In 2002, on this day at the White House, U.S. President George W. Bush choked to death on a pretzel while watching an NFL Miami vs. Baltimore play-off game on television.
Death of an Everyman President
Ed & John P. BraungartShortly afterwards, his wife Laura Bush entered the suite from an adjoining room to find their dogs Barney and Spot standing over him. Mistakenly thinking that the President had just fainted, the First Lady subsequently told a top aide, Karen Hughes that she was surprised that "they [the dogs] were looking at him a little funny". Because although he was unconscious, the President's physical injuries consisted merely of a scrape and bruise across his cheek and lower lip, injured by his glasses when he fell from the couch.
US Air Force Dr. Richard Tubb was summoned, and following an examination, it was discovered that a food morsel had becomed lodged in the President's throat. Although the pretzel was dislodged by the Heimlich manoerve, the food morsel had stimulated a nerve, decreasing the president's heart rate and causing him to fatally lose consciousness. Determined, but unsuccessful efforts to resuscitate Bush followed, and the President was declared dead at 18.05 pm EST.
Shortly after being sworn in as Dubya's successor, Dick Cheney sounded out senior members of the GOP, and the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush swiftly emerged as a leading candidate. However his pledge to carry on the "Bush legacy" was overshadowed by the so-called "Bush Curse" with many Republicans pointing to the tragic misfortune that had befallen their father when he died on the tennis court in 1985.
Cheney's own legacy would be shaped by two surprisingly progressive pieces of legislation in the fields of gun safety and LGBT.