Mothers are revealing. Most people my age lived in households where the father worked and mothers raised the children. Fathers were seen during evenings and on weekends, sometimes to punish their offspring for misdeeds performed during the day. Children were told: “Wait ‘til your father gets home!” Mothers were around all the time; so they had the stronger influence.
It was interesting, in that regard, to hear Fox News’ Steve Doocy interview Barbara Bush at her Houston home last week. As an independent-minded, long-time observer of the political scene, Mrs. Bush responded to a recent Maureen Dowd column on the possibility of another Clinton-Bush lineup in 2016: “It just seems ridiculous in a country this size that we don’t have other families!” Her dispassionate tone was soon overtaken by her motherly instincts: “Jeb [Bush] is the most qualified person in this country to run for President.”
There is no doubt that Mrs. Bush’s character and intelligence informed her eldest son, George. Controversy about him continues to swirl. Diehard Democrats still accuse him and the Republican Party of “stealing” the 2000 election. By the time he left office, his ennobling response to the horrific events of 9/11 had been swept away with the venality that fell on him for the invasion of Iraq, the “torturing” of prisoners and for allowing the credit crisis of 2007-2008 to unfold as it did. Mainstream media never liked him. When Mr. Bush left office, his poll numbers were the lowest of his Presidency. Schadenfreude was palpable among members of the press.
In his inaugural, Mr. Obama was quick to distance himself from George Bush. “Not since 1933,” David Sanger wrote in the New York Times the next day, “when Franklin D. Roosevelt called for a ‘restoration’ of American ethics and ‘action, and action now’… has a new president so publicly rejected the essence of his predecessor’s path.” Mr. Obama’s desire was to “transform America” – to remake it in his image. Phrases like “Bush lied,” and “Blame Bush,” became common as parodies of themselves. And, certainly, ethical behavior has not been “restored.”
But even those who find it difficult to say anything nice about the 43rd President generally agree he is a decent and considerate man. Those aspects, in another age, would have marked him as a man of “character;” but the importance of character is no longer considered relevant.
An insight into George Bush’s character (and unlike that of the current occupant) is that not once during his Presidency did he accuse his predecessor for what he [Bush] had inherited: he never blamed him for not killing Osama bin Laden when given the chance; Mr. Bush never assigned responsibility to Mr. Clinton for the run-up and later bursting of the tech-Internet bubble that was still unwinding when he assumed office in January 2001. (It is largely forgotten, but by the time Mr. Bush was inaugurated, the NASDAQ Composite was down 50% from its peak 10 months earlier. It is never mentioned that George Bush inherited an economy that was headed into recession, which began two months after he took office and ended in November of 2001.)
George Bush left Washington on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 and flew to Midland, Texas with his wife and parents. In contrast to Bill Clinton, George Bush has stayed out of the limelight. “I don’t think it is good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor,” he told Jay Leno in an interview last November. He was right. We should not be a nation of celebratory or “rock-star”-like presidents and ex-presidents. Citizens serve as president and then should retire quietly. George Washington set the tone in March 1797 when, like Cincinnatus, he left the field to John Adams and fled to Mount Vernon. It is fascinating that the liberal media – the supposed supporters of the "common" man – should crown their Democrat heroes with garlands of royalty, the most conspicuous of course being the Kennedys and Camelot. Clintons are glamorous. Obama is “The One.” Not so Republicans. The same press tells us that Gerry Ford was a bumbler, Reagan was senile, and George Bush the stupid scion of old wealth.
Nevertheless, and despite every derogatory epithet thrown at him, George Bush has lived since retirement at his home in Dallas and on his ranch in Crawford, Texas, doing good deeds but outside the public’s eye.
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