Tag Archives: Bush 41

Walking Back From Tribalism

The death of an American President is indeed a most curious time for the country. Of course the Presidency is the highest office in the land, and the only elected official that we all share, so it’s sensible that we would remember them, and reflect on their legacy in defining an era for our nation.

But each time this happens, it’s also immediately, maybe subconsciously compared to the present moment as well. Suddenly, we judge that era by the rules which are in place today, forgetting all the steps tile had to take in between to get us to the present. It’s a most peculiar form of time travel.

As Frank Bruni of the New York Times writes, this is absolutely the case at this moment, our National Day Of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush…

On Twitter over the weekend, the television writer Bryan Behar did something unconscionable.

He praised George H.W. Bush.

The former president had just died. In Behar’s view, it was a moment to recognize any merit in the man and his legacy.

Many of his followers disagreed. They depended on Behar for righteous liberal passion, which left no room for such Bush-flattering adjectives and phrases as “good,” “decent” and “a life of dignity.” How dare Behar lavish them on a man who leaned on the despicable Willie Horton ad, who nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, who did too little in the face of AIDS, whose privilege often blinded him to need.

They lashed out at Behar. They unfollowed him. And they demonstrated the transcendent curse of these tribal times: Americans’ diminishing ability to hold two thoughts at once.

Bush has indelible stains on his record. He also has points of light. At times he failed the responsibilities of leadership. At times he did right by them. He showed folly and he showed wisdom, cowardice and courage, aloofness and kindness.

Accentuating the positive, especially in the hours after his death, didn’t eliminate the negative.

Tribalism is a vortex that really leaves us so little room to be the complex, multi-dimensional people that we are. Whether it be arguments over President Bush 41’s record, or figuring out our current struggles in governing, we have to find our way back to creating space for common-sense solutions and compromise. Wounds from these political bunkers have grown so deep, it’s sometimes difficult for us to even speak to each other. 

Like being in a choir full of strong-willed individual voices, if none of them are listening to each other, the choir is not going to be very good.

And therein lies the first set of directions for how to get back to a healthier nation. We have to listen to each other, and maybe even remember that occasionally, good ideas can come from people that aren’t on our side.  All the time that Conservatives spend demonizing Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, that is time they lose learning about the Billions Of Dollars in new investment opportunities such a new deal could bring.

In this moment of reflection, let us hope that we can chart a path back to the listening, common sense solutions and compromise which have sustained America through the centuries, and healed us at our most fractious times.  We all know that a better, greater version of ourselves exists, and it’s time that we meet them again.

Happy Birthday Bush 41!!

For so many people, a President’s legacy is often first viewed in how their time in office finishes up, with the central question being, “did they get re-elected?”  Clearly for the nation’s 41st President George H. W. Bush, that answer would be a no.  After a rousing 1988 campaign where the candidate boldly declared “Read my lips… NO NEW TAXES“, the realities of office led him to break that promise, and paved the way for a defeat by Bill Clinton in 1992.

But as history marches on, Americans are less bitter about Bush 41’s tax increases, and look more fondly on his time in the White House, along with all of the accomplishments he achieved.

First, it’s important to note that Presidency is only 4 years of this great American’s life.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bush served our country valiantly in World War II… one of a precious few remaining veterans from that time.  He even survived a harrowing attack that saw his plane shot down over the open ocean, and looks back on that day as a second chance at life. Political differences aside, no one can question Bush’s bravery and dedication to his country.  He is the last living President who is also a veteran of World War II.

George HW and Barbara Bush

(photo credit:  The Today Show)

After the battle field soon came the oil field.  Bush returned to Yale University, and while studying there he and his wife Barbara Bush (whom have now been married an astounding 69 years!!) welcomed their eldest son George W. Bush into the world.  Then they set off for Texas, where Bush quickly made a fortune in the oil business.  An entry into politics would lead Bush to represent Houstonians in the United States Congress, after a failed run for the United States Senate in 1964.  At that time, Texas a was a Democratic stronghold, and the Republican Bush was unsuccessful achieving statewide office.  But being a prominent Texan for the GOP, Bush was a valuable asset to the party.  As a result, President Nixon appointed Bush to serve as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and other cabinet positions followed.  Though he was never elected statewide, a series of high-profile appointments would forge a path for Bush to the Vice Presidency, and the White House.

As President, Bush 41 had his ups and downs, but also some great achievements.  In 1990, he worked with a bi-partisan coalition in Congress and passed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. It was the most comprehensive expansion of Civil Rights since the 1960s, and gave unprecedented protections to the disabled.  As Bush stated upon its signing, the ADA was “the world’s first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with Disabilities.”  The ADA also paved the way for similar legislation to be enacted all over the world.

For these, and a whole host of other amazing reasons, Texas Leftist is proud to celebrate the 90th birthday of President George H. W. Bush, and wish the very best for the Bush family on this special day.  Happy Birthday Bush 41!!