Bush’s genteel manner no match for today’s slash-and-burn political environment
“If experience equals qualification, Bush was certainly among the most qualified ever for the presidency."
December 1, 2018
Charles Walcott, Virginia Tech professor emeritus of political science and an expert on the U.S. presidency is available to discuss George Herbert Walker Bush, his character, his achievements and setbacks while in the White House.
Politics of a different generation: “Bush was the last of the Eisenhower Republicans to win the presidency. His version of Republicanism would have no place in today's Trumpean party, nor would his genteel manner play especially well in a slash-and-burn political environment -- though even he allowed folks like Lee Atwater to do some slashing and burning on his behalf.”
The Clinton friendship: “He will be personally remembered as the kind of politician many miss greatly today. His friendship with Bill Clinton seems to have embodied the spirit of country over party that we miss these days.”
Preparing for the White House: “If experience equals qualification, Bush was certainly among the most qualified ever for the presidency. He had been a member of Congress, head of the CIA, a diplomat, a leader of his national party, and a vice-president, as well as a successful businessman and a war hero. He was not only the last of the Greatest Generation to lead the country, he seemed to embody the idea of meritocracy.”
His privileged upbringing: “Bush was, as Texas Governor Ann Richards said, ‘born with a silver foot in his mouth.’ Ability to connect with and inspire the public is also part of the job description. Here his patrician upbringing led to something akin to a tragic flaw when it came to elective politics.”
Bush and the Cold War: “Multiple things came together to spell the end of the Soviet Union, including their basic economic weakness, the cost of engaging in an arms race - for which Reagan can be credited - and the conclusion of its leaders, especially Gorbachev, that the old ways weren't working any more. Bush had little directly to do with such things. As president, he managed our relations with the crumbling USSR skillfully during what could have been a dangerous period.”
Failure to win a second term: “First, he seemed sufficiently aloof and out of touch - the semi-apocryphal story about the grocery scanner seemed to sum it up - that this caricature could be used against him. Second, his aversion to "the vision thing" left him without a convincing message. It just wasn't made clear why he should be reelected.”
To secure a live or recorded interview with Walcott, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288.
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