Poor Georgie. His entire political career has been focused on eclipsing the achievements of his father. His father failed to remove Saddam from power, so Georgie’s first order of business as president was to attack Iraq. His father lost his bid for a second term, so Georgie invested all of his energy into winning re-election.
But when he visited Germany yesterday he was greeted with constant reminders that he will never be the man his father was. One would think that bar is not set too high, yet he fails to clear it anyway.
Residents of this picturesque city are fond of President Bush — the former one, that is. On Wednesday, the less-popular son got frequent reminders of the good will for the elder Bush.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who has had an at-times tense relationship with the current president at whose side he stood, fondly recalled President George H.W. Bush’s trip to Mainz in May 1989.
“He committed himself very strongly to the idea of a united Europe as a strong partner by the side of the United States of America,” Schroeder said.
Then the first question at their joint news conference, from a German reporter, asked Bush if he views Germany as a partner in the same way as his father.
Some noted Bush’s visit suffered by comparison to his father’s because of the extraordinary security.
Sixteen years ago, only minimal disruptions of everyday Mainz life accompanied the elder Bush’s stay, as he arrived by helicopter to reduce traffic snarls and required the closure of just one street.
For Wednesday, all streets and shops in Mainz were closed, the busy Rhine River was shut to ship traffic, nonresidents were banned from the city center and even residents were forbidden to step onto their balconies or even open windows or shutters.
Lufthansa, meanwhile, canceled 75 flights and delayed several hundred others because of restricted airspace around the nearby Frankfurt airport. And several expressways between the airport and Mainz were closed for Bush’s motorcade.
May 31, 1989: President George H. W. Bush raises a glass with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, something his son will never do.
This is how the people of Mainz greeted George the Lesser.