Friday, Nov. 14, 2008

George H.W. Bush

The incumbent Bush found himself in an unusually crowded race in 1992. Eccentric Texas millionaire Ross Perot had managed to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states, and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton successfully slammed Bush for breaking his 1988 "read my lips" promise of no new taxes. Clinton received 43% of the popular vote on Election Day, while Bush received just 37% (despite relatively high approval ratings). Never much for public speaking, Bush Sr. seemed even more reluctant to admit defeat on Nov. 5th. His concession speech was uncomfortable and fraught with freudian slips: "All Americans shamed it — share the — same purpose ... but I want to spare ... share a special message with the young people of America," he continued. Writing for the National Review, William F. Buckley Jr. described it as "sad — grotesque, even."

Though Bush would never again sit in the White House as commander-in-chief, he would attend the inauguration of his son, George W. Bush, in 2000 and 2004. "Look, I owe the American people an apology," Michael Dukakis, who lost to Bush in 1988, told reporters during the 2008 election. "If I had beaten the old man you'd of never heard of the kid and you wouldn't be in this mess."