The PJ Tatler

Time to Reconsider George H. W. Bush?

Only if by “reconsider” you’re okay with Poppy looking even worse than he did in 1992. But — surprise! — that’s not how his former chief of staff, John Sununu, sees it:

George H.W. Bush has always had a hard time getting respect. He was mocked during his time in office with a Newsweek magazine cover that discussed his “wimp factor.” His presidency is often remembered as one that couldn’t sustain the Reagan dynasty and which frittered away high approval ratings after a successful war in the Middle East by breaking a promise to never raise taxes.

Now a new book by Bush’s former chief of staff, John H. Sununu, argues that Bush’s presidency was far more successful, and consequential, than he is given credit for. He may have been a nice guy who didn’t win reelection, but that shouldn’t be interpreted as finishing last, Sununu argues.

No, of course not…

The former three-term governor of New Hampshire makes a persuasive argument in “The Quiet Man: The Indispensable Presidency of George H.W. Bush” that Bush’s legacy should be reconsidered, marshaling an impressive array of details and facts to support his case.

Two main themes animate Sununu’s case. First, Sununu writes, Bush’s quiet, humble style, his belief in the importance of personal diplomacy, and his ability to get along with others and reach compromise were crucial to easing the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition in Eastern Europe from communist rule. Those qualities also were key to assembling the coalition that helped push Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991. And, he argues, they made it possible for Bush to productively work with the overwhelmingly Democrat-controlled Congress.

Surely you jest, John — I was in Berlin when the wall came down and left the Soviet Union just weeks before the coup against Gorbachev, and can tell you with a degree of high confidence that Bush’s performance — and that of his feckless secretary of state, the wretched James A. Baker — was a disgrace to America and American ideals. His weakness and niggardliness as the Evil Empire collapsed has led directly to the rise of Putin today. Similarly, Bush’s  wimpy (there is no other word) failure to finish the job in Iraq led to the second Iraq war and, arguably, the attacks of 9/11, as Osama bin Laden got his first glimpse at the Weak Horse that was and is the United States.

A quick trip to the remainder bin surely is in order for this one.