NAME: George Walker Bush. He was named for his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president, and paternal great-grandfather, George Herbert Walker. He is often referred to as “George W” and “Dubya” (i.e., “W,” “double-you, or as they say in Texas, “Dub-ya”). He is never called “George Jr.” Like Ronald (Wilson) Reagan and his son, Ronald (Prescott) Reagan, George W. and his father have different middle names. He was known as “Bushtail” as a child in Midland, Texas, and “the Bombastic Bushkin” as a young adult. In prep school at Andover, he was called “Lip,” and “Tweeds Bush.” When he joined Yales University’s Skull and Bones Society he was called “Temporary” because he couldn’t come up with a better secret name for himself.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Bush is often described as handsome and resembles his father, complete with the Bush family trademark uneven grin. He has his father’s blue eyes and brown hair which is graying, but he isn’t quite as tall. George W. stands 6 feet tall and weighs 192 pounds. He has an athletic build and runs several miles a day, five days a week. Bush’s pace is about 7.5 minutes per mile. His pace is so fast that his security detail need bicycles to keep up with him. He has been exercising regularly since 1972. Bush had an appendectomy at age 10, minor surgery to his chest wall at age 13, arthroscopic knee surgery in 1997, and two benign polyps removed from his colon in July 1998. Bush has excellent cardiovascular fitness and displays no signs of coronary artery disease.
Bush has mild hearing loss in high-frequency range due to flying jets, but his hearing is excellent in the speech frequencies. He is farsighted, which was advantageous when he was a pilot. According to his doctor in a 1999 report, “he has totally abstained from alcohol for the past 13 years. He has no history of any alcohol, drug, mental, or psychiatric treatment or rehabilitation.”
Bush dresses conservatively, but often sports a silver belt buckle and cowboy boots and hat. He never dresses down for public appearances, but he sometimes dresses casually to meet reporters, and, of course, wears a jogging suit when he runs. When he was younger, he did not always take as much care in his dress. His post-college dressing style has been described as “indifferent,” “careless,” “wretched,” and “ratty.” Perhaps his careless dress came as a result of a rebellion against having to follow jacket-and-tie dress codes in prep school and college. His sartorial epiphany came, apparently, when he first ran for public office.
Bush is a good public speaker, but, like his father, he occasionally mangles the English language. He has a history of malapropisms, bizarre grammar, and statements with a sort of backward logic. The following are a few notable quotes by George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign: “I understand small business growth. I was one.” “They misunderestimated me.” “Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?” “I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can’t answer your questions.” “I do know I’m ready for the job. And, if not, that’s just the way it goes.”
Despite his verbal gaffes, Bush is considered a good communicator. He speaks with something of a Texas drawl and is his best when he reads from a TelePrompTer and is more likely to misspeak when he ad-libs or answers questions.
PERSONALITY: George W. Bush is lively and outgoing. He has a quick wit and tells frequent jokes, thus enabling strangers to feel at ease in his presence. When he was younger, George W. was considered the life of the party, going to great lengths to generate fun. Friends of Bush think that he took on this fun persona while trying to cheer up his mother after his sister’s death from leukemia when he was seven years old. He is often described as a “late bloomer” since he had a devil-may-care attitude toward life until he was about 40 years old.
When he was a young man, president Bush generally lived the life of a playboy, dating a variety of women and partying hard. He was apt to make outrageous statements, once telling the Queen of England that he wwas the black sheep of the family and asked her who was the black sheep of her family. He could be obnoxious when he drank too much and once challenged his father to a fight, to which the elder Bush only expressed his disappointment in his son. After his marriage and the birth of his daughters, Bush began to mature. He admitted he had been drinking too much because of the reversals that his oil company was then undergoing.
His wife, Laura, warned that she would leave him if he did not ease up on his drinking. After a particularly bad hangover following his fortieth birthday party, Bush quit drinking and says he hasn’t had a drink since. The year before, he had rekindled his interest in religion.
About this time, Bush also found direction in his life by participating in politics. First, he helped in his father’s campaign and then he ran for office himself. George W. Bush is intensely loyal, especially to his father. He does not allow anyone in his presence to speak ill of his father.
Despite reversals in his life, such as those he suffered in the oil business, Bush’s self-confidence has never flagged. He is well-centered person, knowing who and what he is and what he is capable of accomplishing. Bush is punctual and expects others to be also. He likes to maintain schedules that he sets and his life falls into routine patterns, such as getting up and feeding the family animals in the morning and running at lunch time. He allots only five minutes for each appointment and allows almost no interruptions of his meetings with others, giving them his full attention.
Bush is fiercely competitive, and if he cannot best an opponent in a sport, he may use psychological distractions, especially humorous ones, in order to win. When he was young, friends said that you had to keep playing until George won.
PRIMARY SOURCE: DeGregorio, William A. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. 7th ed. Fort Lee: Barricade Books, 2009.