The MSM tends to the hagiographic when a former president dies. They were even relatively charitable when Tricky Dick went straight to hell without passing go. In the case of Poppy Bush, the people who covered him liked him as person, which makes it easier to gloss over his political flaws and vices. This was my initial reaction upon hearing that he’d died:
I have mixed feelings about Poppy Bush. He deftly handled the end of the Cold War but his 1988 campaign was one of the dirtiest in history. Certainly a better person than the Current Occupant. Not a high bar to clear.
— Shecky (@Adrastosno) December 1, 2018
In its rush to paint Bush as a “kinder gentler” president, the MSM has focused on his thank you notes instead of his record. As president, Poppy Bush was determined to disprove this Newsweek cover:
That was when Newsweek was owned by the Grahams and what it said mattered. Bush was a genuine war hero who should have been secure in his masculinity, but instead was overly fond of military solutions to political and diplomatic problems. His former boss, Ronald Reagan, spent Word War II in uniform in Hollywood, but he was more secure than his Veep so there was tougher rhetoric but fewer military deployments when he was what Gore Vidal called “the Old Television President.”
My head started spinning when I heard CBS’ Bob Schieffer claim that the “Wimp Factor” flap was caused by Poppy’s niceness and good manners. Wrong. It was caused by his obsequiousness as Reagan’s Veep. Bush was a moderate Republican who abandoned most of his previously held positions in a full embrace of Reaganism. It was Bush who dubbed Reagan’s tax cut plan “Voodoo Economics.” Bush arguably moved to Reagan’s right because the hardcore wingnuts never trusted him, so he was obliged to appease them. Appeasement is never appealing.
While we’re on the subject of Newsweek covers, Gary Trudeau did the mud bath cover that is this post’s featured image. He also did a hilarious strip wherein Poppy Bush “put his political manhood in a blind trust” for the duration of the Reagan-Bush administration:
Repeat after me: the Wimp Factor was about George HW Bush, subservient Veep. It was particularly noteworthy as he followed in office the first modern Vice President, Fritz Mondale. Mondale saw his mentor, Hubert Humphrey, humiliated by LBJ and insisted on becoming the first Veep to have any power and influence. Poppy Bush was a throwback Vice President as was his own Veep, J Danforth Quayle. Ironically, W followed the Carter-Clinton model and gave Dick Cheney too much power. So it goes.
I gotta give Poppy Bush credit for being able to laugh at himself. He befriended Dana Carvey who was best known for his Bush impression on SNL. Carvey portrayed Bush as an amiable somewhat dim aristocrat. Carvey famously said his Bush combined Mister Rogers and John Wayne. It’s a good day in the neighborhood, Pilgrim.
Poppy even invited Carvey to do his impression at the White House:
There’s been a lot of babble on the MSM about Poppy’s decency. It’s been exaggerated BUT I’ve enjoyed it when it serves as a rebuke to the Insult Comedian. Trump has not been barred from the DC memorial service so, he’ll be there. I hope he’s not allowed to speak: eulogies are supposed to be about the dead guy, not the speaker. I don’t think Trump is capable of that. Besides, he might confuse Poppy with Jeb and say 41 is too low energy,
I still have mixed feelings about Poppy Bush’s presidency. He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law and presided over the demise of the Soviet Union with skill and tact. His weaknesses on the domestic front emboldened the Pat Buchanans and Newt Gingrichs of the world, which gives Poppy some responsibility for the GOP becoming the Party of Me. I never voted for him and would give him a gentleman’s C as president. The worst thing about his Presidency is that it made the Bush-Cheney administration possible. I give them a lout’s F.
I wish hagiography weren’t the American way, but it’s as old as the Republic itself. See Weems, Parson. George HW Bush was neither all bad nor all good. I didn’t like his policies but, unlike the Current Occupant, he was not a raging gaping asshole whose hand I would have refused to shake. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about a Republican in 2018 except this: Poppy Bush was the best of a bad lot.
3 thoughts on “Poppy Bush”
He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. He put in place today’s policy regarding wetlands (that is, no net loss of wetlands to development). He did indeed handle the end of the Cold War as skillfully as anyone then on the scene could have, and he preserved American credibility among the Arab nations in the Gulf War coalition by not pushing into Iraqi territory. He even acknowledged that his agreement to the 1990 budget deal likely would make him a one-term president, although it was the right thing to do.
But at bottom, the man lacked principle. You don’t go from disdain to embrace of so many of Ronald Reagan’s awful policies if you are a person of discernment and character. “The Wimp Factor” was a real thing, and in important ways it fatally weakened his presidency.
One last thing: Everyone talks about Bush wanting to have a “kinder, gentler” presidency without asking: kinder and gentler than what?
Lee Atwater. Willie Horton. Clarence Thomas. Endless Pledges of Allegiance at flag factories. “Card-carrying member of the ACLU.”
Just a few of the things I’ll remember him for.
he was satanist, a murderer and a pedophile
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