Tag: George H.W. Bush

Celebrating a Remarkable Life – Robert J. Dole


It came as a shock. It shouldn’t have, the news that former US Senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, 98, passed away on Sunday. It falls on the same day three years ago that he famously but painfully stood in the Capitol Rotunda and saluted the casket of his former political competitor and close friend, George H. W. Bush.

Brilliant and touching prose from prominent people who knew him well or shared parts of his incredible journey and life story are rolling in. Of course, it will be positive, even glowing, and deservedly so. I can imagine Senator Dole, with his famous humor and dry wit, asking “Where were you in 1996?” That’s when he unsuccessfully sought the presidency as the GOP’s nominee, losing to incumbent Bill Clinton. Tributes are already pouring in from his friends, former colleagues, ex-staff, and the beneficiaries of his legendary military, legislative, and public service record. Mine is but a small addition, but we all have our stories and desire to honor his towering legacy. Together, they present a glowing mosaic of courage, determination, compassion, humility, and service.

And yes, humor. He could have easily succeeded as a stand-up comic. As one of a few senior GOP staff would attend occasions closed-door meetings of the Senate Republican Conference, he would often lighten the mood with endless quips, delivered within his famous deadpan style and impeccable timing. Celebrating US Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) on his 93rd birthday, he quipped, “I watch what Strom eats. If he eats a banana, I eat a banana.” Thurmond would live to be 100, six months after retiring from the US Senate in early 2003. He was succeeded by Lindsey Graham.

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It’s a cliche: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Attributed most frequently to George Santayana, it rests close to a biblical phrase, “And there is nothing new under the sun.” King Solomon is credited for that (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Both still ring true. So does a malapropism from legendary philosopher […]

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Truth and Lies About Ukraine


Ukraine in context mapWe were repeatedly treated to lies about Ukraine during the first week of the Democrats’ congressional clown show “impeachment inquiry.” The central lie was that Ukraine was a key security partner against Russia for many years. It is a lie that Ukraine has ever been a key security partner and it is a further lie that Ukraine has been the focus of US policy intended to check Russian re-expansion. Everyone knows this, you know this, at least in your gut. Here are the facts, which do not care about anyone’s feelings:

1991: Ukraine votes for and declares independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist States. Ukraine has over 1,000 nuclear warheads, allegedly without the control and arming codes, but with significant technical knowledge in-house. Weeks before the independence vote, President George H.W. Bush delivers an infamous speech in Kiev, written by Russia and Eastern Europe expert Condoleezza Rice, in which he warned about “suicidal nationalism.” William Safire branded this the “Chicken Kiev speech.” Bush feared that small states declaring their independence would provoke the Russian population, destabilizing the supposedly democratizing new Russia.

The elder President Bush’s most memorable foreign-policy blunder took place in Kiev in 1991, then under Communist rule. With the Soviet Union coming apart, the U.S. president — badly advised by the stability-obsessed “realist” Brent Scowcroft — made a speech urging Ukrainians yearning for independence to beware of “suicidal nationalism.” His speech, which he now insists meant only “not so fast,” was widely taken as advice to remain loyal to Moscow’s empire.

Remembering the Ross Perot Moment


Establishment politicians and those invested in business as usual use “Ross Perot” as a bogeyman, a warning not to stray from whatever candidate they shovel up and tell us we must give money, time, and our vote. Except that it was Perot who was the most electable candidate until the skulduggery or head fake or whatever rattled him around his daughter’s personal life. He had taken the lead in the polls but never recovered after showing weakness or indecision for that week or so.

He was a successful entrepreneur who criticized the self-licking ice cream cone of American CEOs, who (with their think tank and pundit platoons) insisted that American workers absorb the hit of global wage and employment competition while not subjecting their own gilded packages to critical comparison with the then ascendant Japanese executives. “If you want to make a million dollars, become a rock (music) star!” Ross Perot was not engaging in class warfare. Rather, he was using the contradictory narratives of wage competition and executive compensation to point to larger misaligned priorities in U.S. corporate policy, underwritten by U.S. government policy and muscle. Hence his early criticism of NAFTA as it was being negotiated.

He treated the American voters like corporate customers, with charts, facts, and figures rather than campaign puffery. Had he won, he would have been pinned down to perform by his charts, rather than explaining away or evading soaring rhetoric and slogans as Bush had.

Decorum at the death of a former president


http://bloviatingzeppelin.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/George-HW-Bush-1.jpgThe passing of a president is inherently a political event, overlaid on the private grief of family and friends. How ought we respond, in an age and a society completely suffused with politics? Mark Davis, broadcasting out of the Dallas Fort Worth area, put it this way:

Politics is only the fourth most important thing in life. The three most important things are:

Service to God,

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.

Why the Bush Family Always Spent Christmas Day at Camp David


George H.W. Bush (and his son) came from old money. HW’s Mother, Dorothy Walker, stressed to him the need to be humble and to think of others.

When the President is on the road, their Secret Service detail travel with him. So that Secret Service members could spend time with their own families on Christmas Day, HW, and then W stayed at Camp David on Christmas Day. They would not leave for Texas until after Christmas Day.

Daniel Foster of National Review Online and Greg Corombos of Radio America reflect on the life and political legacy of President George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday.  They applaud Bush’s service in World War II and many stops in his career of public service and also remember his leadership and the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union crumbled, his successes in the Gulf War, and his support for embattled Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.  They also wince at some low points, namely the selection of David Souter to the Supreme Court and breaking his pledge never to raise taxes.  And they point out that while the media  is largely extolling Bush for his leadership and decency today, their despicable coverage of Bush during his political career painted a much different picture.

White House M&M’s


President George H.W. Bush’s favorite candy was M&Ms, or so I remember the story. Moreover, he gave them out in “White House”-emblazoned boxes, in lieu of the cigarettes I had been told were once available to reporters in the hallway outside the White House press briefing room. At least that’s my memory of the matter. I’ve still got the box (sans the candies — I ate those at the time). I’ve also still got an official White House folder with the prepared briefing notes, and a paper napkin with the presidential seal on it. I also still have the little American flag I waved from the South Lawn while Marine One landed, and President Bush disembarked.

In 1990, I was in 8th grade and that was the year of our class field trip to Washington DC. It must be a rite of passage all over, as I remember encountering other 8th-grade school trips, and have chaperoned my eldest daughter’s own 8th-grade trip. The school I went to was rather well off and some of the parents had connections. What sort, I never found out, but they did get us a behind-the-scenes tour of the Capitol building, then a White House tour.

The White House was the usual tour, nothing out of the ordinary there. We saw a lot of the various presidential portraits, the antique furniture, and heard the tour guide refer to Mimi Eisenhower with a vulgar term as he described how she had sold off irreplaceable accumulations of chairs, tables, and sundry plates, all so she could bring in 1950s modernist junk. Jackie Kennedy, by contrast, received hagiographic treatment for then buying a lot of it back (sometimes with her own funds). Much of the tour now is a blur, but those things stand out.

George H.W. Bush, RIP


President George H.W. Bush passed away Friday evening at 10:10 pm CT at the age of 94. Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath posted the following statement to Twitter:

George Herbert Walker Bush, World War II naval aviator, Texas oil pioneer, and 41st President of the United States of America, died on November 30, 2018. He was 94 and is survived by his five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and two siblings. He was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Barbara; his second child Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush; and his brothers Prescott and William or “Bucky” Bush.

Rest in peace, sir.

Remembering the Formidable Matriarch, Barbara Bush


I first came to her attention after a 1982 event in Minneapolis at which George H.W. Bush, then vice president, delivered a speech I had written. Aboard Air Force II, Barbara Bush came back to speak to the staff. “Who wrote that speech?” she asked.

I shrank into my seat. A member of the staff for only a couple of weeks, I was just 25. It was my first full-time job. When the press secretary explained that I was the new speechwriter, I forced myself to stand. Mrs. Bush held me in her gaze a good long while. Then she smiled. “It was a good speech,” she said. “Write more like it.”

That encounter lasted only a moment, but it summed up a lot about the lady. Warmth, good humor — but always a formidable presence.

Rest in Peace, Barbara Bush


He called her “Bar.” She called her wrinkles “service stripes.” Her white hair matched her pearls. Like Abigail Adams, she was both a wife and a mother to a President. Statement by George W. Bush:

My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.

From Barbara Bush: A Memoir:

When Is “Sexual Assault” Not Sexual Assault?


Let’s look at two pictures side by side and see if we can tell how they’re different. In one panel, we see a famous TV political analyst who apparently had the charming habit of pressing his erect, if clothed, penis against the bodies of young women who worked with and for him. That was Mark Halperin.

In the second panel, we have former president George H. W. Bush, in a wheelchair, age 90, posing for a photo with a number of others, including his wife Barbara, and an actress called Heather Lind. Lind says she felt moved to share her trauma after seeing the benefit concert for Hurricane Harvey relief in which five former presidents participated. It seems that people are unaware of President Bush’s criminal record:

But when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo.

Poppa Bush Exposed in Depraved Sex Scandal!


WW2 hero and former President of these United States George H.W. Bush is ensnared in a lurid controversy that has shaken the globe, along with a few heinies. Not one but two fair maidens have alleged that the wheelchair-bound 93-year-old tried to cop a feel during group photos.

No cigars, potted plants, or sunken Oldsmobiles were found at the crime scenes, but the similar descriptions show a patriarchal pattern of predatory pinching. When several women swarm the seated nonagenarian, he slowly reaches his hand around the damsel to his right and … well … it’s too disturbing for me to describe, so I’ll let the ace journalists at Deadspin take it from here.

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I would love for the beautiful people of Ricochet.com to check out my latest podcast. Next on Thinking It Through:  I get the chance to interview Mr. Peter Robinson, Hoover Institution Research Fellow and host of Uncommon Knowledge.  We speak about what led him to being a speechwriter for Vice President George H. W. Bush and President Ronald Reagan […]

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Kick Me, Kill Me


kickmeIt seems that the Republican establishment will never learn the lesson of the schoolyard: Act like prey, get treated like prey; Allow a bully to slap a “kick me!” sign on your back, expect his flunkies to line up behind him at the invitation. The Democrats, however, do understand this lesson: both to appease fellow-traveling tyrants and to further their own agenda, they have slapped a “kick me!” sign on America so often that doing so is practically in their party platform. And while the Democrats appease their fellow America haters, the Republicans, while paying lip-service to the dangers of appeasement, insist on “reaching across the aisle” to those same Democrats and slapping a “kick me!” sign on their own backs. The Republicans then they wonder why their base — ungrateful for all their “great work”… work that happens to come with a constant and mocking kick from behind — has abandoned them. Their base understands that a bully emboldened and unchecked seldom stops at just the occasional sadistic kick.

This era of Republican appeasement of Democrats began as soon as Ronald Reagan left office and George H. W. Bush assumed it. It was then that President Bush introduced his policy of a “kinder, gentler conservatism.” And it is this policy, in one form or another, which has informed and advised the Republican establishment ever since: a refusal to even deign to put on a pair of gloves and enter the ring. And with each Republican sniff and refusal to fight, the Democrats have become emboldened. They have not only dropped their gloves, they have left the ring and now hang out in a back alley, brass knuckles and baseball bats at the ready.

The progression of Democrat hostility is not difficult to discern, if one is unafraid to look: from the slanders of the Justice Thomas confirmation hearings, to Hillary Clinton’s claims of a “vast right wing conspiracy,” to assassination fantasy plays and “Snipers Wanted” graphics targeting President George W. Bush, to the mass media mocking of Sarah Palin, to the harassment of her family and late night comedy “rape jokes” about her daughter, to the Tea Party being broad-brushed in government reports as a potential terrorist movement, to the media blaming the Tea Party for every atrocity before any evidence could possibly be gathered, to Republican citizens being physically assaulted in town hall meetings, to President Obama’s street rhetoric of “get in their face” and “punish our enemies,” to the IRS targeting conservative groups, to Candy Crowley throwing the 2012 CNN Presidential debate, to the Democrat party cozying up to a group which condones the assassination of police officers, to a talk show host being vilified as a crypto-nazi, to an old man who wore a Trump shirt being assaulted with a crowbar… to this week when pop culture icon Will Smith remarked about supporters of the Republican presidential candidate, “We get to know who people are and now we get to cleanse it out of our country.

An Olive Branch to Trump Supporters: My Foolish Voting History


shutterstock_315507101I’m a committed #NeverTrumper but, more importantly, a servant of Christ who believes in treating my neighbor as I would myself. That principle applies especially to contentious times such these on the Center Right. Before I condemn anyone else, I have my own — sometimes laughable — presidential voting history to remind me that I have absolutely no cause to even think about chucking a single stone at anyone here on Ricochet for making a different decision this time around than I have.

I wasn’t old enough to vote for Ronald Reagan, so the 1988 race the first presidential election I voted in. I supported Pat Robertson in the primary. (I told you I had no cause to even touch that first stone, so just start laughing now. I’ll wait). I was fine with George H. W. Bush getting the nod and voted for him, thinking I’d get Ronald Reagan’s third term. I was wrong, but he wasn’t Michael Dukakis, though he was — and is — a stand-up guy with an impressive military record.

The 1992 election was easy because there wasn’t a credible primary challenger besides Pat Buchanan, and even young, dimwitted Publius knew that Buchanan was a terrible idea. I vote for George H. W. Bush and still remember that awful night in my apartment, watching the returns and learning that Bill Clinton had won. I was never even remotely tempted to vote for Ross Perot.

Yesterday in Houston


I stopped by the office of an old boss, joining him for lunch. Despite the inevitable infirmities, at 91 he remains entirely himself — warm, interested, gracious, humble, eager to turn the conversation from himself to his guest (in the picture below, he’s looking at a shot of all five Robinson children, and he wouldn’t put it down until he’d heard in detail about each).


How Reagan and Bush I Helped Give Us the 1990s Clinton Boom


George H.W. Bush and Bill ClintonHillary Clinton will be the only Democratic 2016er debating tonight with a realistic shot of being the party’s presidential nominee. Betting markets give her about a 70 percent chance. But if she does poorly, maybe Joe Biden gets in and gives her a run. Bernie “I’m a democratic socialist, not a capitalist” may pull Clinton to the left. but he’s not going to get the nod.

Yet one wonders what Hillary’s odds would be if voters thought hubby Bill was a lousy president. What if we had a 1990s Clinton Bust rather than Boom? Who knows? Maybe she still would have been a US senator from New York and thus a plausible presidential contender. But without the reflected glory of The Greatest Decade Ever, it’s hard to imagine the notion of second Clinton presidency would be as appealing. Given the importance, then, of the Clinton Boom in the case for Hillary, how should one think about those go-go years? A couple of thoughts:

First, the 1980s and 1990s were part of an economic continuum where supply-side reforms dovetailed with technological change. Economist Michael Mandel:

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We all know that the “Jeb” in the name of the famous Confederate general, J.E.B. Stuart, is an acronym. It stands for James Ewell Brown. So, it occurred to me that Jeb Bush’s first name might be an acronym also. Then it struck me that I shouldn’t ask that he be referred to as George Bush […]

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