January 20, 2019

George H. W. Bush: The Epitome of a Good Man

“Walking away from power and divorcing oneself from all the puffery and pageantry that comes with being a “somebody” takes genuine character. Leave it to both Presidents Bush to embrace the idea of never looking back.

George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the United States, certainly enjoyed the respect and admiration of many in the world, but his biggest impact after the presidency was his desire to live an unceremonial, action-packed life. The best parts of this man were father, husband and friend. But we would also have to add intrepid thrill-seeking retiree. As he grew older and less physically vibrant, he seemed to continue to embrace with gusto what he could do. When he could no longer easily speak, he smiled bigger. When he could no longer walk with ease, he wheeled everywhere, allowing his socks to make the ultimate statement.

It had to be a blow when he realized he would not be able to do the physical things he always relished. We saw him, as president, playing golf, tennis, jogging, swimming and, of course, his particular love of horseshoes. His swings and throws, much like his political rhetoric, were not always smooth but always purposeful and, mostly, close to the mark. He seemed to figure out a way to make it competitive, even when the odds were steep.

This is was also true when he ran as a longshot for president in 1980 against many including Ronald Reagan, but despite fierce contrast (Bush was not afraid to go on the attack), the two men joined as a ticket and they literally rehabilitated the country and changed the world. Another virtue 41 personified: loyalty to Ronald Reagan.

Presidential elections are physically, emotionally and intellectually draining. The idea that the American people did not choose to re-elect “41” had to hurt deeply. It would be all too easy to have a certain bitterness take hold. Not with President Bush; he seemed to mourn his loss briefly and then began to jump into a life free from political power and obligations. He lived an aggressively active post-White House life. If you had the chance to talk with him, he was kind. He often poked fun at himself or some other deserving target — all in fun, to make you feel at ease. He had an unrelenting quality to try and make himself be as normal as possible and to relate to those around him.”

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