Pa­tri­arch of po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty led life of ser­vice and dig­nity

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY JARED GILMOUR AND STEVE THOMMA jil­[email protected]­clatchy.com

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush — who buried his wife, Bar­bara, ear­lier this year — died Fri­day at 94.

Serv­ing for a sin­gle term, Bush oc­cu­pied the Oval Of­fice from 1989 to 1993. Dur­ing that time, Bush led the United States to vic­tory in a 1991 ef­fort to drive Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

Bush lost his bid for re-elec­tion to Bill Clin­ton, but saw his son, Ge­orge W. Bush, elected pres­i­dent eight years later. That es­tab­lished his fam­ily as a po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty along­side the Adams and Kennedy fam­i­lies.

Be­fore be­com­ing pres­i­dent, Bush was elected to Congress and served as the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency and vice pres­i­dent un­der Ron­ald Rea­gan.

Bush suf­fered from res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems in re­cent years, and about a year ago he was hos­pi­tal­ized for two weeks to treat pneu­mo­nia and chronic bron­chi­tis. Ear­lier in 2017, Bush spent 16 days in the hos­pi­tal for a sep­a­rate case of pneu­mo­nia.

Bush also suf­fered from vas­cu­lar parkinso-

nism, a rare con­di­tion whose symp­toms are sim­i­lar to Parkin­son’s Dis­ease. For the last sev­eral years, he had re­lied on a wheel­chair.

The elder Bush was the last pres­i­dent from the gen­er­a­tion that en­dured the Great De­pres­sion of the 1930s, won World War II, built a pros­per­ous and pow­er­ful post­war Amer­ica and won the Cold War against Soviet com­mu­nism.

Born June 12, 1924, to wealth and priv­i­lege, Bush chose a life of duty and ser­vice that spanned five decades, from his ser­vice as the Navy’s youngest pilot in World War II to stints in Congress, as am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, chair­man of the Repub­li­can Party, li­ai­son to China, di­rec­tor of the CIA, vice pres­i­dent and fi­nally to his elec­tion as the coun­try’s 41st pres­i­dent.

“It has been a won­der­ful jour­ney,” he wrote as he looked for­ward to his 80th birth­day on June 12, 2004.

In the first rush of his­tory, an­a­lysts rate Bush an av­er­age pres­i­dent, tri­umphant in war and for­eign pol­icy but sad­dled at home with a re­ces­sion.

“He’s prob­a­bly ranked in the mid­dle of the pres­i­dents,” said Bill Le­vantrosser, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at Hof­s­tra Uni­ver­sity in New York. “As time goes on, though, I think he’s go­ing to rise in peo­ple’s es­ti­mates.”

Her­bert Parmet, au­thor of the first de­fin­i­tive bi­og­ra­phy, “Ge­orge Bush: The Life of a Lone Star Yan­kee,” said Bush would be re­mem­bered for his lead­er­ship in for­eign af­fairs but also for run­ning an ad­min­is­tra­tion com­par­a­tively free of scan­dal.

With a uniquely per­sonal style of lead­er­ship and diplo­macy, Bush will be re­mem­bered as the pres­i­dent who as­sem­bled an in­ter­na­tional coali­tion against Iraqi dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein af­ter Sad­dam’s army in­vaded neigh­bor­ing Kuwait and threat­ened oil-rich Saudi Ara­bia.

Bush res­o­lutely drew what he called a “line in the sand” and de­clared that the in­va­sion would not stand.

Fac­ing re­luc­tance at home and abroad, Bush first con­vinced the Amer­i­can peo­ple that it was in their in­ter­est to push Iraq back. Then, in a stream of per­sonal phone calls to world lead­ers, he mar­shaled an in­ter­na­tional coali­tion the likes of which had not been seen since World War II.

On the eve of war, Bush wrote to his own five chil­dren about the choices he faced.

“When the ques­tion is asked, ‘How many lives are you will­ing to sac­ri­fice?’ it tears at my heart,” he wrote. “The an­swer, of course, is none, none at all.”

He shared a con­cern that he might face im­peach­ment if a war proved long and un­suc­cess­ful, but added that he viewed the con­fronta­tion with Iraq and Sad­dam as one of good vs. evil, akin to the war against Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

“Some­times in life, you have to act as you think best. You can’t com­pro­mise, you can’t give in, even if your crit­ics are loud and nu­mer­ous.”

Just weeks later, in Jan­uary 1991, a U.S.-led jug­ger­naut slaugh­tered Iraq’s forces and lib­er­ated Kuwait. Agree­ing with his mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers, Bush ordered an end to the as­sault with Iraq’s forces in re­treat, a move that left Sad­dam in power.

Bush later said he had thought the Iraqi peo­ple would over­throw Sad­dam them­selves. Yet he did noth­ing to aid Iraqi Kurds and Shi­ite Mus­lims when they chal­lenged Sad­dam, only to see their re­bel­lions crushed.

Sad­dam re­mained in power un­til he was top­pled in 2003 by an in­va­sion led by Bush’s son.

The elder Bush also over­saw the West’s vic­tory over Soviet com­mu­nism af­ter 50 years of Cold War. The vic­tory had been won over the decades, but Bush got credit for his even-handed re­sponse when the Soviet Union fi­nally col­lapsed.

Bush, a pa­tri­cian and wealthy man who spent his sum­mers at a sprawl­ing ocean­front re­treat in Ken­neb­unkport, Maine, was of­ten ac­cused of fail­ing to em­pathize with his less priv­i­leged coun­try­men. In one of the most amaz­ing falls from grace in modern po­lit­i­cal his­tory, he was turned out of of­fice just 18 months af­ter the war, de­feated by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clin­ton.

Bush spent the first of his re­tire­ment years ac­tively, golf­ing, fish­ing, play­ing horse­shoes, parachut­ing with mem­bers of the mil­i­tary Golden Knights para­chute team. He raised money for char­i­ties and fel­low Repub­li­cans, fore­most his two po­lit­i­cal sons.

Ge­orge Her­bert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924, to Dorothy and Prescott Bush. His mother came from wealth — her fam­ily owned the now­fa­mous Walker’s Point land on the Maine coast — and his fa­ther was a banker who later served as a Repub­li­can se­na­tor from Con­necti­cut.

His par­ents in­stilled in him two val­ues he car­ried through­out his life: self­less­ness and ser­vice.

Los An­ge­les Times/TNS file photo

Then-Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Ge­orge H.W. Bush, who went on to be­come the 41st pres­i­dent, poses for a por­trait on Jan. 1, 1980. Bush died Fri­day night at age 94, about 7 1⁄2 months af­ter the death of his wife, Bar­bara.

Los An­ge­les Times/TNS file photo

Pres­i­dents Ge­orge H.W. Bush, Ron­ald Rea­gan, Jimmy Carter, Ger­ald Ford and Richard Nixon, left to right, gath­ered at the ded­i­ca­tion of the Ron­ald Rea­gan Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary on Nov. 5, 1991, in Simi Val­ley.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.