By Steve Woodward
Fox New Channel political analyst Chris Stirewalt, a marvelously plain talker, provided a first take in the moments after President George Herbert Walker Bush was memorialized and commended to God inside the Washington National Cathedral, December 5.
“It made me very proud of my country,” Stirewalt said, because the service was a demonstration of civility by and between political enemies in a polarized age. “We should hold (elected officials) to it.”
In other words, Bush 41 is gone but his legacy has a chance, albeit slim, to thaw the ideological cold war that is poisoning our nation and corrupting our media.
There were moments perhaps we never thought we’d see during the eulogies. Hillary Clinton smiling, really glowing. Who else could possibly evoke joy from such an embittered, tormented human being? She is. This not criticism. Or, James Baker crying uncontrollably as he contemplated spending the finals hours of his dear friend’s life at his bedside. Baker’s public image is stalwart, serious. He is a man with a Texas-style stiff upper lip.
It also was impossible to overlook that traditional marriage is alive and well in both parties in an era of endless pandering to gay marriage and transgenderism. George W. and Laura. Donald Trump and Melania. Barack Obama and Michelle. Bill Clinton and Hillary. Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn. The institution of marriage remains, for now, bi-partisan, at least among our leaders.
Historian Jon Meacham, probably not a Republican, but a celebrated presidential historian, author and, as exhibited in the Cathedral, master orator, was pointed in his praise of Bush 41 as a fighter, a man firm in his convictions, one who did not merely settle into what was to be a life of privilege.
George H.W. Bush could have been an oilman, period. He could have done anything he wanted to do. Bone fishing. Golfing at the world’s most exclusive venues. Hanging out at the family compound in Maine. Living a private life with his beloved Barbara. Attending philanthropic galas.
But instead he chose to serve his country, subject himself to media taunting (remember when he “lost his lunch” at a ceremonial dinner in Japan), immerse himself in the unification of Germany, the final chapter of the Cold War, despite its risks. He was not afraid to take on the toughest challenges of his times.
The man with an aisle seat in the front row of the Cathedral at the memorial is repeating the choices Bush 41 made. Lead. Take risks. Go full-throttle. Forsake a life of comfort and privilege. Subject your spouse to the unrelenting scrutiny cast upon a First Lady.
Trump haters never will buy into it, but the parallels are inescapable. No, Trump never flew a military aircraft into a perilous mission. He never worked in Washington’s corridors of power. He is not a George H.W. Bush in demeanor.
But if a President is to be judged by playing the hand he is dealt and marching toward the fight, fending off the arrows of naysayers and incoming media fire, I’d guess Bush 41 is from a distance rooting for Trump 45 now that Bush is free of the vexing nature of living in an imperfect world, as someday we all will be.