A Man For All Seasons

“That’s where I want to go,”

The Forty-first President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush died last week. The nation’s media is filled with observations, tributes and historical recollections of this great man’s service to his country – well, most of the media – CNN and MSNBC which are still devoting most of their time to fake news and attacks on President Donald Trump.

There is little that I can add to the coverage of Mr. Bush’s legacy – a war hero, a boot strap millionaire, an unblemished record of public service, President of the United States and friend and ally of freedom loving people and nations throughout the world. And a sprightly comedian with a twinkle in his eye for the victims of his pranks. And while all of those things add to his importance it was, in my view, the acts of kindness quietly given that really defined him as a man for all to admire. The world would be a better place if we could all emulate this great man.

Mr. Bush was a consummate writer of personal notes – notes to thank others for their thoughts, their acts, or just their being. They went to the heads of states and the everyday man with the same vigor and sincerity. Virtually everyone that worked for or with Mr. Bush became his friend – a friend of equal stature to all the other friends. He was as kind to house cleaners as he was to his fellow former presidents. He remembered birthdays, weddings, deaths, and anniversaries – things that were important to the recipient whether or not they were important to the world. In surveys of White House serving staff, Mr. Bush and President Ronald Reagan were singled out for their kindness and appreciation. As a result, his passing marks a greater loss for people you have may never heard of but who had bonded with Mr. Bush and his wife, Barbara. He went out of his way to make sure that all were included.

And with the passing of his life long partner, Barbara, he spent his time not in the misery of his loss but rather in the pursuit of ensuring others did not suffer for her passing. Life for Mr. Bush was always about the next adventure, the next opportunity and the next challenge. He never seemed to worry about his legacy because he was too busy trying to do what he thought was right.

Contrast Mr. Bush’s final days with those of the recently deceased Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Mr. McCain spent his final days obsessed with getting even with President Trump (he cast the deciding vote against repealing Obamacare by saying, “Now let’s see Trump make America great again”) and ensuring that Mr. Trump was barred from his funeral – a petty little man to the end. Mr. Bush spent his final days assuring friends and family that he was okay and that he and Barbara had been blessed with a great life and even greater friends.

In the end, it is Mr. Bush’s final meeting with his long time friend, chief of staff, and adviser, James A. Baker III that defines his life. Townhall reported:

“His long time friend and former Secretary of State, James A. Baker III, arrived at his Houston home on Friday morning to check on him, Mr. Bush suddenly grew alert, his eyes wide open. ‘Where are we going, Bake?’ he asked.

“’We’re going to heaven,’ Baker answered.

“’That’s where I want to go,’ Bush said.”

God Bless George and Barbara Bush.