Skip to comments.George H.W. Bush Was a Steward of Stability
Posted on 12/05/2018 5:26:33 PM PST by Kaslin
There are a few movie scenes guaranteed to put a lump in my throat every time. Near the top of the list is the end of "Saving Private Ryan," Steven Spielberg's World War II masterpiece.
Earlier, in a climactic battle scene, a dying Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) tells Pvt. Ryan (Matt Damon) to "earn this, earn it." Translation: Live a life worthy of the sacrifice so many made for you.
In the final scene, decades later, an elderly Ryan visits Miller's grave in Normandy, France, and tells the headstone that he's remembered Miller's plea every day since. "I hope that at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me." He then turns to his wife and beseeches her, "Tell me I'm a good man."
The scene keeps coming to mind since the news of George H.W. Bush's death at the age of 94.
Bush, who enlisted right after high school, was at one time the youngest Navy pilot in World War II. He was shot down, losing comrades in the process.
He didn't like to talk about the experience. Even when it would have helped him politically, as when he was running against an Arkansas governor who assiduously avoided the draft, or when elite journalists described him as a "wimp." Bush told his speechwriters to leave out the details of his own war stories, partly because he didn't want to seem boastful, but mostly because he didn't want to cry.
Bush was surely a good man before he enlisted, but he spent the rest of his life as if he were trying to earn the sacrifice others made.
The author David Brooks has written a lot about the differences between "resume virtues" and "eulogy virtues." The former is what you put on your professional bio, LinkedIn page or CV; the latter is what you hope people who knew you will say about you when you're gone.
For understandable reasons, much of the coverage of the former president has focused on his resume: pilot, Yalie, oilman, congressman, ambassador to the United Nations and China, head of the CIA, vice president and president.
But if you listened to those who knew him best, they tended to eulogize him. Former aides described him as the best person they knew, a man who made everyone around him want to be better by following his example.
American presidents tend to fit two molds: transformative leaders and transitional ones.
Transformative presidents seek to radically alter the status quo, either out of political necessity or psychological ambition. They prefer to keep the outbox on their desk full.
Transitional presidents see themselves as stewards of stability. They greet the challenges that pile up in their inbox as they materialize, rather than looking for systemic reforms.
Ronald Reagan was a transformative president. Ideologically he was much more conservative than Bush.
But temperamentally, Bush was more conservative. Much like George Washington and Calvin Coolidge, Bush viewed the presidency primarily as an august managerial position in a system where leaders inspire by example, not by rhetoric.
"No president, no government can teach us to remember what is best in what we are," Bush declared in his inaugural address. His job was to encourage Americans to be their best selves in service to each other, and to lead by example.
This is why Bush was so well-suited to being Reagan's successor. If the Gipper was the battering ram, Bush was the clean-up operation. He fixed the savings and loan crisis, signed the Clean Air Act, cleared Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and put a bow on the dangerously messy aftermath of the Cold War.
On election night 1988, he was at a party in Houston, watching the returns. As Fox News' Brit Hume recounts, when the news arrived that Bush won, having recovered from a 17-point deficit, Bush's motorcade was waiting outside to take him to a victory celebration. The first thing Bush did? Help clean the dishes.
Bush lost his re-election bid for many reasons. But the most important factor was that the American people, liberated from the Cold War, had a hunger for transformation. Bill Clinton vowed sweeping change, even though he fell back into transitional mode when it suited his interests.
Our hunger for transformative presidents, for "outsiders" to save America, has only intensified. The sad irony is that if salvation is what we need, it will come only when Americans themselves take to heart the example of this good man.
I would have used the word 'mediocrity' but I guess that's just me.
Tax collector the New World Order.
Jonah is a globalist shill.
This flies like a Kuwait baby thrown out of an incubator.
He helped maintain stability in Mexico by allowing them to dump their poor indigenous population on US.
Partisanship moved to warp speed after the 2000 Bush/Gore recount. It's been intolerable hell ever since. "Stability" hasn't been possible since....and won't be for a while.
A transformation is a transition, isn't it?
..... The GOP has it's place as being nothing more than Political Placeholders so that when the real party controlling the nation, The Democrat/Socialist/Communist Party, regains the Presidency they only need to make minor adjustments made by the aforementioned Placeholders to insure the unstoppable march towards a Global Economic Unity.
I voted for Perot in 1992 and have never regretted it. When I grew up in the 1960s, when a President died, such as Eisenhower or Truman, it was notable news but the federal government and Wall Street didn’t shut down for a day and there wasn’t the hagiographic procession to the dead president’s pyramid (now called their Presidential Library and paid for by the taxpayers). Both Ike and HST were far more consequential presidents than GHW Bush or Ford; neither got the Pharaoh is dead and heading for his pyramid treatment that these two one-term mediocrities received.
I watched his rescue by the sub today. A group of sailors pull him out of the water. Then there’s an edit where there is only Bush and one other. Was it a second “take” so he could look up at the camera? He always maintained he didn’t know it was being filmed.
I also wonder how this didn’t came to light until he was running for an president. Or am I wrong?
Then there’s the picture of All Gore walking away from the camera with his father’s arm around him. Supposedly Al telling his daddy he was going to join the Army. Why would a picture be taken of two men walking away? And were there no more pictures taken that day?
Now the question becomes “Were the lives of these two planned from that long ago”?
My tinfoil is waiting for me. But I just think it’s odd.
“Our hunger for transformative presidents, for “outsiders” to save America, has only intensified. The sad irony is that if salvation is what we need...”
No Jonah, idiot, it is not Trump’s “outsider-ness” that we like, it is his stances on the issues, and his leadership. Can you comprehend?
Goldberg wrote this whole piece as a platform for that angle.
He gave the green light to Saddam to invade Kuwait and the rest is history.
Sure he got his clock cleaned by a tag team of Perot and Clinton, but at least he was stable. Thanks, David Cop a feel.
Excellent questions, and I join in your skepticism.
No Jonah. He was a mean as hell politician. I got be him credit for his loyalty to Reagan. I do not give him credit for selling out conservatives because at heart he was a RINO
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