Saturday, December 8, 2018

George H. W. Bush: A Great Loss for America

President George H. W. Bush’s funeral service Wednesday at the National Cathedral was on a blustery day. The weather was appropriate for the former President. He was a great man, a brave war hero, a skilled diplomat, a warn and generous person, compassionate, a dedicated public service, but a poor politician buffeted by uncontrollable forces. He cared for all Americans, but was characterized as a patrician, wimp, out-of-touch, part of the old WASP Elite. The media is commemorating the late President George H. W. Bush as the last great Republican after the earlier death of Senator John McCain. Yet, they loathed the two when running for President. The media celebrates RINO Republicans, such as Senator Jeff Flake or dead Republicans. They’’ll mourn you when you’re dead, but crucify you while alive. They extol the two as the anti-Trump. President Bush represented the end of an era. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Bush 41 all served in WWII. Carter and Bush 43 also served. President George H. W. Bush was caught in the change of paradigms when the parties would strive to reach a compromise versus the total partisanship of today. George H. W. Bush was a war hero in World War II, having flown 58 sorties by his 20th birthday. He enlisted the day he turned 18. He was also politically heroic in running for Congress in Texas. He was elected in 1966, becoming one of only two Republican Congressmen from Texas. He had campaigned for the Senate in 1970, but that was a lost cause for Republicans at that time. George Herbert Walker Bush was a dedicated public service. He may have grown up rich, bur he practiced noblesse oblige. He served in Congress, the first ambassador to the Peoples Republic of China, Director of the CIA, Vice President, and President. It was his duty. People could easily misjudge President Bush because he believed in and practiced quiet diplomacy rather than engage in histrionics. He did not do a victory dance on top of the Berlin Wall after it fell. The media says the death of President George Herbert Walker Bush marks the end of civility in American politics. The media seems to be suffering from acute memory loss or selective amnesia. They trashed Bush 41 and Bush 43, not to mention Reagan, Ford, McCain, Romney, and now Trump. They reviled the Republican predecessors of President Trump. The difference today is that deep down, they totally loathe President Trump. Words used to describe President Bush in the past few days were class, dignity, willing to compromise, loyal, gracious, compassionate, a dedicated public servant. Those were not the words used to describe him in 1992. Only 7% of the journalists admitted to voting for him. His Thousand Points of Light in his 1988 Acceptance Speech were mocked. The media may be commemorating President Bush today, but they excoriated him while in office. They labeled the man who enlisted in the Navy the first day of his 18th birthday and flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific a “wimp,” while giving a pass to Governor Bill Clinton, a draft dodger. George H. W. Bush was a philanthropist; William Jefferson Clinton a philanderer. Texas Governor Anne Richards famously said of Vice President Bush in her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention: “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver boot in his mouth.” (Sweet revenge for the Bushes: George W. Bush defeated her reelection in 1994). He had two middle names. Who does that in modern America? The elitist preppie was out of touch with the people whereas Bubba was one of them. The President Bush purportedly did not know what a scanner was or the price of a pair of socks. The castigation for not recognizing a scanner is an example of fake news. The President was shown a new model scanner that could weigh groceries and read mangled and torn barcodes. A reporter at the scene wrote he had “a look of wonder” on his face. He was obviously amazed at the advance in technology. The New York Times rewrote the the short line to report he was “dumbfounded” by the scanner. The tale of his being out-of-touch was widely disseminated. President Bush used phrases like “deep doo doo,” “Big Mo” and Voodoo Economics” that sounded funny to many Americans. He talked at times like Mrs. Malaprop to the media’s amusement whereas they ignored the seemingly infinite gaffs by Joe Biden and similar misstatements by President Obama. He was only a one term President, but like President James K. Polk, he accompanied much. President Polk annexed Texas, reached agreement with Great Britain on the Oregon Territory at the 49th parallel, acquired the Southwest through the Mexican-American War, and created an independent treasury. Bush 41 presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War. He watched the independence of the former Soviet republics in Central and Eastern Europe. He fought for the reunification of Germany after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. He did not publicly humiliate in a victory lap Prime Minister Gorbachev of the Soviet Union. He further entered into the SALT Treaty (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) with Russia. He put together a coalition of western and Arab nations to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. He successfully supported the enactment of the Americans With Disabilities Act. He became the first Vice President since Martin Van Buren to be directly elected to the Presidency. He was also the last Republican to win California in a Presidential election. The preppie WASP from New England became an adopted son of Texas, but could not leave his twang behind. Several reasons account for his reelection loss to Governor Clinton. The media opprobrium certainly played a role, but it could not have done it on its own. His raising of taxes was the primary reason. The public expects politicians to breach promises, even perhaps to lie, but his 1988 Pledge “Read My Lips; No New Taxes” was more than a promise; it was a covenant. His 1992 reelection campaign was doomed when he raised taxes. His son, President George W Bush, never made the mistake of raising taxes during his 8 years in office. He agreed to raise taxes in exchange for spending cuts. He was snookered by the Democratic Congress which promptly raised taxes, but never came through with the spending cuts. The Republican Party had three main constituencies: 1) the Eastern elite; 2) economic conservatives; and 3) pro-life forces. He lost his base by raising taxes. The once great Eastern Establishment was substantially diminished, and he alienated the economics conservatives by raising taxes. That left pro-life as his constituency, but they knew he had earlier been pro-choice. Another reason was that he seemed lethargic against the young, energetic, charismatic Governor Clinton. The Governor relentlessly ran for the Presidency, while President Bush adhered to the tradition that campaigning began with the Labor Day weekend. The entry of H. Ross Perot into the election provided 19 million Americans with an alternative to the two front runners. The story was that Perot ran because of a deep seated animus to President Bush. The final blow to his campaign came four days before the election when Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh indicted former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger on charges arising out of the Iran Contra controversy. A judge later threw out this indictment because the statute of limitations had lapsed. The American public was suffering from Bush Fatigue by election day. Governor Clinton won with 43% of the vote compared to 37% for President Bush and 19% for H. Ross Perot. He deserved better in 1992 and America has paid a steep price for his defeat. America lost a man who enjoyed the zest of life. The so-called wimp was parachuting out of planes in his 90’s.

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