The death of George H.W. Bush marks the end of an era. He is the last president from the Greatest Generation. And he was perhaps one of the most qualified presidents in history, serving as a heroic fighter pilot in World War II, a baseball player at Yale, a businessman, then in Congress, as an envoy, director of the CIA, vice president … and despite all those lofty credentials, he was, by all accounts, a genuinely kind, humble man.
The worst thing that can be said about Bush is that he may have been too nice. His famous broken promise on “no new taxes” was a necessary compromise, in his eyes, but unforgivable capitulation in the eyes of conservatives. His persona could come across as “wimpy,” to the people he dealt with at home and abroad. That was even drawn out as a concern on a famous Newsweek magazine cover that had the headline: “Fighting the Wimp Factor.”
Bush’s perceived weakness, despite his strong credentials to the contrary, was, well, his weakness. America didn’t appear strong to the world under his “kinder, gentler” persona. And that was something the TV pundits and publishing giants were worried about 30 years ago.
Contrast that with the overwhelming tone of the national media today. Most of them seem to be concerned that America looks too tough — or like a bully, to use a popular buzzword of today — in the eyes of the world under the current leadership.
Amid all of the bipartisan accolades for Bush, there is a not-so-veiled undertone of passive-aggressive knocks at President Trump. For every compliment about Bush’s unwavering nobility and civility, someone on each panel of talking heads can’t help but say mutter like, “It’s certainly not like that today.”
Trump is the root of all that’s bad in Washington, D.C. and all of America to the maniacal media and celebrities who are obsessed with trying to undermine him and end his presidency.
The lack of civility that marks today’s political discourse wasn’t created by Trump.
No, Trump’s presidency is the result of the dysfunctional world of what passes for political discourse in Washington. The country needed a no-nonsense, tough-talking, tough-acting businessman to get the country back on track. And that’s what he’s doing, despite all of the delusional reports from rabid reporters about all of the inconsequential things the president does.
We’re prepared for him to be picked apart for his facial expressions or breaking some sort of obscure protocol during the funeral services, where he was awkwardly placed on the front row with haters like Hillary and Bill Clinton and President Obama.
That’s just the life Trump is living now — under a critical, telescopic microscope — instead of the care-free billionaire lifestyle that he could be living. That’s heroic in its own right, though he never gets credit for it. Yet he keeps moving forward, fighting back and fighting hard for his agenda and doing something really odd in the world of politics — working to fulfill his campaign promises.
We mourn the death of President Bush. We long for the age of quiet strength and civility that he represented. But it wouldn’t be effective in today’s political climate, unfortunately. We have who we need in the Oval Office.
Bush wouldn’t be a good president today. But he would be a great man in any generation.