The passing of former President George H.W. Bush has highlighted the many positive attributes of the imperfect 41st President. Of course, we are all “fixer uppers,” and our willingness to know this about ourselves keeps us humble and in a constant state of self-improvement.
Many positive things have been highlighted about the elder Bush this past week, with many of us nostalgic to how we all should conduct ourselves, especially our leaders. Here are a few things I took away:
– a communication advisor to an early campaign noted he made a big mistake from which he could not hide. Thinking he would be fired, he recalled Bush telling him “I know you will knock the next opportunity out of the park.”
– a friend noted he played golf often with Bush when he was President. He noted the clubs Bush played would invariably try to “comp” his green and cart fees. Bush insisted that he pay for his and his friends fees. He noted it would not be right for a golf club to not expect him to pay.
– a Democrat Senator noted that it was not unusual for Bush to invite a handful of Senators or Congressional representatives to the White House on late Friday afternoons for martinis, which Bush made. He would also give them a tour of the White House, if any had not seen it before.
– many noted that Bush was a voracious note writer and they took pride in words of encouragement, support, sympathy or thanks; these notes were received by media, foreign and domestic leaders, public servants, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.
– after he retired, the son of one of his secret service guards was struggling with Leukemia and losing in his hair due to the Chemotherapy. Bush shaved his head in solidarity with the son to lift his spirits,
– many leaders and public servants noted that Bush had many relationships around the world and here in the states, which benefited him and our country in troubling or challenging times. His ability to tap these resources to build coalitions to do things is paramount to several successful endeavors.
– relationships matter at home too, with a lovely marriage to Barbara for 73 years and a beautiful family of children and grandchildren. Marriage is hard work – this speaks volumes about the Bushes.
– Finally, in today’s times it is hard to convince some that perception is not reality. We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time polishing our own apple or thinking those that do it well rate more highly as a result. One magazine defined Bush as a wimp when he ran for President, primarily because he was an obsequious Vice-President. Here was a man who flew 58 combat missions in WWII and was shot down. He was not raised to brag on himself. It would not have been false bravado for him to do so. False bravado seems to be mistaken for actually bravery these days. But, the reason he was called a wimp due to being obsequious is while he offered criticism to President Reagan in private, it would have been detrimental to call him out in public.
Each of us could be better people. Our leaders should be among our better angels. Character matters. Dealing with people in a good faith manner matters. Telling the truth to the media, colleagues and the American people matter. Being accountable matters. Real courage is usual quietly borne and not bragged about. We should remember these truths. We should do our best to emulate them.
Thanks for sharing these semi-obscure stories about Bush 41!!!
Thanks Brendan. I heard another one tonight. When Bush met Pope John Paul, he made sure his entire secret service detail were Catholic. That is class.
Wow. I didn’t know that, either. That is really, really classy.
Brendan, I did not either. It is a fitting tribute to hear these stories come out of the woodwork. Keith
Beautifully done. What a contrast!
Hugh, too true. Including the additional story I shared with Brendan, I do not see or could not envision the current incumbent doing any of these. We must never forget the current incumbent fired a man on the day of his retirement to deny him his pension. That one story tells you every thing you need to know about the current incumbent. Keith
Note to Readers: I saw another fun tribute about Bush. When he became wheel chair bound, he apparently liked to have vividly patterned and colored socks as an attention grabber. One family member noted he had hundreds of pairs. I thought that was fun.
Note to Readers: Retired Senator Alan Simpson eulogized Bush last week. Two things jumped out – “humor is the solvent” and “hatred corrodes the container.” I felt these were two short, but impactful pieces of advice as he defined Bush. Maybe it is me, but I felt he was looking at someone in particular in the front row.
Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
Last week saw the funeral of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. While he was certainly not perfect – who is? – the contrast between him and the current occupant of the White House is stunning. It makes me long for the day when character and integrity were expected and admired. Our friend Keith has done a terrific job pointing out some of the finer traits of President Bush, Sr., and leaves us to draw our own comparisons. Thank you, Keith, for an excellent post and for your permission to share it.
Thanks Jill for the reblog.
Always my pleasure! You do good work!
I watched the funeral service right through , the speeches were superb .
Kersten, they were indeed. I love these little windows into his life. The note writing was a lifetime practice. Mike Pence shared a nice one sent to his son, e.g. Keith
A worthy tribute Keith. Well said.
A good post, Keith. I think we’ve got another good president in the wings and shouldn’t give up. Let’s hope this worrisome time will soon be a memory. When my daughter called all upset because Trump won I told her in the past we’ve had both good and less-than-good presidents and we shouldn’t give up. —- Suzanne
Suzanne, you are right, we should never give up. This is the most unusual President in my lifetime. One who is far more untruthful than he is not, but who has convinced his followers and enablers it is the opposite. I worry that extremists feel empowered under this President and feel they do not need to hide. That is scary by itself. Let’s hope Congress returns to governance. What we have believed for so long about Trump is finally starting to unfold for more to see. With Cohen and AMI cooperating via plea deals, his protectors have turned on him. Keith
President H.W. Bush exhibits all the attributes that I would want any young man to emulate.
His being tagged as a wimp was an inaccurate reflection of him that had no basis in fact. It reminds me of how President Ford was tagged as being clumsy when he was an accomplished athlete. These are two men who only served one term, mostly because they acted in the best interests of this country. They made tough decisions which were not popular but ended up being the right thing to do. I admired both.
Gronda, I agree. It also shows that you can still hold someone in high regard even when you disagree with him. I rarely agreed with Charles Krauthammer, but I read his editorials because they were well crafted. I do not feel the same about Ann Coulter, who is a lot like our current President – bombastic and insulting. Keith