George H.W. Bush's legacy

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.

There was plenty wrong with Bush but he did extremely well with the end of the cold war and working with the Soviet Union as it ended. His Iraq war was well executed and for solid reasoning if tainted a little by big oil. Big Oil did and does have serious impact strategically and economically.

Willie Horton was shitty politicking but I think Dukakis did plenty of harm to himself. His tank photo-op did wonders for him.

The Iran-Contra group pardon tarnished his already poor legacy, but I don’t think he did it to protect himself. I don’t see much reason why he would have been involved in it at all as VP. Especially as he was so busy in Russia working as additional Secretary of State. In fact he was one of the more useful VPs we have had up to that point. VPs seem to do more since that time, but before Bush it was a do-nothing job.

My thoughts on Bush the Elder that I had put elsewhere, earlier:

*He was a firmly middling President and I believe future generation will agree, at least those handful that think about such things. His VP pick was terrible and why I voted off in the general election, but I did vote for Bush the Elder in the Primary.

Very good on foreign policy and somewhat clueless on domestic. He was by all accounts a religious man and to his great credit kept it out of his politics and public speaking.

I salute his service time during WWII, full combat duty as a Navy Flyer. His plane was hit fighting over Chichi Jima. He lost his 2 crew mates and barely survived himself.*

Poison the well much, there, RT? Jeez, hold back, man.

I am as democratic and liberal as the day is long. My mom the economist refers to me as a ‘mathematical socialist’. And I actually sort of liked GHWB. I disagreed with many things he did and many of his policies, certainly, but he was a professional government man. He knew what government could and could not do and was willing to work within those restrictions.

There’s a lot to be said for professionalism. And there’s a strong argument that he was the last real federal professional government man to hold the office. Those who followed him, Clinton, his son, Obama and God help me, Trump, all lacked his depth of experience and at times it showed.

People are also not all of a kind. When President, he raised taxes when it was necessary despite his long-term very public promises not to do so. He also knew enough, even when advised to keep going, to keep the first Gulf War limited. And never forget his resignation from the NRA - after his political career was over - following Wayne LaPierre’s remarks after Oklahoma City.

As for the campaign stuff? That’s never bothered me in particular. Sometimes it’s not even a zero-sum game. I’m told a politician who can get 50% of what they want considers that a huge win. But if you don’t get elected you can’t even try to get that 50%. It’s a contact sport, from the Presidency down the electing a coroner in a small town. You have to play to win so you can later play to compromise.

Will there be some hagiography now? Sure. Let the world have that for the last WWII President.

He was a good man, and a public servant. His presidency was not perfect. But I think the Republican party would do well to turn back to people like Bush and away from people like Trump.

As for his policies, it was his administration that did almost all the heavy lifting on NAFTA. He was for free trade and he was a guy who believed in multi-lateral deals and alliances, such as NATO. He rallied the good nations of the world and kicked Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait without getting bogged down in Iraq itself. He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law, something that’s done enormous good for people with disabilities. He raised taxes in order to help lower deficits. He didn’t get any credit for this, but this helped set us on a more sustainable path. And the economic recession had stopped prior to Clinton coming into office, and was growing again. He also improved the Clean Air Act in 1990, which has helped with the Ozone hole.

America needs more people like George HW Bush, someone who believes in diplomacy, trade, and who believes in good government. God Bless his family.

As a youth, GHWB was the nominal head of the Republican Party when Nixon was President. That sort of shows he was involved in some sleazy stuff.

I have often said, and I am willing to be corrected, that his Administration’s interpretation of the Civil Rights Act lead to massive gerrymandering. His was the Administration that required “minority-majority” districts.

I hold him responsible for the assassination of Allende and subsequent support of Pinochet. Fuck him.

Could you expand on this? That happened before Bush was the CIA chief.

To me, he is the epitome of noblesse oblige, and perhaps one of the best examples of that concept that is possible. The man had his flaws, for sure, but to focus only on those flaws seems rather myopic. He’s the guy I like to point to when folks say, in all seriousness, that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified person to run for president in the modern era. GHWB had a resume like few others, and we could do much worse than have a president who knew how government, and the world, worked.

I suspect there are millions of other Americans who are, likely me, distantly related via early American settlers from England. He’s my 8th cousin, once removed. We’re practically brothers! :slight_smile:

His legacy? Clarence fucking Thomas.

I should say “complicit,” rather than responsible, and even then I’m overstating it. But never mind me, it’s my own personal conspiracy hobbyhorse. (IMO, Bush deliberately and intentionally ran interference in the UN leading up to the Pinochet coup and later worked within the CIA to keep the agency’s role in the coup and Operation Condor secret from the American public and the world at large.)

Let’s not forget promoting hysteria over gay marriage and flag burning in an effort to win votes.

And choosing Dan Quayle as his running mate, which was a big step down the path that led to Donald Trump.

Without him there’s a good chance the Reagan Revolution would have been a true free-market turn in American policy. He worked to undermine Reagan by pushing some dreadful appointments. Reagan was a fool to bring a Cold War spook like him aboard. Of course this says nothing of his foreign policy debacles. Supposedly, Russell Kirk remarked that he should have been hanged on the White House lawn for the Iraq War. The American people were correct to reject him. He is truly a shady character.

When Bush was running for re-election in 1992, I was a 23-year-old Australian living in Canada, and without too much interest in American politics.

One of my first “in-depth” introductions to Bush was a 1992 edition of Spy Magazine, with a cover story entitled “1,000 Reasons not to Vote for George Bush: No. 1 He Cheats on His Wife.” Author Joe Conason spent five or six pages detailing the President’s alleged womanizing, and then went on to provide literally 999 more reasons not to vote for Bush.

You can read the whole issue (and just about every other issue of a great magazine) here.

Bush was a disaster on foreign policy, both before and during his Presidency. He was the worst sort of Cold War adventurist, and when the Cold War was over, he did everything he could to prevent any sort of negotiated solution to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. He was the late 20th century equivalent of James Polk, doing everything possible to ensure there would be a war, even under circumstances where one might have been avoided.

Domestically, he was meh, at best. Unlike WillFarnaby, I’m not willing to blame him for the absence of free-market policies in America. Not because I want to defend Bush, but because you would have to do a lot to convince me that Ronald Reagan and the majority of the Republicans in Congress ever really believed in their free-market rhetoric.

I think FDR embodies that better, especially since he fought much harder for the little guy even though he was a rich guy himself. Bush didn’t fight much for the little guy. He fought for lower capital gains taxes, right?

I think bringing in Quayle and running the Willie Horton ad brought us a long way towards the awful political state we’re in now.

OK, that makes more sense. I will say on the CIA bit and keeping their secret. That is SOP for the CIA no matter who has led it. At worst Bush was maybe more effective than usual?

That photo-op where he was amazed to see the scanner at the grocery store check out. Because he didn’t buy groceries. Didn’t take the bus. I recall that the Bush family’s charitable giving was quite good.

By comparison, he’s St. Francis of Assisi and Eugene V. Debs all rolled into one.

And he’ll always be remembered for his famous Vomiting Incident

I believe that this was in the news recently:

Approved by 100% of the Senate.

You have to lay some of the blame at the feet of Maggie Ironpants, who convinced him that Hussein invading Kuwait was comparable to Hitler rolling over Poland. He was prepared to do nothing, but others convinced him to move boldly.

His offer of troops to protect the border was prettymuch SOP, but he lacked the courage to resist that impulse. This infuriated a guy named bin Laden, who felt the infidels were profaning the sacred land with their presence, and drove him into his vile spiral.

So, arguably, Bush had a hand in feeding terrorism. Not, I suppose, a major one, and not one his nature could have avoided – but then, his nature shapes his legacy, so it could realistically be seen as a stain on his record.

Also the Americans With Disabilities Act.