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.