Tag Archives: George HW Bush

Can you really blame Hillary for the snub?

I want to defend former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton for a moment, so bear with me.

The media have reported extensively on her refusal to acknowledge the arrival this week of Donald J. Trump at the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush. She sat in her front-row church pew seat, looking straight ahead while the president and first lady Melania Trump greeted former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Hillary sat next to her husband, another former president, Bill Clinton. To her left was former President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter; the Carters didn’t acknowledge the president’s arrival, either.

So, why the hubbub? I guess it’s because the Obamas were able to muster up the courtesy of extending their hands to the Trumps. Many in the media have asked: Why didn’t Hillary Clinton do the same thing and pretend to make nice with a fake smile?

If only the president had won the 2016 election with a smidgen of grace. If only he had defeated Hillary Clinton and then kept his trap shut. He didn’t do that. He has continued to suggest that Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted for unspecified crimes and locked up. He has defamed her, insulted her at every turn, denigrated her service to the country (which far outstrips anything Trump has done or ever will do).

It’s helpful as well to ask: How would any of us act if we encountered someone who continually defames our character and suggests the things Trump has done with Hillary Clinton?

I give the Obamas credit for smiling and shaking the Trumps’ hands. They are better people than I would have been in that circumstance, given the things that Trump has said about his immediate presidential predecessor.

As for Hillary Clinton’s declining to acknowledge Trump, I am OK with that, too.

I am certain that every word all the former presidents and their spouses heard from the pulpit by those honoring the late President Bush — the descriptions of his decency, humanity and his decades of public service — drew immediate comparisons to the man sitting at the end of that church pew.

William Barr next as AG? Here’s the big question . . .

William Barr, who served as U.S. attorney general during the final two years of the George H.W. Bush administration, is returning to lead the Justice Department. Donald J. Trump has said he will nominate Barr to succeed Matthew Whitaker, the acting AG.

Here, though, is the question I would ask him if I had the authority to ask it of the AG-designate: Will you commit to allowing special counsel Robert Mueller complete his investigation into whether the president’s campaign team colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016?

The president has said repeatedly that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions should never have recused himself from the Russia probe, that he should have revealed he would do so before Trump nominated him. Trump saw Sessions’ recusal as a “betrayal” of the president, not understanding that the attorney general swears to uphold the law and does not swear to be loyal to the president. Sessions’ recusal was the deal breaker for Trump.

Meanwhile, Mueller has proceeded at full throttle. He has scored indictments, guilty pleas and is zeroing in on other key players in this investigation.

Barr needs to commit to allowing Mueller to conclude his investigation, which now has gone on for well more than a year.

Mueller is not the partisan hack that Trump accuses him of being. He is a former FBI director and a man of impeccable integrity. He needs to finish the job he has begun.

The next AG, and I’ll assume it will be William Barr, needs to let the special counsel complete his work, file his final report and then let the future take its course.

It is my fervent hope that Republican and Democratic senators who will question the AG nominee are on the same page as well.

GHWB rides the train to his eternal rest

George Herbert Walker Bush rode the train today to his final resting place. The services are over. The 41st president, who the nation has honored with glorious tributes to his service to the nation he loved, will join his wife Barbara and their young daughter.

The train ride today reminds me of an earlier such farewell to another iconic figure, a representative of yet another iconic American political family.

The late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy rode the train for his final ride from New York City to Arlington, Va., where he was laid to rest eternally next to his brother, the slain President John F. Kennedy. That was June 1968. The nation was stunned and shocked beyond belief that an assassin would strike another member of the Kennedy clan. He did.

Thousands upon thousands of mourners lined the track on which RFK’s burial train rode south from NYC to Arlington National Cemetery.

Thousands of mourners are saluting the late President Bush today as the train carries him to his final rest at the Bush Presidential Library. They are lining the tracks for the 70-mile ride from Houston, where the president was memorialized one final time at the church where he and Barbara worshiped, to College Station. Then, as now, Americans stood at attention, hands over their hearts as the train passed by.

The nation never will forget the accomplishments of this good man, patriot and lifelong public servant, just as it won’t forget the ideals espoused by the slain senator who sought to become president.

It fills my heart to know he is getting this level of respect and love from the nation 50 years after Americans paid their final respects to a man named Bobby.

Trump’s singular approach to presidency on display

Even when he’s not the center of attention — supposedly — Donald Trump finds a way, even when it’s not of his own volition, to become the center of attention.

There he was Wednesday morning sitting in a church pew next to his wife, first lady Melania Trump, along with the three surviving presidents and their wives.

He sat in the pew with his arms crossed. He didn’t recite the opening prayer along with the rest of those gathered to honor the life of the late President George H.W. Bush; nor did he recite the Apostles Creed along with his wife and the other presidents.

The Twitter Universe is abuzz with comments about it. Yes, it’s about Donald Trump. The comparisons to Bush 41 are inevitable. All those who eulogized the great man spoke of his humility, his dedication to public service, his empathy, his humanity, his steady and confident leadership while the Cold War came to an end, his self-deprecation.

How can one not think of Donald Trump when one hears the statements made about one of his presidential predecessors? I could not help myself. Neither, apparently, can millions of other Americans.

Bush 41 is going to be saluted once again later today in Houston. Then he’ll be placed on a train and will ride the rails to his burial site in College Station, at his presidential library, where he will lie next to his beloved wife, Barbara, and their toddler daughter, Robin.

We’ll hear more wonderful rhetoric about the glorious life this man led and we’ll hear more about the qualities that made him such a good and decent man.

And to be sure, there will be more not-so-kind thoughts about the fellow who occupies the office President Buch once did with grace and dignity.

Tough to bid farewell to icons

Americans have had a busy year bidding farewell to iconic public figures.

We’ve just bid adieu to our nation’s 41st president, George H.W. Bush, who in just a few days will be laid to rest next to his beloved wife, Barbara, and their first-born child, who died at age 3.

We have given President Bush the kind of sendoff he deserves, but which reportedly he would have disliked intensely. His son, Neil, noted that “Dad” would be embarrassed by “all the nice things people have said about him.” Nice things?

Good, gracious. Those “nice things” do not even begin to do justice to the service Bush 41 gave to the nation he cherished. It has been well-chronicled certainly since his death this past Friday at age 94. It was well-known already.

I have declared my belief on numerous occasions that Bush 41 was arguably the most qualified man ever to hold the office of president. As I have listened to the tributes, that belief has been shored up.

As for his wife, “Bar,” she left us in the spring. She and George H.W. Bush shared a 73-year marriage that produced six children. Five of them grew to adulthood, with their first child, Robin, dying as a toddler of leukemia.

Barbara Bush didn’t aspire to pursue a career other than being a homemaker and devoted spouse to a great man. She, however, achieved greatness, too, as first lady. She promoted literacy and always, without fail, carried herself with dignity and grace.

The tributes paid to the former first lady served as well to remind us that love truly does conquer all.

As for the third icon, he ventured to the gates of hell and returned to build a political life devoted to serving his nation.

John McCain died in August of brain cancer. He served for three decades as a U.S. senator from Arizona. And, yes, he was a bona fide, true-blue war hero. He was shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War, taken captive and held as a POW for more than five years.

Donald J. Trump sought to disparage McCain’s war service by denigrating his hero status, how he was a “hero only because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured.” That despicable utterance stands as a testament to the complete absence of character from the man who uttered it.

McCain would serve in the House and then the Senate with distinction. He rose to the level of icon during his years in Congress. His years as a POW elevated his profile immediately upon being elected to Congress.

He ran twice for president, losing the Republican nomination in 2000 to Texas Gov. George W. Bush and then losing the 2008 election to Sen. Barack H. Obama.

All three of these individuals sought in their ways to achieve a “more perfect Union.” They are worthy of every single ounce of tribute they have received.

Tough to watch Sen. Dole

The scene was almost too much to bear.

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a World War II hero of the first order, needed help to stand while he saluted the casket carrying his one time political rival, former President (and fellow World War II hero) George H.W. Bush.

Dole is a very old man now. His body is betraying him. He was pushed in a wheelchair toward the 41st president’s casket. To watch this great man struggle to stand — at attention! — while he paid tribute to the president tore hard at my heart.

Oh, I remember the day when Sen. Dole was known as a political pit bull. He ran as vice presidential running mate to President Ford on the 1976 Republican ticket. Do you remember when he referred –during a vice-presidential debate with Sen. Walter Mondale — to World War II, Korea and Vietnam as “Democrat wars”?

Then in 1988, he competed for the GOP presidential nomination against Vice President Bush, the same man he saluted today under the Capitol Dome. On a split TV screen, he said through a scowl that the VP should “stop lying about my record.”

In 1996, Dole became the Republican presidential nominee but lost in a landslide to President Clinton, who won re-election that year.

But before all that, Sen. Dole was a young soldier fighting for his country against the Nazis. In 1945, near the end of World War II, the young soldier was wounded grievously while trying to rescue another Army infantryman. He would lose the use of his right arm as a result of his wound. It didn’t stop him from pursuing a long and distinguished career in politics.

To watch him, then, struggle today and then lift his left hand to salute his former rival, well . . . it broke my heart.

Sen. Dole, too, is part of the Greatest Generation. He is a man to whom we all owe a debt of eternal gratitude for helping turn back the tyrants and for his decades of continued public service for the nation he cherishes.

Sauce for the gander?

Some members of the far right wing mainstream media are just appalled, I tell ya, that individuals who seek to honor the life and service of the late President George H.W. Bush are taking pot shots at one of his successors, Donald John Trump.

How dare they say those things and besmirch the tributes to Bush 41? I think I know how those Trump critics justify the criticism.

They suggest — and I concur with them — that Donald Trump has shown no reluctance to criticize political foes while they are stricken with life-threatening illness. I am thinking specifically of the late Sen. John McCain, who died in August after battling brain cancer. Did the president let up on his anger over McCain’s “no” vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act? He did not.

He mocked a New York Times reporter’s physical disability; he took dead aim at a Gold Star family whose son died in Iraq because they criticized him at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

I believe that lies at the crux of the belief among those who choose to honor President Bush. They remember his decency, his grace, his humility, his empathy, his deep and fundamental understanding of public service; indeed, they honor his seven decades of public service, starting with his combat duty during World War II as the Navy’s youngest fighter pilot.

It is impossible to avoid drawing comparisons between President Bush and his presidential successor. What’s more, Donald Trump’s own record of disparaging others is loaded with examples of precisely the lack of the qualities that George H.W. Bush exhibited during his long and distinguished public life.

The pundits and commentators on the far right are entitled to express their outrage over the treatment that Trump is getting at this moment. Let ’em gripe.

Just remember the old “sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander” refrain. What’s good for one is certainly good for the other.

No need to dwell on the negative

I can’t help myself. I cannot stop writing good things about a man I opposed when he was living, but who deserves the tributes and salutes he is receiving now that he is gone.

President George H.W. Bush didn’t get my vote when he ran twice for election and re-election. You know that already.

However, I keep seeing some commentary from liberals/progressives who believe that the 41st president somehow needs to be placed in some sort of “proper context.” They want to shove the negative things about his public life next to the positivity he brought.

I won’t go there. I might, over time, write more critically of Bush 41. Just not now.

I am struck by the notion that his goodness, his decency and his empathy for others stands in the sharpest contrast possible to what we’re seeing and hearing from one of his presidential successors. I refer, of course, to Donald John Trump. But . . . I am going to resist piling on the current president for the time being.

I want to remember the political life that George H.W. Bush represented. He symbolized compromise. Some of his best political friends were — heaven forbid! — Democrats. Yes, this quintessential “establishment Republican” would be seen in the company after hours of Democratic politicians such as, oh, Sonny Montgomery or Dan Rostenkowski. He made friends of all political stripes, not unlike, I should say, the way former Vice President Joe Biden has been able to befriend Republicans as well as his fellow Democrats.

President Bush pledged during the 1988 Republican presidential nominating convention to create a “kinder and gentler nation.” He was only partly successful in achieving that noble goal. It wasn’t for lack of effort on his part. He was a “kind and gentle” man — as well as a gentleman.

The anecdotes and recollections of the late president’s friends tell us so much about the man. Even those who disagreed with him can find plenty of kindness to spread around when remembering his lifetime of service to the nation to which he was so deeply devoted.

Trump to attend 41’s funeral . . . won’t offer eulogy

I am tempted sorely to break my pledge to go soft on Donald Trump while the nation mourns the death of a great and good man, former President George H.W. Bush.

I’ll resist the urge.

However, I am compelled to take note that Trump will attend his predecessor’s funeral but won’t be one of the eulogists. It seems only natural that the current president would stand and pay public tribute to a former president. Not this time.

The late president’s family has asked former President George W. Bush, the great man’s son, to deliver one of the eulogies; also slated to talk will be former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican along with former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and presidential historian Jon Meacham.

Donald Trump will be in the pew watching and listening.

It’s unusual for the current president to be passed over for such an event. However, I should note that the late Sen. John McCain made it abundantly clear he didn’t want Trump even to attend his funeral. The president stayed away.

There have been instances where political adversaries have honored their opponent. Perhaps one of the more fascinating tributes came in 1994 at the funeral of President Richard Nixon. One of the eulogists was President Bill Clinton, whose wife, Hillary, worked on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee staff as the panel was considering articles of impeachment against President Nixon — who I hasten to add asked President Clinton to speak about him at his funeral.

Trump and the Bush family have — to put it mildly — issues. The president has disparaged Jeb Bush as “low energy Jeb.” He has been harshly critical of Bush 43’s prosecution of the Iraq War. Most stunning of all, he actually mocked Bush 41’s signature “Points of Light” program that encourages voluntarism among citizens to do good work.

As for the late president himself, he once said he didn’t like Trump. He called him a “blowhard” and according to one of GHW Bush’s closest aides, the former president voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

So, you can get the picture that Trump and the Bushes are, um, not particularly close. Correct?

However, I am glad that Donald Trump will attend President Bush’s funeral. It’s the least he can do.

Just take a moment and ponder this wonderful image

I have next to nothing to add to this picture that I’ve posted on High Plains Blogger.

The woman is former first lady Michelle Obama. The man in the wheelchair is the late President George H.W. Bush.

Mrs. Obama wanted to share it with the world via Instagram. I saw it and was struck by the warmth emanating from it, not to mention the seeming joy in Mrs. Obama’s face as she received the greeting from the 41st president of the United States.

I want to cherish this image. Thus, I want to share it here.

I have nothing more to add. Oh, my.