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Sunday, December 2, 2018

George H.W. Bush

Two friends reflect on a man we all served:

Lloyd Green at Buzzfeed:
George H.W. Bush was the last president to distinguish between two different tasks: campaigning and governing. At his 1988 post-election news conference, Bush said, “The American people are wonderful when it comes to understanding when a campaign ends and the work of business begins.” As the then-29-year-old opposition research counsel to the Bush ’88 campaign, I was chagrined to see the president-elect draw that line so quickly.

Looking back, there is much to commend in the elder Bush’s approach. With the passing of time, the distinction between campaigning and governing has been lost. Subsequent elections have each felt like a prelude to a permanent campaign. The first Bush presidency is a reminder that country can come before party, partisanship is not insurmountable, and that there are more important things.
John S. Gardner at The Guardian:
As with so many others, the war marked Bush. The oil fields of west Texas, where he and Barbara moved to start his career after his delayed graduation from Yale, were far from the sea he loved but the same pluck and courage that propelled him to war led him to this venture rather than to safer, more conventional opportunities back east.
He had a sailor’s sense of duty and propriety. During the Malta summit of 1989, a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when he met Mikhail Gorbachev in the midst of a violent Mediterranean storm, he risked a dangerous helicopter landing on the USS Belknap and happily traveled to Gorbachev’s ship for dinner.
Throughout his life, he maintained a deep kinship with veterans and the families of those serving. Early in his administration, on 19 April 1989, on the battleship Iowa – the ship that carried FDR to Casablanca – a turret exploded, killing 47 sailors. For many, the sight of George and Barbara Bush hugging and speaking with the family members after the memorial service was a moment that put a man who had promised a “kinder, gentler nation” into the national consciousness.