George H. W. Bush

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We must act on what we know. I take as my guide the hope of a saint: In crucial things, unity; in important things, diversity; in all things, generosity.

George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924November 30, 2018) was an American politician who served as the 41st president of the United States (1989–93), and the 43rd vice president of the United States (1981–89). A Republican, he previously served as a congressman, an ambassador, and director of Central Intelligence. At 94 years he was the longest-living president and vice president, as well as the last veteran of World War II to hold the presidency. He was married to Barbara Bush, and was the father of George W. Bush.


To all who mourn a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend — I can only offer you the gratitude of a nation, for your loved one served his country with distinction and honor.
Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.
There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve your country and your fellow citizens and to do it well. And that's what our system of self-government depends on.
  • It is possible to tell things by a handshake. I like the "looking in the eye" syndrome. It conveys interest. I like the firm, though not bone crushing shake. The bone crusher is trying too hard to "macho it.: The clammy or diffident handshake — fairly or unfairly — get me off to a bad start with a person.
    • Letter to Gary Hanauser (18 September 1979), as quoted in All the Best, George Bush : My Life in Letters and Other Writings (2000), p. 282
  • You don't have to go to college to be a success … We need the people who run the offices, the people who do the hard physical work of our society.
    • Statement to the students of East Los Angeles' Garfield High School (5 May 1988)
  • I think it's good, stable system. And, you know, dealer's choice. Let them choose what they want for their system, I'm not going to criticize the British or the Australians or anybody else. But, we've got a stable system, in the sense of presidential leadership, continuity, and I wouldn't trade it at all. And besides that, I count my blessings for the fact I don't have to go into that pit that John Major stands in, nose-to-nose with the opposition, all yelling at each other. He and I have talked about that, incidentally. I think he does very, very well. But I think that's for him, not for me.
  • To all who mourn a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend — I can only offer you the gratitude of a nation, for your loved one served his country with distinction and honor.""Your men are under a different command now, one that knows no rank, only love; knows no danger, only peace, May God bless them all.
    • At a memorial in Norfolk Virginia for the 47 crew members killed in an explosion aboard the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61). - "Bush Fights Tears at Memorial", By Susan Page. Newsday Washington Bureau. Newsday. Long Island, N.Y.: April 25, 1989. pg. 04
  • I don't have to stand here and defend the campaign of 1988. I'd be perfectly prepared to do it, but I was elected. I put confidence in the American people, their ability to sort through what is fair and what is unfair, what is ugly and what is un-ugly, and be as positive as possible.
  • There are no maps to lead us where we are going, to this new world of our own making. As the world looks back to nine decades of war, of strife, of suspicion, let us also look forward—to a new century, and a new millennium, of peace, freedom and prosperity.
    • U.S. president George Bush made those comments on January 1, 1990. The Watchtower magazine; In Search of a New World Order (15 July 1991)
  • I do not like broccoli and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli. Now look, this is the last statement I’m going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided. For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that’s coming in.
  • This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.
    • Remarks to reporters (5 August 1990)
  • This is an historic moment. We have in this past year made great progress in ending the long era of conflict and cold war. We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order, a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations. When we are successful, and we will be, we have a real chance at this new world order, an order in which a credible United Nations can use its peacekeeping role to fulfill the promise and vision of the U.N.'s founders. We have no argument with the people of Iraq. Indeed, for the innocents caught in this conflict, I pray for their safety.
  • What is at stake is more than one small country [Kuwait], it is a big idea — a new world order where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind: peace and security, freedom and the rule of law.
    • Comment on a "new world order" (29 January 1991), as quoted in The Watchtower magazine, In Search of a New World Order (15 July 1991)
  • Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.
  • Yet freedom is not the same as independence. Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred.
  • Tonight, as I see the drama of democracy unfolding around the globe, perhaps—perhaps we are closer to that new world than ever before.
  • We're going to keep trying to strengthen the American family. To make them more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons.
    • Statement at the 1992 Republican Convention on the animated sitcom, The Simpsons, sometimes misquoted "America needs to be a lot more like The Waltons and a lot less like The Simpsons."
  • Now I know, I know that every uh speaker comes before you and says they identify with Columbus but I really mean it. Think about it; the guy was faced with questions at home about whether his global efforts were worth a darn. Some critics want him to cut his voice short... he even faced the threat of mutiny (laughs) and yet Columbus persevered and won. Not a bad analogy in my (laughs) view so I know this isn't political. Now I admit Columbus also had to worry all about at that time about a lack of wind. I... I don't have that problem with Congress.
  • The Senate opens its meetings with a prayer. The House of Representatives opens its meetings with a prayer. Nobody doubts that they both need it.
    • Address to the Knights of Columbus (5 August 1992)
  • My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos. It's crazy. ... And look, if you listen to Governor Clinton and Ozone Man, if you listen to them. You know why I call him Ozone Man? This guy is so far off in the environmental extreme, we'll be up to our neck in owls and out of work for every American. This guy's crazy! He's way out, far out, man!
    • (Concerning Governor William Clinton of Arkansas and Senator Al Gore of Tennessee.) Campaign speech, 29 October 1992, Macomb Community College, Warren, Michigan
This is bigger than politics; this is about saving lives, and I must confess I’m getting a huge kick out of it.
I do not like broccoli and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.
  • Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep", and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different — and perhaps barren — outcome.
    • A World Transformed (1998) by George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft; also as an excerpt in Time Magazine in 1998.
  • Whose life would be on my hands as the commander-in-chief because I, unilaterally, went beyond the international law, went beyond the stated mission, and said we're going to show our macho? We're going into Baghdad. We're going to be an occupying power — America in an Arab land — with no allies at our side. It would have been disastrous. We don't gain the size of our victory by how many innocent kids running away — even though they're bad guys — that we can slaughter. … We're American soldiers; we don't do business that way.
    • A statement to a reunion of Gulf War veterans (February 28, 1999) as quoted in "Bush tells Gulf vets why Hussein left in Baghdad" by S.H. Kelly, Pentagram (3 March 1999)
  • Most of the money that President Clinton and I raised has not been spent yet, and it will go into reconstruction. … This is bigger than politics; this is about saving lives, and I must confess I’m getting a huge kick out of it.
    • Statements to press (20 February 2005), on serving with former political rival Bill Clinton in their efforts to raise money for tsunami recovery.
  • I will never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don't care what the facts are.
    • Statement as Vice-president, during a presidential campaign function (2 Aug 1988)[2]. Some commenters at the time saw this as a reference to the Navy warship USS Vincennes having shot down Iran Air Flight 655 on July 3, although Bush did not explicitly mention the shoot-down in the speech. The quote of the week section of Newsweek (15 August 1988, p.15) described the quote as "George Bush, speaking to a group of Republican leaders about the accidental downing of an Iranian airliner", and in "Rally Round the Flag, Boys" by Michael Kingsley in TIME magazine (12 September 1988), the quote was described as "the Vice President's reaction to the shooting down of the Iranian civilian airliner".
    • We must never apologize for the United States of America.
      • Speaking at the service club's honors banquet attended by 254 people at the Bluffs Holiday Inn, Council Bluffs, Iowa, late January 1988. "Bush Sidesteps Campaign Talk In the Bluffs" by C. David Kotok in Omaha World - Herald Omaha, Nebraska [Iowa Edition] (30 January 1988), pg. 1
    • "I will never apologize for the United States," the Vice President declared recently. "I will stand up for her."
    • "I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy."
      • Speaking to a women's group in Concord, NH in February 1988. Dole and Bush: Dramatic Contrast of Styles . . . Bernard Weinraub, Special to the New York Times. New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: February 7, 1988. pg. A.32
    • If I am elected president, I will never apologize for the United States. I will strengthen her and make her a beacon of freedom and liberty!
      • Late April 1988, at a campaign stop at the Scranton Wilkes-Barre airport, in response to protesters of the Reagan administration's policies in Central America. Bush Vows to Attack Joblessness. Edward Power. Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pa.: April 26, 1988. pg. A.8
    • My view, is let Mike Dukakis go around there and talk about pink slips, despair, pessimism in the United States. I'll be the guy out there talking about hope and opportunity and challenge, and the fact that the United States is the best, the fairest, the most decent nation on the face of the earth. Let them apologize for America, and let me lead her to new greatness.
      • Speaking to supporters in Washington D.C. May 4, 1988. Voters face clear choice, Bush says; [THIRD Edition] STAFF, WIRE REPORTS. Boston Globe (pre-1997 Fulltext). Boston, Mass.: May 4, 1988. pg. 13.
    • "Bush, who … came of age in World War II, instinctively identified with the crew members and captain on the Vincennes. He said he would not apologize for the incident. "I will never apologize for the United States of America!" he frequently declares in campaign speeches."
      • "Nominees' Beliefs Grounded in 2 Views of America; Bush Is Motivated By Pragmatism, Noblesse Oblige" by David Hoffman in The Washington Post [FINAL Edition] (30 October 1988) p. a.01
    • "[WW II] helped formulate his view of America as a military power: clearly in the right, with no shades of gray. "I will never apologize for the United States of America", Mr. Bush has said frequently."
    • "And I'll be honest with you, it's a joy to serve with a president who does not apologize for the United States of America."
      • in his closing remarks at a Vice-Presidential debate with Geraldine Ferraro in Philadelphia, PA, in October 1984. Bush, Ferraro Clash at Civic Center CHRISTOPHER HEPP. Philadelphia Daily News. Philadelphia, Pa.: October 12, 1984. pg. 3
  • No nation can fully understand itself or find its place in the world if it does not look with clear eyes at all the glories and disgraces, too, of the past. We, in the United States, acknowledge such an injustice in our own history: The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry was a great injustice, and it will never be repeated.
  • Message: I care
    • To a town-hall meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire, while campaigning during the 1992 Republican primaries. [1]. Some sources claim that this was the result of Bush mistakenly reading aloud from a cue card. [2]

RNC acceptance speech (1988)

Acceptance speech for the Republican nomination as presidential candidate at the 1988 Republican National Convention (18 August 1988)
  • We're a nation of community, of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique.
    This is America: the Knights of Columbus, the Grange, Hadassah, the Disabled American Veterans, the Order of Ahepa, the Business and Professional Women of America, the union hall, the Bible study group, LULAC, "Holy Name" — a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.
  • Does government have a place? Yes. Government is part of the nation of communities, not the whole, just a part.
    And I don't hate government. A government that remembers that the people are its master is a good and needed thing.
    And I respect old-fashioned common sense and have no great love for the imaginings of the social planners.
  • I'm the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent now says he'll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that's one resort he'll be checking into. My opponent, my opponent won't rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes and I'll say no. And they'll push, and I'll say no, and they'll push again, and I'll say, to them, "Read my lips: no new taxes."
  • I intend to speak for freedom, stand for freedom and be a patient friend to anyone, East or West, who will fight for freedom.
    It seems to me the presidency provides an incomparable opportunity for "gentle persuasion."
  • I hope to stand for a new harmony, a greater tolerance. We've come far, but I think we need a new harmony among the races in our country. And we're on a journey into a new century, and we've got to leave that tired old baggage of bigotry behind.
  • Some people who are enjoying our prosperity have forgotten what it's for. But they diminish our triumph when they act as if wealth is an end in itself.

And there are those who have dropped their standards along the way, as if ethics were too heavy and slowed their rise to the top.

  • The fact is: Prosperity has a purpose. It's to allow us to pursue "the better angels," to give us time to think and grow. Prosperity with a purpose means taking your idealism and making it concrete by certain acts of goodness. It means helping a child from an unhappy home learn how to read, and I thank my wife, Barbara, for all her work in helping people to read, in all her work for literacy in this country. It means teaching troubled children through your presence that there is such a thing as reliable love. Some would say it's soft and insufficiently tough to care about these things. But where is it written that we must act if we do not care, as if we are not moved?
    Well, I am moved. I want a kinder and gentler nation.

Inaugural Address (1989)

America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the Nation and gentler the face of the world.
A President is neither prince nor pope, and I don't seek a window on men's souls. In fact, I yearn for a greater tolerance, an easy-goingness about each other's attitudes and way of life.
Washington, D. C. (20 January 1989) Full text online at Yale University
  • I have just repeated word for word the oath taken by George Washington 200 years ago, and the Bible on which I placed my hand is the Bible on which he placed his. It is right that the memory of Washington be with us today, not only because this is our Bicentennial Inauguration, but because Washington remains the Father of our Country. And he would, I think, be gladdened by this day; for today is the concrete expression of a stunning fact: our continuity these 200 years since our government began.
    We meet on democracy's front porch, a good place to talk as neighbors and as friends. For this is a day when our nation is made whole, when our differences, for a moment, are suspended.
  • I come before you and assume the Presidency at a moment rich with promise. We live in a peaceful, prosperous time, but we can make it better. For a new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn; for in man's heart, if not in fact, the day of the dictator is over. The totalitarian era is passing, its old ideas blown away like leaves from an ancient, lifeless tree. A new breeze is blowing, and a nation refreshed by freedom stands ready to push on. There is new ground to be broken, and new action to be taken. There are times when the future seems thick as a fog; you sit and wait, hoping the mists will lift and reveal the right path. But this is a time when the future seems a door you can walk right through into a room called tomorrow.
    Great nations of the world are moving toward democracy through the door to freedom. Men and women of the world move toward free markets through the door to prosperity. The people of the world agitate for free expression and free thought through the door to the moral and intellectual satisfactions that only liberty allows.
    We know what works: Freedom works. We know what's right: Freedom is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state.
  • We must act on what we know. I take as my guide the hope of a saint: In crucial things, unity; in important things, diversity; in all things, generosity.
  • For we are given power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people. Help us to remember it, Lord.
  • 'America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the Nation and gentler the face of the world.
  • The American people await action. They didn't send us here to bicker. They ask us to rise above the merely partisan. "In crucial things, unity" — and this, my friends, is crucial.
  • A President is neither prince nor pope, and I don't seek a window on men's souls. In fact, I yearn for a greater tolerance, an easy-goingness about each other's attitudes and way of life.
  • I do not mistrust the future; I do not fear what is ahead. For our problems are large, but our heart is larger. Our challenges are great, but our will is greater. And if our flaws are endless, God's love is truly boundless.
    Some see leadership as high drama, and the sound of trumpets calling, and sometimes it is that. But I see history as a book with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, a page turns, the story unfolds. And so today a chapter begins, a small and stately story of unity, diversity, and generosity — shared, and written, together.

Address to the Senior Executive Service (1989)

George Bush: "Remarks to Members of the Senior Executive Service," (26 January 1989) online at The American Presidency Project
  • There is no higher honor than to serve free men and women, no greater privilege than to labor in government beneath the Great Seal of the United States and the American flag.
  • There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve your country and your fellow citizens and to do it well. And that's what our system of self-government depends on.
  • To those who work outside Washington, I would send a special message. At times it may be frustrating when it seems that the head office is thousands of miles away and the message is not getting through. But if I may, I'm going to issue a verbal Executive order: We're going to listen, because the heart of our government is not here in Washington, it's in every county office, every town, every city across this land. Wherever the people of America are, that's where the heart of our government is.
  • The Government is here to serve, but it cannot replace individual service. And shouldn't all of us who are public servants also set an example of service as private citizens? So, I want to ask all of you, and all the appointees in this administration, to do what so many of you already do: to reach out and lend a hand. Ours should be a nation characterized by conspicuous compassion, generosity that is overflowing and abundant.

Presidential Economic Address, February 9, 1989

President Bush announced his proposed budget in his first address to a joint session of Congress, C-Span -->
  • And let all Americans remember that no problem of human making is too great to be overcome by human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit. I believe this. I would not have asked to be your President if I didn't.

Remarks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, August 6, 1992

  • I think there's a Trojan horse lurking in the weeds, ready to pull a fast one on the American people, and I simply am not going to let that happen.

Remarks to Findlay Machine and Tool Employees in Findlay, Ohio, August 27, 1992

  • Since this is Flag City, let me close with a flag story. During the Gulf war, I received a letter from the Mayor of Stantonsburg, North Carolina. He told me about watching two little girls about 10 years old walking across the school yard. One day, they went across. He was watching, and they were pulling their mom's laundry on a wagon. As the girls passed the pole in front of the town hall, they looked up and saw the United States flag flapping in the wind. Unaware that anyone was watching, these two little girls stopped, placed their hands over their hearts, and pledged allegiance to the flag. One little girl said simply, "It's important to do this, you know, because of the war and all." Well, this election, like all elections, is about that little girl, and all the kids in Findlay, in Lima, and all the kids in America. If we do what is right today, we can take advantage of the opportunity of our global victory. We can build a land where they will be safe and strong and secure, where they can climb the flagpole of opportunity and put their hands over their hearts with pride, knowing that in their land the sun is always just peeking out over the horizon.

Post presidency

  • I think Romney is the best choice for us.
    • Offered his support to Mitt Romney, for US presidential elections of 2012. [4]


  • No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.… I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists.
    • Attributed by atheist activist Robert I. Sherman, reporting on remarks at a public press conference Bush held at O'Hare Airport on 27 August 1987 just after announcing his candidacy for president. Initially reported soon after the incident, years afterward disputes on the accuracy of the reports arose. Other journalists present have neither confirmed nor contradicted Sherman's account of the exchange.
    • Frequently misquoted as "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots."

Quotes about Bush

  • The sort of man who steps out of the shower to take a piss.
    • Widely quoted remark of an anonymous Texan, published in The Right Nation : Conservative Power in America (2004) by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, p. 33; also published as a book excerpt in the The New York Times (28 November 2004)
  • In 1980 the Democrats were pretty much stuck with Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, who ran under the slogan "Four More Years?" The Republicans, meanwhile, had a spirited primary campaign season, which came down to a duel between Reagan and George Herbert Walker Norris Wainright Armoire Vestibule Pomegranate Bush IV, who had achieved a distinguished record of public service despite having a voice that sounded like he had just inhaled an entire blimp-load of helium.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States (1989), p. 167
  • On Monday in Baltimore, many baseball fans may be tempted to utter a testy little boo when they see yet another politician who seems to be horning in on Opening Day. President George Bush is different. If his First Ball bounces, it was probably a curve. And if he's wearing a glove, it's his own.
  • I just couldn't believe that any politician could look that comfortable out there. [...] It was obvious he had played before. You could just tell, the way he shifted his feet and changed position. He had one difficult fielding chance. He knocked the ball down and threw to the pitcher for the out.
  • Bush was in many ways the maestro president when it came to foreign policy. With extraordinary dexterity, he handled the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of all the communist regimes in Eastern Europe, German reunification and then the Soviet disintegration. On his watch, Nelson Mandela was set free and apartheid consigned to the history books; and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was reversed. And yet still the presidency was won by a scandal-prone Southern governor with the banal but brilliant slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
  • Of all the thousands of rulers, potentates, strongmen, juntas, and warlords the Americans have dealt with in all corners of the world, General Manuel Antonio Noriega is the only one the Americans came after like... the United States Invasion of Panama... The Bush administration might have quashed the wimp rumors, but now it faced the problem of legitimacy, of appearing to be a bully caught in an act of terrorism. It was disclosed that the U.S. Army had prohibited the press, the Red Cross, and other outside observers from entering the heavily bombed areas for three days, while soldiers incinerated and buried the casualties. The press asked questions about how much evidence of criminal and other inappropriate behavior was destroyed, and about how many died because they were denied timely medical attention, but such questions were never answered.
  • We shall never know many of the facts about the... [U.S. invasion of Panama], nor shall we know the true extent of the massacre. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney claimed a death toll between five hundred and six hundred, but independent human rights groups estimated it at three thousand to five thousand, with another twenty-five thousand left homeless... Noriega was arrested, flown to Miami, and sentenced to forty years' imprisonment; at that time, he was the only person in the United States officially classified as a prisoner of war... The world was outraged by this breach of international law and by the needless destruction of a defenseless people at the hands of the most powerful military force on the planet, but few in the United States were aware of either the outrage or the crimes Washington had committed... White House phone calls to publishers and television executives, congress people who dared not object, lest the wimp factor become their problem, and journalists who thought the public needed heroes rather than objectivity.
  • Listening to George Bush, toward the end of his speech, read the poetry written by Ray Price with the gestures scripted by speech coach Roger Ailes, I was struck anew by the elaborate charade of emperor's clothing in which the American press is so supinely complicit. Bush has no more sense of poetry than he does of grammar. After the speech there was much division in the pundit corps over whether Bush had just "hit it out of the park" (both sports and war metaphors were much in vogue) or whether we had just heard a load of nasty political drivel without a single redeeming idea. But all hands were solemnly pretending we had just heard George Bush, the nation's most incoherent speaker, stand up and make a fifty-eight-minute political address. George Bush without a Teleprompter can scarcely produce an intelligible sentence. I've been listening to him since 1966 and must confess to a secret fondness for his verbal dyslexia. Hearing him has the charm and suspense of those old adventure-movie serials: Will this man ever fight his way out of this sentence alive? As he flops from one syntactical Waterloo to the next, ever in the verbless mode, in search of the long lost predicate, or even a subject, you find yourself struggling with him, rooting for him. What is this man actually trying to say? What could he possibly mean? Hold it, I think I see it!...The fact is that unless someone else writes a speech for him, the President of the United States sounds like a border-line moron. But the media sit around pretending that he can actually talk-can convince, inspire and lead us.
    • Molly Ivins "Notes from Another Country" article in The Nation (September 14, 1992), after the Republican party convention
  • But setting aside his relative inaction during the recession, Bush’s long record of supporting policies that benefit the wealthy at the expense of average Americans cemented his legacy. He was no patrician statesman whose example can lead us out of our current dark times. Rather, he was a foot soldier for the ruling class who played a substantial role in bringing us to where we are today. His role as a chief architect of U.S. neoliberal trade policy through ushering in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) helped to exacerbate global inequality and fuel the loss of over one million manufacturing jobs in the United States and Canada.
  • From the beginning of his presidency, Bush built on the legislative victories of the Reagan Revolution, spearheading wealth redistribution programs benefiting the corporate class — and his own family. In 1989, Bush bailed out the heavily deregulated Savings and Loan industry, to the tune of about $124.6 billion in taxpayer funded money. The New York Times later published a report detailing how Bush’s son Jeb had personally benefited from the bailout, noting that the federal government paid ​“more than $4 million to make good” on a loan Jeb had used to buy a Miami office building.
  • Bush also fought against raising the minimum wage. In 1989, he vetoed a bill raising the minimum wage to $4.55 an hour. His own version of the Fair Labor Standards Amendments which he signed into law that year, raised the minimum to $4.25, significantly lower than the original legislation. Bush’s greatest assault on labor rights came with the passage of NAFTA, which he spearheaded and signed just a month before he left office. The trade deal faced widespread resistance from progressives and labor unions, but Bush’s commitment to neoliberal trade policy was unbending. In the Latin American Perspectives essay ​"NAFTA and the Corporate Redesign of North America," Kim Moody explains that the ​"Bush administration, backed by a number of authoritative think tanks and business organizations, attempted to mute opposition to NAFTA by producing an expert consensus that the agreement was a win-win solution."
  • President Trump’s path to the White House rests in part on the working-class misery engendered by decades of neoliberal trade policies. During the 2016 campaign, Trump ran on an anti-free trade platform. Rather than proposing the dissolution of the entire existing trade system, Trump told voters he’d use his expert negotiating skills to secure a ​"better deal" for them. He cast the blame for inequality not on the greed of capital, but on ​“illegals” desperate and eager to take away jobs away from Americans. While Trump’s rhetoric is appallingly racist and his policies have only benefited the rich, his ascent — along with the rise of far right populism in Europe — helps illustrates the extent of the damage dealt by Bush and other architects of neoliberal trade policy.
  • The President made his move. He nominated a man as different from Thurgood Marshall as George Bush differs from Mahatma Gandhi...Among those who detested Marshall and who generally despise Black men there was a willingness to promote Clarence Thomas because Clarence Thomas was not the point: The point is to homogenize the Supreme Court. If someone with Black skin will serve that purpose, then fine! But we, the people, must not yield to judgment without representation. If we yield, there will be no justice. And without justice, believe me, there will be no peace.
    • June Jordan "Thomas was not the Point" (1991) in Affirmative Acts(1998)
  • in 1988 George H. W. Bush came to power promising action on acid rain.
    • Naomi Klein This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014)
  • I would often surprise people by citing George H. W. Bush as a recent president whose foreign policy I admired. Bush, along with James Baker, Colin Powell, and Brent Scowcroft, had deftly managed the end of the Cold War and the successful prosecution of the Gulf War.
  • I almost wish the Gulf War had gone on a little longer. The first propaganda was so powerful, excessive, overbearing, but a lot of those yellow ribbons would have been frayed, removed from lapels and doorways-and not only because Americans were being killed. Bush never did get rid of the wonderful "Vietnam Syndrome." For that reason, the government knew that it had to be a short war.
    • 1993 interview in Conversations with Grace Paley (1997)
  • Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.
    • Former Texas Governor Ann Richards, in a keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention (18 July 1988)
  • During the parade, George H.W. Bush came over and talked with Carolyn and me at length, as proud a father as could be. It was not quite two years earlier that I'd had the pleasure of celebrating his seventy-fifth birthday with him in what was dubbed Operation Spring Colt, a parachute jump from twelve thousand feet with the parachuting team. What few people realize is that shortly after he jumped from the aircraft, the former President had trouble getting into position and began to tumble uncontrollably. It was only through the extraordinary aerial prowess of one of the Golden Knights, the Army's elite parachute team and a member of the U.S. Freefall Association that they were able to steady the guest of honor so that his parachute could properly deploy, and that happened only at the last possible moment. Once safely on the ground, the former President was aglow, joking with us on how much more pleasurable it was than the first time he'd jumped, which was over the Pacific after his bomber had been disabled by Japanese gunfire in World War II.
    • Hugh Shelton, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior (2010), p. 400
  • Before the game, they said the V.P. was going to pinch-hit, and he requested me to pitch to him. He even called me "Spahnie" this afternoon. Talk about a thrill.
    • Warren Spahn, regarding Bush's participation in an MLB Old-Timers' Game held on Friday, July 13, 1984; as quoted in "Morning Briefing: Bully Staying Home, So Briggs Talk Is Easy" in The Los Angeles Times (July 15, 1984), p. C2
  • So the punchline for George Bush is this, you would have wanted him on your side. He never lost his sense of humor. Humor is a universal solvent against the abrasiveness of life. He never hated anyone — he knew what his mother and my mother always knew: hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.

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