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President George Bush
The C-Span series has reached George Bush, my favorite president. He embodies the Victorian ideal of a gentleman, which Coudenhove Kalergi said is essential to democracy. In the United States the ideal was blurred by Jacksonian populism, which the founding generation despised. He is sincere; he simply likes his dog, unlike other presidents for whom their dog was a political gimmick.
American politics has its yin and yang. The yin is seen in the presidential debates, the yang in the conventions which are psychologically akin to Nazi or fascist rallies. In Europe, the yin is represented by men like Tony Blair, President Chirac, Lionel Jospin, and José María Aznar, the yang by Hitler and Mussolini. In Latin America, the yin is represented by my old friend President Virgilio Barco of Colombia, to whom Bush referred with respect and affection, the yang by Perón and Fidel Castro. One reason Bush was denied a second term was because he was a yin man. not a yang man. The yang of American politics is like Mexican men watching a cock-fight.
I question two things about Bush. His decision to go into the oil business and move to Texas was rather like a present-day student going into computer activities and moving to Silicon Valley. Parachuting on this 75th birthday was intended to prove something, but to me it suggests the wildcatting spirit. I assume he did not think he had nine lives.
Because of his service in China and in the CIA, he had an unusual knowledge of international affairs, and he loved maps. Yet the series stressed the victory of Desert Storm, and little else. The weakness of the C-Span series is that it pays little attention to international affairs, and only to the American perspective on them.
WAIS is a great defender of journalists but deplores the buccaneers who try to rob decent politicians of their reputation. They got Dan Quayle, and one did his best to get Bush by spreading the story that he had shown surprised admiration at the check-out machine in a store. Showing rare annoyance, Bush said the young reporter was not even at the meeting where he made the remark; in fact, he was looking at the latest model scanner at a computer exhibit.
Yin American politicians have learned reconciliation. Bush, who had accepted defeat with his usual grace, was honored at the inauguration of his library museum on the campus of Texas A&M with the presence of all the living presidents except Reagan, incapacitated by incipient Alzheimer's disease. It is a thoroughly honest display. Bush had nothing to hide. Would that all our Presidents could say the same.
Ronald Hilton - 12/14/99