George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009, and the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. The eldest son of Barbara and George H. W. Bush, he was born in New Haven, Connecticut. After graduating from Yale University in 1968 and Harvard Business School in 1975, he worked in oil businesses. He married Laura Welch in 1977 and ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives shortly thereafter. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before defeating Ann Richards in the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election. He was elected president in 2000 after a close and controversial election, becoming the fourth president to be elected while receiving fewer popular votes nationwide than his opponent. He is the second president to have been the son of a former president, the first having been John Quincy Adams. He is also the brother of Jeb Bush, who is a former Governor of Florida and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2016 presidential election.
Eight months into Bush’s first term as president, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred. Bush responded by launching the “War on Terror”, an international military campaign which included the war in Afghanistan, launched in 2001 and the war in Iraq, launched in 2003. He also promoted policies on the economy, health care, education, social security reform, and amending the Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. He signed into law broad tax cuts, the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors, and funding for the AIDS relief program known as PEPFAR. His tenure saw national debates on immigration, Social Security, electronic surveillance, and torture.
Bush successfully ran for re-election against Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004, in another relatively close election. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism from across the political spectrum for his handling of the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and other challenges. Amid this criticism, the Democratic Party regained control of Congress in the 2006 elections. In December 2007, the United States entered its longest post-World War II recession, often referred to as the “Great Recession,” prompting the Bush Administration to obtain congressional passage of multiple economic programs intended to preserve the country’s financial system. Nationally, Bush was both one of the most popular and unpopular presidents in history, having received the highest recorded presidential approval ratings in the wake of the September 11 attacks, as well as one of the lowest approval ratings during the 2008 financial crisis. He was met with public protests even occurring during visits to the United Kingdom.
Bush left office in 2009 and since then, he has returned to Texas and purchased a home in a suburban area of Dallas. He is currently a public speaker, has written a memoir titled Decision Points, has taken up painting as a hobby, and his presidential library was opened in 2013. His presidency has been ranked among the worst in surveys of presidential scholars published in the late 2000s and 2010s.
George Walker Bush was born on July 6, 1946, at Grace-New Haven Hospital (now Yale–New Haven Hospital) in New Haven, Connecticut, as the first child of George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Pierce. He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas, with four siblings, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died from leuemia at the age of three in 1953. His grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut. His father George H. W. Bush was Ronald Reagan’s Vice President from 1981 to 1989 and the 41st U.S. President from 1989 to 1993. Bush has English and some German ancestry, along with more distant Dutch, Welsh, Irish, French, and Scottish roots.
Bush attended public schools in Midland, Texas, until the family moved to Houston after he had completed his 7th grade year. He then went to The Kinkaid School, a prep school in Houston for two years.
Bush finished high school at the Phillips Academy, a boarding school (then all-male) in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball and, during his senior year, was the head cheerleader. He attended Yale University from 1964 to 1968, graduating with a B.A. degree in history. During this time, he was a cheerleader and a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon, serving as the fraternity’s president during his senior year. Bush became a member of the Skull and Bones society as a senior Bush Bush was a rugby union player and was on Yale’s 1st XV. He characterized himself as an average student. His average during his first three years at Yale was 77 and he had a similar average under a nonnumeric rating system in his final year.
Beginning in the fall of 1973, Bush attended the Harvard Business School, where he earned an M.B.A. degree. He is the only U.S. President to have earned an M.B.A.
At a backyard barbecue in 1977, friends introduced him to Laura Lane Welch, a school teacher and librarian. Bush proposed to her after a three-month courtship, and they married on November 5 of that year. The couple settled in Midland, Texas. Bush left his family’s Episcopal Church to join his wife’s United Methodist Church. On November 25, 1981, Laura Bush gave birth to fraternal twin daughters, Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Welch Bush; they graduated from high school in 2000 and from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively, in 2004.
George and Laura Bush with their daughters Jenna and Barbara, 1990
Prior to his marriage, Bush had multiple episodes of alcohol abuse In one instance, on September 4, 1976, he was arrested near his family’s summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine for driving under the influence of alcohol. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150 and had his Maine driver’s license briefly suspended. Bush says his wife has had a stabilizing effect on his life, and attributes to her influence his 1986 decision to give up alcohol While Governor of Texas, Bush said of his wife, “I saw an elegant, beautiful woman who turned out not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time.”
Bush has been an avid reader throughout his adult life, preferring biographies and histories. During his time as president, Bush read the Bible daily. He also read 14 Lincoln biographies and, during the last three years of his presidency, he reportedly read 186 books. Walt Harrington, a journalist, recalls seeing “books by John Fowles, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Gore Vidal lying about, as well as biographies of Willa Cather and Queen Victoria” in his home when Bush was a Texas oilman. Other hobbies include cigar smoking and golf. Since leaving the White House, Bush has also taken up oil painting.
His first granddaughter, Margaret Laura “Mila” Hager, was born to his daughter Jenna Bush on April 14, 2013. She is named after her two grandmothers.