Saturday, December 01, 2018

Weekend Post

Saddened to hear of the death of President George H.W. Bush.  Even though he was a Republican and I'm a Democrat I always respected him and always believed he had the country's best interests at heart.  He conducted himself with class and dignity, and I think it's safe to say all Americans wished him well regardless of their political affiliation.   But that was respected that was earned.

Here's a glowing example of how he put our nation above politics.  He lost the election to Bill Clinton.  And yet, he took the time to write the incoming president the following letter. 

Oh, for the days when we had a mensch in the White House.   Thank you for your service, President Bush.  I do believe history will be kind to you. 

35 comments :

15-Seconds said...

Agree entirely.

Check out this video of Dana Carvy at the White House with '41.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?35618-1/christmas-ceremony-white-house-staff

I'm guessing Alec Baldwin won't be invited to do a similar gig for '45.

Don K. said...

Class all the way. I'm one of those GOPers turned off by today's GOP. I would have voted for McCain had he not picked Palin as his VP. I could not abide the thought that if something happened to him, we'd be stuck with her as the President. I've voted Democratic ever since and it has filtered down to my local politics as well.

When 41 was in the White House, given his diverse background, you at least felt comfortable knowing his breadth of experience wouuld lead to a measured response in any crisis- he had the good sense to know for example that if we did remove Saddam Hussein, then what? 1500 years of religious civil war wasn't going to go away over night. Too bad his son 43 didn't realize that.

41 was not the most dynamic person, but he was one of the last of a breed that personified what it means to serve your country without asking what's in it for me. We're going to hear a lot in the coming days that we need more like him right now and we're going to hear that because it's true. Not single GOP leader today could fit into his military uniform or fathom what it means to sacrifice ideology for the good of the country like he did so many times.

Peter said...

I absolutely agree he showed the utmost class and dignity in writing that letter, a letter that is genuinely moving in its essential decency and kindness. These are traits that aren't only lacking in Trump, they're impossible for him.

However, I wouldn't go as far as to say he had the country's best interests at heart. He ignored domestic issues as unemployment rose and poverty increased, he broke his promise to cut taxes for the working and middle class, he refused to apologise for the accidental shooting down of a civilian Iranian plane that killed over 200 passengers, he launched an unnecessary war over oil and when ordinary Iraqis rose up to fight against Saddam Hussein afterwards in the belief that they'd be supported, he actually sent troops to DEFEND Saddam because he said he couldn't be sure any replacement wouldn't be worse. Many of the veterans who came back were quickly forgotten, some ending up homeless or committing suicide, as Republicans always love to get applause for supporting the troops when sending them off to get killed but are happy to forget about the ones who return injured and traumatized.

And as we learnt in the last year, when meeting young women who wanted a photograph with the former president, he'd tell them his favourite magician is David Cop a Feel and then grope them.

Better than Trump, yes. A mensch, no.

Michael said...

Traditionally, the outgoing president leaves the incoming one a note. I suspect the next occupant of the Oval Office, if s/he comes in after an election as opposed to the impeachment and conviction the current occupant so richly deserves, will find a greasy McDonald's bag.

estiv said...

I agree with Peter. And don’t forget that Karl Rove, who did as much as anyone to lower the level of political discourse in this country in the last forty years, worked for 41 a long time before he worked for 43. 41 turned a blind eye to a lot of ugly politicking done on his behalf.

Tom said...

He seemed like an overall decent person, but he did give us Clarence Thomas. And Dan Quayle.

gottacook said...

New York Times, 25 December 1992:

"Six years after the arms-for-hostages scandal began to cast a shadow that would darken two Administrations, President Bush today granted full pardons to six former officials in Ronald Reagan's Administration, including former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.

"Mr. Weinberger was scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 5 on charges that he lied to Congress about his knowledge of the arms sales to Iran and efforts by other countries to help underwrite the Nicaraguan rebels, a case that was expected to focus on Mr. Weinberger's private notes that contain references to Mr. Bush's endorsement of the secret shipments to Iran."

Despite this, Bush was probably a better president than Mike Dukakis (whom I voted for) would have been.

Peter said...

Lol, Michael! And there'll be a note next to it saying "I was the greatest president ever! The election result is fake news!"

Brian said...

Nice post Ken. I think its great how President Bush could laugh at himself with Dana Cary. Thanks to the commenter for the video link. It brightened my day on this cool rainy December Saturday.

DrBOP said...

Never trust a former head of the CIA.


NEVER!

MikeN said...

People forget the attacks Presidents are subjected to. HW was regularly called a racist, with his Willie Horton ad served up as an example(Gore was not attacked though he started it). His Supreme Court choice Clarence Thomas was also subject to unproven accusations of sexual harassment, that were likely made up. His other Supreme Court choice was a liberal David Souter, who got lots of negative votes because he was nominated by a Republican.

One key difference from today is that when a debate moderator asked his opponent about his opponent's wife being raped and murdered, Bush called out the moderator for being out of line.

gottacook said...

MikeN: I watched that debate and do not recall Bush chiding Bernard Shaw for being out of line when he opened the debate with that question for Dukakis. Here's the transcript:

www.nytimes.com/1988/10/14/us/the-presidential-debate-transcript-of-the-second-debate-between-bush-and-dukakis.html

Peter J said...

Ah yes....the days when a president not only had an age-appropriate vocabulary, but the ability to write cursively.

Barry Traylor said...

Although I did not vote for him that does not mean I did not have respect for him. Which I did.

Coram_Loci said...

Respect for the office.
The loneliness of the office.

Clinton may have received the letter, but his later conduct suggests he didn’t read it.

Y. Knott said...

MikeN....

Gore did not run a Willie Horton ad, nor did he bring up Willie Horton himself. He WAS the first to bring up the Massachusetts furlough program and take issue with it, but he did not use Horton (or anyone else in fact) as an example of the program's failures. Seizing on Horton specifically and turning this issue into something that had racial overtones was completely and totally the strategy of Bush and his Republicans.

Also, Bush did not call out moderator Bernard Shaw for being out of line, either at the debate or later. In fact, three weeks after the debate, Bush took Shaw out for dinner and sounded him out about accepting a job in the his administration. (Shaw declined.)

You are welcome to think highly of Bush, and trumpet his real moments of decency -- because he did have some. But those two were certainly not among them.

Coram_Loci said...

My strongest memory of Bush isn't even about him. Rather, it’s about MTV's transparently pro-Clinton Rock The Vote campaign directed at people in my age group. Yeah, they wanted me to vote, so long as it was for Clinton.

One guy is teenage fighter pilot, family man, and public servant who helped usher Soviet communism to history's ashbin where it belongs. Then he loses to some draft-dodging pot-smoking womanizer and his “I'm not going to bake cookies” (because she's too busy grifting) wife. But hey, Bill wore briefs. Bill played the sax. Bill was cool. Whereas Bush...wouldn't be prudent...at this...juncture.

People lament, bemoan, or curse Trump. So be it. But a square like Bush losing to a celebrity like Clinton helped a hero like McCain lose to a messiah-figure like Obama, which allowed milquetoast Mitt to lose to a celebrity like Obama, until the circle completes itself with a reality TV star beating Hillary.

A lesson I learned from Bush-Clinton was that Hollywood will try to manipulate me, and manipulate me to vote for the cool guy.

Dwayne Johnson in 2020.

Frederic Alden said...

From now on, any President who isn't a national embarrassment will look good.

But in the case of the late President Bush, I recognize his virtues as a human being, but I can't forget the terrible decisions he made regarding Iran-Contra. We don't know how involved he personally was in it, but pardoning the perpetrators because they thought they were acting in the best interests of the country just opened the door wider for our government officials to disregard the law with impunity. And the results of that open door can be seen in his son's administration as well as in the current one.

Anonymous said...

Something tells me Bill Clinton wasn't too lonely in the WH! Also, wasn't GHWB the last President who had real active military service? Janice B.

Colin Stratton said...

What I admired about him was that after his Presidency, he went away. Except for defending his son, as most farhers do, he followed the traditional approach of not commenting on his successor. For the most part, Junior has followed his advice (for once), If you had your moment in the sun, sit in the shade and drink your tea. We are just as tired of you are of us.

Janet Ybarra said...

The direction of the comments here have veered severely off-course.

Ken struck just the right tone with his essay.

I am somewhere to the left of Bernie Sanders politically.

Today is not the day for politics. Leave that to history.

What I can and do admire about George HW Bush was his abiding sense of service.

For a guy of those means to put off college and then become a wartime aviator.... wow.

And all his subsequent service.

Let me ask you, do you want the world picking over your faults the day you die? Didn't think so.

As I said, I never voted for the man. But today isn't that day.

Stay classy. Leave the to history and while you are at it, find the Twitter feed of presidential historian Michael Beschloss. He posted some wonderful photos today in memory of President Bush. Some make me pine for a simpler, more hopeful time.

Plus, he and Barbara were married 73 years. 73 YEARS! Heck, today some folks can't manage staying married 73 days.

Politics aside,our nation could use a few more like him.

sanford said...

quite a guy. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/tours/scandal/bushdrug.htm

Jenfromsouthjersey said...

Well said!

Janet Ybarra said...

FYI -- Ken Berry died yesterday...

Glenn said...

I'd love to see Obama's letter to Trump.

Mike Doran said...

I'd love to see Obama's letter to Trump.

What makes you think that Trump would have read it?
(Or had it read to him, comes to that?)

But Seriously Folks …

I stopped expecting perfection from people a long time ago.
Growing up in Chicago, politicians were the first to go.

That Man In The White House (currently, anyway) has spent a lifetime being militantly imperfect, in all aspects of human endeavor.
At the very least, when the then-GOP told Nixon that he had to go in '74, he went - because he knew the rules.
That Man doesn't even know that there are rules.

In a just world, the Bush family would follow the McCain family's example and bar That Man from the funeral.
That won't happen, of course, because Tradition Is Tradition.
Still, I do wonder if That Man's presence might possibly cause a blip at the ceremony …

Liggie said...

As a rule, the sitting president will call on his predecessors, party notwithstanding, for advice on issues, and the past presidents and sitting one also develop a kinship over their experience in holding such a high office. (Right now is an exception of course.) My main memory of GHW on this is in 2004, when after the Thailand tsunami his son appointed him and Bill Clinton to figurehead the bipartisan US relief efforts. Bush and Clinton got along well in that time. I recall they even walked around the field before the Super Bowl together, shaking hands with the fans. A radio sideline reporter got them for a pregame interview and asked them, "When you were in office, did you tell your staff that unless something big happened, don't bother me during the game?" Bush said, "Ask my son, that's what he's doing!" Clinton said, "They didn't have to ask."

Astroboy said...

Ugh, try to imagine the note Trump will be leaving for the next President....Here's hoping he writes it from a prison cell.

MikeN said...

Gottacook, YKnott, I remember Bush interjecting 'Oh Bernie' upon hearing the premise, but I acknowledge it's not in the transcript or the videos I find on Youtube.

Janet Ybarra said...

People seem to think the Clintons and the Bushes would not get along, which could be understandable but actually further from the truth. Bill Clinton's gotten to be an "adopted" Bush....


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/07/15/how-bill-clinton-and-george-w-bush-got-over-their-politics-and-became-bffs/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b052f8d88929

Roger Owen Green said...

I wrote what I thought was a Balanced assessment of GHWB, and my liberal friends are saying I've been far too kind. I'm tired.

jcs said...

George H.W. Bush was without a doubt a much better president than Reagan. Less ideology, more pragmatism and open for change. My home country Germany owes him a lot due to his unwavering support for reunification. At the same time it is hard to overlook the flaws of his tenures.
During his time as CIA director, vice president and president the White House pretty much supported any dictator or rebel leader under the sun as long as they were hostile towards socialism. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, Angola and the list goes on and on. Proxy wars in Africa, torture and killing squads in Latin America, all that was deemed acceptable collateral damage. Granted, the Cold War was a different era, but after the Iron Curtain came down Bush was never the one to initiate a discussion about moral values during difficult times. After Congress was betrayed by the Reagan administration (Iran-Contra), Bush bypassed the justice system by issuing a pardon to Cap Weinberger & Co.
Today's NYT features an article describing Bush's approach towards HIV research and gay rights. Those of us old enough can remember the days when it was impossible even for moderate Republicans like Bush to publicly offer strong support to AIDS patients and members of the LGBT community. George H.W. Bush's Christian values, compassion and empathy simply did not extend that far.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Instead of writing a nice note to the incoming President, the outgoing President pushed a fake Russian narrative.

Tommy Raiko said...

To the note upthread about wanting to see Obama's letter to Trump, its text is available here:
https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/03/politics/obama-trump-letter-inauguration-day/index.html



Janet Ybarra said...

I imagine it will be 50/50 whether President Dump leaves a personal note to the incoming commander-in-chief.

If he does, I think it will likely center around himself...something along the lines of, "I've been such an A plus president I've already fixed all of your problems."