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VOA慢速英语2018--George H.W. Bush: Cautious

时间:2018-12-01 19:04来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]


VOA Learning English presents America’s Presidents.

Today we are talking about George Herbert Walker Bush.

Before he became president in 1989, Bush had a lot of experience in government.

He spent four years in the United States House of Representatives, worked as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and led the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA. Then, for eight years, he was vice1 president under Ronald Reagan.

Interestingly, in U.S. history, a person serving as vice president rarely becomes president after the sitting president leaves office at the end of his term.

Before George H.W. Bush, the last time such an event happened was in 1836. At that time, Martin Van Buren took office after the two-term presidency2 of Andrew Jackson.

Yet neither Bush nor Van Buren was able to successfully deal with some of the problems facing the country during their years in office, or to persuade voters to elect them for a second term.

While many people respect Bush for his foreign policy successes, his years in office are also remembered as a time of economic problems and social unrest.

Early Life

George Bush was born into a wealthy family in Massachusetts, and raised in a Connecticut town near New York City. He had three brothers and a sister.

Their father was a business leader who became a U.S. senator. Their mother was active doing public service work. The family employed servants, but Mrs. Bush did not want her children’s privileged position to make them think they were special. Instead, she taught them to work hard and help others.

When he was a young man, George Bush moved away from home to attend a private high school in Massachusetts. There, he played baseball and soccer, and was elected student body president.

On his 18th birthday, Bush joined the U.S. Navy. For three years, he fought in World War II. At the time, he was the youngest pilot in the Navy, and earned a medal for bravery.In early 1945, he married a young woman he had met at a dance. Her name was Barbara Pierce.

After the war, she and George moved to Connecticut, where he studied economics at Yale University and played on the school’s baseball team.

In time, they moved to the southern state of Texas. George Bush worked in the oil industry, and became president of a company that sold oil drilling equipment.

George and Barbara Bush mostly raised their four sons and one daughter in the Houston, Texas area. Another daughter died of cancer when she was a child.

In time, George Bush decided3 to follow his father’s example and enter politics. He became a Republican Party official. Then he was elected to the U.S. Congress, representing part of Houston.

Despite having a home in Texas, opponents and the public connected Bush with the East Coast and the upper class. That image created some problems for Bush in the presidential election of 1980.

By then, he had held other high offices in the federal government, and had been successful as the head of the CIA.

But voters liked another Republican candidate, former California governor Ronald Reagan. Many Americans remembered Reagan from his days in movies and on television.

When Reagan was nominated as the party’s candidate for president, he asked Bush to be vice president. For eight years, Bush held the office, and worked closely with Reagan on foreign policy and other issues.

In 1988, Bush finally won the presidency in his own right.


On entering the White House, the new president promised to continue many of Reagan’s policies of limited government. While he was a candidate, Bush often said that, if elected, he would not raise taxes.

Bush also said that he wanted the United States to be “a kinder and gentler” nation. He wanted especially to support community organizations in their efforts to reduce crime, homelessness, and drug abuse.

He also signed legislation to help people with disabilities, and to protect the environment.

But Bush faced a number problems.

One was a large budget deficit4, created in part by increased military spending during the Reagan years.

Another were disputes in Congress with the Democratic Party.

And another was a banking5 crisis. After years of problems in the savings6 and loan industry, more than 1,000 small financial institutions failed. In time, Congress agreed to spend billions of dollars to help the industry recover.

And President Bush had to break his promise not to raise taxes. He pointed7 out that he needed to balance the budget; however, many Americans and some members of his own party felt betrayed.

The economic troubles helped create a mood of unrest in the country. The feeling was strengthened by events around the world.

Soon after Bush took office, the Chinese government launched a campaign to stop protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

A few months later, the Berlin Wall came down. The wall separated East and West Germany. Many considered its collapse8 to be the end of the Soviet9 Union’s control of Eastern Europe.

At the same time, the leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega, was threatening Americans. He was also accused of supporting drug traffickers and the drug trade in the United States.

Bush answered all the events in a calm, cautious way. He tried to keep good relations with China and the Soviet Union. In time, he ordered military action in Panama, and U.S. troops ousted10 Noriega.

Supporters praised Bush’s cool head and way of doing things. But critics questioned Bush’s decisions. Some said he went too far. Others said he did not go far enough.

The same criticisms and support were repeated during the Gulf11 War against Iraq. In brief, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ordered his forces to invade and occupy Kuwait. Bush and other world leaders created an international coalition12 to seek a diplomatic solution.

When diplomacy13 failed, U.S. troops led international air strikes against Iraq. Coalition forces also attacked on the ground.

In a few weeks, the Iraqi leadership agreed to a ceasefire.

Some criticized Bush for letting Saddam Hussein stay in power. But the American public largely approved of Bush’s actions. He won praise for helping14 create an international coalition to answer the Iraqi occupation.

The effort showed what some called a “New World Order.” The U.S. and Soviet Union had even worked successfully together.

Yet, soon after the end of the Gulf War, Bush failed in his efforts at re-election. The U.S. economy had entered a recession. And Bush was not able to connect effectively with voters, even though those who knew him personally said Bush was a kind, gentle person. One of his last acts as president was to write a note for the candidate who had beat him, wishing him well.


George H.W. Bush retired16 to his home in Texas with his wife, Barbara. They also have a house in Maine.

Bush often urged Americans to help others in their community. He put his words into action by volunteering with his church and supporting a local hospital.

On his 90th birthday, Bush did something unusual to test his image as a cautious person. He celebrated17 by going sky diving.

For many, Bush is remembered for his connection to other presidents. He is often linked to the Reagan years. Compared to Reagan, Bush is usually considered a less conservative leader, as well as a less charismatic one.

By the 21st century, historians began comparing the former president Bush with another president: his son, George Walker Bush, who took office eight years after his father left it.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Words in This Story

privileged - adj. having special rights or advantages that most people do not have

soccer - n. called also (British) football

drill - n. a tool used for making holes in hard substances

gentle - adj. having or showing a kind and quiet nature : not harsh or violent

cautious - adj. careful about avoiding danger or risk

charismatic - adj. having great charm or appeal


1 vice NU0zQ     
  • He guarded himself against vice.他避免染上坏习惯。
  • They are sunk in the depth of vice.他们堕入了罪恶的深渊。
2 presidency J1HzD     
  • Roosevelt was elected four times to the presidency of the United States.罗斯福连续当选四届美国总统。
  • Two candidates are emerging as contestants for the presidency.两位候选人最终成为总统职位竞争者。
3 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
4 deficit tmAzu     
  • The directors have reported a deficit of 2.5 million dollars.董事们报告赤字为250万美元。
  • We have a great deficit this year.我们今年有很大亏损。
5 banking aySz20     
  • John is launching his son on a career in banking.约翰打算让儿子在银行界谋一个新职位。
  • He possesses an extensive knowledge of banking.他具有广博的银行业务知识。
6 savings ZjbzGu     
  • I can't afford the vacation,for it would eat up my savings.我度不起假,那样会把我的积蓄用光的。
  • By this time he had used up all his savings.到这时,他的存款已全部用完。
7 pointed Il8zB4     
  • He gave me a very sharp pointed pencil.他给我一支削得非常尖的铅笔。
  • She wished to show Mrs.John Dashwood by this pointed invitation to her brother.她想通过对达茨伍德夫人提出直截了当的邀请向她的哥哥表示出来。
8 collapse aWvyE     
  • The country's economy is on the verge of collapse.国家的经济已到了崩溃的边缘。
  • The engineer made a complete diagnosis of the bridge's collapse.工程师对桥的倒塌做了一次彻底的调查分析。
9 Soviet Sw9wR     
  • Zhukov was a marshal of the former Soviet Union.朱可夫是前苏联的一位元帅。
  • Germany began to attack the Soviet Union in 1941.德国在1941年开始进攻苏联。
10 ousted 1c8f4f95f3bcc86657d7ec7543491ed6     
驱逐( oust的过去式和过去分词 ); 革职; 罢黜; 剥夺
  • He was ousted as chairman. 他的主席职务被革除了。
  • He may be ousted by a military takeover. 他可能在一场军事接管中被赶下台。
11 gulf 1e0xp     
  • The gulf between the two leaders cannot be bridged.两位领导人之间的鸿沟难以跨越。
  • There is a gulf between the two cities.这两座城市间有个海湾。
12 coalition pWlyi     
  • The several parties formed a coalition.这几个政党组成了政治联盟。
  • Coalition forces take great care to avoid civilian casualties.联盟军队竭尽全力避免造成平民伤亡。
13 diplomacy gu9xk     
  • The talks have now gone into a stage of quiet diplomacy.会谈现在已经进入了“温和外交”阶段。
  • This was done through the skill in diplomacy. 这是通过外交手腕才做到的。
14 helping 2rGzDc     
  • The poor children regularly pony up for a second helping of my hamburger. 那些可怜的孩子们总是要求我把我的汉堡包再给他们一份。
  • By doing this, they may at times be helping to restore competition. 这样一来, 他在某些时候,有助于竞争的加强。
15 legacy 59YzD     
  • They are the most precious cultural legacy our forefathers left.它们是我们祖先留下来的最宝贵的文化遗产。
  • He thinks the legacy is a gift from the Gods.他认为这笔遗产是天赐之物。
16 retired Njhzyv     
  • The old man retired to the country for rest.这位老人下乡休息去了。
  • Many retired people take up gardening as a hobby.许多退休的人都以从事园艺为嗜好。
17 celebrated iwLzpz     
  • He was soon one of the most celebrated young painters in England.不久他就成了英格兰最负盛名的年轻画家之一。
  • The celebrated violinist was mobbed by the audience.观众团团围住了这位著名的小提琴演奏家。
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