I’m gonna say it out loud: the “good Bush” wasn’t particularly principled, and wasn’t particularly good.
He set an example for today’s generation of ‘moderate’ Republicans like Jeff Flake, by taking a stand against Reagan’s ‘voodoo economics,’ then abandoning it when it was to his benefit to do so.
His main cause over the decades was the reduction of the capital gains tax - a fight to minimize the already mild burdens on the patrician class that he was born into.
I already see references to his being an examplar of a much more civil brand of politics. Can you say ‘Willie Horton’? I knew you could! He could be civil in person, but he had no reservations about hiring a guy like Lee Atwater to do his dirty work for him.
And of course, there’s his Christmas 1992 pardoning of the entire Iran-Contra crew. No telling how much their trials would have revealed about his own involvement.
He still looks good compared to Bush 43, but that can be said about all but a few Presidents.