George W. Bush attended school in Midland, Texas and Houston, finishing high school in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball. During his senior year was the school's head cheerleader. He attended Yale University from 1964 to 1968, where he was also a cheerleader and a member of the Skull and Bones society. In the fall of 1973, Bush attended the Harvard Business School, where he earned a Master of Business Administration. He is the only U.S. President to have earned an M.B.A.
In 1978, Bush ran for the House of Representatives from Texas's 19th congressional district. His opponent, Kent Hance, portrayed him as out of touch with rural Texans and Bush lost the election by 6,000 votes. He returned to the oil industry and began a series of small, independent oil exploration companies. He moved his family to Washington, D.C. in 1988 to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency. Returning to Texas after the successful campaign, he purchased a share in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in April 1989, where he served as managing general partner for five years. Bush's sale of his shares in the Rangers in 1998 brought him over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment. Bush was elected as the 46th Governor of Texas, defeating popular incumbent Democrat Ann Richards. He held the office from 1995 to 2000.
In the closest and most controversial election in modern times, Bush was elected president in 2000, becoming the fourth president to be elected while receiving less popular votes nationwide than his opponent. Eight months into Bush's first term as president, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred. He responded with a War on Terror, an international military campaign which included the war in Afghanistan launched in 2001 and the war in Iraq launched in 2003.
In addition to national security issues, Bush also quarterbacked an extensive domestic policy agenda which affected economic, health care, education, and social security reform. He signed into law broad tax cuts (which are still referred to as the "Bush Tax Cuts), the PATRIOT Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors. During his time in office there were spirited and in some cases polarizing national debates on such subjects as immigration, Social Security, electronic surveillance, and enhanced interrogation techniques. His administration also withdrew the U.S. from the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.
Bush successfully ran for re-election in 2004 against Democratic Senator John Kerry. In 2005, the Bush Administration dealt with widespread criticism over its handling of Hurricane Katrina. As a result of the combined effect of this and growing unpopularity over the Iraq War, Democrats won control of Congress in the 2006 elections. In December 2007, the United States entered its longest post–World War II recession, prompting the Bush Administration to enact multiple economic programs intended to preserve the country's financial system.
After leaving office, Bush returned to Texas and purchased a home in a suburban area of Dallas. If you want to see him (in non-pandemic times), you might try attending a home game of the Texas Rangers where he and his wife Laura usually sit in the front row between home plate and the home team's dugout. Accompanied by his father, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for Game 4 of the 2010 World Series on October 31, 2010.
Bush released his memoir, Decision Points, on November 9, 2010. During a pre-release interview promoting the book, Bush said he considered his biggest accomplishment to be keeping "the country safe amid a real danger," and his greatest failure to be his inability to secure the passage of Social Security reform. At the request of President Barack Obama, he and former President Bill Clinton established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to raise contributions for relief and recovery efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake earlier in January. On May 2, 2011, President Obama called Bush, who was at a restaurant with his wife, to inform him that Osama bin Laden had been killed. The Bushes joined the Obamas in New York City to mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At the Ground Zero memorial, Bush read a letter that President Abraham Lincoln wrote to a widow who lost five sons during the Civil War.
On April 25, 2013, the George W. Bush Presidential Center opened, on the grounds of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. The Center is a complex that includes President Bush's presidential library and museum, the George W. Bush Policy Institute, and the offices of the George W. Bush Foundation. The groundbreaking ceremony for the center took place on November 16, 2010, coinciding with the publication of President Bush's memoir Decision Points. The completion and dedication of the facility took place on April 25, 2013. All living former U.S. presidents and the incumbent U.S. president, Barack Obama, were in attendance.
In his retirement, Bush has taken up painting or portraits and other subjects. On July 1, 2015, the Dalai Lama visited the George W. Bush Presidential Center. During his tour, George W. Bush presented the Tibetan Buddhist leader with a homemade portrait.
Bush declined to endorse the 2016 Republican nominee for President, Donald Trump, and he did not attend the 2016 Republican National Convention, which formally nominated Trump. On the eve of Trump's nomination, Bush reportedly told a group of his former aides and advisors, "I'm worried that I will be the last Republican president." Bush and his wife Laura did not vote for Trump in the 2016 presidential election according to a spokesperson for the Bush family, instead choosing to leave their presidential ballots blank. After the election, Bush called Trump on the phone to congratulate him on his victory. Both Presidents Bush their wives attended Trump's inauguration.
In February 2017, Bush released a book of his own portraits of veterans called Portraits of Courage: Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors. An exhibition of the portraits is ran from March 2 to October 1, 2017 at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. After the white supremicist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, both Presidents Bush released a joint statement condemning the violence and ideologies present at the rally. The statement read in part:
“America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are all reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.”
Later that year, Bush gave a speech in New York where he asked his audience to be positive role models for young people. He said:
“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication. Bigotry in any form is blasphemy against the American creed and it means the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation."
President Bush mourned the loss of his mother, former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush, who died in her Houston home at the age of 92 on April 17, 2018. Later that year, on November 30, 2018, his father, the first President Bush, passed away at the age of 94. Since leaving office, Bush has, for the most part, avoided criticism of subsequent administrations and has made friendships that cross party lines. Former first lady Michelle Obama has admitted to a fondness for her husband's predecessor and the two have formed a famous friendship.
President Bush's legacy has improved since his presidency ended in 2009. Gallup has noted that Bush's favorability ratings in public opinion surveys had begun to rise a year after he had left office. His public image saw greater improvement starting in 2017, which has been interpreted as Democrats viewing him more favorably in response to Donald Trump's presidency, an assessment that has also been expressed by Bush himself, according to the National Journal. According to that publication, "Bush is often heard to remark, unable to stifle his trademark smirk: 'Sorta makes me look pretty good, doesn't it?'"
President Trump once again was critical of Bush after the 43rd President issued a message calling for unity amid the Corona virus crisis. In a video message posted on Twitter, Bush said, "We are not partisan combatants, we're human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together. And we're determined to rise." Instead of joining in the call for unity, President Trump tweeted, in reference to Bush, "where was he during impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside? He was nowhere to be found speaking up against the greatest hoax in American history." The 43rd President opted not to take the bait to enter into a war of words, and continued along the high road.
On June 1, 2020, Bush released a statement concerning the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide reaction and protests. In the statement, Bush said that he and former first lady Laura Bush "are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country". He said, "it is time for America to examine our tragic failures...Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions".
On July 30, 2020 both George Bush and his wife Laura Bush, along with former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, attended and spoke at the funeral for civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. At the service Bush stated: "We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis and his abiding faith in the power of God, the power of democracy and in the power of love to lift us all to a higher ground."
Bush did not endorse and candidates during the 2020 presidential election and did not attend the 2020 Republican National Convention. He told People magazine in April 2021 that he did not vote for either Trump or Biden in the November election, choosing to write in the name of Condoleezza Rice, who served as his secretary of state from 2005 to 2009. When the election was called for Democratic candidate Joe Biden on November 7, 2020, Bush offered his congratulations to Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris the following day, and congratulated Trump and his supporters "on a hard-fought campaign". Bush later issued a statement saying that while Trump was within his rights to call for recounts, he believed the election was "fundamentally fair" and that "its outcome is clear", and said he would offer Biden "my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can."
On January 6, 2021, following the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, Bush denounced the violence and attack on the U.S. Capitol, releasing a statement saying that "this is how election results are disputed in a banana republic, not our democratic republic" and calling the event "a sickening and heartbreaking sight”. On January 20, 2021, Bush and Laura attended the inauguration of Joe Biden, alongside Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.