Sorry to dash your hopes, but, no…this is not the salacious column on lesbianism you’ve all been waiting for. Let’s call it a “Bush-League Opinion Merchant’s” take on President George W. Bush, or “Little Bush” as some like to call him.
I have always admired the Bush family, especially the elder, who was also rather soft spoken and demure belying his history as one of the country’s youngest aviators. He was shot down, too, and was as rough-and-tumble as the rest of them in his time. It broke my heart when I saw him crumble in tears, standing next to Jeb during a speech in Florida, defending his son’s decisions as President. How hard it must be for a father, watching his son get hammered by the media day after day. They are a tight family. Moreover, they are respectful people, smart, well-humored, and the type you would wish for as neighbors.
The younger Bush struck me as aloof. Kind of a regular-Joe type of guy. I never thought of him as a magnificent President, but I thought he was unfairly trashed by the media, and I do think he did a tremendous job during, and in the wake of, September 11th, 2001. He was exactly what the country needed. A firm, steady hand…determined not to have the event capsize the country, sincerely heartbroken for the country and the victims of that day, and equally determined not to have it happen again under his watch. It didn’t…and that is noteworthy.
Early on, during his first campaign, I also never bought into the notion that he was an idiot. He was a fighter pilot, afterall, and although he never flew in combat, the fact that he mastered the trade well enough to do so, easily disqualified him as being “stupid” in my book. Instrument flying and the type of training one has to endure to be qualified to fly those machines in combat, and just the fact that you’re trusted with that machine…well…that’s an exclusive club and not one inhabited by dimwits.
Still…he wasn’t the kind of guy that commanded, at least for me, a passionate feeling one way or another. A good guy and an above-average President, surrounded by the same stench and corruption that is stuck to Washington like old wallpaper, wallpaper being the easier of the two to remove, by the way.
But something is happening as I hear from the former President as he makes his tour promoting his new book, “Decision Points”. I’m liking the guy more than ever. He has been a class-act since leaving office. You haven’t heard a peep from the guy. I’m sure he’s enjoying the downtime, but it is also a sign of his upbringing. Demure, in a word. He has kept his opinions largely to himself as I believe he feels it is undignified to constantly be chirping about the new President. We are, sadly, so used to Presidents who leave office and hit the $100,000. speech circuit and cling to the limelight like a washed up vaudeville act, that when someone leaves and behaves like an adult, we don’t know what to make of it.
I admired Ron Reagan but didn’t pay much attention to politics when he was in office. Later though, after his death, I read excerpts of the published letters he had written to Nancy. I was taken aback by the depth of his compassion, what a sensitive man he was. As I look back at his Presidency, I wish we could have him back. In hindsight he was everything a President should be. Firm, stoic, alternately light-hearted or irate. A dashing man, larger-than-life, who held up well on the world stage.
It was not until much later though, that I began to appreciate the depth of the man.
So it is becoming with “W”. I saw him doing an interview where he spoke about the moment he decided to quit drinking…that he knew alcohol could not be a part of his life. I could relate…I quit drinking about 25 years ago. Bush spoke about being at a dinner party with Laura, his parents and a few other couples. He was pretty lit, and asked one of the wives what “sex was like after 50…”. Laura was steamed, his parents were mortified, and forks were dropping all over the room. It was funny as Hell as he told it, but also poignant and he got a little emotional recalling it. Interesting.
He spoke about the day of September 11th, of course, and the much-maligned “classroom scene” where he was reading to a class of young children when the news from New York was whispered in his ear. Again…emotions come to the surface. His explanation is sensible and exactly what I expected it to be. I think, in fact, that many of us would have reacted the same way…and for the same reasons. Again, interesting, hearing for the first time, what that day was like for our President.
All in all, I’m looking forward to reading the book. I’m more thankful, however, that the book somewhat accidentally served as a vehicle to allow the country a closer look at this guy. He seems like a good egg to me and I’d be happy to spend an afternoon piling brush with him down at the ranch. I bet he was a fun guy to throw a few back with too. I’m also thinking…especially as I watch our current President flip like a circus seal…that we were lucky to have him on watch during those difficult years for the country.
Even the title of this book is a little aloof. “Decision Points”. Oh well…what else could he have called it? “Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Bush”? Nah…they would have had a field day with that.