How appropriate that there was a historian, Jon Meachan, among the four who gave George H.W. Bush eulogies at the National Cathedral. It helped to put this presidency and this president in context–and add to the subtle but notable juxtaposition between George and Barbara Bush and the current POTUS and Lady MAGA, polar opposites in all the ways that matter. There was family, former President George W. Bush; long-time friend Alan Simpson, the ex-senator from Wyoming; former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney; and Meacham, who is also Bush’s biographer.
Meacham called Bush 41 “America’s last great soldier-statesman, a 20th Century founding father.” He was, underscored Meacham, “an imperfect man, (who) left us a more perfect union.” Meacham also, in effect, explained to Trump what those “thousand points of light” were all about.
Locally, John Belohlavek, the esteemed USF history professor, pointed out that while Bush is not part of the pantheon of presidential stalwarts that includes the iconic likes of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, he will be remembered for being “balanced and thoughtful, both in his foreign and domestic policies. Experienced and affable,” said Belohlavek, “his successes came through attempts to unify the nation and his allies behind him.”
How sad that as we honored President George H.W. Bush, we can only be nostalgic for a time when a president’s priorities included national unity and the shared principles of valued allies.