How President George H.W. Bush tried to help me join the Marines

We join our nation in mourning the passing away on November 30, 2018 of President George H.W. Bush, the 41st  President of the United States. He was 94.

I first met President George H.W. Bush on January 21, 1989, the day after his inauguration as President at the Rose Garden of the White House. At that time I was a member of the Republican Senatorial Inner Circle (a group of citizens who had contributed significantly to elect Republican Senators). I had been invited to his inauguration and various associated activities. The Chairman of the Inner Circle, Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, a fellow member of the New York Bar, introduced me to President Bush: “This is Emmanuel Tipon, he is also from Yale.”  President Bush (who graduated from Yale University [not the Law School] in 1948) smiled asking: “How do you do?” “I feel great Mr. President. I am honored to meet you,” I replied. He smiled graciously.

Contrast this with my initial encounter with Bill Clinton four years later when he was running against President Bush. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (the next Speaker of the House) had invited me to a fund raiser for Clinton at the Fairmont in San Francisco. When Bill approached, Nancy said: “Bill, this is Al Tipon, he also went to Yale.” Bill put his arm around my shoulder, shook my hand, took me aside, and asked: “How was Yale for you.” My reply was: “I spent more time with the girls than with the books.” He laughed loudly. “And how were the girls,” Bill asked. I replied: “Fantastic. We went to bed but never slept.” He guffawed loudly. Bill is “carinoso”. It’s no wonder, he had so many girls. I was emboldened to talk about girls because I heard that he was a ladies man at Yale. And he was not yet President.

When the Gulf War broke out in January 1991 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, I went to the Marine Corps Recruiting Office in Daly City, CA. “I would like to enlist, sir,” I told the recruiting officer who asked how he could help me. “Sir, there is an age limit, you have to be between 18 and 36,” the officer replied. “Why, do you think I am under 18?” I asked, half seriously. The officer laughed. He told me that I might be able to get a waiver from the President. I asked my good friend, Congressman Tom Campbell, a Republican from Palo Alto, CA if it was possible to get a waiver. Tom said he would write President Bush.

A few days later, I got a call from the Pentagon. The caller said he was an officer and that they had been directed by the White House to give me a commission. He said that they might be able to give me a commission as a second lieutenant in the JAG (Judge Advocate General), adding somewhat apologetically that I would probably be making less money than in my current job. (At that time I was Senior Editor for Bancroft Whitney Law Book Publishing in San Francisco and was also practicing law). I told the caller that money was not a problem and that I wanted combat duty and go to Kuwait. The caller said he would get back to me. When the officer called back, the Gulf War was over. I told him there was no more war to fight so there would be no point in joining the military.

I supported Bush when he ran and won. Bush tried to help me to join the Marines. It was not a quid pro quo. I supported Bush without the expectation of getting anything in return.

It was through my son Noel that I fulfilled one of my dreams – to join the Marines. He entered as a second lieutenant and left as a Major. He was deployed in Iraq. Now he and his law partner Tim Bilecki are defending military personnel in court martial cases and civilians accused of criminal misconduct.

The reason I had supported Bush when he first ran for President was that he was from Yale, he was a moderate, he was well-prepared for the office, he had inspired us with his vision to keep America moving forward for an endless enduring dream and “a thousand points of light,” and he had vowed “read my lips, no new taxes.”

But once in office, Bush breached his promise and raised taxes. Politicians who break their promise on the basis of which people support them do not deserve to continue in office. More so when it involves taxes the raising of which is anathema to Republicans.

Bush’s poor strategy in the Gulf War also contributed to my disappointment with him. After driving out Dictator Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, Bush stopped at the border instead of pursuing Saddam all the way to Baghdad. That is war interruptus. That is contrary to all rules of engagement.

Obviously, President George H.W. Bush did not read Sun Tzu’s book “The Art of War.” Sun Tzu said that one of the ways by which an army is placed in a difficult situation by a ruler is when he does not know when to advance or when to withdraw.

As a result, turmoil ensued in Iraq, the Shiites and Kurds engaged in open rebellion which forced Saddam to crush them, Saddam tightened his grip on the country. Saddam became the strongest voice of anti-Americanism in the Middle East. The administration of President George W. Bush claimed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. This was never established.

When President George W. Bush told Saddam to resign and leave Iraq within 48 hours or else, Saddam refused. So President George W. Bush ordered U.S. forces to attack Iraq on March 20, 2003. Thus began the destabilization of the Middle East that has cost countless lives and billions of dollars. If not for President George H.W. Bush’s war interruptus, the Middle East would likely still be stable.


(Atty. Tipon has a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. His current practice focuses on immigration law and appellate criminal defense. He writes law books for the world’s largest law book publishing company and writes legal articles for newspapers. Listen to The Tipon Report which he co-hosts with son Noel, the senior partner of the Bilecki & Tipon Law Firm. It is the most witty, interesting, and useful radio program in Hawaii. KNDI 1270 AM broadcast band every Thursday at 7:30 a.m. Tel. (808) 800-7856.  E-Mail: [email protected] Websites: http://www.Hawaiimigrationattorney.com; www.bileckilawgroup.com.)