[00:05.60]VOA Learning English presents America’s Presidents.
[00:11.84]Today we are talking about George Herbert Walker Bush.
[00:18.13]Before he became president in 1989, Bush had a lot of experience in government.
[00:25.43]He spent four years in the United States House of Representatives,
[00:30.29]worked as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations,
[00:34.29]and led the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA.
[00:40.40]Then, for eight years, he was vice president under Ronald Reagan.
[00:46.47]Interestingly, in U.S. history, a person serving as vice president rarely becomes president after the sitting president leaves office at the end of his term.
[00:59.98]Before George H.W. Bush, the last time such an event happened was in 1836.
[01:07.87]At that time, Martin Van Buren took office after the two-term presidency of Andrew Jackson.
[01:15.87]Yet neither Bush nor Van Buren was able to successfully deal with some of the problems facing the country during their years in office,
[01:27.97]or to persuade voters to elect them for a second term.
[01:33.02]While many people respect Bush for his foreign policy successes,
[01:38.46]his years in office are also remembered as a time of economic problems and social unrest.
[02:03.46]George Bush was born into a wealthy family in Massachusetts,
[02:08.82]and raised in a Connecticut town near New York City.
[02:13.40]He had three brothers and a sister.
[02:16.82]Their father was a business leader who became a U.S. senator.
[02:22.83]Their mother was active doing public service work.
[02:27.07]The family employed servants, but Mrs. Bush did not want her children’s privileged position to make them think they were special.
[02:38.91]Instead, she taught them to work hard and help others.
[02:44.78]When he was a young man, George Bush moved away from home to attend a private high school in Massachusetts.
[02:53.42]There, he played baseball and soccer, and was elected student body president.
[03:00.65]On his 18th birthday, Bush joined the U.S. Navy.
[03:06.36]For three years, he fought in World War II.
[03:10.00]At the time, he was the youngest pilot in the Navy, and earned a medal for bravery.
[03:18.14]In early 1945, he married a young woman he had met at a dance. Her name was Barbara Pierce.
[03:28.26]After the war, she and George moved to Connecticut, where he studied economics at Yale University and played on the school’s baseball team.
[03:40.01]In time, they moved to the southern state of Texas.
[03:46.13]George Bush worked in the oil industry, and became president of a company that sold oil drilling equipment.
[03:55.78]George and Barbara Bush mostly raised their four sons and one daughter in the Houston, Texas area.
[04:05.82]Another daughter died of cancer when she was a child.
[04:10.50]In time, George Bush decided to follow his father’s example and enter politics.
[04:18.22]He became a Republican Party official.
[04:21.57]Then he was elected to the U.S. Congress, representing part of Houston.
[04:27.56]Despite having a home in Texas, opponents and the public connected Bush with the East Coast and the upper class.
[04:37.63]That image created some problems for Bush in the presidential election of 1980.
[04:44.97]By then, he had held other high offices in the federal government,
[04:49.54]and had been successful as the head of the CIA.
[04:54.35]But voters liked another Republican candidate, former California governor Ronald Reagan.
[05:01.96]Many Americans remembered Reagan from his days in movies and on television.
[05:08.50]When Reagan was nominated as the party’s candidate for president, he asked Bush to be vice president.
[05:17.41]For eight years, Bush held the office, and worked closely with Reagan on foreign policy and other issues.
[05:26.48]In 1988, Bush finally won the presidency in his own right.
[05:57.27]On entering the White House, the new president promised to continue many of Reagan’s policies of limited government.
[06:07.19]While he was a candidate, Bush often said that, if elected, he would not raise taxes.
[06:14.99]Bush also said that he wanted the United States to be “a kinder and gentler” nation.
[06:22.47]He wanted especially to support community organizations in their efforts to reduce crime, homelessness, and drug abuse.
[06:32.96]He also signed legislation to help people with disabilities, and to protect the environment.
[06:41.52]But Bush faced a number problems.
[06:45.75]One was a large budget deficit, created in part by increased military spending during the Reagan years.
[06:55.26]Another were disputes in Congress with the Democratic Party.
[07:00.10]And another was a banking crisis.
[07:03.86]After years of problems in the savings and loan industry,
[07:08.29]more than 1,000 small financial institutions failed.
[07:13.94]In time, Congress agreed to spend billions of dollars to help the industry recover.
[07:22.25]And President Bush had to break his promise not to raise taxes.
[07:28.61]He pointed out that he needed to balance the budget;
[07:32.51]however, many Americans and some members of his own party felt betrayed.
[07:39.95]The economic troubles helped create a mood of unrest in the country.
[07:45.68]The feeling was strengthened by events around the world.
[07:50.42]Soon after Bush took office, the Chinese government launched a campaign to stop protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
[08:00.53]A few months later, the Berlin Wall came down.
[08:04.71]The wall separated East and West Germany.
[08:08.82]Many considered its collapse to be the end of the Soviet Union’s control of Eastern Europe.
[08:16.11]At the same time, the leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega, was threatening Americans.
[08:24.35]He was also accused of supporting drug traffickers and the drug trade in the United States.
[08:31.40]Bush answered all the events in a calm, cautious way.
[08:37.21]He tried to keep good relations with China and the Soviet Union.
[08:42.26]In time, he ordered military action in Panama, and U.S. troops ousted Noriega.
[08:50.89]Supporters praised Bush’s cool head and way of doing things.
[08:57.48]But critics questioned Bush’s decisions. Some said he went too far.
[09:04.71]Others said he did not go far enough.
[09:08.98]The same criticisms and support were repeated during the Gulf War against Iraq.
[09:16.52]In brief, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ordered his forces to invade and occupy Kuwait.
[09:26.06]Bush and other world leaders created an international coalition to seek a diplomatic solution.
[09:34.77]When diplomacy failed, U.S. troops led international air strikes against Iraq.
[09:42.51]Coalition forces also attacked on the ground.
[09:46.94]In a few weeks, the Iraqi leadership agreed to a ceasefire.
[09:52.78]Some criticized Bush for letting Saddam Hussein stay in power.
[09:58.86]But the American public largely approved of Bush’s actions.
[10:04.02]He won praise for helping create an international coalition to answer the Iraqi occupation.
[10:12.51]The effort showed what some called a “New World Order.”
[10:17.67]The U.S. and Soviet Union had even worked successfully together.
[10:23.39]Yet, soon after the end of the Gulf War, Bush failed in his efforts at re-election.
[10:31.11]The U.S. economy had entered a recession.
[10:34.96]And Bush was not able to connect effectively with voters, even though those who knew him personally said Bush was a kind, gentle person.
[10:46.43]One of his last acts as president was to write a note for the candidate who had beat him, wishing him well.
[11:10.93]George H.W. Bush retired to his home in Texas with his wife, Barbara.
[11:17.71]They also have a house in Maine.
[11:20.13]Bush often urged Americans to help others in their community.
[11:25.42]He put his words into action by volunteering with his church and supporting a local hospital.
[11:33.29]On his 90th birthday, Bush did something unusual to test his image as a cautious person. He celebrated by going sky diving.
[11:45.84]For many, Bush is remembered for his connection to other presidents.
[11:51.58]He is often linked to the Reagan years.
[11:55.39]Compared to Reagan, Bush is usually considered a less conservative leader, as well as a less charismatic one.
[12:05.30]By the 21st century, historians began comparing the former president Bush with another president: his son, George Walker Bush,
[12:16.12]who took office eight years after his father left it.
[12:28.06]I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.