The values that defined Bush 41


Catholic Herald, 6 December 2018

George Herbert Walker Bush – the 41st US president – never wrote a post-presidential memoir. His son, George W Bush – the 43rd president – gave a possible explanation in the book he wrote instead, entitled 41: A Portrait of My Father.

“Dorothy Walker Bush [41’s mother] was a woman of strong faith,” Bush 43 wrote of his grandmother. “She read Bible verses to her children over breakfast every morning. One of her favourite passages was Proverbs 27:2: ‘Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth’.”

Now the praises are flowing freely for Bush 41, who died on November 30. He was not the greatest president America had, but he may well have been the greatest man to serve as president, the young war hero turned entrepreneur turned politician. Above all, in his later years he taught America about fathers and sons, a cultural lesson more important than anything that politics can achieve.

Bush was born into a wealthy Wall Street family, living in one of America’s richest cities, Greenwich, Connecticut. His father Prescott Bush was elected to the Senate as a Republican when that party dominated the northeast. After graduating from Yale, Bush turned down offers to join his father and grandfather in securing a comfortable life on Wall Street. Instead, he headed out to the Texas desert with his wife and young son. He would learn about the oil industry from the bottom up.

In 1964, when a 40-year-old Bush made an unsuccessful run for Senate as a Republican in Texas, the Democrats utterly dominated the state. In moving from Connecticut to Texas, Bush was shaping a new Republican future. The northeast would become a stronghold of liberal Democrats by the time Bush 43 would be elected in 2000, and Texas would be part of the solidly Republican south.

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