RIP to the last Republican president I voted for, and likely the last I ever will vote for.
He was as much a “bellwether” as few presidents were imo. Reagan was a Cold Warrior - Bush I ushered in the post-modern, post-industrial world we live in today, and bequeathed to us basically all the problems facing the world.
He was both a pragmatist and a meddler (remember Iran-Contra), and entangling the US in the Middle East, rather than the indirect support for Israel, led directly (if completely unexpectedly) to 9/11 and Iraq II. The oil embargo and the “lost decade” of the post-Vietnam 70s so terrified the political classes of the time that he and they were willing to go to war to prevent a single man from controlling the (then) majority of the world’s oil supplies.
His loss also kicked off a quarter century of Republicanism that took the lesson from his 1992 defeat that cutting taxes is such a fundamental statement of conservative belief that even in the depth of the largest war the US had fought since Vietnam the GOP categorically refused to raise taxes, to the point where in Republican dominated states like Kansas and Oklahoma basic government services are literally falling apart.
Bush helped shape the post-industrial world with NAFTA, the largest impetus towards the kind of globalizing politics that became known later as neo-liberalism that had such massive and economic consequences decades later.
The invasion of Panama sealed the confrontationalist path the US has followed with the War on Drugs ever since. To this day the US still attempts to use force despite the obvious futility of trying to stop drug trafficking that way. This bizarre and imbalanced blindness to the consequences has left entire countries wrecked by horrific drug violence of a scale that dwarfs Prohibition by orders of magnitude.
He was also the last Republican President to significantly increase environmental protection laws. Ever after, terrified by the rise of the Third World in a globalized economy, the right associates climate change with taxes and lost jobs (even if this is cloaked in pseudo-scientific skepticism).
Whatever you think of his Presidency, i think you can make a case he was far more influential than most appreciate. He (imo) laid the groundwork for almost all the significant things that came after.
And another sign of the fundamental decency of GHWB as a man: he and Dana Carvey became good friends, even though Carvey’s impressions probably didn’t do Bush many favors in the 1992 campaign. Still: a guy in power who can laugh at himself is probably a pretty good guy.
Here’s Carvey discussing it earlier this year, just a few days after Barbara Bush had passed.
I found this piece by Matthew Yglesias to be an interesting read.
Yes, he did raise taxes, while getting a compromise in spending reductions. He believed that we needed to do it, because we were going to be spending a ton of money fighting a war. He paid a significant political price for it, but he was being true to his principles. It also helped enable the balanced budget a few years later.
Yep, all props to him. I don’t think I’m that old at 40, but man does it seem like he was from a different era. That was a time when I really was a centrist in terms of political parties. It’s crazy how hard the GOP has swung to the Right over the past 20+ years, because those same political beliefs in 2018 practically make me a communist in their eyes now.
I mean he really was. He fought the Japanese Empire. Everyone after him dodged Vietnam or was too young to even serve in it.
I think most of us know this, but it bears repeating:
When the Japanese Empire attacked Pearl Harbor George Bush, the son of a U.S. Senator, was in his senior year at an elite private high school in Greenwich, Connecticut.
On his 18th birthday Bush enlisted in the Navy. He chose to be a naval pilot. It was dangerous work, and it almost killed him.
Yes, it was a different time, but few people living in that time answered the call to service with the urgency and dedication that Bush did. Rest in peace.
On Jan. 20, 1993, I entered the Oval Office for the first time as president. As is the tradition, waiting for me was a note from my predecessor, George Herbert Walker Bush.
Given what politics looks like in America and around the world today, it’s easy to sigh and say George H.W. Bush belonged to an era that is gone and never coming back — where our opponents are not our enemies, where we are open to different ideas and changing our minds, where facts matter and where our devotion to our children’s future leads to honest compromise and shared progress. I know what he would say: “Nonsense. It’s your duty to get that America back.”
I really wonder what was on the note Obama left for Trump.
I doubt he would have read it anyway.
Dear Mr. President -
Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.
This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful. Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.
First, we’ve both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It’s up to us to do everything we can (to) build more ladders of success for every child and family that’s willing to work hard.
Second, American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It’s up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that’s expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend.
Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions – like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties – that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.
And finally, take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They’ll get you through the inevitable rough patches.
Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.
Good luck and Godspeed,
Trump’s letter is going to be something along the lines. Remember all the great stuff I did to make your job easier for you. The best presidents always pardon their predecessors, Keep America Great.
PS You’re the first (American) president I wish I could bang, Ivanka.
Sigh, talk about taking the high road.
LOL. Nailed it.
Trump won’t write a letter at all. That would require him to care about the country and the office after he is done.
I assure you that is not the case.