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, who threw Bush the bone of the vice presidency. He could never be elected on his own, right?

But elected the 41st President he was. Despite Dan Quayle (who thought that was a good idea), Bush 41 rode a wave of Reagan popularity into the White House. He scored a foreign policy success when he ordered troops into Panama to overthrow the dictator Manual Noriega. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, sparking the first Gulf War, Bush sent troops to the region along with a multinational force to repel Hussein and the Iraqis. Bush also presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Despite those successes in the foreign policy arena, Bush presided over a degrading U.S. economy and he was defeated for reelection by Bill Clinton (see you next week!).

The Facts
  • born June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts (Bush is the current oldest former President)
  • party: Republican
  • wife: Barbara Pierce
The Election of1988
The Election of 1992
  • Bill Clinton / Al Gore (D) - 44,909,806 (43%) / 370 EVs
  • George Bush / Dan Quayle (R) - 39,104,550 (37.5%) / 168 EVs
Trivia
  • Bush was a fairly proficient left-handed first baseman and played on the Yale Baseball team and participated in the first two College World Series.
  • In 1979, once he had decided to run for president in 1980, he attended more than 850 political events and traveled more than 250,000 miles.
  • Bush's convention speech in 1988 was known as the "Thousand Points of Light" speech, but contained the more memorable line, "Read my Lips, No New Taxes," which he was forced to break early in his presidency.
  • Upon his election, Bush became the first sitting vice president to be elected president since Martin van Buren in 1836.
  • Though President for only one term, Bush had two appointments to the United States Supreme Court, David Souter and Clarence Thomas.
  • Bush received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, the third U.S. President to be honored. The other two were Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.
Links

3 comments:

C in DC said...

Two questions for you. I could probably figure out the answers from your posts, but I suspect you'll know the answer to the first and I'm too tired to evaluate for the second.

How many presidents have been left-handed? (Both of the current candidates are, which I noticed the other night in the debate.)

All but Clinton, I believe, have done military service at some point. How many were Navy vs. Army? Have any been Marines? (Oh, and there is that Reservist guy...)

Brave Astronaut said...

C - a fine question(s). It just took me a minute to come around to them again for reference response.

There have been seven left-handed presidents: Garfield, Hoover, Truman, Ford, Reagan, 41, and Clinton. As you note, the next president will be left-handed. That makes 8 out of 43 presidents, what's that, 1 in 6?

Clinton is not the only one to have no prior military service. There have been eleven non-military presidents: Both Adamses, Van Buren, Cleveland, Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, FDR, and Clinton. I would add Shrub to this list as well.

Of the remaining 30, Army (or militia) account for : Washington, Jefferson (although he saw no combat), Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Harrison, T. Roosevelt (probably the closest we've had to a Marine), Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan (though spent World War II stateside).

It is noteworthy (coincidental?) that the last 6 were all Navy (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and 41). Carter served on boats (not ships) and of course, 41 was a pilot as is that old guy running. Obama has no military history.

C in DC said...

8 in 43 is 19%, which is closer to one in five. I think that's higher than in the general population. Pretty good for you southpaws.

So, remind me, what then was all the hoopla about Clinton not serving all about again?