Presidents Today Can no Longer Attain George HW Bush's Values

You can never tell how history - that is the collective opinions of those who at some point in the future look back at an event or person and render judgement - will look back at the present and judge it.

For someone like me, well into middle age, it seems more than a little passing strange that The Daily Beast - a proudly left-wing muck-racking site with admittedly good, provocative writers doing the mucking and racking - is overflowing with warm, gushing remembrances of George Herbert Walker Bush and his presidency. A presidency that led from the optimistic glow of the booming late 80's into the anxiety of the 90-91 recession. A brief four years, especially for Bush 41 who would have supposed that Bill Clinton was a beatable young huckster from Arkansas and that Ross Perot was an amusing if annoying distraction.

Yet an amazing four years even for those of us who actually remember those years and actually remember the brutal (for those times) satire and constant belittling of the President-that-came-after-Reagan. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the 1st Iraq War, and the Clarence Thomas hearings, contrasted with the general contempt from the left for Bush's presidency and it all swirled together and then came to a quick crashing end as he lost to Clinton. The Dana Carvey impersonations that led to a White House invitation and a chance for the two to ham it up for the cameras sometimes made it easy to forget what he achieved on an international scale.

And this is someone who was involved (how deeply it's hard to say) in the brutal fight against communism in Central America. Someone who sent the troops into Panama to take out a former asset-from-hell, General Noriega, in order to stabilize a country and a canal vital to American interests. The Guardian published an article back in 2017 after Manuel Noriega's death:

When Noriega subsequently launched a vicious wave of repression, threatened American personnel guarding the Panama Canal and declared a "state of war" with the US, Bush pounced. Economic sanctions and quiet diplomacy had failed. Control over the strategically and economically vital canal was threatened. And Noriega knew too much. In December 1989, Bush ordered Gen Colin Powell, then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, to launch Operation Just Cause, sending 26,000 invasion troops into Panama, in a rehearsal of the Powell "doctrine of overwhelming force" that was next employed two years later in the first Gulf war.

It's odd isn't it? While the memories of Carvey and Bush seem very innocent in today's divided and furious landscape, the actual actions overseas that Bush 41 took were those of a tough, seasoned SOB of a politician. So, although there was nothing like the raging cultural backdrop we have today, the world Bush 41 dealt with was as dangerous and unpredictable as what we have today.

The Soviet Union was about to fall apart. The Tiananmen massacre happened after it seemed that Communist China could actually become a democracy. AIDS was far from any sort of real treatment and was spreading throughout the world and a Free Trade Agreement with Canada was about to be expanded south of the border towards Mexico.

But it has taken decades for history to decide Bush 41 was a much better president than many had thought during his single term. And this is due to something that is being pointed out now but was looked on as a weakness back then: H.W. Bush's unpretentiousness. He was New England upper class, a true American aristocrat, if you want to put in those terms, who moved to Texas to make his fortune and then follow his ambitions into politics. He could have come off as a sneering snob like Jerry Brown tended to (oops, tends to) but he didn't. And that might have cost him a second term. Clinton was a very different political animal and while wonky, was a dissolute baby boomer when compared to Bush. And his son and Barack Obama also span the baby boom years, which of course also include Donald J. Trump, an older baby boomer like Bush 43.

Think about it. We've had 4 baby boomer presidents since Herbert Walker Bush, 3 of them for 2 terms. If Donald J. Trump gets re-elected, that will mean 32 years of baby boomers as presidents. None of them, not even Bush 43, were, or are, diffident about their roles as commander-in-chief of America whatever the spin they put on their ambitions. And Trump and diffidence do not share an address, nor perhaps even the same planet.

Perhaps it is no longer possible to succeed in politics the way H. W. Bush did. Let's be clear, I have no illusions that he couldn't be as nasty and tough as anyone to get something done. But the values he had and the way he lived seem so out of reach for today's politicians that it's worth reflecting a little on who the 41st president of America was.

Maybe that's why The Daily Beast is gushing over Bush, even running an article on how H.W. Bush saved the CIA. You can never tell what history will say

Posted by Keeley at December 3, 2018 6:43 PM
Comment #435253

I remember it well.
There was one major contributor that helped sink George H.W. Bush’s election for a 2nd term. George H.W. Bush said repeatedly during his first campaign:

    “Read my lips. No new taxes !
That probably helped GHWB get elected for his first term, but it would be a curse for his run for a second term.

During GHWB’s 1st term, on November 5, 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990m which raised multiple taxes. The law increased the maximum individual income tax rate from 28 percent to 31 percent, and raised the individual alternative minimum tax rate from 21 percent to 24 percent. Technically, existing taxes were increased, but voters did not see it that way, and many voters considered it a broken promise.

Regardless, George H.W. Bush was a patriot.

President George Herbert Walker Bush served as a pilot of a torpedo bomber in the Pacific during World War II. When his squadron was attacked by Japanese anti-aircraft guns, Bush was forced to bail out of the plane over the ocean. The engine on the plane was set ablaze. Bush managed to release the bombs and head back toward the aircraft carrier San Jacinto, before bailing out over the water. After floating on a raft for four hours, a submarine crew fished a safe but exhausted Bush out of the water. His bravery in action earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Over the course of 1944, while his squadron suffered a 300 percent casualty rate among its pilots, an undaunted Bush won three Air Medals as well as a Presidential Unit Citation. In total, Bush flew 58 combat missions during the war. In December 1944, Bush was reassigned to Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was tasked with training new pilots. He received an honorable discharge from the Navy in September 1945 after the Japanese surrender.

George H.W. Bush fought and risked his life for our nation.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 3, 2018 7:10 PM
Comment #435283
George H.W. Bush fought and risked his life for our nation.

Yes, he did D.. I remember GWHB for two significant reasons. First, he told the American people the truth when he told us about the VooDoo economics of Reagan and conservatism since. Second he actually tried to stop the conservative plot to bankrupt the nation as you stated, although he did pay the price as it cost him the re-election.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 4, 2018 1:04 PM
Comment #435288
j2t2 wrote: Second he [GHWB] actually tried to stop the conservative plot to bankrupt the nation as you stated, …
I never wrote that.

Debt during GHWB’s term was MUCH, MUCH, MUCH lower in value, and as a percentage of GDP than today. So, that comment makes no sense.

National Debt:
9/30/1992 ; $4,064,620,655,521.66 ; GDP: $9.31 Trillion
9/30/1991 ; $3,665,303,351,697.03 ; GDP: $9.42 Trillion
9/28/1990 ; $3,233,313,451,777.25 ; GDP: $9.31 Trillion
9/29/1989 ; $2,857,430,960,187.32 ; GDP: $9.26 Trillion

Obama set an all-time record by more than doubling the National Debt from $9 to $19 Trillion. How convenient that j2t2 ignores that. Is that “cognitive dissonance” ?

Posted by: d.a.n at December 4, 2018 6:29 PM
Comment #435291

d.a.n., do you suppose j2t2 would lend us the history book he uses to glean his words of wisdom?

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 4, 2018 6:35 PM
Comment #435294

No. j2t2 doesn’t have a “History Book”.
j2t2, obviously, based on his numerous comments that are repeatedly disproved, just makes up stuff.
At the end of Obama’s 2 terms:

  • GDP: $17.8 Trillion
  • U.S. National Debt: $19.6 Trillion, which is 1.1 times more than GDP !!!
  • That is an all time record.
Yet, Obama is making an ass of himself as he travels around the U.S., and trying to take credit for the last two years of :
  • the push for fairer trade;
  • new trade agreement (USMCA) with Canada and Mexico;
  • lower taxes;
  • the economy; GDP reached 4.2% ;
  • lower unemployment;
  • defeating ISIS;
  • stronger border security;
  • decreased illegal immigration;
  • Supreme Court appointments;
  • decreased regulation and waste;
  • stock market up; confidence up;
  • re-investment in the U.S.A.:
    • SoftBank $50B
    • Exxon $20B
    • Hyundai $3.1B
    • Apple $1B
    • Chrysler $1B
    • GM $1B
    • Bayer AG $8B
    • Toyota $600M
    • LG $250M

Posted by: d.a.n at December 4, 2018 6:58 PM
Comment #435297

Do you have any certifications? Any neutral third party verifications of your qualifications to discuss finance? Everyone is equally entitled to opinions, of course… But do you have any professional experience to justify them?

Posted by: phx8 at December 4, 2018 8:17 PM
Comment #435299

Ha ha!
phx8 wants to know my qualifications regarding finance.

I have worked in banking, mortgages, bankruptcies, finance, re-finance, accounting, and trading for 10+ years.

I have also worked in IT, very large bank database systems, software development, embedded control systems, SCADA, reporting, and data analysis.

I also have a degree in Electrical Engineering, and 35+ years of experience ranging from SCADA and software development, to banking and finance.

So, phx8, what are your qualifications and certifications?

Posted by: d.a.n at December 4, 2018 8:51 PM
Comment #435302

Through no skill on my own, I went to one of the top public high schools in the country. I graduated from one of the top universities in the country, have an M.B.A., served in the USAF as a B-52 Radar Navigator, and was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. I passed certifications for Series 7 & 3 and various kinds of insurance, but never did sell any of the latter. I have done a lot of financial transactions, mostly bonds and stocks and options, trading both professionally and personally, taught HS English & World History, and for ten years sold end-user and IT training to businesses, mostly HR managers and people in IT.

My best short term trade was buying puts on Amazon. My worst was a spread on FB, where I made $33,000 one day and lost $30,000 the next day. I am still pissed at FB! Don’t get me started! My best long term trades were owning Tesla and Amazon stocks.

My favorite job was delivering for the post office! I retired in my early 50’s, without inheriting a penny.

I am currently writing my fourth book. My previous three: one SF, two Lovecraftian horror.

Posted by: phx8 at December 4, 2018 9:12 PM
Comment #435303

Thank you for your service in the USAF.
Good luck on your books.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 4, 2018 9:43 PM
Comment #435332

Goodbye George H.W. Bush. You will be missed by many.

Watching the funeral service for Bush this morning I was impressed by the genuine love and affection shown this very public man. Many leaders become popular, few become beloved.

As a Christian, I could easily understand all the references to redemption thru Jesus Christ, and eternal heavenly rest.

However, I did wonder what atheists must have thought about all the religious comments and promises of everlasting spiritual life. Could they have, just for a moment, been wondering why they don’t believe? Could they have wondered why they dismissed such important beliefs about eternity in their lives?

I will never know of course; but I do wonder.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 5, 2018 5:14 PM
Comment #435506

I’ll bet they are more consumed with trying to figure out how to stop people from making the religious comments.

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Comment #436086

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Comment #436502

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