Yesterday, we had the services for George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States. Old Pops Bush looks pretty good these days, especially in comparison to the moron we having holding down the Presidency at the current time.
It’s interesting. When #41 was President I certainly wasn’t a fan, but I didn’t hate the guy. He seemed kind of goofy, and Dana Carvey of SNL did a great impression of him.
Now Bush is being feted as one of the last of the great traditional Republicans. Everyone is talking about his civility, that he was a gentleman, that you could negotiate with him. That he wanted to have a kinder and gentler nation.
Well, yes and no.
I mean, it was Bush who employed Lee Atwater who created the famous Willy Horton ads. Dog-whistle racism, a preview of what we get from the Trumpster and his minions now all the time. In addition:
- Bush is credited with signing the Americans with Disabilities Act, but more of the credit should really go to Senators Tom Harkin and Ted Kennedy. But Bush did support the ADA and did sign it.
- Bush is credited with helping to stabilize NATO after the reunification of Germany, which made a lot of European governments nervous given the history of German militarism.
- Bush is credited for his prosecution of the first Gulf War. Of course, it was also Bush’s ambassador April Glaspie who practically invited Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait.
- Likewise, Bush was credited with the successful invasion of Panama to topple dictator Manuel Noriega. Again, the Americans under both Bush and Reagan had done much to first build up Noriega.
I’m not and will never be a Republican. In George Lakoff’s model of moral politics, I’m not into the “strict father” model of government. By contrast I believe in the notion of a Commonwealth, where we actually take care of people’s needs and try to level the playing field.
But all of that notwithstanding, the point is this: George H.W. Bush was a decent human being. He was a human being one could negotiate with, a human being who actually felt some compassion. He was a human being who actually had the courage to serve in World War II, where the plane he was piloting was shot down. He was so much better than the conman/übernarcissist who currently resides in the White House, that it’s made us all giddy with nostalgia.
That’s where we’ve arrived at in politics in 2018 in the United States. Sad!, as the Coward-in-Chief might tweet.
 Lee Atwater eventually became famous for his deathbed confession, in which he appeared to regret some of the cruel ways in which he went about his business. But then, that may have been more about the perception from others that Atwater was a racist then genuine regret for the way he went about his business.
 Some commentators have noted that Bush left the attack dog aspects of his campaign to associates, so that he could continue to play the role of the “proper gentleman” in his own dealings.
 Bush had the good fortune to be rescued by a submarine.
 We’re so giddy that there was a meme going around Facebook because a camera caught George W. (#43) sneaking some candy to Michelle Obama because – gasp! – they’re actually friends. There is practically no person on Earth who is friends with #45.