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In all things he was the epitome of class and grace even in defeat. For his country and the world he was the right man for his time. History will be kind!
Former President George H.W. Bush died late on Friday in Houston, Texas. He was 94. Rather than recount his long list of accomplishments here, I direct you to his official obituary which includes this quote:
George H.W. Bush, 1997: “Now that my political days are over,I can honestly say that the three most rewarding titles bestowed upon me are the three that I’ve got left: a husband, a father and a granddad.”
President Bush had 6 children, 17 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. His wife Barbara died in April of this year. As founder of the Bush political dynasty he can be very proud of his family and the example he and they set.
It was my junior year in college that I first became a Bush supporter in 1980. That support came via my favorite professor at Ohio Wesleyan, Dr. Arthur Peterson who had worked with George Bush when Bush was Chairman of the Republican National Committee. At that time I was Executive Director of the Ohio College Republicans.
Bush won seven of the early Republican presidential primaries that year but it was Governor Reagan who clearly had the upper hand. Bush withdrew from the race prior to the Ohio Primary in June.
After his withdrawal from the race I received a handwritten note from Bush thanking me for my early support. That note sits above my desk as I write.
At a campaign event for Governor Reagan in Cincinnati, Ohio I was there shaking hands with Governor and Mrs. Reagan when my friend Ed told Reagan “pick Bush for V.P.”
A few short months later I stood in the hall of the Republican nominating convention in Detroit Michigan and witnessed the moment Bush was nominated for Vice President. The poster above sits behind me now.
Little did I know that eight years later I would be standing on the steps outside Bush’s office in Old Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex to welcome him as President-elect.
When I spoke with him I recalled those early days and the connection through our mutual friend. It was well known that the President-elect was generous and gracious with his time and I had first hand proof. What a contrast with my later run-in with the Clintons!
The four years of the Bush presidency flew by. I was fortunate to get a few invites. I attended the White House welcome ceremony for a state visit by Queen Elizabeth II. This was the event where there the podium was not lowered for the Queen and all that most people saw was her hat. I also went to a July 4th picnic on the White House lawn. Hot dogs and ice cream before fireworks around the Washington Monument.
Magnanimous in defeat.
But it was the day after the 1992 presidential election which sticks in my mind. I was on the White House lawn along with hundreds of others to welcome back the President, Mrs. Bush, Vice President Quayle and his wife. It was supposed to be a victory celebration. The presidential limo parked at the end of the lawn and the Bushes and Quayles made a dash up a long rope line to the White House looking worn out.
Bush lost in part because he failed to live up to his solemn promise “read my lips: NO NEW TAXES!” He went back on the promise after a compromise with House Democrats who offered to cut spending if he agreed to the tax hike. They never followed through. Another lesson: compromise is a one way street with Democrats.
Unlike Democrats today Bush proved he could be magnanimous even in defeat. He didn’t fling false race charges or demand endless recounts. He went on to become a true friend to Bill Clinton assisting in several joint projects with the new Administration and even in later life the two were often together.
In his years as Vice President and later President, George H.W. Bush maintained a sense of grace and class. Mostly, Democrats hated him anyway. Wild charges that he flew on a supersonic SR-71 Blackbird to Paris to plead with the Iranians not to release hostages was the first of many attacks. Dems insisted and got their investigation with no result.
Even with the announcement of his death, some Dems advanced a story about Bush groping eight women. This should be a lesson to Trump. They will hate you no matter what so do the right thing.
Had he been re-elected President Bush’s legacy might be that of a great president instead of just a good one. In four years he managed to cement peace and prosperity in a wave of freedom that swept the world. He won’t be forgotten for that. Sadly, the example he set of grace and civility was never embraced by his political opponents. That includes many who continue to practice the politics of destruction rather than inclusion!