Where were me­dia when Ge­orge H.W. Bush needed them?

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - Larry El­der is a best-selling au­thor and na­tion­ally syn­di­cated ra­dio talk-show host. You can email him at [email protected] cre­ators.com. @lar­ryelder

he’s elite — with the cap­tion “Fight­ing the Wimp Fac­tor.” Wimp? Bush joined Navy on his 18th birth­day, serv­ing in World War II as the Navy’s sec­ond-youngest avi­a­tor. He flew 58 com­bat mis­sions, was shot down by the Ja­panese and was res­cued by an Amer­i­can sub.

When he ran in 1988, his re­sume in­cluded al­most seven years as Rea­gan’s vice pres­i­dent, two terms as a mem­ber of the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, di­rec­tor of cen­tral in­tel­li­gence, head of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, am­bas­sador to the U.N. and de facto am­bas­sador to China, in ad­di­tion to be­ing a dec­o­rated WWII fighter pi­lot. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was ap­par­ently unim­pressed: In 2016, he said, “There has never been any man or woman more qual­i­fied for this of­fice than Hil­lary Clin­ton.”

Repub­li­can pun­dit Ge­orge Will called Bush a “lap­dog.” A Wash­ing­ton Post ed­i­to­rial now praises Bush.

Dur­ing his pres­i­dency, The New York Times aided and abet­ted the nar­ra­tive of an elite “out-of-touch” pa­tri­cian. Dur­ing the 1992 elec­tion year, the Times ran a front-page story about a pres­i­dent so clue­less about the life of the av­er­age Amer­i­can that he was un­fa­mil­iar with the su­per­mar­ket check­out scanner. But the story was fake. A Na­tional Gro­cers As­so­ci­a­tion sys­tems an­a­lyst, the man who showed Bush the scanner, said: “The whole thing is lu­di­crous. What he was amazed about was the abil­ity of the scanner to take that torn la­bel and re­assem­ble it.”

Black Democrats like Rep. Max­ine Waters, D-Calif., called him “racist.” In 1992, Waters said: “(Bush) is a mean-spir­ited man who has no care or con­cern about what hap­pens to the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity in this coun­try. I truly be­lieve that.”

Bush stood ac­cused of racism for “us­ing” the in­fa­mous Wil­lie Hor­ton ad that ran dur­ing the 1988 cam­paign, even though his cam­paign had not pro­duced the ad. Fur­ther, the is­sue of his op­po­nent Michael Dukakis’ Mas­sachusetts fur­lough pro­gram was first brought up by Dukakis’ Demo­cratic ri­val Al Gore. Un­der Dukakis’ pro­gram, Hor­ton, a con­victed mur­derer, com­mit­ted rape while out on fur­lough.

Bush, pres­sured by Democrats and some in his own party, broke the fa­mous pledge he made at the 1988 Repub­li­can con­ven­tion: “Read my lips. No new taxes.” NBC News’ An­drea Mitchell now says “break­ing that pledge showed the char­ac­ter and re­solve of the man.” Sim­i­larly, Newsweek’s Thomas now calls the bro­ken tax prom­ise an act of “courage.” But asked in a 1992 press con­fer­ence whether he con­sid­ered break­ing the pledge “the big­gest mis­take” of his pres­i­dency, Bush said, “Well, I don’t know about the big­gest, but yes ... I’m very dis­ap­pointed with Congress.”

In Oc­to­ber 1992, ac­cord­ing to In­vestor’s Busi­ness Daily, over 90 per­cent of the eco­nomic news in news­pa­pers was nega­tive. At the time, the econ­omy was well into a re­cov­ery, on its 19th con­sec­u­tive month of growth. Yet much of the busi­ness news was sour. In Novem­ber 1992, Bill Clin­ton won. That month, only 14 per­cent of the news­pa­pers’ eco­nomic news was nega­tive. As re­cently as 2012, a PBS doc­u­men­tary re­peat­edly in­sisted Bill Clin­ton in­her­ited an econ­omy in “re­ces­sion.” In fact, the GDP in Bush’s fi­nal quar­ter grew 3.8 per­cent.

When son Ge­orge W. Bush won the pres­i­dency in 2000, mom Bar­bara Bush ex­pressed sur­prise. “You’re not go­ing to like this,” she said, “but my gut feel­ing is that all the me­dia is against Ge­orge, Repub­li­cans, any Repub­li­can.”

In­deed. From that very me­dia, cur­rently fawn­ing over a man they now call a “states­man,” Ge­orge Her­bert Walker Bush de­served bet­ter. Much bet­ter.

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