Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Gordon Forgey

Bush, 41


December 6, 2018

George H. W. Bush, our 41st president, died last week. He was 94.

He had an illustrious career. Although from a patrician family, at 18 he volunteered for the military to become a pilot during World War II. Later he served in the House of Representatives, ambassador, chief of the Central Intelligence Agency and vice president under Ronald Reagan. Then, he was elected president.

Wednesday was a National Day of Mourning for him.

Since his death, he has been widely lauded for his diplomacy, civility and kindness as well as for his internal strength and toughness. He put together the largest coalition in history for Desert Storm and oversaw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall.

At the same time, he has been criticized for being soft. One national magazine called him a wimp. He was attacked for not carrying Desert Storm to Baghdad and for not trumpeting the fall of the Soviet Union.

Yet, for a one-term president, he has left a legacy stronger than many two-term presidents.

He is universally remembered for being kind and thoughtful. He was able to work across the political divides and bring people together.

One reason for the loss of his second term was that he did not keep his famous campaign promise, “Read my lips. No new taxes.”

He raised taxes, knowing that it would cost him. He also knew that it was his responsibility to cut the federal deficit. It was a shining example of doing what was right, rather than what was politically expedient.

Some of the outpouring of affection for him may be nostalgia. He was a public servant in the best sense. He sought what was best for the country and was able to work with people of all ideologies and beliefs. Although conservative, he was a pragmatist.

The ceremonies and celebrations of life for George H. W. Bush are more than fitting for his service to the country. We can hope that they will also remind us of how government can and should be conducted.


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