The Gracious Toughness of My Old Boss, George H.W. Bush

 

An excerpt from my remembrance in the New York Post:

Graciousness and toughness. Contradictory attributes though these may seem, in George Herbert Walker Bush they existed in equal, remarkably abundant measure.

Start with the toughness. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the future president could have stayed in school. Instead, he enlisted in the US Navy at age 18 and became a pilot a year later. By the time he was 20, he had flown 58 combat missions, including one in which he was shot down and found himself floating in the ocean for hours before a submarine rescued him.

Postwar, Bush could have stayed on the East Coast and followed his father to Wall Street. Instead, he became an oil wildcatter, moving his bride, Barbara, to a Quonset hut in Midland, Texas.

When he entered politics, Bush could have made his rise a lot easier if he had become a Democrat. Instead, he remained a Republican, adamant that Texas needed to become a two-party state. It did — but not before Democrats walloped him both times he ran for the Senate.

The graciousness? That appears most vividly in small incidents, when there could have been no doubt that he was simply being himself, not appealing to reporters or posing for the cameras.

Read it all here.

Published in Politics
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There are 15 comments.

  1. Thatcher

    Peter, thank you for sharing stories and insights like these. I have to admit it’s one of the reasons I joined Ricochet in the first place……..I could have conversations with people WHO WERE THERE! Very exciting stuff for a guy that wears a hardhat every day let me tell you. So don’t ever be hesitant to share things like this. A behind the scenes look at who men like George HW Bush actually were (or women like Barbara) are invaluable and interesting to the rest of us.

    On the subject of the former President. I gained an amazing amount of respect for him from reading the book Flyboys. Not only was Bush’s bravery in battle recounted in detail but also his humanity as the author told of how HW stared out of the window of his office and said not a day goes by that he doesn’t wonder if he could have done more to enable his crewman to bail out of his aircraft. It struck me then that I never remembered Bush touting his war record when running against Clinton’s less than stellar history during Vietnam. I think Bush would have thought that to be unseemly……. 

    • #1
    • December 3, 2018 at 6:14 pm
    • 17 likes
  2. Thatcher

    Peter, I am sorry for your loss. I’m sure you know this, but you were incredibly fortunate to work for such a man.

    • #2
    • December 3, 2018 at 7:11 pm
    • 3 likes
  3. Member

    I’m not sure who took this photo but the sky in D.C. couldn’t have been more beautiful as President Bush’s casket is carried up the Capitol’s steps. How fitting for such a wonderful and graceful man:

    • #3
    • December 3, 2018 at 7:45 pm
    • 12 likes
  4. Thatcher

    Condolences and thank you for sharing your memories with us, Peter!

    • #4
    • December 3, 2018 at 9:35 pm
    • 2 likes
  5. Member

    Your piece makes me cry for this loss of a the treasure that was George Herbert Walker Bush.

    We were blessed to have him, for as long as we did. I hope stories like yours inspire young people to pursue a life that embraces similar qualities, and serve the same way. 

    • #5
    • December 4, 2018 at 12:36 am
    • 2 likes
  6. Member

    Concretevol (View Comment):
    Peter, thank you for sharing stories and insights like these. I have to admit it’s one of the reasons I joined Ricochet in the first place……..I could have conversations with people WHO WERE THERE!

    I agree with this completely, plus they don’t have any constraints like they have on talk radio.

    • #6
    • December 4, 2018 at 3:58 am
    • Like
  7. Member

    The entire piece is lovely. When the link showed up in my Twitter timeline, I brightened to see its author, exclaiming to myself, “Hey, I know that guy! He talks to me each week on the Flagship podcast!”

    • #7
    • December 4, 2018 at 5:08 am
    • Like
  8. Member

    I like to think that we still have men like this who are willing to serve the country that they love, but who would be able to endure the sort of abuse they would get for trying?

    • #8
    • December 4, 2018 at 6:25 am
    • 3 likes
  9. Member

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    I like to think that we still have men like this who are willing to serve the country that they love, but who would be able to endure the sort of abuse they would get for trying?

    The amount of centralized power that is at stake makes it inherently unmanageable in this sense. 

    • #9
    • December 4, 2018 at 6:28 am
    • Like
  10. Member

    @peterrobinson, thank you for this. President Bush 41 was a very decent man. No President gets all of their policies right — for lots of different reasons. Regardless, GHWB was an example of what a human being should be. “Role model” is thrown about too freely. We should all be role models to each other. But presidents cannot escape that moniker. As a role model he was pitch perfect.

    • #10
    • December 4, 2018 at 6:38 am
    • 4 likes
  11. Member

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    I like to think that we still have men like this who are willing to serve the country that they love, but who would be able to endure the sort of abuse they would get for trying?

    The amount of centralized power that is at stake makes it inherently unmanageable in this sense.

    I fear that you are correct. If thoroughly admirable men such as Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh are put through the torture test, what of we who are lesser, but still willing to serve?

    • #11
    • December 4, 2018 at 6:38 am
    • Like
  12. Member

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    I like to think that we still have men like this who are willing to serve the country that they love, but who would be able to endure the sort of abuse they would get for trying?

    The amount of centralized power that is at stake makes it inherently unmanageable in this sense.

    I fear that you are correct. If thoroughly admirable men such as Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh are put through the torture test, what of we who are lesser, but still willing to serve?

    I think about this all of the time. I’m not an expert, but I think the left has a bunch of backup systems to take care of the people that get chewed up by it, the right not so much. 

    • #12
    • December 4, 2018 at 6:46 am
    • 1 like
  13. Member

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    I like to think that we still have men like this who are willing to serve the country that they love, but who would be able to endure the sort of abuse they would get for trying?

    The amount of centralized power that is at stake makes it inherently unmanageable in this sense.

    I fear that you are correct. If thoroughly admirable men such as Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh are put through the torture test, what of we who are lesser, but still willing to serve?

    I think about this all of the time. I’m not an expert, but I think the left has a bunch of backup systems to take care of the people that get chewed up by it, the right not so much.

    The left uses it to make sure that only their people get into office. One of their many techniques.

    • #13
    • December 4, 2018 at 6:53 am
    • 2 likes
  14. Member

    Rodin (View Comment):
    Regardless, GHWB was an example of what a human being should be.

    Indeed. :-)

    • #14
    • December 4, 2018 at 7:27 am
    • 3 likes
  15. Member

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    I’m not sure who took this photo but the sky in D.C. couldn’t have been more beautiful as President Bush’s casket is carried up the Capitol’s steps. How fitting for such a wonderful and graceful man:

    I saw this today. 

    • #15
    • December 4, 2018 at 2:53 pm
    • 6 likes