George W. Bush: From Controversial US President to Portrait Painter

George W. Bush
From controversial US president to portrait painter

Former US President George W. Bush will turn 75 on July 6th.

© Jason and Bonnie Grower /

George W. Bush celebrates his 75th birthday on July 6th. A look back at the life of the controversial former US president.

The term of office of the former US President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009 was marked by disasters. The 43rd President of the United States celebrates his 75th birthday on July 6th. In the meantime he has changed from the controversial “Commander-in-Chief” to a kind of voice of reason between the two major US parties. A look back at his life and career.

George Walker Bush was born on July 6, 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut, to Barbara Bush (1925-2018) and George Herbert Walker Bush (1924-2018), who would later become the 41st President of the United States. He grew up in Texas with five younger siblings, and one sister died of leukemia at the age of three.

Not only does he share his name with his father, but also a large part of his résumé: From 1961 to 1964, Bush jr. like his father the “Phillips Academy” boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts. He then studied history at Yale University, where he was president of a student union like his father. From 1972 to 1975 Bush Jr. attended Harvard Business School, where he obtained a Master of Business Administration. Later he was to become President of the United States of America like his father, the two of whom are often referred to as “Bush 41” and “Bush 43”.

His wife helped him with his alcohol problem

In 1976, shortly after graduating from Harvard Business School, George W. Bush was caught drunk behind the wheel and his driver’s license was revoked. He is said to have had a drinking problem at the time. In 1977 Bush met the teacher and school librarian Laura Welch through mutual friends in Austin. Just three months later, he proposed to her and the two married. Because of her, he is said to have sworn off alcohol. In 1981 twin daughters Jenna and Barbara were born.

His way into the White House

George W. Bush initially worked in the oil industry. He was interested in politics but did not want to run for office while his father held one. George HW Bush was the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993. Only then did Bush Jr. apply. for the office of governor of Texas, which he held from 1995 to 2000. In 2000 he became a Republican presidential candidate. In the election he ran against the Democrat Al Gore. The result was extremely close: the United States Supreme Court ultimately ruled that Bush won the election. In 2004 he was re-elected.

The many crises of his presidency

Bush faced many crises during his time as US president: the attacks of September 11, 2001, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Added to this was Hurricane Katrina in 2005, one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history. The “housing crisis” also fell during Bush’s term of office: The real estate crisis in the USA had an international impact on the economy and the stock exchanges and ultimately led to the global financial crisis.

His “Bushisms” became world famous

Bush’s political decisions were often highly controversial. One of George W. Bush’s great weaknesses that made one or the other smile, however, were his improvised speeches. Numerous so-called “Bushisms” have not been forgotten: The former president repeatedly made verbal faux pas and even re-invented entire words. The Greeks have become “Grecians”. After meeting the then Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Drnovsek, he said: “All I know about Slovakia is what I learned firsthand from your Foreign Minister who came to Texas.” Speaking of foreign policy: With Condoleezza Rice, Bush made the first African-American woman foreign minister. He said of her: “She explains foreign policy to me in a way that I can understand.”

His life after the presidency

If he was controversial during his tenure, Bush’s reputation rose significantly again during Donald Trump’s tenure. Bush was critical of Trump’s policies and showed this clearly, around 2020 after the death of George Floyd, when the four surviving ex-presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama condemned systematic racism in the USA – and did not hide their criticism of Trump . At the beginning of 2021, the four took part in the campaign for the corona vaccination, Trump did not participate. Back in 2017, when Trump was already in office, the four ex-presidents and ex-president George HW Bush, who was still alive at the time, met in Texas to take part in a benefit concert for the victims of hurricanes.

After his presidency, George W. Bush took up a new hobby: painting. First, for his book “Portraits of Courage”, he portrayed former soldiers who were wounded in the war. In March 2021 he published another book, “Out of Many, One”, for which he painted oil paintings of immigrants and wrote down their stories.