Special Tercentennial Issue
Distinguished Graduates
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George H. W. Bush

B.A. 1948


George Bush, 41st president of the United States, is closely associated with foreign policy. The high point of his term was the Persian Gulf War of 1991a victory on both the battlefield and on the diplomatic frontwhich gained him prestige and support. The four years of his presidency saw the breakup of the Soviet Union, a series of arms reduction agreements with Russian leaders, and diplomatic progress toward the elimination of apartheid in South Africa.

Bush’s earlier experience also seemed to shine brightest in an international context, starting with his service as the U.S. Navy’s youngest pilot during World War II. He flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific theater and was shot down during one sortie. After the war, Bush launched a career in the oil business, became a congressman, and later a banker in Houston, but he opted for diplomatic duty whenever possibleas U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, head of the U.S. Liaison Office in China, and CIA director.

Although Bush used the veto successfully 35 times, his worst congressional resistance came from his own party when he compromised with Democrats on a budget package that increased marginal tax rates. But it was the economy that ended the Bush presidency. Unemployment and poverty rates rose to an eight-year high in 1992 as he came up for reelection.