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George W. Bush, 43rd President: The Best and Worst President

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else we're destined to repeat it.

Signing the "No Child Left Behind Act"

Visiting Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio, Jan. 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act.

Visiting Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio, Jan. 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act.

The Early Years

George W. Bush, the 43rd United States president, was the son of the 41st president. He was born in 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut, while his father, George H. W. Bush, attended Yale University. When he was two years old, they moved to Midland, Texas, where his father worked in the oil industry. George attended public school there, where he made lifelong friendships that even supported him while he was president of the United States.

In 1953, his three-year-old sister Robin died of leukemia, the same year that his brother John (Jeb) was born. Later, two more brothers were born, Neil in 1955, and Marvin, in 1956. Then the year after they moved to Houston, his sister Dorothy was born.


He attended a private school called Kinkaid School, but he later graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He later graduated from Yale in 1968, just as Vietnam War was going on. He also received a business degree from Harvard, then returned to Midland, where he followed in his father's footsteps and joined the oil business. While living there, he married his wife, Laura Welch, a teacher and librarian. They had twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara.

He joined the Texas National Guard and learned to fly a combat aircraft. He was following in his father's footsteps, who was a WWII Navy combat pilot.

Later he attended Harvard Business School, where he set up an oil-drilling company called Bush Exploration. Two years later, in 1977, he married his wife only three months after they met. Their daughters were born in 1982.

It was not until he was 36 that he began his career in politics, following in his dad's footsteps and his grandfather's. In 1986, he worked as an adviser for his father, who was planning on running for president. Despite George H. W. Bush being president, he was surprised when his eldest son became interested in politics and became the governor of Texas.

George W. Bush Official Photo

Running for President

Eight years later, he would find himself running for president at the age of 54 against Al Gore Jr, the vice president under Bill Clinton. Bush initially had a strong lead, but Gore won the popular vote when the election was over. The election results did not become official right away, as they awaited the results from Florida. The race was so close that Florida's results would indicate the winner of the election. There were demands for recounts and even lawsuits that made their way to the Supreme Court. Eventually, the court determined that Bush won the election with 271 electoral votes against Gore's 266 electoral votes.

When he won the presidency, it was a historic moment because it was only the second time ever in American history that a father and son both became presidents of the United States. John Adams, the second president, was the father of the sixth president, John Quincy Adams.

During his campaign, he promised to instill "compassionate conservatism." He focused on education, tax relief, and volunteerism among faith-based and community organizations.

First Term

The same year of his inauguration, one of America's greatest tragedies occurred in the homeland. That day was September 11, 2001. George H. W. Bush declared that his son faced the "greatest challenge of any President since Abraham Lincoln."

On what would become known as 9/11, airborne terrorist attacks occurred against the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a thwarted flight that intended to focus on the White House or Capitol. Nearly 3,000 Americans died at that moment.

George took immediate action. He formed a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. He also sent troops to Afghanistan to break up the Taliban that was responsible. The Taliban was led by Osama bin Laden, who trained and financed the terrorist attacks against the United States. Although Bush successfully broke up the Taliban, he was unable to capture Osama bin Laden during his first term as president. He also made many changes to our nation's intelligence gathering and analysis services to catch future terrorist attacks much sooner. He also reformed the military forces.

9/11 was not the only foreign affair that he was involved in. Many criticized him for invading Iraq due to suspicions that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi President, posed a threat to America. Although the US captured Saddam, many American service members and even friendly Iraqis died, which caused many to lose the favor of Bush as president during his second term.

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This did not stop him from continuing to help the Iraqi government. He continued in his efforts to give Iraq freedom and establish a democratic government. His goal was to gain more allies in the "war on terror," provide the region hope and remove the threats for future generations.

Signing a Tax Cut Law

President George W. Bush signs the tax bill on Thursday, June 7 in the White House

President George W. Bush signs the tax bill on Thursday, June 7 in the White House

Second Term

For his second term, he ran against Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts. Ultimately, he won by a slight margin, partly because many were still pleased with his overseas efforts, despite his popularity dwindling. In his second inaugural address, he stated:

“At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For half a century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet- and then there came a day of fire. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom – tested but not weary… we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.”

At the age of 62, he left the White House. Although his approval rating had plummeted since 9/11, when his approval was the highest, George’s only comment to the news was, “I was also the most popular president,” referring to the approval ratings around 9/11. As Karl Rove stated, it was clear that Bush had “an inner confidence… that what he did was right.” He was not too concerned about what people would think of him in years to come, as he pointed out that historians were still analyzing the first president, so there was no way to know how history would view the 43rd President until after he died.

What's He Been Up to Since He Left Office

After leaving office, George and his wife Laura bought a home in Dallas near Southern Methodist University. They became active in local events and even hosted barbecues at their home. He established the George W. Bush Institute at the college and gave many speeches. He created his institute to continue discussions about how to foster economic growth, increase education, promote global health, encourage human freedom, and support women’s initiatives.

He rides his bicycle, attends Texas Rangers baseball games, reads American history, golfs, and paints for enjoyment. His painting hobby began because of learning about the same hobby as Winston Churchill. He mainly produced portraits of world leaders and his pets, and some are even displayed in the Presidential Library.

In 2010, he published his memoirs, Decision Points, which shared his experiences as president and why he made many decisions. He confirmed that retirement had served him well when stating, “I think part of having a fulfilling life is to be challenged. I’m challenged on the golf course, I’m challenged to stay fit, and my paintings challenge me…I am happy.”

As a Baby

George and Barbara Bush with their first born child George W. Bush, while Bush was a student at Yale,

George and Barbara Bush with their first born child George W. Bush, while Bush was a student at Yale,

Fun Facts

  • President George W Bush's State of the Union was first to broadcast live on the Internet in 2002.
  • He was the second president to be the son of another president.
  • He is one of the few presidents to win the election, despite having fewer popular votes.
  • He was arrested twice while in college. Once for being rowdy during the Princeton versus Yale football game, another for stealing a Christmas wreath from a hotel. He admits both were due to drinking a little too much alcohol. His third arrest was for drunk driving, where he realized he was an alcoholic. His wife helped him overcome his addiction before they married.
  • He was a cheerleader when he was in high school.
  • He did not veto a single bill during his entire first term in office. He was the first president to accomplish this and completed a full term in office.
  • He enjoys painting, a pastime he discovered after he served as president.
  • He had both the highest and lowest approval ratings during his presidency. After 9/11, he had an approval rating of 90 percent. Unfortunately, it plummeted when people did not feel he responded appropriately during Hurricane Katrina.
President George W. Bush addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on the issues concerning Iraq Thursday, September 12 2002.

President George W. Bush addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on the issues concerning Iraq Thursday, September 12 2002.

Basic Facts

Question Answer


July 6, 1946

President Number




Military Service

Texas Air National Guard and Alabama Air National Guard (first lieutenant)

Wars Served


Age at Beginning of Presidency

55 years old

Term of Office

January 20, 2001 - January 20, 2009

How Long Served as President

8 years


Dick Cheney

Age and Year of Death


Cause of Death


1st Lt. George W. Bush in uniform

George W. Bush in the Texas Air National Guard, where he served from 1968 to 1973.

George W. Bush in the Texas Air National Guard, where he served from 1968 to 1973.


  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). George W. Bush. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from
  • "George W. Bush: Life After the Presidency." Miller Center. July 10, 2017. Accessed January 27, 2018.
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
  • Waugh, Chris. "22 Mind-Blowing Facts About George W Bush." March 02, 2016. Accessed November 14, 2017.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: When was George W. Bush's wife Laura born?

Answer: Laura Bush was born November 4, 1946, in Midland, Texas.

© 2018 Angela Michelle Schultz

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