- - Thursday, October 19, 2017

Among the most consequential presidencies covered by The Washington Times were the administrations of the Republican father-and-son team of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, who sometimes jokingly called each other “41” and “43” for their presidential places in history.

Both Bushes were wartime presidents, but they had distinctly different styles of leadership and strengths. The son was more adept at hardball politics, the father more experienced in foreign affairs.

The elder Bush, a former director of the CIA and vice president for eight years under Ronald Reagan, captured one term in the White House but lost to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.

His son, a former governor of Texas, got a measure of family revenge in 2000 by defeating Mr. Clinton’s anointed successor, Vice President Al Gore. George W. Bush, who went on to win a second term, led the nation through the dark days of the 9/11 attacks.

In November 1988, Democrats increased their majorities in the House and the Senate, but George H.W. Bush won the presidency with 54 percent of the vote, aided by a six-word declaration: “Read my lips: No new taxes.” In doing so, he became the first sitting vice president to advance to the White House since Martin Van Buren in 1836.

Under George H.W. Bush, the U.S. military won high-profile victories, ousting Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega in 1989 and driving Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in January 1991 in a lightning-quick operation, Desert Storm, six weeks of air assaults followed by a ground invasion that lasted only 100 hours.

Mr. Bush displayed impressive leadership and diplomatic skills in assembling the largest multinational force since World War II to liberate Kuwait from the clutches of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Army Gen. “Stormin’” Norman Schwarzkopf led a flawlessly executed military operation that brought international attention to the lifelong soldier — and partly redeemed America’s defeat in Vietnam.

Bolstered by those successes, George H.W. Bush’s popularity rose to 89 percent in March 1991. His re-election 20 months later seemed almost a certainty.

But conservatives began to sour on him after he broke his “no new taxes” pledge in 1990 in a budget deal with congressional Democrats, enacting one of the largest tax increases in the country’s history. Washington Times columnist Warren Brookes was among the first national writers to predict that Mr. Bush’s change of heart would ensure his re-election defeat in 1992.

Eight years later, when George W. Bush ran for the presidency, he consulted with his father often and proudly described his political heritage to voters.

“I’ve seen at close range the positive impact a leader can have,” he said at a campaign rally. ”My dad taught me, in the way he lived, that life is more than personal gain.”

He defeated Mr. Gore in a tight election, after the Supreme Court intervened in the recount in decisive Florida. The Bushes thus became the first father and son to hold the presidency since John Quincy Adams followed in the footsteps of his father, John Adams, more than 150 years earlier.

Both Bushes worried that they might get emotional at George W. Bush’s inauguration in January 2001. The father indeed wiped away tears as he watched his son’s address on the inaugural platform.

George W. Bush’s first year in office began routinely, but his presidency — and the world — changed on Sept. 11, 2001, when Islamist terrorists crashed two commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York. Another hijacked plane slammed into the Pentagon; a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people were killed.

In the defining moment of his presidency, George W. Bush stood on a pile of rubble at ground zero and spoke to first responders through a bullhorn after someone shouted that he couldn’t hear what the president was saying.

“I can hear you,” Mr. Bush said. “The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

He launched an invasion of Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network had plotted the attack. Then, fearing that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had acquired weapons of mass destruction to use against the U.S., Mr. Bush authorized the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Saddam was toppled, but the war would be long and costly, and no WMDs were found. U.S. troops remained in the country until 2011, three years after Mr. Bush left office.

Mr. Bush enacted large tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. He also signed a popular, and expensive, prescription drug program under Medicare Part D.

As his presidency came to an end, the U.S. was hit with a severe recession, prompting Mr. Bush to approve the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program bank bailout, unpopular with conservatives but generally credited with preventing the recession from worsening.

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