Reading Jon Meacham’s Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush a couple of months ago, I was reminded of just how effective George H. W. Bush was as President. He bailed out the national banking system, cleaned up the Exxon Valdez oil spill, strongly condemned the Chinese government over the Tiananmen Square incident, signed the Fair Labor Standards Amendments which raised minimum wage, ended the Dictatorship of drug trafficker Manuel Noriega, brought down the Berlin Wall, ended the Cold War, signed the Clean Air Act, and served justice internationally with his military intervention into the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq.
I recall when he decided to run while he was Reagan’s Vice President, and that I voiced my opinion at the time that he was “… the most qualified Presidential candidate we’ve ever had.” Meacham’s biography left such an impact on me that I actually posted a message to the President’s Facebook page, praising him as being “the best President in my lifetime.”
When it was apparent he was not going to be re-elected, my feeling at the time was that he was not willing to serve another term and didn’t pursue his campaign aggressively, but after reading his memoirs, it’s clear that the loss troubled him greatly. He was a very sensitive man who tended to keep his problems to himself. He epitomized the characteristics of those of the “Greatest Generation.”
Today, I saw where the 41st President passed away at the age of 94, just four years after celebrating his 90th birthday with his last parachute jump. As I reflect back on the years he was in the White House, it is clear that the best years of my life occurred during the 3 Presidencies of Republicans Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush, the apex being in Bush’s term.
George H. W. Bush’s failure in his re-election campaign marked the end of an era and a major transition in our history. It was the end of our string of post-World War II leaders and the ushering in of the “Baby Boom” generation, my generation.
It was just over 7 months ago that President Bush lost his partner in life, Barbara, and I’m sure that that loss was the true beginning of the end for the great, though greatly unappreciated, man – one of the greatest of our times.
Rest in Peace George Herbert Walker Bush, you deserve it!