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Taxes, International Affairs, Economy, Scandals, Terrorism, Natural Disasters, Healthcare


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Vincent Valentine, MD
University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston, TX, USA
Vgvalent@utmb.edu



George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts on June 12, 1924. He graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts where he was secretary of the student council, president of his senior class and a member of the editorial board for the school newspaper. He joined the Navy on his 18th birthday and became the youngest naval aviator of the time during World War II. After an honorable discharge, he attended Yale University and graduated in 1948 with a BA in economics and member of Phi Beta Kappa and the secret Skull and Bones society. After moving to West Texas with his wife, Barbara Pierce Bush, and young family, he started a successful oil business in Texas. Twice elected to Congress, he became an Ambassador to the United Nations, then headed the Republican National Committee, the US Liaison Office in Peking, and the CIA. In 1980, he sought the Republican Presidential nomination but instead became Ronald Reagan's running mate. A loyal and competent Vice-President, Bush was elected the 41st President of the United States in 1988 making him the first serving Vice President to be elected President since Martin Van Buren in 1836. He pledged to promote better education and a cleaner environment, but the firm and memorable campaign pledge that came back to haunt him stemmed from his infamous quote, "Read my lips. No new taxes." He was forced to raise taxes. His presidency was marked by historic events in world affairs. Encouraged by glastnost and perestroika, Eastern bloc nations renounced communist rule; Germany united, and the Soviet Union disintegrated. The Cold War ended, but other wars emerged. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Bush assembled an international coalition to reverse the aggression, culminating in the successful military operation, "Desert Storm," which was his finest hour. But chaos and brutality reigned elsewhere in the world and almost every nation battled recession. At home, the country's economic woes tarnished his image and, after 12 years of Republican administration and only serving one term, Americans were ready for a change.

William Jefferson Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946 in Hope, Arkansas, two months after his father died. He was raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas and later took his stepfather's surname. Clinton was part of the "baby boom generation" that came of age during the Vietnam War, the civil rights and women's liberation movement at a time when America was tuning in, turning on and dropping out. Clinton did not dropout, however we know he "never inhaled" because he said so. He did attend Georgetown University on Scholarship where he served as class president. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and earned a BS degree in Foreign Services. Following which he was a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford University but never received a degree. Upon returning home, he won a scholarship to Yale Law School where he met his wife, Hillary Diane Rodham of Chicago. Once situated in his home state, Clinton became a Law Professor at the University of Arkansas and was elected the youngest Governor in the country at age 32. Because of his youthful appearance, he was dubbed the "boy governor" and eventually served five terms as Governor. In 1992, Clinton joined the presidential race when the incumbent Bush looked unbeatable with very high approval ratings as a result of the Persian Gulf War. However, Bush Sr. reneged on his campaign promise not to raise taxes and Clinton condemned Bush for this then rode an economic downturn to victory in a tight three-way race. He was elected the 42nd President of the United States in 1992. Shortly after taking office he signed the ever popular Family and Medical Leave Act allowing unpaid leave for pregnancy or serious medical conditions. He faced early setbacks. Although he won passage of NAFTA and the "Brady Bill," his bid for broad health care reform, led by his wife, Hillary, failed. Clinton maintained focus however on the budget deficit, crime and welfare reform. The economy boomed and he won re-election in 1996. He aimed for peace in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and the Mideast, and for racial relief at home. But he became a divisive figure himself when an on-going investigation by the Special Prosecutor's Office revealed his illicit relationship with the White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton's denial of the impropriety led to his 1998 impeachment by the House, though the Senate, in a partisan vote, declined to convict. Nevertheless, his success was a remarkable feat; among the key accomplishments during his Presidency included: the longest economic expansion in American history, lowest unemployment in 30 years, largest expansion of college opportunity since the GI bill, connection of 95% of schools to the Internet, lowest crime rate in 26 years, converted the largest budget deficit in American history to the largest surplus and the most diverse cabinet in American history. Finally, he raised funds for other Democrats including his wife who won a U.S Senate seat in 2000.

George Walker Bush was born on July 6, 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut. He was raised and attended public schools in Midland, Texas. He went to a prep school in Houston and completed high school at Phillips Academy in Massachusetts. He earned a BA degree in history from Yale University and became a member of the Skull and Bones society. George W then attended Harvard Business School and earned an MBA degree, the only U.S. President to do so. He met Laura Lane Welch in 1977 and married her later that year. As a self-admitted average student, he seemed to lack seriousness. But when he reached his mid-thirties, Bush changed and later gave up alcohol. He became more religious with more focus and became a successful businessman in the Oil industry. As a lifelong baseball fan, Bush formed a group to buy the Texas Rangers in 1989 and became the team's managing partner. He profited over 14 million dollars from the sale of his shares in 1998. In 1994, George W became the governor of Texas on a promise to cut taxes and aid education. As a popular governor and in the wake of the 1998 Clinton impeachment scandal, party leaders encouraged Bush to run for President in 2000. He bested Senator John McCain in the Republican primaries then faced Democrat Al Gore, Clinton's two term Vice President, in the general election. The Bush-Gore race was one of the closest and most contested in American history. When elected as the 43rd President of the United States in 2000, he became just the second president whose father had also been president and the fourth to win the presidency while losing the popular votes. By the way George Bush's brother Jeb was Florida's governor at the time of the contentious and controversial election. The highlights of Presidency included his declaration of war on terrorism following 9-11 in 2001, congressional approval of widespread tax-cut bills, Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors, enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act and allocation of billions of dollars to fight HIV/AIDS around the world. George W withdrew support of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol originally signed by Clinton to combat global warming. In his second term, his administration was criticized for it slow response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His popularity continued to sour; he took office with a federal budget surplus in 2000 which flipped to deficits following broad tax cuts, enormous cost of fighting two wars resulting in the 2008 Great Recession, America's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He has been recognized simultaneously as one of the most popular and least popular presidents in American history.

Barrack Hussein Obama was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His liberal minded mother, Stanley Ann Dunham from Kansas was attending the University of Hawaii when she met a Kenyan National, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. They were married February 2, 1961 and divorced in 1964. Later she married Lolo Soetoro in 1965 and earned her degree in 1967. Little Obama and his mother moved with his step father to Jakarta, Indonesia. He was educated by his parents, the schools and culture of Indonesia until 5th grade. He relocated back to Honolulu and lived with his grandparents to attend the prestigious Punahou Academy, a private co-ed college preparatory school with a rigorous academic curriculum where he graduated in 1979. While there he wrote for the Ka Wai Ola literary journal and played for the Punahou's State Champion basketball team. He attended Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years then transferred to Columbia University in New York where he earned a BA in political science. After working as a community organizer and on several projects on behalf of the public's interest, he entered Harvard Law School in 1988. He became editor of the Harvard Law Review and was elected the first black president of the journal. He graduated magna cum laude in 1991 and completed his first book Dreams from My Father in 1995. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School and joined a law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development. He was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996 and served as a U.S. Senator from Illinois from 2005 - 2008. He announced his candidacy for President of the United States in early 2007 at the symbolic site where Lincoln gave his historic "House Divided Speech" in 1858. During Obama's announcement of his candidacy he emphasized ending the Iraq War, reforming health care and increasing energy independence. In 2008 he defeated Senator John McCain to become the 44th President of the United States and the first African American to be elected president. Obama was re-elected in 2012. Where we are today with President Obama can be best summed up by the nationally recognized commentator and journalist Leonard Pitts from his recent editorial "If Obama wasn't 'black' before, he certainly is now."

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.




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