George Herbert Walker Bush may have only served a single term as President of the United States, but history will remember him kindly.
Of the numerous accolades various leaders have offered the US and the Bush family, the one that stands out most about the 41st president is that he was essentially a good man.
There is much to celebrate about his 94 years on this earth. A gentleman through and through, he first served his country at a young age when, at 18, he chose to suspend his college studies to be a Navy pilot during World War II
The first President Bush went on to become, among others, ambassador to the UN, director of the CIA, vice president under President Ronald Reagan, and finally President. Very incidentally, he also fathered a US president with his beloved wife Barbara.
When he assumed the presidency, the senior Bush said that it was “a moment rich with promise.” It was a peaceful and prosperous time, he said, “but we can make it better.”
How right he was.
Under his watch, the world underwent dramatic changes. The Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union was dissolved. The first Gulf War also took place, and Bush was praised for gaining broad international support for the successful effort to free Kuwait, which had been invaded by Iraq.
Economically, Bush signed the North America Free Trade Agreement, a pact with Canada and Mexico that stands to this day.
He carried himself well as president. Never one to engage in histrionics, he lived up to that age old age of speaking softly but carrying a big stick. The only time he acted less than presidential was when he vomited on the Japanese prime minister during an official dinner.
He also had to live with one campaign promise that he was forced to break. After famously saying, “Read my lips. No new taxes,” he was forced to raise taxes during his term.
But on the global front, President George H.W. Bush stood tall. When he left office, his approval rating with the American public was at 56 percent. Unsurprisingly, 10 years ago or long after he left office, his approval rating was at 60 percent.
Perhaps because it could be gleaned that in retirement, the true President Bush could be seen for what he was – a good and decent human being.
He remained in the public eye after he left office. He could have faded into the limelight, but did not. No doubt, he played a major role in the ascension to the presidency of his son and namesake.
Bush was also active in a number of humanitarian activities in his post-White House years.
A lifetime Republican—at one time he was chairman of the Republican National Committee — his last grand gesture was to reject his own party’s presidential candidate in 2016, going so far as to say that he would vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton because he believed she was better prepared to handle the most difficult job in the world than a billionaire real estate developer who was an outsider to his party.
Our 41st president is now part of history. Rest in peace, President George H.W. Bush.