Thursday, December 06, 2018


Political Mayhem Thursday: George H.W. Bush

Some readers have noted, correctly, that I have not joined in the many tributes to former president George H.W. Bush. I suppose I will just say that this is not the right time for me to honestly state my feelings about his legacy in those areas that are important to me.

However, I realize that some others have memories or feelings for which this is the right time to put it out there. Please do, in the comment section below.

I remember turning to someone in 1988, while watching the Convention and saying that promising not to raise taxes was idiotic and that he would come to regret tying one arm behind his back. THAT was the biggest political mistake he ever made.

Raising taxes as part of the massive budget deal was the right thing for the country and helped tee off a major economic boom. But his deal wiht the Democrats to cut Capital Gains taxes was a major factor in creating and widening "the wealth gap."

A good manager, but his failure to express "the vision thing" hurt him.

I do think the country would have been better off if he had been re-elected in 1992. He still would have had to deal with a Democratic Congress -- and in fact there's no way that Newt Gingrich and his band of insurgents would have taken over in 1994. We would have been spared both the cynical and sleazy disorganization of Clinton's Presidencny AND the wave that lead to tea party craziness.

Some other bad thing would have happened, I suppose

The passage of many years really does give perspective--like yours, IPLG, which seems right on.

I've been thinking this week, especially, about perspective; about being too much in one's own strong beliefs and worldview. I've thought about the presidents I've been aware of; voted for, or against, in adulthood.

Disliked Nixon, like most people did, at least for Watergate.

Growing up in North Carolina with grandparents from a rural background, I was excited that Jimmy Carter got elected. Disappointed at the end, like most people. And now he's my hero, for everything he's done post-presidency.

I hated Ronald Reagan (elected as I'd just turned eighteen)--I never saw the "Great Communicator" thing, and still don't. Never believed in trickle-down, and still don't. Iran-Contra put him completely over the edge for me.

I generally didn't like George HW Bush, largely because of his campaign and the Willie Horton ads, and how his campaign treated Michael Dukakis. Everything he did afterwards was tainted by that, for me, although I did appreciate his handling of the end of the Soviet Union.

And then came Bill Clinton, who I liked at the time but have come to intensely dislike, in the last couple years. I've seen clearly that he'd never get elected now, given even one of his incidents of sexual misconduct. Mark, you're still undoing so much the Clinton put into place.

And then came George W Bush, who I hated even more than Reagan. I remember thinking, during both Bush campaigns, that
no president could possibly be worse than him.

And I was so wrong!

So now, George HW Bush looks wonderful, and I'm led to feel nostalgia for something I didn't even know I had. It makes me realize how much I've gotten swept up in the emotional attachment to my positions, even as I've gotten more discerning or politically savvy or cynical, or supposedly mature. Maybe cynicism is the problem?

Jimmy Carter is the only president in the last 40 years I can say I admire wholeheartedly, who's stood the test of time. I think Obama will, though it's a bit early to say.

Learning more about George HW Bush's life and presidency this week has made me pause to remember that the middle of the road isn't a terrible place to be, if the person has a strong moral center.
He got the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 passed, and that's a good thing.
Yes, and the Americans With Disabilities Act, which I'd forgotten was done on his watch.
Silly American - what a great summary.

I haven't voted Republican since I voted for #41. I became politically disillusioned during the 1990s. I didn't even vote for Clinton. I think it was Newt Gingrich and Company that pushed me over the edge and really fueled the toxicity we now have in this country.

I have little recollection of the Carter years except for the energy crisis and how cold my parents kept our already winter cold house. Then the hostages. Reagan and his guys played fast and loose behind the scenes to prevent the release of the hostages until after the end of the election. This is one reason I find it rather abhorrent that political nominees inject themselves into talking with World Leaders before they are officially elected or sworn in.

Jimmy Carter was forward thinking with regard to energy and despite the pain we felt nationally he was forward thinking enough to install solar panels on the roof of the White House. He really pushed ecology and caring for our planet and fellow man/woman. He kick started "green". Nancy Reagan found the panels ugly and had them removed and the system dismantled. Someone has since reinstalled the panels.

41 was a flawed man as we all are flawed. I believe his heart was in the right place but there is always someone trying to control and push an agenda in the background. He also had an affair with his secretary. That is just kind of brushed under the rug. He is not the first to do so while in office and I dare say he probably won't be the last.

W was a puppet for Cheney and his henchmen. He has shown his decency post Presidency.

Barack - well he is just a good man who opened Pandora's Box. His intentions were honorable and forward thinking but his election unearthed the ugly underbelly of our country and now we are left to grapple with how to move forward.

I dare say there will be a time when I care less about our nations politics, but I hope not.

And so this week we mourned the death of a former President. We also mourned the death of a modicum of political decency, a man who honorably served our US Military, a husband, father, grandfather and loyal friend to many. May he rest in peace.
One more thing: This whole, "Last of the Patricians" theme is ridiculous. The only other truly Northeastern Patrician Presidents besides the Bushs were the Roosevelts. Yes, many of the others went to Harvard or Yale, but no others were prep school WASPS from New England. Obama, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, Ike and Truman all grew up in middle class, if not poor households. Obama only met his Dad once. Clinton's father died before he was born. Ford's Dad wasn't even in his life. Reagan's was a drunk. Even JFK, who was indeed wealthy and educated at Harvard, couldn't be called Patrician due to his Irish Catholic background.

Hoover also came from poverty-- raised in an orphanage. Neither Harding nor Coolidge came from some fancy lineage either. Wilson's family struggled in the Post Civil War years. Taft came from money, but in Cincinnati, not the Northeast.
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