Tag Archives: George HW Bush

Architect of Cold War end dies

Americans have spent a lot of emotional capital over the past 30 years congratulating two U.S. presidents over their role in the demise of the Cold War and of the Soviet Union.

Yes, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush deserve credit for their roles in ending the “original” Cold War.

However, I want to offer a tribute to a third world leader who today passed from the scene. Mikhail Gorbachev, the final premier of what we used to know as the Soviet Union, died at age 91.

He, at least as much as the two U.S. presidents, is responsible for ending the age of duck-and-cover drills and worries about nuclear-missile strikes from the Evil Empire.

Gorbachev surrendered his office when the Soviet Union evaporated. He turned it over the Boris Yeltsin, who then had the unenviable task of trying to turn an ironclad dictatorship into something that resembled a democratic society. It hasn’t worked out … yet!

The United States was able to win the Cold War of attrition by forcing the Soviets to build weapons they couldn’t afford. The Soviets bankrupted their economy by building nukes and all manner of military hardware they still like to put on parade in Red Square.

Gorbachev recognized what so many of his communist predecessors ignored.

So, when President Reagan stood at the Hindenberg Gate in Berlin and declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” the Soviet leader well might have actually listened on that day.

The Berlin Wall came down in 1989, thanks to Gorbachev’s acknowledging he was on the wrong side of history. Two years after that? He said goodbye to the Soviet Union.

Hey, don’t misunderstand me. I stand with those who applaud Presidents Reagan and Bush for the strength they showed in waging the Cold War with the Soviet Union. I also want to applaud Gorbachev for acting on the realization that the communist experiment in his country was a monumental failure.


And I cannot pay tribute to Gorbachev’s wisdom without mentioning one of his descendants’ idiotic view that the Soviet demise was a “dark day” in the history of his country. Vladimir Putin is as wrong to want a return to that hideous system as he was wrong to presume that he could take over Ukraine in a matter of days.


Abortion: always toxic

A long time ago, a young Texas congressman served the Houston area. He was famously friendly to organizations that favored women’s reproductive rights.

George H.W. Bush served in Congress for two terms, from 1967 to 1969. He voted routinely in favor of spending bills to pay for those programs now demonized by the right wing of his Republican Party.

Rep. Bush developed — as I understand it — a nickname in the House. His colleagues referred to him as “Rubbers.”

He left Congress and served as CIA director, head of the Republican National Committee, special envoy to China and as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Then along came Ronald Reagan in 1980. “Rubbers” Bush ran against Reagan for the GOP presidential party. Reagan won the nomination and looked for a VP running mate.

He chose George Bush … who then underwent a remarkable political transformation. The instant he accepted Reagan’s invitation to join him on the GOP ticket, “Rubbers” became a fervently pro-life candidate.

The Reagan-Bush ticket won that year. The rest is history.  I hasten to add that as a presidential candidate in 1988, Bush did not wave the pro-life banner with undue vigor; nor did he do so when he ran for re-election in 1992.

I point all this out to remind us all that abortion and women’s reproductive rights long has been among the most toxic issues imaginable. The Supreme Court ruling that strikes down a woman’s right to obtain a legal abortion only fans those embers into a full-blown fire.


This is how you concede, Mr. POTUS

George H.W. Bush 1992 Concession Speech – YouTube

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The link I have attached to this brief blog post is meant to illustrate how a president of the United States should concede to his opponent.

President George H.W. Bush lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton.

He stepped aside with class, grace, dignity and as a statesman.

Take note, Donald John Trump. Follow someone else’s lead … for once in your sorry life!

Not so strange after all

Media pundits continue to make something of a ruckus over the recent political history involving Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris, that Harris roughed up Biden in a couple of debates before she dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest.

They’re now on the same Democratic ticket. So I am left to wonder: Why the fascination? It’s hardly the first time political rivals have hooked up, buried the hatchet and locked arms in the fight against a common opponent.

In 1960, Sens. Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy fought for the Democratic nomination. They spoke harshly of each other. LBJ pulled out at the end of that primary fight. JFK was looking for someone to help strengthen him in the South. So he turned to Sen. Johnson. They won that race. Fate, though, tragically intervened when JFK died from an assassin’s bullet in November 1963.

In 1980, former Gov. Ronald Reagan and former CIA director/U.N. ambassador/former congressman/former special envoy to China George H.W. Bush butted heads for the Republican nomination. Bush chided Reagan’s fiscal policy as “voodoo economics.” Reagan survived and then selected Bush to be his VP. The two of them served together through two successful terms.

In 2008, for heaven’s sake, Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden fought for their party’s nomination. Biden didn’t last long. He took his shots at Obama, who fired back at his foe. Obama got nominated and had Biden at his side for two terms.

So now it’s Sen. Harris who’s being examined. Is she loyal enough? Does the presumptive nominee trust her to be a team player?

Biden has been through the VP vetting process. He knows what to ask, where to look.

Harris’s selection is historic. Many have made much of that fact, given her racial and ethnic background. Biden’s decision to select her, though, doesn’t look like much of a gamble. LBJ, George H.W. Bush and Biden himself already have blazed recent trails that led them all to the vice presidency.

Let’s worry less about the recent past between these two politicians and concern ourselves more with the policy positions they share and will take to the fight against Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

It’s game on, man!

Trump’s got to change? How?

Chris Christie is a seasoned political hand who purports to know what it takes to win a presidential election.

The former Republican New Jersey governor, though, came up empty in 2016 when he sought the GOP nomination for president, losing that battle to a guy who now is fighting for his political survival. Christie offered some words of advice to Donald Trump:

Change what you’re doing or else you’re going to lose. Period. End of story.

I did chuckle a bit when Christie referred to “President Michael Dukakis” who was leading Vice President George H.W. Bush by 18 percentage points about this time during the 1988 campaign. Bush went on to defeat Dukakis handily.

What did the underdog, Bush, do to reverse the tide? He went on the attack. Full bore. Frontal assault. He savaged Dukakis over the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance and his furloughing of a murderer who then committed a heinous crime while he was away from prison.

Dukakis never fought back. He let Bush’s team beat him bloody.

That’s how Bush turned the tide.

Does Donald Trump have that kind of weaponry in his arsenal? Hardly. Trump already has established his brand. He won election by waging one of the nastiest campaigns in history. He is going to do the same thing again against Joseph Biden. He is incapable of changing course, changing his methods, doctoring his message.

I also would add that any attempt by Donald Trump to change his approach will look like what it is: a makeover that only makes a candidate look good, but doesn’t change whatever churns inside the candidate’s gut.

Americans now have taken a full measure of what Donald Trump offers to them as president. My hope is that enough Americans have had their fill of what they have seen and will demand change at the top of our governmental chain of command.

Jeb calls for a return to ‘civility’ in political life … yes!

Jeb Bush has been in the fight for a long time. The former two-term Florida governor has had his share of wins and losses.

On Presidents Day, the Republican offered a wish for the country: a return to a more civil tone as politicians argue over policy matters.

Hmm. Yeah. Don’t you wish? I certainly do.

Bush, who lost to Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary contest, laments the hostile tone we’re hearing these days from the president and others in the arena.

He noted something interesting about his late father, the 41st president, George H.W. Bush. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: George H.W. Bush, he said, could have claimed credit when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Instead, he stepped back and let the German people celebrate the accomplishment, he said of his father.

Try for just a moment to imagine how the 45th POTUS would handle such a monumental event. Imagine Donald Trump “stepping back” and letting “the German people celebrate the accomplishment.”

It wouldn’t happen, any more than one can expect a return to political civility for as long as Donald Trump is in the arena.

Still, Jeb Bush’s call is worth noting. It’s also worth wishing it can come true.

R.I.P., Texas GOP trailblazer

I never thought of Clayton Williams as a political trailblazer.

Then comes word today that Claytie — a Midland oil and natural gas tycoon who ran for Texas governor in 1990 — has died at age 88.

I extend my condolences to Williams’ friends and family. I do want to offer a comment on his single, but futile run for public office.

He sought the governorship running against the late Texas Treasurer Ann Richards — who had rocketed to national notoriety with her stellar 1988 Democratic National Convention keynote speech in which she declared that then-GOP Vice President George H.W. Bush “can’t help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Richards and Williams, a Republican, faced off two years later. Williams was poised to win. Then he started committing a series of gaffes. He compared inclement weather to rape, urging Texans to “relax and enjoy it”; he refused to shake Richards’ hand at an event, a gesture that rankled many Texans who believe a gentleman shouldn’t act that way toward a woman; then he revealed he didn’t pay federal taxes when the oil industry was collapsing in the 1980s.

Richards won the governorship. She served a single term before losing in 1994 to the “silver-footed” VP’s son, George W. Bush.

The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey makes a fascinating point, though, about Williams’ political legacy. He notes that Bill Clements was the lone Republican to win the governorship since the Civil War Reconstruction era. Williams lost in 1990, but well might have paved the way for “W” to win in 1994.

Since then, according to Ramsey, Republicans have clamped a vise grip on the governorship, as well as every statewide office.

The things you can learn …

Rest in peace, Claytie.

Yearning for a return to civility

I am a fan of civil political discourse, and of compromise when it can produce a common good, and of political adversaries remaining friends when the battle of the day has concluded.

Thus, I am yearning for a return — please pardon my borrowing a phrase coined by a former U.S. president — to a “kinder, gentler time” in American political life.

The late George H.W. Bush sought such a return when he took office in 1989. It was there, then it was gone.

It’s gotten much worse since Donald Trump entered political life in the summer of 2015. Indeed, he helped foment some of the intense anger even before then, feeding the Big Lie about President Barack Obama’s citizenship status, becoming the de facto godfather of the “birther” movement.

OK, he’s now the current president. The House of Representatives has impeached him. Trump is now getting ready to stand trial in the  Senate.

I won’t venture off the conventional wisdom trail here. I believe he will survive the trial. He will stay in office. Trump then will run for re-election and he will feed the intense anger that will continue to simmer and boil until Election Day 2020.

It’s my desire for a return to political civility, collegiality and comity that makes me yearn for his defeat next year. Trump has shown an unwillingness to bridge the divide among disparate Americans. Indeed, he seeks to widen it.

Thus, as he campaigns for re-election I fully expect the president to keep reminding us of the impeachment drama that is playing out at this moment. He will continue to hurl epithets at his foes. Trump will attach sophomoric nicknames to them. The president will seek to fuel the rage at the system that got him elected in the first place.

What if he wins? Oh, my! We’ll get four more years of practically everything I have just described. There likely will be a new wrinkle or three thrown in for good measure.

I’ll try to do my part to dial it back by refraining from some of the harsh rhetoric I have spouted in this forum since Trump crashed onto the political scene. Trump is a lead-pipe cinch, though, to test that pledge with what he is likely to say out loud over the course of the next year.

Take note: I haven’t hurled a single epithet at him in this post.

Hey, it’s a start. My hope springs eternal that we’ll be able to return sooner rather than later to a kinder, gentler political era.

AG disputes IG … WTF?

William Barr continues to be a profound disappointment to me as the nation’s attorney general.

He took office after Donald J. Trump fired Jeff Sessions as AG. I had high hopes that Barr, who served as attorney general in President Bush 41’s administration, would bring his Washington experience to the job.

Well, he has turned out to be a toadie for Trump. Get this: The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, reportedly has determined that the FBI did not spy on Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, despite allegations leveled by the president that the FBI spied on him.

Barr’s response? He said he questions the IG’s findings. He continues to believe the specious allegation that Trump has leveled against the FBI, that it sought to launch its investigation into Russian interference in our electoral process after spying on the Trump campaign.

Horowitz’s office operates independently of the attorney general, which means that Barr cannot change the IG’s finding.

Still, the attorney general’s continued shilling for the president is disturbing to many of us, me included.

Horowitz is going to release his finding to the public in a few days. My hope would be for the attorney general to let the report stand on its own. That’s my hope. My fear is that the attorney general will seek to undermine it, quite likely at Donald Trump’s bidding.

Et tu, Fox News Channel?

You can quibble till the paint dries about the quality of Fox News Channel’s political coverage. I do on occasion. The network that calls itself “fair and balance” is neither of those things.

However, news hands at FNC are capable of doing good work. They conduct public opinion polling on occasion that raises an eyebrow or two, such as a recent poll showing how Donald Trump matches up against his Democratic opponents.

The most recent Fox poll shows the president, for instance, trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by a margin well outside the margin of error.

The president’s response? He went after the “friendly” network, suggesting it has gone to the dark side by casting him in a negative light. The poll has him “losing big to Sleepy Joe,” Trump said on Twitter.

Good grief, dude. Take a rest from the Twitter machine. I mean, you’ve got important work to do. You are seeking to make America great again, isn’t that right, Mr. President? These constant Twitter tirades make America laughable.

As for what the polls are saying more than a year away from the next election, I’ll answer with two words: President Dukakis.

In 1988, polling had the Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis about 17 points ahead of Vice President George H.W. Bush heading into that year’s election campaign season. The election, um, didn’t turn out that way … you know?

Don’t misunderstand me. I do not want Trump to turn those polls around. If anything, I hope whoever he faces next fall widens the gap and trounces the incumbent badly. He needs to back to … wherever.

So, the president needs to chill out. Get to work. Quit busying yourself with idiotic tweets and assorted blathering about polls with which you disagree.