On the EDge: RIP George H.W. Bush

Photo of George H.W. Bush by AJ  Guel via Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

OPINION — It was May 2, 1997, one of those crystal clear Southern Utah days.

The sky was a brilliant blue, the temperature was just right and Cedar City was abuzz as Southern Utah University prepared to celebrate its centennial.

As the bureau chief for The Spectrum, I had my reporters assigned to various events of the day.

My job?

To follow the many dignitaries SUU resident Gerry Sherratt had invited to participate in the gala.

Squinting into the sun, the outline of Jon Huntsman’s private plane began to grow on the horizon, landing, then taxiing up to a space already under the control of Secret Service agents dispatched from the Salt Lake City office.

As the dignitaries stepped off the plane, one was unmistakable, a tall splinter of a man with a receding hairline, a permanent grin etched onto his face and the sure hand of a first baseman extended to all with whom he came in contact.

George Herbert Walker Bush took long strides to the car waiting to whisk him to SUU and a small motorcade of Cedar City police cars led us through the heavy traffic.

The former president was seemingly in good spirits as he mixed with the other dignitaries as they did a parade lap around the campus before receiving honorary degrees from the university. One of the stops along the way was in the Whiting Room of the R. Haze Hunter Conference Center where there was a media meet and greet with the president during a break in the formalities.

We were told not to ask questions as we moved through the line to shake hands with Bush, but there were a few who offered a mumbled greeting of “Hello, Mr. President.”

As I shook his hand I sort of broke the rule and asked, “Are you enjoying your visit to Cedar City?

Bush’s trademark grin broadened and he slightly nodded his head in the affirmative.

The Secret Service agents who I had been attached to at the hip for most of the Bush visit, began to snarl, then realized it was a very benign question and smiled.

Hey, it was my job.

As I walked away I started chuckling to myself.

Instead of realizing I had just shaken hands with the most powerful man on Earth, all I could think of was the diminutive Dana Carvey doing his impersonation of the president on “Saturday Night Live.”

Carvey nailed the voice, the inflections, the exaggerated movements giving, perhaps, the most accurate presidential send-up in SNL history.

Bush proved to have a good sense of humor about it all, appropriating, at one point, Carvey’s line of  “Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture,” which the president used during several subsequent public appearances.

“Dana has given me a lot of laughs,” Bush said after Carvey did his impersonation at a White House gathering. “And, the fact that we can laugh at each other is a very fundamental thing.”

Bush later noted his approval in a diary entry.

“He (Carvey) told me ‘I’ve tried not to cross the line of fairness,’” Bush wrote. “I told him I didn’t think he had.”

The former president won’t be remembered as the best president this nation has produced, nor will he be celebrated as the most cerebral or charismatic.

Still, George Herbert Walker Bush, who we lost Friday, is a memorable character in United States history who will be remembered as a beacon of decency in the midnight blackness of politics.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Bush was a shrewd politician, a tireless political campaigner, a tough opponent.

But, his legacy will be forever gilded by his gentlemanly demeanor.

He easily handled Michael Dukakis, perhaps the worst candidate the Democrats ever ran, to become the 41st president and even though he faced off against a hapless oaf, he conducted his campaign honorably, insisting on a high degree of dignity and grace.

He campaigned long and hard when challenged by Bill Clinton. He lost the election, but never struck below the belt.

He held tightly to traditional Republican principles, even when it became unfashionable.

“I’m a conservative, but I’m not a nut about it,” he said during the heat of the 1988 presidential campaign.

And, he also warmed himself to those from both parties with his Thousand Points of Light program, a noble effort to broaden volunteerism in American communities. The Points of Light organization today boasts 250 affiliates in 22 countries and has partnered with thousands of nonprofit organizations and companies.

Because of his demeanor, it would be easy to pigeonhole him in that Everyman niche because of his plain-spoken informality and his humility – “What’s wrong with being a boring guy?” he once asked.

But, he came from money and made his own fortune in the oil business long before entering politics.

He was a genuine war hero, at the time the youngest aviator in the U.S. Navy. He enrolled in an accelerated program that allowed him to complete his Yale education in 2 1/2 years instead of four.

He was also a family guy, remaining married to the inimitable and indomitable Barbara for 73 years, and standing resolutely in support of his children.

I feel lucky that I did get to meet the man and shake his hand. He’s the kind of guy, as I often say about the people I hold in respect, I would have over for Sunday dinner or invite to watch a ballgame, and, of course, to pick his brain about politics. I mean, even though we had vastly different political viewpoints, I held him in highest regard.

By comparison, his administration was one of the cleanest, scandal-free of White House tenures.

I figure that by today’s standards, he would have little chance of winning his party’s nomination. Things have simply changed too much and, besides, nice guys finish last.

But we really could use a few nice guys right now to prove that decency can prevail.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • bikeandfish December 4, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    I think there is much to appreciate about George HW Bush’s general demeanor and its noticeable in contrast to today’s environment. But I think we do a disservice to history in contributing to the mythologizing currently going on.

    We can disagree on policy but his “general demeanor” often swayed into downright illiberal terrain. His campaign and supporters ramped up the “dog whistle” politics of equating race with criminality that has direct links to the modern hysteria we are seeing in scapegoating Muslims and central American immigrants. The “Willie Horton episode” remains a critical moment in political history and one that exposes Bush’s willingness to exploit. Not to mention questioning his oponent’s patriotism due to ethnicity and fostering a war on drugs that was heavily racialized from the start (see his statements on crack versus cocaine). These all are part of an American DNA that produces easy scapegoats and “law and order” policy that disproportionately targets minorities.

    So I think the common use of rose colored glasses in eulogizing Bush may go a little too far when done in the name of his temperment and demeanor

  • Happy Commenter December 4, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    Deep State Criminal George H. W. Bush Finally Dies!!
    Submitted by FreeSociety on Sat, 12/01/2018 – 3:29am

    George H. W. Bush: No Hero

    Normally, I would never cheer when somebody dies. I made an exception to this rule when evil Global Government architect David Rockefeller finally died, and again today with the relief that Globalist and CIA black ops ringleader George H. W. Bush finally rolled over for good. Good! Thank God, and take your idiot criminal sons with you next time! [Note: I will cheer as well if and when Henry Kissenger ever dies].

    The U.S. News Media, and the Washington DC Establishment have already kicked into high gear (as expected) to lionize, hero worship, and shower extravagant and excessive praise on this Deep State criminal and mass murder George H. W. Bush (a failed one-term President), and by extension also advance the false (and dangerous) “hero myth” of the whole corrupt, treasonous, and tyrannical Bush Crime family dynasty. Excuse me if I throw up.

    George H. W. Bush has been big, big part of the High (global) Cartel Cabal against The United States, and the Godfather and Ring-leader of the larger criminal Bush Family wide CIA-Dynasty.

    That is why the Langley CIA headquarters are named after him. He has exceeded even Allen Dulles as the big patriarch of the Deep State complex, and the patriarch of the CIA Black-Ops Tyranny that has sucked our Country down the black hole of endless darkness and depravity and global, world-wide violence.

    Despite keeping his treachery and evil hidden from plain view through his goofy persona and weird personality quirks (as exemplified by comedian Dana Carvey), George H. W. Bush was directly involved in virtually all of the most heinous and horrifying criminal activities perpetrated on the United States and The World over the last 60 years — including….:

    The the Bay of Pigs CIA Operation Zapata,
    The Kennedy Assassination in Dallas,
    Obstruction of the House Committee’s Kennedy Assassination inquiry in the 1970s,
    The murder of (Lee Oswald handler) George De Mohrenschildt,
    The crooked 1980 (election) October Surprise,
    The corrupt Banking Scandals of the 1980s,
    The attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan (via the Hinkley family),
    The CIA assassination hit on John Lennon,
    The U.S. Panama Invasion,
    CIA Drug Trafficking (decades and decades of involvement),
    The Reagan-era Covert Wars against Central America,
    The Iran-Contra gun-running to Iran criminal activity,
    The War Profiteering activities and atrocities of The Carlyle Group,
    The First Iraq War Invasion (sold also by fake propaganda) which was the father to all the other aggressive attacks and chaos wrought upon the Middle-East that would follow.
    And this is just a partial list.
    For further reading…https://caucus99percent.com/content/deep-state-criminal-george-h-w-bush-finally-dies

  • commonsense December 4, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    I think you just defined the Deep State, well said. Everything is becoming clear. It’s fellow deep state globalist or nothing. We are involved in an epoch battle right now and it’s not along party lines. It’s globalism vs nationalism. Ross Perot stole the opportunity for GHW Bush to rule a second term but it didn’t matter because both parties nominated globalists and this legacy persisted until 2016. Nationalists finally realized what America was becoming and that’s where we are. Patriots in both parties please awaken.

  • Red2Blue310 December 4, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    This is one big referendum on the Donald Trump disgrace. HW life in office is made to make DT look like an ignorant brute.

    • Happy Commenter December 4, 2018 at 9:40 pm

      Perfect example of one who is addicted to progressive punch! Drink up!

      • iceplant December 5, 2018 at 5:53 am

        Perfect example of one who is addicted to propaganda, ignorance, and right-wing lies.
        See how that works, Johnboy?

        • Happy Commenter December 5, 2018 at 6:30 pm

          It would be great if you actually did some research instead of spouting the leftard talking points as you do so predictably!

  • Comment December 4, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    I was gonna say that our beloved little Baby Bush (W.) did a pretty good job of tainting daddy’s legacy, but I really didn’t pay much attention to politics back in the days of Daddy Bush, so I don’t know how bad he was, really.

  • commonsense December 5, 2018 at 5:49 am

    You can’t cover up globalism with personality. Bush, Bush, Clinton, Obama led this country down a slippery slope. Thank you Donald Trump for exerting meaningful change.
    Globalism is shared misery.

    • Red2Blue310 December 5, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Commonsense has no common sense. There is a big recession coming from Trumps financial policies. Financial markets have slipped way down. Trump, the 4 time bankrupt, could only get foreign loans. US banks turned their backs on him (the reason hs beholding to Russia and Saudi). Check where Trump does most of his business, outside the US. Crook.

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