Patterico's Pontifications

11/30/2018

George Herbert Walker Bush, 1924-2018 [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:36 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Knowing that he had been in declining health, the announcement doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the 41st President, George H.W. Bush, died earlier this evening in Houston. And though he achieved the distinction of being the oldest living ex-President in history, for many of us currently in middle age and older he remains a poignant final chapter of the generation of World War II veterans we grew up with who dominated Washington politics for a half-century, from Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy’s election to the House in 1946 to Bob Dole’s defeat in the Presidential election of 1996.

It seems a little bit silly to sketch out the details of the man’s life, considering they are probably largely known by readers of the blog. The obituary in the Houston Chronicle does a nice job filling in those details, so if anyone needs a refresher I urge you to go there. He led a patrician’s life — son of a Senator, educated at Andover and Yale, country club dances where he met his wife, connections to get him started in the oil business, and entree into GOP politics, and so on.

But, crucially, he had the sense of duty which we once thought was inculcated within the upper classes, but now have cause to wonder if it isn’t passé in this wretched age of Kardashians, Hiltons, and their ilk. He famously went off to war on his eighteenth birthday, flying 58 combat missions and earning distinction as a pilot. After amassing a small fortune in the awl bidness, he entered politics, serving as a Congressman for two terms before moving on to various jobs in the Republican party and with GOP Administrations, culminating with his two terms as Vice President and one term as President.

He was the first Presidential candidate I ever voted for. He wasn’t Ronald Reagan — he didn’t have the stage presence of the Gipper and his conservatism was more tempered and bureaucracy-accommodating than that of his former boss — but he largely pursued a traditional Republican agenda. The two biggest mistakes his administration made were leading the Kurds to believe that U.S. troops would come to their aid and giving in on raising taxes way too early in budget negotiations which probably prevented Republicans from extracting deeper spending concessions from Democrats. On the other hand, the spending limits that he did get in exchange for tax increases ended up vexing his successor during his first year when Congressional Democrats bluntly informed Mr. Clinton that they would have to at least make a semi-legitimate attempt to adhere to the spending caps that had been negotiated, which scotched Bubba’s plans for dozens of new spending initiatives. Based upon what has happened since he left office, a good case can be made that Mr. Bush was overall a successful President.

When he was defeated for reelection in 1992, it amounted to replacing a man whose life had been defined by family, work, and service with one of the worst embodiments of a largely spoiled and selfish generation. Mr. Bush, who sadly turned out to be a rather uninspiring campaigner that year, was disappointed and embittered to lose to a man whom he undoubtedly felt was dishonest and shady. But, ever a true gentleman, Mr. Bush ultimately made his peace with Mr. Clinton and even worked with him on various charitable initiatives during the administration of his son and namesake. He charmed everyone with his self-deprecating humor, his insistence on sky-diving to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, and his justifiable pride in the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren.

He’s now reunited with his beloved Barbara, and sadly I don’t think we’ll see the likes of him at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue anytime soon, if indeed ever again. Rest in peace, sir. We miss you already.

UPDATE: The estimable David Burge — “Iowahawk” — reminds us that there is one remaining World War II veteran who is a current head of state.

– JVW

64 Responses to “George Herbert Walker Bush, 1924-2018 [Updated]”

  1. It is my fervent hope that this comment section does not wander into a discussion of President Trump’s participation in the upcoming funeral.

    JVW (42615e)

  2. And interesting anecdote from one of the obits I read. When Jimmy Carter was elected and GHW Bush left the CIA, he worked as a board member of a Houston bank, but he also taught classes at Rice University. I never knew about that. Apparently Mr. Bush always spoke fondly of his turn in academia. Who would have guessed it?

    JVW (42615e)

  3. RIP. An accomplished man with a self-deprecating sense of humor. He served his country well.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  4. Now we will have to here how great bush was for the weekend.

    lany (42102a)

  5. Now we will have to here how great bush was for the weekend.

    Maybe you can do us all a favor and take the weekend off, perry. From everything.

    JVW (42615e)

  6. Were it not for Ross Perot draining the GOP of deficit hawks, no one outside of Arkansas would have had to put up with a Clinton.

    But — 58 missions — and then bailing out over the Pacific. Kind of a lonely place, the Pacific.

    I expect that the MSM will be lauding him now. It’s kind of their way now with dead Republicans. I miss the day when the press wasn’t run by one side or the other.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  7. JVW is rightly concerned that this will devolve into a hate fest. I affirm that anyone who flew Avengers deserves their place in Arlington.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=uT_lZ2Vr_yo

    The Marines guarding Heaven will recognize him. He’s done his time in H3ll.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  8. The contrast is stark; he was a globalist: didn’t gloat; wouldn’t be prudent. And above all, a very, very good man.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  9. Yes one is reminded of frederick marchs line at the end of Toko ri, re brubaker.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  10. Yes the otherwise useless James Bradley, reminds us what his fate would have been if he had ended up at chichijima.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  11. On March 30, 1981 (early into the administration), Reagan was shot and seriously wounded by John Hinckley Jr. in Washington, D.C. Bush was in Fort Worth, Texas, and immediately flew back to Washington because he was next in line to the presidency. Reagan’s cabinet convened in the White House Situation Room, where they discussed various issues, including the availability of the Nuclear Football. When Bush’s plane landed, he was advised by his aides to proceed directly to the White House by helicopter as an image of the government still functioning despite the attack. Bush rejected the idea, responding, “Only the President lands on the South Lawn.”[40]

    nk (dbc370)

  12. “When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

    I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
    There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair.
    I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

    You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
    Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”

    That’s Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton of course. From a much different time. Can you imagine? not only rooting but “rooting hard” for him. It’s full of kindness, respect, and patriotism.

    It’s very tempting for me to say how much more character he had than some people on the current political scene. But he had much more character than I do. I can aspire to me more like him. Rooting for my fellow Americans, regardless of what “side” they are on, instead of nurturing hate and scorn.

    Godspeed sir.

    JRH (f51cae)

  13. Even the satire back then, was gentle Dana carvey was respectful, although not to such to a latter day gentleman and scholar like admiral stockdale.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  14. Bravery, humility, empathy, decency, honor.

    Thank you, President Bush.

    Dave (1bb933)

  15. To the last they show disrespect:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/WillOremus/status/1068731765794123778

    Narciso (d1f714)

  16. GWH Bush understood that
    1. As President, he was in the news cycle 24/7/365, seen by tens of millions who saw the real him;
    2. Garvey was seen by a relative handful without dates on Saturday night for maybe ten minutes; and
    3. The best way to deal with that fleabite was to go along with the joke and maybe even pick up on it and have your own fun with it.

    But you have to be smart to make that analysis. It also helps if you fought in a war where you got “sniped at” with bullets and not jokes.

    nk (dbc370)

  17. Yikes! *GHW* Bush.

    nk (dbc370)

  18. The dems won the long war, remember that pitiful wretch at the Virginia debate, with the ponytale.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  19. Also thinking. This guy was upper upper crust. Rich. Elite as they come cream of the fricking cream. His family was p/o’ed he didn’t go to Yale before joining the armed forces but he signed up *immediately* as soon as he could, sought no deferment. That’s a lost breed of man.

    JRH (f51cae)

  20. or dying if not lost.

    JRH (f51cae)

  21. It was a generational thing, the baby boomers took the harvest that had been stored up and wasted it.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  22. How so?

    JRH (f51cae)

  23. My grandfathers generation also. he served on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific also.

    JRH (f51cae)

  24. That pony-tailed [gentleman of questionable masculinity] must have been as difficult for a man who at age 19 was fighting the Japanese over the Pacific to relate to as a tree fungus would be to a leopard. But don’t give the little [person of unsanitary sexual practices] the credit. Three things cost Bush the election: Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, and the illness of Lee Atwater.

    nk (dbc370)

  25. Yes there was a lack of fire in the belly, Baker (now flacking for iran) the recession was dialed up to eleventy, I guess it was similar to the ’45 election in the UK, except attlee knew to get off the stage.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  26. They didn’t appreciate all they had been given, now they can’t get off the stage either, but compared to millennials they all seem like Rhodes scholars

    Narciso (d1f714)

  27. Then there were the la riots, and the stupid Rio summit, it was a confluence of stupid behavior.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  28. I voted against him — largely as a criticism of his handling of the yugoslav crisis; i was a strange man — but i’ve always had a lot of respect for him as a person, and in a very real sense, he represents my image of what a politician *should be*.

    aphrael (3f0569)

  29. UPDATE: The estimable David Burge — “Iowahawk” — reminds us that there is one remaining World War II veteran who is a current head of state.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2grMaRttws

    JVW (42615e)

  30. This is the time when the true vermin in the media self-identify.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  31. The peeps that voted for Perot all ended up with spunk on their blue dresses.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  32. The nation would have been a better place had he been reelected. RIP.

    Paul Montagu (8afb2a)

  33. Perot was the beginning of a winding path that leads us to here and now. You know that head to head GHWB would have only lost 4 states (NY, MD, HI, AR) plus DC to Clinton.

    urbanleftbehind (5e7f00)

  34. You know old man Bush would have made some calls stopped AMLO cold before noon struck today. That inauguration is multi screen viewing at the laundromat I took my covers to. And Ivanka estaba sola, maybe Jared’s heart us unaccounted for. Plus AMLO shouted out to Corbyn, but denounced Maduro.

    urbanleftbehind (5e7f00)

  35. The nation would have been a better place had he been reelected. RIP.

    It’s kind of crazy to think what might have happened had he been reelected. History suggests that Bill Clinton would never had been given another opportunity to run, though someone with his political skills might have broken that mold and won in 1996. But let’s look at some things that probably wouldn’t have happened had Bush won reelection:

    – No GOP takeover of Congress in 1994. Newt Gingrich remains a back-bencher for at least another six years.
    – George W. and Jeb Bush probably don’t run for governor while the old man is in office.
    – George W. perhaps never runs for public office and remains a businessman his entire life.
    – No impeachment of Bill Clinton.
    – Clinton’s loss convinces the Dems that the DLC brand of “centrism” won’t work, so the party goes further left.
    – A Democrat likely replaces Bush in 1996 after 16 years of GOP Presidents: Cuomo? Gore? Jesse Jackson? Patricia Schroeder?

    It boggles the mind to consider the possibilities.

    JVW (42615e)

  36. And just spitballin’ here: if George W. Bush doesn’t run for Texas governor in 1994, does Ann Richards coast to a second term and do Texas Democrats end up being a viable party throughout the 90s and 00s and 10s?

    JVW (42615e)

  37. Likewise, without the GOP rout in the 1994 elections, does Pete Wilson beat Kathleen Brown for governor? If he loses, does California start on its long march to the far left under Governor Brown, or does she lose reelection to Dan Lundgren when the GOP has a strong showing in the 1998 elections during President Gore’s first term? Either way, we probably never would have had to deal with Gray Davis.

    JVW (42615e)

  38. Well, in my alt universe, Reagan is followed by Lee Iacocca then by Pete Wilson, but respective party orthodoxies on one contentious issue made that a no go.

    urbanleftbehind (5e7f00)

  39. Why would they have drafted iacocca, at all, Wilson had been pro amnesty in the early 90s.

    Narciso (bbe94c)

  40. Great story of Dana Carvey attending a White House party after the ’92 election. Wouldn’t be prudent not to read it.

    Paul Montagu (8afb2a)

  41. Except for being pro-life, iacocca was talked up as a celebrity savior who could bring the rust belt to the Dems. Wilson’s big knit was the fact he was pro choice, amnesty/187 was secondary to a lot of poobahs in the party.

    urbanleftbehind (5e7f00)

  42. @36. Interesting perspective. Always believed the nation would have been ‘a better place’ had he been elected in 1980.

    Believed it then. And now.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  43. Yes and when was the last time a prochoice Republican won, null set

    Narciso (bbe94c)

  44. The possibilities are endless, how history would have unfolded had Bush been reelected, but I’ll just keep it simple: America would’ve been off after four years of Bush than four years of a slimeball like Clinton, IMO.

    Paul Montagu (8afb2a)

  45. queen elizabeth is no good (hoax queen all tiara no cattle)

    happyfeet (1e784d)

  46. @46. Her Majesty’s cheques clear, Mr. Feet.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  47. In MY alt universe, Nixon’s two terms are followed by Reagan’s three terms, then GHWB’s two terms, then … and the Democrats are reduced to a me-too party.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  48. She’s a pretty nice girl, but she doesn’t have a lot to say.

    Dave (1bb933)

  49. @49. Her work speaks for itself: she can wield a spanner and mend a lorry.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  50. @48.In mine; Reagan wins an Oscar for Kings Row and never leaves Hollywood; Marina rolls over and Apollo Transit departs monthly on round trips to the Armstrong Annex on Luna.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  51. Marina rolls over. . .

    Is that Marina Oswald to whom you are referring? Jeeze, man, keep it PG-13 here.

    JVW (42615e)

  52. Stephen king pondered a scenario where some of the hoped for outcomes don’t work out, perhaps the civil rights bill doesn’t pass if JFK lives the war in Vietnam rolls on.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  53. In mine, Zangara misses both FDR and Cermak and, as a consequence, in 1960 “Irish still need not apply”.

    nk (dbc370)

  54. Maybe the combine doesn’t readily dominate the windy city as thoroughly but I don’t see the other outcome.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  55. Zangara misses both FDR and Cermak

    Be careful with that. In the Phil Dick book, it’s FDR dying there that led to losing WW2.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  56. True, but there has to be a consequence fir that, in that twilight zone episode from the mid 80s, an observer who happens to be jfks distant relative inadvertently saves him triggering the assassination of kruschev, and another crisis.

    In greenwood replay an observer from the 80s, triggers a whole series of events related to kadaffi which creates a very dystopian timeliness.

    narciso (d1f714)

  57. All things are not as they should be, but likely not as bad as they could.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  58. Greenspan and the Fed cost him the election.

    mg (ebf6c2)

  59. I dunno about that video. I liked the Charles Bronson remake better.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  60. Greenspan and the Fed cost him the election.

    No, Ross Perot cost him the election. He got all the deficit hawks voting to send a message (to some effect). Few of them were Democrats.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  61. All that cool stuff and the last grownup in the Whitehouse. I started losing faith in the future of the republic when that two bit womanizing hustler BJC
    won in 1992.

    Rock Bottom (5a4596)

  62. Remember this the next time someone uses the NYT to bolster their argument… https://dailycaller.com/2018/12/02/new-york-times-debunked-bush-obit/

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  63. As I understand it, at 18, he defied his father (a Senator from Connecticut and an influential person) and enlisted in the Navy to fight for his country. Gotta admire that.

    Bored Lawyer (998177)

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