You’ll read lots of stories about George H. W. Bush this week. The obituaries have been written over many years and require only light touch ups to be ready for prime time. The tributes are generally more current and “le jeu classique” of that genre is to contrast some aspect of the deceased to the present. Then there are the “as George and I were saying…” pieces that call more attention to the writer than to the late President.
If you have ever tried to remember whom you voted for in long-ago elections, it becomes pretty clear that your mind plays tricks on you and skews your recollection toward what you now hope you did back then. At least that’s what mine does.
I am pretty sure George Bush 41 was my first Republican vote in a four Democrats, five Republicans, three independents and one “don’t remember” string of 13 elections since 1968. He was one of my only four winners.
Never a zealot other than for solving problems and checking things off lists, I mostly liked his approach. No surprise, I share the preppy, New England, WASP thing, and he was that.
Andover and Yale, to say nothing of what must have been some pretty interesting childhood dinner conversations prepared him for an era that happened and he flourished in it.
My St. Paul’s and Harvard experience plus a whole bunch of really interesting dinner conversations prepared me for an era that didn’t happen.
Under President Kingman Brewster and Admissions Director R. Inslee “Inky” Clark, Jr., Yale led the charge toward diminishing the number of preppy New England WASPs it admitted each year. The other colleges quickly followed. Likely this was a good thing as it opened the door to more important leadership roles for a wider variety of more talented people. The bigger the pool, the greater the available talent? Seems logical.
Unfortunately when they reduced the number who looked and sounded like Bush 41, they tossed out some useful values that guided people like him.
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” reads Luke 12:48 in the King James Version. By the time George H. W. Bush could use that idea in a State of the Union message, it had become “Our work in the world is based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required.
An era has passed, perhaps with insufficient regret.
Dianne Warner, December 01, 2018 at 7:16 pm said:
Insufficient regret perhaps. A remarkable person, a leader of our country who set a high bar few can achieve. Sorely missed.
Haven Pell, December 01, 2018 at 7:24 pm said:
maybe regret will trigger something positive
Helen Stovell, December 01, 2018 at 7:25 pm said:
I loved the ‘era that didn’t happen’ and ‘Unfortunately when they reduced the number who looked and sounded like Bush 41, they tossed out some useful values that guided people like him.’
Will anyone else recognize your wisdom…one of your best, Haven.
Haven Pell, December 01, 2018 at 7:28 pm said:
wow, you are sweet, Helen. Thank you. I thought “noblesse oblige” might be “de trop.”
Russell Seitz, December 01, 2018 at 8:24 pm said:
Would that 41 had emulated Ike in retiring from one presidency into another
A splendid successor to Bok would have spared Harvard Rudenstine , Summers, Faust and Bacow.
Haven Pell, December 01, 2018 at 9:46 pm said:
do you think he would have?
Richard Meyer, December 01, 2018 at 8:47 pm said:
I am in complete agreement with your comments, Haven.
Richard Meyer, December 01, 2018 at 8:48 pm said:
I’m in complete agreement with your comments.
Tim Warburton, December 01, 2018 at 8:56 pm said:
With a solid grounding in the CIA, who knows what other bits of training he may really have had coupled with his stint in China, he certainly was well prepared for his stint as president. Although, his underbelly was well carved out due to the CIA’ s little Nicaragua games out of Arkansas giving Clinton the knife to turn.
Bush should have had 2 terms, but he couldn’t run hard against Clinton once he was the nominee knowing that Clinton could make sure all George’s little secrets would come out. You can hear Bill “Well sure you all can run those illegal CIA planes out of Arkansas, we won’t say nothing, but I will be running for President”.
Haven Pell, December 01, 2018 at 9:44 pm said:
Interesting story that I did not know.
Disma, December 01, 2018 at 10:23 pm said:
Thanks haven. George Senior was a wise and good leader. I think his likes are appreciated right now more than ever. Decent, soft spoken and had the guts to raise taxes even in the context of his declaration he’d never do so. A good man.
Haven Pell, December 01, 2018 at 10:35 pm said:
Thanks for the nice comment.
Allan Matthew Keene, December 01, 2018 at 10:32 pm said:
Haven….as one of the incoming class at Fordham law school in 1971, along with you and Mike DiGiacomo, we were all veterans and served in Vietnam..
41 was a volunteer at 18 and his concept of duty is sorely lacking today..only 1% of the population serves today and the 99% are strangely disconnected and have lost the concept that I and many others grew up with..
I am glad that today many vets are entering Congress and I hope that they will form the basis of the next “Greatest Generation”…
Haven Pell, December 01, 2018 at 10:34 pm said:
Allan, great to hear from you and thank you for the comment.
Bob Timpson, December 01, 2018 at 11:34 pm said:
Actually, I think prep school values may have a
— The McCain funeral (Annapolis and generations
of admirals counts as prep school);
— Mueller, SPSer who will single-handedly restore the notion
that there is such a thing as truth and honesty, that bad
behavior not just in Washington but on Wall St in the end
is not rewarded, that selfless public service is good …
— Wray, who has not really been tested yet but is an
essential backstop if something happens to
Mueller, went to Buckley, Andover, Yale, Yale Law
Don’t think Trump had any idea idea he was appointing
someone so unmalleable ….
— and of course the days of 41 commentary, and the funeral.
I think many Americans didn’t like all the Trump antics
but were willing to accept it to get the tax cut and a good economy,
and maybe some Supremes. Not clear that’s a long term
winner for good church-going folks..
Haven Pell, December 01, 2018 at 11:41 pm said:
Bob, Thank you for a comment that provides much hope going forward. As always from you, very thoughtful. Much appreciated.
Towny Gray, December 02, 2018 at 4:34 pm said:
In 1964 when you and I were admitted to Harvard the “dewasping” of the Ivy League fortunately had not kicked in yet or otherwise we might have had to go to our back up plan. As evidence out of my class of fifty at St. Marks School nine of us were admitted to Harvard and several others went to Yale and Princeton. Those days are now ancient history.
Haven Pell, December 02, 2018 at 10:24 pm said:
Towny, you are correct but the change was not precipitous. It moved more gradually with exceptions to the trend still weaseling our way in. I wrote about it when Fred Glimp died. https://www.libertypell.com/be-like-fred/
C Griffin, December 02, 2018 at 9:59 pm said:
A graceful tribute to a lovely gent.
Haven Pell, December 02, 2018 at 10:19 pm said:
Thank you. I have enjoyed reading many of the others today too.
Pete stovell, December 03, 2018 at 12:46 am said:
Thanks Haven. I loved your piece on George. I found the conclusion very powerful. Thank you! Best, pete
Haven Pell, December 03, 2018 at 12:49 am said:
Thank you Pete. Much appreciated.
Bob Homans, December 04, 2018 at 10:29 pm said:
Very nice piece on Bush 41. I didn’t vote for him in 1988, largely because I was turned off by the Lee Atwater ads – perhaps one time when Bush 41 left the principles he was brought up with at the door. I didn’t vote for him in 1992, because I felt that he liked being President up to a point. He was very good at foreign policy and national security, but not so good when having to fight dirty with people like George Mitchell. As I said in my emal last night, whoever it was who said that Bush 41 was at his best when he wrote his own speeches, nailed it.
Haven Pell, December 04, 2018 at 10:31 pm said:
Thanks for the insights Bob. Maybe we should all have a category of “best President I didn’t vote for.”