George Bush was a throwback to a different era. A patrician figure not known for his eloquence, Bush readily dismissed ideology as “the vision thing.” Yet, as Timothy Naftali argues, there was no person of his generation better prepared for the challenges facing the United States as the Cold War ended. Bush wisely shepherded Soviet reformers through the liberalization of their system and skillfully orchestrated the reunification of Germany. And following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, he united the global community to defeat Saddam Hussein. At home, Bush reasserted the principle of fiscal discipline after the excesses of the Reagan years.
It was ultimately his political awkwardness that cost George Bush a second term. His toughest decisions widened fractures in the Republican Party, and with his party divided, Bush lost his bid for reelection in 1992. In a final irony, the conservatives who scorned him would return to power eight years later, under his son and namesake, with the result that the elder George Bush would see his reputation soar.