Lanny Davis and I have something in common.
We’re both reading the same book, “41,” the biography of the 41st president of the United States written by his son, the 43rd president of the United States.
Davis is a much bigger hitter than I am. He once served as special White House counsel in the Clinton administration. However, he and I share the same respect for the 41st president, George H.W. Bush.
Davis perhaps has finished reading his copy of “41,” the volume written by former President George W. Bush. I’m still in the middle of it. I’m enjoying it immensely.
“W” makes no apologies about this book. He calls it a “love story” written to and about the man he admires most. Davis shares George W.’s affection for the elder Bush.
Davis writes in The Hill: “To me, the most important — and perhaps least generally recognized — is Bush 41’s role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.”
Indeed, President Bush didn’t spike the ball, so to speak, when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, nor did he do a victory jig in the Oval Office when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. He chose to mark those dates quietly. Indeed, he barely said a thing when both events occurred.
Davis recounts how Bush 43 writes that congressional Democrats urged Bush 41 to go to Berlin when the wall came down.
Then the Evil Empire dissolved. When it did, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sent Bush 41 a “thank you” note. Davis writes: “Gorbachev had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, a year after the Berlin Wall had fallen peacefully. Perhaps if the Nobel Peace Prize Committee had known at the time about Bush 41’s crucial but virtually invisible role helping Gorbachev reach this result with dignity, he would have shared that prize.”
Bush 41 is ailing these days. He isn’t quite so vibrant, even though he jumped out of an airplane on his 90th birthday.
His humility — one of his most endearing personal traits — shows through in the story written by his son.
Davis believes — as I do — that historians will rank Bush 41’s presidency as a consequential time in our history: “I believe that some day, history will judge this humble, self-effacing man as one of America’s most important presidents, if for no other reason than he helped achieve, as his son wrote, ‘one of the most stunning diplomatic achievements in history: a peaceful end to the Cold War.’”