George H.W. Bush, Defender from Foreign Enemies

RIP Bush 41, a classic patriot and good man.

We weren't particularly surprised to hear that George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, died at age 94.  The first headline we happened across said "...eight months after beloved wife Barbara."  Mr. and Mrs. Bush were married on January 6, 1945, and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Jan. 6, 2015, the longest marriage for a U.S. President in the nation's history.

We've known couples whose marriages lasted more than 50 years.  In all cases we know, which is admittedly not a statistically significant sample, neither the widow nor the widower lived very long after the first spouse died.

With that many years together, and at such an advanced age anyway, it's understandable that losing one life partner would lead to the speedy departure of the other.  As one of the Bush descendants pointed out, President Bush was eager to rejoin Barbara, and they were glad on his behalf that now he's done so.

How Old-Fashioned Could They Be?

Mr. Bush had a number of old-fashioned ideas but his marital fidelity is perhaps the most striking given modern uncertainties on the subject.  For just about his entire life, he acted from the understanding that his marriage vows brought him permanent obligations to his wife, to their children, and to society at large.

We've previously observed that a) women need a father's help raising their children to become productive adult taxpayers and b) society will collapse if the women won't do the immense amount of work required to turn babies, who're born as barbarians, into productive adults.

The Bush's views of marriage lined up perfectly with these timeless values, but in our modern world were grossly out of style.  When Mrs. Bush was invited to address the 1990 graduating class at Wellesley College, students objected because she was exclusively known for her role as wife and mother.  She left Smith College to marry in 1945 and had never had anything a modern feminist would recognize as a "career."

The petition suggesting that the invitation be withdrawn said:

"To honor Barbara Bush as a commencement speaker is to honor a woman who has gained recognition through the achievements of her husband, which contravenes what we have been taught over the last four years at Wellesley."  [emphasis added]

Are we to assume that Wellesley students regard Hillary as a more suitable role model?  It's certainly safe to figure that they didn't think Mrs. Bush had anything to teach them - apparently, being able to stay happily married longer than most people have been alive is not worth knowing about.  One wonders if any members of that graduating class are still married to their first husbands today, and what trials and tribulations their cultural experiences at Wellesley have brought upon themselves and their children.

Yet the actual outcome also shows that 1990 was a far more inclusive era than today.  The President of Wellesley issued a press release that acknowledged the students' point of view, pointed out that they would profit from hearing from someone who had such a different life experience than they foresaw for themselves... and didn't rescind the invitation.  Mrs. Bush's address became the most-quoted commencement address of all time and is rated one of the top 100 speeches of the century.

Our current first lady, Melania Trump, in addition to being a fairly successful wife and mother, has founded several successful businesses as well.  On paper she should represent all that today's Wellesley alums honor.  We eagerly await her invitation to commencement, but won't be holding our breath.

A Patriot of Our Prouder Past

Marriage wasn't the only old-fashioned idea that drove Mr. Bush, often known as "41" to distinguish him from his son who was the 43rd President.  President Trump praised his "unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country," and that's unarguably true.

"41" enlisted in the U.S.Navy right out of high school and flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific.  He was hit by anti-aircraft fire 600 miles south of Japan but survived by bailing out.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals.

He entered Yale after the war to study economics and was captain of the baseball team.  This led him to meet Babe Ruth at Yale in June of 1948.

He and Barbara moved to Texas where he won two terms in the House of Representatives and entered the oil business.  He was was appointed to high-level political positions: U.S. Ambassador to the UN, chairman of the Republican National Committee, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

He served two terms as President Reagan's Vice President, was elected President in 1988, and presided during the collapse of the Soviet Union and the final months of the Cold War.  Despite being in the Oval Office when the Berlin Wall finally came down, he always credited that great event to his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, and to the many citizens of the captive Soviet countries who took great risks to fight for their own freedom.  He took no credit for himself, even though surely some was due.

Mr. Bush' Actions Show the Man

Having been personally involved in life-threatening combat, Mr. Bush was certain of three facts:

  1. The United States had enemies such as the Japanese and Nazi Germany which must be defeated by any means possible.
  2. Failing to resist the forces of evil in a timely manner makes them bolder and increases the eventual cost of defeating them.
  3. War has terrible, terrible costs in both blood and treasure.

We see this from his handling of the first Gulf War.  When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Mr. Bush realized that if Mr. Hussein was not stopped, the situation would become worse over time just as WW II resulted when France and Britain failed to stop Hitler's march into Alsace-Lorraine or his annexation of Austria.

Mr. Bush's objective was simple - free Kuwait to contain Mr. Hussein's ambitions.  Although he could have marched to Baghdad and totally defeated Mr. Hussein by destroying the Iraqi military, he chose not to.

This showed that he understood the dangers of hostile powers being allowed to advance their cause without opposition, as well as his understanding of the limited benefits and vast costs of full-scale military intervention.  His son "43," who did not see combat in World War II, invaded Iraq again and deposed Mr. Hussein.  The outcome has not been particularly favorable: though removing the murderous Saddam Hussein from this planet was surely a good thing, neither the lives of the people of Iraq nor the stability of the Middle East in general are much the better for it.

"43"'s war experience consisted of watching the World Trade Center be destroyed and the Pentagon be attacked by militant Saudis.  In response, he launched full-scale combat in Iraq and Afghanistan - admittedly sources of global terrorism, but without obvious solutions either.

"43" had plenty of access to military advice, from professionals as from his own father.  Gen. Colin Powell, Secretary of State under "43," stated publicly that he really disliked giving orders and having his friends come home in body bags.  He also famously put forward the Powell Doctrine, which can be summed up as the idea that a war, if unavoidable, must be won as quickly and totally as possible by whatever means are required, with clearly-specified and achievable objectives.  Gen. Powell's personal experience with the cost of war did not transfer particularly effectively to "43" who tried to use our military in a round of nation building, as opposed to being satisfied with having them kill people and break things which they do superlatively well.

"Both Foreign and Domestic"

Although the Presidential oath of office specified in the Constitution does not include a vow to defend the United States against enemies, the Washington Post reports that 5 U.S.C. 3331 requires that all federal officials must solemnly swear (or affirm) that they will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic and that they will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

"41" recognized that the Nazis and the Japanese were enemies of the United States as well as enemies of the Constitution, and defended both at the risk of his life.  Those were foreign enemies, and he understood how to handle them, but he overlooked domestic enemies of our democratic norms.

As vice president, Mr. Bush had a ringside seat for the battle over the confirmation of Justice Bork in 1987.  Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) surprised Republicans by condemning Justice Bork in a nationally televised speech, declaring:

Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.

The convention had been that the Senate would consent to any judicial nomination provided that the candidate was competent.  This was the first time that a justice had been opposed on political grounds, much less transparently false ones.  Republicans did not realize that liberals didn't want to put in the long, days, months, and years required to change the Constitution and had decided to implement ideas via judicial activism.

If Democrats were serious about following democratic norms, they'd try to change the Constitution in the right way.  Since the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated, however, they decided they couldn't win by doing things the right way and worked through the courts to impose progressive laws by judicial fiat instead of via democratic elections.

Today, even many liberals admit that Roe v Wade was decided on ridiculous grounds and that it touched off a low-grade civil war.  We were heading toward a messy but workable compromise, but that wasn't good enough for liberals.  They wanted a short cut to total victory, got it, then used President Clinton's support for abortion as a reason to forgive "Slick Willy"'s foul treatment of women.

In the same way, gay marriage didn't arrive by the will of the voters, it was another SCOTUS coup.  To follow up on this leftist victory, Hillary campaigned on a promise to appoint judges who would nullify the 2nd Amendment and abolish religious liberty.  Despite those rights being ostensibly enshrined in the Constitution, Hillary expected that a largely leftist judicial system would gladly support her end-runs around our traditional liberties as they've been doing for decades.

Mr. Bush was present when this strategy came into full public view, although he never fully figured it out.  His first Supreme Court appointment was of Justice David Souter, a centrist who moved rapidly left.  Learning from that sad experience,  he not only nominated arch-conservative Clarence Thomas, he stood by him when Democrats attacked, and was rewarded with a decades-long staunch supporter of constitutionalism.

Mr. Bush always behaved as a perfect gentleman towards his opponents, even when he himself suffered from Democratic perfidy and treachery. In spite of his campaign promise "Read my lips - NO new taxes!" he caved because the House of Representatives was controlled by Democrats who would not approve his budget otherwise.

To keep the government operating, President Bush agreed to a "compromise" which increased several existing taxes as part of a 1990 budget agreement in return for a promise that Democrats would cut spending.  Instead, they increased spending by $1.40 for every new dollar that came in - then at the next election, beat him over the head with "his" tax raise!  Many commentators believed that this broken promise was the major reason Mr. Bush lost to President Clinton.

For all his experience putting his life on the line battling foreign enemies and being denied a second term through the unprincipled actions of domestic enemies, Mr. Bush failed to recognize the corrosive nature of the Democrat's "win at any cost" strategy.

To be fair, his fellow Republicans were equally blind.  When Mr. Clinton nominated Justice Ruth Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, Republicans voted for her instead of fighting for their view of the Constitution as Sen. Kennedy had, even though they knew she gloried in legislating from the bench.  When President Obama came along, Republicans said little about his racist "Wise Latina" or his extra-Constitutional decrees even after they won a Senate majority.

Mr. Bush's ideas about marriage have been more or less abandoned, to our ongoing hurt.  We honor Mr. Bush for putting his life on the line to defend America against foreign enemies starting in his teens.  He was a gentleman such as we are not likely to see again; a patriotic and loyal American in the classic sense; a man of tremendous courage and leadership both moral and physical; and an example to us all of what a husband and father ought to be.

Alas, what he wasn't, was the President we needed at the time when he held the office.  How we wish that he and the Republican party he led had not had to wait until an uncouth street fighter like Mr. Trump came along to push back against all the domestic enemies of our Constitution!

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments

"Alas, what he wasn't, was the President we needed at the time when he held the office. How we wish that he and the Republican party heled had not had to wait until an uncouth street fighter like Mr. Trump came along to push back against all the domestic enemies of our Constitution!"

Please do not make the same mistake yourselves! Do not feel "Obliged" to be "polite" and apologize for Trump and call Trump names. It takes a TRUMP at this swiftly falling-into-uncouth/savage leftist twisted hands time for us to even be able to hang on our Constitutional rights, to fight back against the relentless ignorant leftist attacks on us, and to stand up to the Uriah Heeps of the Republican party. ("Uriah Heep is a fictional character created by Charles Dickens in his novel David Copperfield. Heep is one of the main antagonists of the novel. His character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, and insincerity, making frequent references to his own "'umbleness". His name has become synonymous with sycophancy.[1" Wikipedia)]

Thank you for explaining what America was via Bush Srs life.
And thank God the Trump family is willing to stand up for us today.

December 2, 2018 1:12 AM

I think that calling President Trump “uncouth” is incorrect. He is just as “couth” as the press maniacs who spend nights and days attacking him no matter how appropriate and pro-American his policies may be.
Trump is “uncouth” because he is on Twitter nearly every day, perhaps?
Please explain to us how he could possibly get a hearing if he could not “control the narrative “ via this tool.
Fact is, many of the press mavens who are now insincerely speaking kind words about Bush 41, were attacking him mercilessly when he was in office.
Trump is just what is needed now. Without him the Obama and Clinton forces would be at work turning us into a Third World country as fast as they could. We would be speaking Spanish and the Chinese would be writing the first draft of our surrender papers, which I am sure Obama would not hesitate to sign.

December 4, 2018 10:15 PM

He was also a part of the CIA, even as its head man. A part of what is now called the deep state.

December 5, 2018 4:58 PM
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