Tag Archives: George HW Bush

Trump denigrates Bush 41, too!

Donald John Trump thinks he is operating in a free-fire zone.

Political foes are open targets for his insults. That’s a given.

But a former president? Of the current president’s own party?

The 45th president of the United States decided Thursday to denigrate the charitable program initiated by the 41st president of the United States. He told the rally crowd in Great Falls, Mont., that he didn’t understand George H.W. Bush’s “Thousand Points of Light” program, the one that called on Americans to help one another, apart from government.

“What the hell does that mean?” Trump asked.

Mr. President, it means charity. It means selflessness. It means public service in the purist sense of the term.

For this president to denigrate the work of a man — President Bush — who just buried his beloved wife of more than seven decades speaks volumes about his absolute callousness.

And I hasten to point out here that President Barack Obama honored President Bush when he awarded the 41st president the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — for the very work that Trump decided to disparage.

This is how you pay tribute to a great American:

Pay attention — for once in your life! — Mr. President.

 

Please get well, Mr. President

I’ll be brief.

Former President George H.W. Bush is suffering from a broken heart. He has buried the love of his life and is now living for the first time in more than seven decades without his beloved Barbara by his side.

Two former presidents and their wives (who aren’t his son) came to his side to bid farewell to Mrs. Bush. The first lady was there, too. The nation swallowed hard as the tributes have poured forth.

President Bush is now in the hospital, fending off an infection.

I just want to offer this brief blog post to wish Bush 41 a full recovery from what ails him. I also hope he knows the country’s love and prayers are with him as he mourns his deep loss.

May the nation’s love sustain him.

‘First lady of the Greatest Generation’

I cannot let this day pass without offering one more tribute to Barbara Pierce Bush, although I won’t take any credit for a profound description of her offered today during her funeral.

It came from historian, author and journalist Jon Meacham, who called Mrs. Bush “the first lady of the Greatest Generation.”

Think about that for just a moment.

She died this week at age 92. She was married for 73 years to the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, who, before he was elected vice president and then president compiled a stellar record of accomplishment.

Meachem’s tribute to his friend spoke eloquently about the generation of which she was such an integral part. She married the love of her life, U.S. Navy Lt. jg. George Bush, who came home on leave from World War II to marry the love of his life. He had been shot down while fighting Japanese warriors over the Pacific Ocean. He was among the 16 million Americans who answered the call to defeat tyranny and defend the United States of America.

His beloved “Bar” worked at the home front while her man was far away.

Yes, Mrs. Bush served in that unofficial — and until today, it was the first time I’d ever heard it said — capacity as “the first lady of the Greatest Generation.” Indeed, the direct descendants of those then-young American men and women — and that includes yours truly, as my father also fought the tyrants in Europe — understand what Meachem’s tribute was meant to convey.

She stood as strong in defense of our nation’s values as the man she married more than seven decades ago.

I want to thank Jon Meachem for telling us all today about Barbara Pierce Bush’s contributions to forging the Greatest Generation.

Funerals put politics in perspective

Funerals that honor public figures — notably those involved in some level in politics — have this way of putting politics in their proper perspective.

I just watched a touching tribute to the late first lady Barbara Bush. It made me swallow hard on several occasions, particularly as I heard commentators tell us how bitter political foes could become the best of friends.

Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford; George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; George W. Bush and Clinton.

Indeed, today at the Houston church where the world said goodbye to George H.W. Bush’s beloved “Bar,” one could see first lady Melania Trump sitting next to Barack Obama, who sat with his wife Michelle next to Bill and Hillary Clinton; George W. Bush sat in the family section across the aisle next to his wife, dad, brothers, sister and their huge assemblage of Bushes.

It strikes me today as we digest the vitriol that emanates these days from the halls of power in Washington that it need not be that way. Much of the commentary today about Barbara Bush spoke of her friendships with Democrats as well as with Republicans. Her husband, after all, is the quintessential Republican, as are her two sons — one a former president, the other a former governor.

But we were told today about Mrs. Bush’s kind heart, her compassion, empathy, her generous spirit, good humor, grit, her tough-love approach to caring for her children and, yes, her friends.

Mrs. Bush’s husband promised to create a “kinder, gentler nation” when he was elected president in 1988. The jury still might be out on whether the 41st president of the United States achieved that noble goal. He practiced kindness and gentleness in his personal life, as did his beloved first lady.

The nation said farewell today to someone who embodied a more genteel time in what has become at times a blood sport. The craft and art of politics aren’t what they used to be. That besmirches politics’ current practitioners, not to mention their once-noble pursuit.

Whenever we say goodbye to beloved public figures, some of us — yours truly included — wish that it might signal a return to a time when political foes could actually become friends.

Is this such a moment? Oh, probably not. My hope, though, does spring eternal.

‘Stoicism and devotion’ on display

I’ll give credit for this observation where it belongs, to Ana Navarro, a noted Republican political “strategist” and TV commentator.

Navarro offered this via Twitter: Oh my God. 93 year-old George HW Bush, in a wheelchair, in front of Mrs. Bush’s casket, thanking every mourner who comes to pay respects to his love and life partner of 75 years – what an example of respect, stoicism and devotion. Please just pass me the Kleenex. The entire box.

They’re going to say goodbye Saturday to former first lady Barbara Pierce Bush, who died this week at the age of 92.

She is lying in repose at a Houston church and today her husband of 73 years, former President George H.W. Bush and the couple’s daughter, Dorothy, greeted mourners in the church sanctuary. They thanked them by the thousands for coming to pay their respects to the beloved matriarch of one of America’s most iconic political families.

This is how one should remember a first lady who served with class, grace … along with grit, courage and never-ending humor.

It’s been a difficult few days for yours truly as news organizations have told and retold the story of the Bushes’ extraordinary love story, which began in 1941 at a dance. George and Barbara got married in January 1945, when the young Navy officer was home on leave from World War II. Lt. George Bush became the youngest naval aviator during WWII. He came home to marry the love of his life.

This weekend, he will bid farewell to his beloved “Bar.”

First lady Melania Trump will be there, too, as will Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama along with many others who loved and admired this most admirable woman.

Mrs. Bush’s life and service to the country should remind us all of an era when politics didn’t define people, but merely was something they did during the day.

And her husband, as Ana Navarro has stated, has provided us with a moving demonstration of “respect, stoicism and devotion” to the love of his life.

Oh … my.

Trump offers valid reason for staying away

This just in …

“First lady Melania Trump will attend the memorial service for Barbara Bush this Saturday on behalf of the First Family,” a White House spokesperson confirmed Friday. “To avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush family and friends attending the service, President Trump will not attend.”

OK, there you have it. I accept that reason for the president not attending the late Barbara Bush’s memorial service Saturday.

Under normal circumstances, this would go unnoticed. No one would raise so much as an eyebrow over this declaration.

These aren’t normal times. We do not have a “normal” president in office. Donald Trump took office after a contentious, often bitter presidential campaign. He said some amazingly harsh things about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — who ran against Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary — and the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush. The two men’s mother, the former first lady, took serious umbrage at what Trump said about her beloved sons, as did her husband, the 41st president, George H.W. Bush.

Custom usually dictates that first ladies attend the funerals or memorial services of their predecessors. So, Melania Trump will represent her husband at Mrs. Bush’s memorial service.

As for the president’s absence, I’ll accept that he doesn’t want to disrupt the event.

After all, this event is going to be all about the former first lady, who was as unique an individual as any who have been granted the opportunity to serve in that capacity.

Barbara Bush has earned a glowing and love-filled sendoff. May this Bush family stalwart rest in the eternal peace she so richly deserves.

RIP, ‘The Enforcer’

What does one say only moments after learning that one of America’s most beloved public figures has left this good Earth?

Barbara Pierce Bush has died at the age of 92. It was no surprise. She was in “failing health,” surrounded by her family. She had ordered an end to preventative health care, focusing instead on “comfort care.”

The wife of the nation’s 41st president made no pretense about the fake pearls she wore around her neck. She said they were intended to cover up her wrinkles. But everything else about her was so very real. She was known to her kids and grandkids as “The Enforcer.” She set the rules and she made them stick.

And the nation fell madly in love with this woman, a proud first lady — but more importantly a proud wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

She promoted literacy. She became an advocate for research on HIV/AIDS.

She also was unafraid to disagree with her husband, President George H.W. Bush, or her son, President George W. Bush.

The nation will grieve. The president will order flags to fly at half-staff at the nation’s federal buildings. We’ll all remember Barbara Bush as the matriarch of one of the nation’s most iconic political families.

She was a great American.

Mrs. Bush embodies class and grace

I don’t know about anyone else, but I do have difficulty watching admired public figures struggling as they fall into “failing health.”

So it is with former first lady Barbara Bush, who lived in the White House with her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, from 1989 until 1993.

She is now at home in Houston. Mrs. Bush has declined any further medical treatment. She has requested “comfort care.” Her family has gathered around her.

Yes, it looks as though the end is near. More than likely.

My difficulty deals with watching this marvelous woman struggle to remain among us. The love story that unfolded in January 1945 when she and the young Navy aviator married. They now hold the presidential record for marital longevity.

Mrs. Bush always acquitted herself with class as well as with candor. Her children and grandchildren call her The Enforcer. No one put anything past this marvelous individual.

She made literacy her hallmark while serving as first lady. She read to children. She sought to imbue in our kids a love of literature. Mrs. Bush created a foundation to continue that work after her time as first lady had expired.

The world has joined in offering love and support for this iconic American political family that has been led by a matriarch who stood tall next to her husband — and her oldest son, George W.  Bush, who also ascended to the presidency.

Still, it is damn hard to watch this story unfold.

Obama is relaxed; many of us wish he could return

Barack H. Obama seems to have found his second wind as a private citizen. Same with Michelle Obama.

The two of them hardly ever are photographed without big smiles on their faces. The former president is enjoying his time away from the spotlight, as is the former first lady.

Oh, this fills many of us with wistful thoughts. If only we could get him back. That can’t happen. The U.S. Constitution limits presidents to two elected terms. Barack Obama did his time. Now he’s out among some of us.

Sure, he’s making a ton of scratch making speeches. He is kicking a lot of his post-presidential income back to community projects near and dear to his heart. He is following the course set by many of his predecessors.

George W. Bush has taken up painting, has biked with wounded veterans (including in Palo Duro Canyon) and has opened his presidential library in Dallas; Bill Clinton is hard at work on his Clinton Global Initiative Foundation, also making speeches and getting mixed up in politics from time to time; Jimmy Carter builds houses for Habitat for Humanity and teaches Sunday school in Plains, Ga.; George H.W. Bush is in poor health, but he, too, enjoys retired life.

I suppose it would tempting for Obama to fire back at his successor, Donald Trump, who seems to need a foil; he relishes the notion of dismantling many of his immediate predecessor’s successes and he does so while firing off broadsides via stump speeches and tweets.

Therein lies one of the many differences between Obama and Trump. The current president simply cannot stand being criticized; the former president might not like it, but he maintains his silence … mostly.

As much as I would like to have Barack Obama back in command of the situation, I know — and appreciate — his sense of freedom from the rigors of serving in the nation’s highest public office.

I wish him well. I also hope he doesn’t disappear. Many of his countrymen and women still enjoy listening to his soaring rhetoric far more than the trash talk that pours forth from the guy who succeeded him.

POTUSes 41 and 43 ‘tell it like it is’

Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush are pulling no punches as it regards one of their successors, Donald John Trump.

Bush 41 calls Trump a “blowhard”; Bush 43 says Trump doesn’t understand the impact of occupying the world’s most powerful public office.

They are actual Republicans. Trump, as I understand their interpretation, is a quintessential Republican In Name Only, a RINO. The former presidents believe the GOP is in trouble with Trump as its titular party leader.

A new book, “The Last Republicans” by Mark Updegrove, details the views of the former presidents regarding the current Oval Office occupant. It’s rare, indeed, to hear ex-presidents comment at all on their successors, but this is no ordinary time in American politics.

I mean, the country elected someone to the presidency in 2016 with no prior public service. None! He came from the world of big business, beauty pageants and reality TV. His entire professional career was aimed at self-enrichment and self-promotion.

And that gets to the heart of Bush 43’s critique of Trump as someone who doesn’t understand what it means to be president. Trump spoke during the campaign of being his own best adviser, as he touted his intelligence and steel-trap memory. President Bush 43 sees that as a serious indicator of Trump’s lack of understanding of the office he occupies.

The interviews were conducted before Trump even became the Republican nominee for president. Bush 41 was leery of Trump from the beginning and has said in blunt terms that “I don’t like him.”

The White House, of course, has returned the volley, saying that the Bushes’ concern about the future of the GOP is more of an indictment on their leadership than it is about Donald Trump.

Sure thing. Except that the guy in the White House ran as a Republican only because he saw it as providing the path of least resistance to his form of populism/nativism/isolationism.

The guy who was elected because he “tells it like it is” is now getting a serious dose of his own rhetorical medicine by two seasoned Republicans who know the ropes, know about the office they held between them for 12 years and who understand the consequences of electing someone with no knowledge of how to govern.