George H.W. Bush Quotes: Words From Former President That Defined a Life of Service

Former president George H. W. Bush died late Friday at the age of 94 after a long life largely dedicated to public service. He was a World War II veteran who began his political career as a Texas representative. There was a stint at the CIA, the vice presidency, and then the White House as the 41st president of the United States.

The elder Bush was known for his ability to turn a phrase—and sometimes to mangle one. Texas Governor Ann Richards once said he "was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

Perhaps his most famous line was a six-word political promise.

Read my lips: No new taxes!

Bush said those famous words at the 1988 Republican National Convention, as he accepted the presidential nomination from his party. Bush had long campaigned on an anti-tax policy, but his RNC speech cemented the line in the American mind. Comedian Dana Carvey often repeated the phrase on Saturday Night Live, adding to its longevity. Bush was aware of the popularity of the phrase and wasn't afraid to poke fun at himself. In 1990, he told a reporter inquiring about his views on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to, " read my hips," as he pointed to his rear end and jogged away. Bush did ultimately end up raising taxes during his term as president in order to address growing budget deficits.

Voodoo Economics

The term brings President Ronald Reagan to the minds of most Americans, but not many realize that the term, used to criticize "trickle-down" or "Reagan-economics," actually came from his own vice president. During the 1980 Republican primaries candidate-Bush used the term to describe his opponent's economic policy, but later denied it. "It just isn't going to work, and it's very interesting that the man who invented this type of what I call a voodoo economic policy is Art Laffer, a California economist," he said during a stop at Carnegie Mellon University. Although the term became an embarrassment to Reagan and Bush when they took office, it stuck—and to this day is used by critics to describe the idea the money will trickle down from high-income Americans to low-income Americans.

Some people simply can't let go

Bush had a hot-and-cold relationship with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who famously instructed him "not to go wobbly" when facing Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf War. Bush found Thatcher to be cold, and too serious. "She talks all the time when you're in a conversation. It's a one-way street," he wrote in his diary. He also resented that she continued to discuss policy on a national stage after she had left office. "Some people can't let go," he wrote.

I'm president of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli.

Just like our current president, Bush was a reported fan of junk and fast food. He made his food preferences clear during a 1990 press conference. "I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it," he said "And I'm president of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli. Now look, this is the last statement I'm going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided. For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that's coming in."

The statement, meant to be fun, angered broccoli farmers in California, who did send truckloads of broccoli to the president. He donated the food to local food shelters

A New World Order

Bush promoted the idea of a new world order that worked globally to end terrorism and live together in a peaceful democracy. The idea was given as an objective for the Persian Gulf War, which began when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Critics argued that America did not need to get involved in the issue, and Bush used the idea of the U.S. as global peacekeepers are part of his justification. "Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective — a new world order — can emerge: a new era, freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace," he said. "An era in which the nations of the world, east and west, north and south, can prosper and live in harmony."