By Marc Cooper (December 1, 2018)
Good grief! I just love the way liberals –and others– are now slavishly and shamelessly canonizing Bush 41 — one of the most mediocre presidents in history. And the very embodiment of POLITE Elitist, Corporate and Oligarchic Rule.
Driving home last last night I had the misfortune of tuning into MSNBC and almost driving off the road as I heard Steve Kornacki, Lester Holt and the insufferably pious John Meachum impersonate a North Korean newsreel in glorifying dear Leader Poppy. Gawd! Who knew he had walked on water?
The emerging official line on GHWB is what a nice, pleasant, and noble chap he was. I never met him but I have no doubt that is true. But Guess what? I spent a LOT of time with his son and candidate George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and found him amazingly charming, chummy, jovial and even funny. Sort of like Alfred E. Neuman! But what’s that got to do with policy? Has the disgusting personal character of Trump and how they treat their staff become the current primary metric for judging presidents ??
I hope not. I am going to give credit to Bush 41 for a few minor accomplishments. I applaud him as a bona fide oligarch who took the great risk of signing up as a combat pilot in WWII. As President, he gets a couple of points for raising taxes knowing it would probably be lethal to his career (it was), for supporting the ADA and for his willingness to occasionally compromise. And he publicly quit the NRA after it flipped out over Ruby Ridge.
On the other side of the scale: 41 was heavily backed and supported by Dick Nixon. We can note his 1964 vote against the Civil Rights Act while serving as a congressman. He supported Nixon during Watergate up until it became impossible to do so. He was CIA chief (what the media calls a Spymaster when it refers to any of his foreign counterparts) at a time when The Agency was up its neck in cooperating with a South American network of death squads known as Operation Condor. There is more than credible material that he had some advance notice of the plot by Pinochet’s secret police to murder Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffett with a car bomb in Washington DC. While he was Spymaster for only a year, that period overlapped with the zenith of killings by the intel agencies in Operation Condor, all of them in communication (and more) with the CIA.
I remember GHWB as the toady VP to one of the most damaging of U.S. Presidents, Ronald Reagan. This was a pivotal presidency whose main accomplishment was turning Blatant Greed and Disregard for the Poor into American virtues.
I remember GHW Bush as the VP who, somehow, miraculously, escaped the maws of the Iran-Contra racket. Only Dan Rather had the balls to confront him directly on that murky chapter of his history and was crucified for doing so by his chicken-hearted peers.
I remember Willie Horton.
I remember his nomination of Clarence Thomas to SCOTUS.
And who can forget that early incarnation of Sarah Palin when Poppy elevated Dan Quayle (or is it Quayl?) to VP?
And, of course, I remember 41’s theatrical and totally pointless invasion of Panama that accomplished nothing except killing about 600 Panamanians. And there was, last but not least, Operation Desert Storm and the massacre of the Iraqi Army to absolutely no lasting effect — except for the horrendous US betrayal of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs who were butchered after being abandoned.
And, just as a kicker, it was Mikhail Gorbachev, not Reagan and/or Bush that ended the cold war. That was something handed to them.
Yes, I remember George HW Bush failing in his 1992 re-election and winning only 38 percent of the vote — I think the worst showing in history by an incumbent president. I guess the American people hadn’t fully noticed his awesome job while in office.
But, I am sure, just like his son Dubya, the old man on a personal level was charming, humble and genteel. That’s what good breeding produces.