In funeral of pomp and pageantry, the na­tion bids farewell to Bush

The Herald (Rock Hill) - - Front Page - BY PETER BAKER

The na­tion bade farewell Wed­nes­day to Ge­orge Her­bert Walker Bush, the pa­tri­arch of one of the most con­se­quen­tial po­lit­i­cal dy­nas­ties of mod­ern times and the pres­i­dent who presided over the end of the Cold War and the be­gin­ning of a new era of Amer­i­can dom­i­nance in the world.

As bells tolled and choirs sang and an honor guard ac­com­pa­nied the cof­fin, the na­tion’s 41st pres­i­dent was re­mem­bered as a “kinder and gen­tler” leader at a tu­mul­tuous mo­ment whose fortitude steered the coun­try through storms at home and abroad and whose es­sen­tial de­cency set a stan­dard for oth­ers to meet.

“When the his­tory books are writ­ten,” his son, for­mer Presi- dent Ge­orge W. Bush, said in a eu­logy at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral, “they will say that Ge­orge H.W. Bush was a great pres­i­dent of the United States, a diplo­mat of un­matched skill, a com­man­der in chief of for­mi­da­ble ac­com­plish­ment and a gen­tle­man who ex­e­cuted the du­ties of his of­fice with dig­nity and honor.”

Ge­orge W. Bush, like his fa­ther an emo­tional man given to tear­ing up over fam­ily, strug­gled to make it through his eu­logy, his eyes wa­tery, his face etched with emo­tion. He held on un­til the very end, when he choked up and be­gan weep­ing as he called the for­mer pres­i­dent “the best fa­ther a son or daugh­ter could ever have.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump joined all four liv­ing for­mer pres­i­dents as well as for­eign lead­ers, law­mak­ers and Supreme Court jus­tices at the ser­vice, but given his his­tory of ran­cor with the Bush fam­ily, he had no speak­ing role. The im­plicit con­trasts be­tween the for­mer and cur­rent pres­i­dents were hard to miss.

While speak­ers talked about Bush’s ci­vil­ity, his com­mit­ment

‘‘

TO US, HIS WAS THE BRIGHT­EST OF A THOU­SAND POINTS OF LIGHT.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush

to the in­sti­tu­tions of gov­ern­ment and his faith in al­liances, Trump was sit­ting just feet away, his arms some­times crossed. With­out di­rectly say­ing so, the speak­ers pushed back against Trump’s mock­ery of Bush’s vol­un­teerism slo­gan “a thou­sand points of light” dur­ing cam­paign ral­lies this year.

“To us,” the younger Bush said, “his was the bright­est of a thou­sand points of light.”

The el­der Bush died Fri­day at age 94 af­ter years of strug­gling with a form of Parkin­son’s dis­ease. His cof­fin, draped in a flag, was later taken to Joint Base An­drews out­side Wash­ing­ton, where it was put aboard one of the blue-and-white pres­i­den­tial jets for a fi­nal flight home to Texas.

The state funeral was a mile­stone in the life of a coun­try that has moved be­yond the type of pol­i­tics Bush preached and, with no­table ex­cep­tions, prac­ticed. The mo­ments of bi­par­ti­san com­pro­mise that marked his pres­i­dency feel alien as the pol­i­tics of anger and divi­sion dom­i­nate Wash­ing­ton and the coun­try.

As with any funeral, Bush was ven­er­ated in death in ways he was not al­ways in life. Dur­ing his time in pol­i­tics, he was ex­co­ri­ated by con­ser­va­tives for break­ing his “read my lips” vow not to raise taxes, by lib­er­als for his racially charged cam­paign tac­tics, and by many across the spec­trum for his inat­ten­tion to the grow­ing eco­nomic trou­bles at home. He gar­nered just 37 per­cent of the vote in seek­ing re-elec­tion in 1992, the low­est of any in­cum­bent pres­i­dent in 80 years.

But with the pas­sage of time, Bush has be­come one of the most ad­mired re­cent oc­cu­pants of the Oval Of­fice, ranked third out of the last 10 in polls, be­hind only Ron­ald Rea­gan and John F. Kennedy. For a one-term pres­i­dent, his record looms large. He helped bring the Cold War to a peace­ful end, paved the way for the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Ger­many, launched the Gulf War to ex­pel Iraqi in­vaders from Kuwait, and bol­stered Amer­ica’s stand­ing around the world.

Even his bro­ken tax pledge was hailed as an ex­am­ple of po­lit­i­cal courage, putting aside ide­ol­ogy and ex­pe­di­ence to cut a bi­par­ti­san agree­ment to re­duce the deficit. He also was re­mem­bered for sign­ing land­mark leg­is­la­tion on civil rights and the en­vi­ron­ment, and the Amer­i­cans With Dis­abil­i­ties Act.

TOM BRENNER NYT

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush touches the cof­fin as he walks to de­liver the eu­logy dur­ing the funeral of his fa­ther, for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, Wed­nes­day at the Na­tional Cathe­dral in Wash­ing­ton.

CAROLYN KASTER AP

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, first lady Me­la­nia Trump, for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton and for­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter at­tend the funeral for for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush.

ALEX BRAN­DON NYT

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush pauses to col­lect him­self dur­ing the eu­logy for his fa­ther.

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