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Former US President was 94: NPR



Updated at 12:15 ET

George H.W. Bush was the definition of founding success: Yale graduate. Successful business career. Forty-first President of the United States.

But for an admittedly biased observer, the older Bush had always come up short.

"As a result of a one-year president, historians had not received much attention," said George W. Bush in an interview with NPR. He called his father "one of the greatest presidents with a tenure in the history of the country."

George Herbert Walker Bush died Friday at the age of 94.

George W. Bush Published a Statement in which he and his siblings said, "Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are sad to announce that after 94 notable years, our dear father has died. "

" George HW Bush was a man of the highest character and the best father a son or daughter could ask for, " he said. "The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for the life and love of 41, for the compassion of those who have looked after Papa and for the sympathy of our friends and fellow citizens."

After his wife, there were fears that Barbara died in April, Bush could die as well. He was hospitalized on April 23, one day after the funeral of the former First Lady, and stayed there for 13 days. In May and June, he also spent some time in the hospital, but lived as the first former president at the age of 94 years. Bush was the patriarch of a political dynasty that included a son serving as president, another as president-governor and a grandson currently holding a nationwide office in Texas.

President Ronald Reagan (right) welcomes elected President George HW Bush on his arrival at the White House on 10 November 1988.

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President Ronald Reagan (right) welcomes elected President George H.W. Bush arriving at the White House on November 10, 1988.

Charles Tasnadi / AP

The elder Bush had spent a lifetime in public service before becoming president – as a young World War II naval pilot, the Texas Congressman was CIA director and loyal vice president of Ronald Reagan.

"His loyalty to Ronald Reagan was legendary," said biographer Timothy Naftali. "He did not always agree with Ronald Reagan, and he was so secretive about the moments he did not agree, we do not even have a good documentary – at least not yet available – when he disagreed."

Bush Disagreed Reagan's appearance in the Republican primary election of 1980 denounced Reagan's belief that the government could lower its tax rates without losing revenue as a "voodoo economic policy".

History would prove this assessment correct. Later Reagan had to lift some tax cuts in the face of growing deficits. By the time Bush made his way to Reagan, he knew what it takes to win the confidence of conservative Republicans.

"Read my lips," Bush promised at the GOP assembly of 1988. "No new taxes."

Bush beat Democrat Michael Dukakis the same year to win the White House. In the end, however, he went back to his lip-reading promise. During the budget negotiations with democratic congressional leaders in 1990, Bush and Reagan agreed to a tax hike.

Bush negotiated with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev during a White House signing ceremony on June 1, 1990. Bush and Gorbachev signed a treaty for the very first nuclear cutting and a pact that smashes supplies of chemical weapons.

J. David Ake / AFP / Getty Images


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Bush speaks on June 1, 1990 during a White House signing ceremony with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Bush and Gorbachev have signed a treaty for the very first cuts in nuclear missiles and a pact that destroys supplies of chemical weapons

J. David Ake / AFP / Getty Images

His press secretary Marlin Fitzwater recalled a budget meeting on which the deal was presented.

"When I saw it, I looked around the table and the Democrats looked like the cat that ate the canary," said Fitzwater. "They knew they had negotiated a winner."

The tax increase lowered the deficit, but it cost Bush the Conservatives. Years later, he received a courageous profile from John F. Kennedy's grandson, who said, "America's gain was the loss of President Bush."

Bush's most notable achievements in the White House came in the field of foreign affairs. While Reagan often had the victory of the Cold War, it was Bush who successfully mastered the aftermath. His inconspicuous approach avoided the inflammation of communist hardliners and enabled the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union.

"The soft landing, which was not inevitable, is largely due to the diplomacy of George HW Bush," he told Naftali.

Bush, who served as US envoy in China and was vice president of the world, had a thick Rolodex and a lot of experience with the phones. His lifelong foreign contacts were also practical when Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait in 1990. Bush methodically gathered an international coalition to fight back.

President Bush poses with soldiers during a stop at an air force base in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on November 22, 1990.

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President Bush poses with soldiers during a stop at an air force base in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on November 22, 1990.

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A five-week bombing raid was followed by a 100-hour ground attack that took Iraqis away from Kuwait. Some wanted Allied forces to invade Baghdad and topple Saddam Hussein. But Bush said no.

"The president's decision was that we would not travel to Baghdad," recalls the late diplomat Lawrence Eagleburger. "If so, we have violated the agreement with our allies that Saddam should release from Kuwait, it was not meant to break Saddam, and we will be in an area where we can not be sure how soon we can retire. "

Bush with (from left) his son Neal Bush; Mrs. Barbara Bush; Daughter-in-law Laura Bush; and son ex-president George W. Bush at a reception honoring the Points of Light Institute at the White House on January 7, 2009.

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Bush with (from left) his son Neal Bush; Mrs. Barbara Bush; Daughter-in-law Laura Bush; and son ex-president George W. Bush at a reception in honor of the White House's Points of Light Institute on January 7, 2009.

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Bush's son George W. would revisit this decision a dozen years later with costly results.

The first Gulf War was a clear victory for the US armed forces. As Commander-in-Chief George H.W. Bush saw his approval almost 90 percent. His second term seemed so firmly anchored that many national Democrats had decided to take over the 1992 elections and leave it to the governor of a small southern state to challenge him.

But Bill Clinton had one big advantage: the economy, stupid. As the country sank into recession, Bush's popularity declined. This time there was no parachute or soft landing. In the November elections, he lost a three-way race with only 38 percent of the vote.

More than two decades later, George W. Bush, who had witnessed his own roller coaster ride in the polls, wrote a loving portrait of His Father 41.

"I want people George Bush, because he is not only a great person, but also a very successful president, "said the younger Bush.

Bush was also the linchpin of a political dynasty that now includes four generations – including a second son, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who ran for the White House and lost in the 2016 Republican primaries Donald Trump became the dominant force in a far advanced GOP from where it was when the 41st President was in office.

Regardless of the political shortcomings of the high-ranking Bush, the retrospective has cast its presidency in a friendlier, softer light.


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