George H.W. Bush made his greatest mark in the Gulf War.
He was the man who sought a “kinder, and gentler nation,” and the one who sternly invited Americans to read his lips – he would not raise taxes. He was the popular leader of a mighty coalition that dislodged Iraq from Kuwait, and was turned out of the presidency after a single term. Blue-blooded and genteel, he was elected in one of the nastiest campaigns in recent history.
George Herbert Walker Bush was many things, including only the second American to see his son follow him into the nation’s highest office. But more than anything else, he was a believer in government service.
“There is no higher honor than to serve free men and women, no greater privilege than to labor in government beneath the Great Seal of the United States and the American flag,” he told senior staffers in 1989, days after he took office.
Bush, who died late Friday at age 94, was a congressman, an ambassador to the United Nations and envoy to China, chairman of the Republican National Committee, director of the CIA, twoterm vice president and, finally, president.
He was no ideologue – he spoke disparagingly of “the vision thing,” and derided the supply-side creed of Ronald Reagan as “voodoo economics.” He is generally given better marks by historians for his foreign policy achievements than for his domestic record, but assessments of his presidency tend to be tepid.
“Was George Bush only a nice man with good connections, who seldom had to wrest from life the honors it frequently bestowed on him?” journalist Tom Wicker asked in his Bush biography.
Wicker’s answer: Perhaps. But he said Bush’s actions in Kuwait “reflect moments of courage and vision worthy of his office.”
President George H.W. Bush greets troops in Saudi Arabia weeks before the start of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Bush’s actions in Kuwait “reflect moments of courage and vision worthy of his office,” journalist Tom Wicker said.