RIP, President George H.W. Bush

The passing of the 41st president, George H.W. Bush, is both a family heartbreak and – inevitably – a political event.  His descendants – children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, a group that includes high officeholders former President George W. Bush and former Governor Jeb Bush – deserve our sympathy and support, as do his many friends.  His death reminds us all that no matter how successful or powerful we become, our fate is mortality.  This common destiny unites us all, no matter what temporal differences we may have.

Official presidential portrait.

But inevitably, there are political consequences.

We are already experiencing the first-order political ramification: other news is being crowded out by coverage of the death, highlighting the many achievements of President Bush 41.  He was a war hero who volunteered at age 18 and reputedly became the youngest naval pilot of WWII, shot down in service to his country, a survivor rescued from his raft.  That alone would be sufficient to make his memory heroic.

The second-order ramifications will begin soon and spread to a powerful chorus of voices invidiously comparing Bush 41 to Trump 45.  In many ways, both Presidents Bush were the antithesis of everything Trump, starting with patrician backgrounds, Yale and the initiation into Skull & Bones, and membership in the upper level of the globalist ruling class.  The late President Bush, with his key role in opening China to the United States over multiple administrations, including service as ambassador to China, helped incorporate China into the global trade and financial systems in a way that facilitated its dramatic rise in GNP and consequent developments in military, economic, and financial spheres.  His stint as head of the CIA cemented relationships completely lacking in the case of President Trump and bring to mind the warning from Chuck Schumer (an old friend of Trump and recipient of many political donations from him):

Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.

In style, President Bush was the opposite of President Trump: courtly to a fault and a model of refined manners.  I expect many comparisons, direct and indirect, to Trump, who is already vilified for his taste and behavior in practically everything.

Moreover, President Bush 41 was overtly friendly with the opposition and came to regard his successor, Bill Clinton – a man who defeated him thanks to the third-party candidacy of Ross Perot (an outsider billionaire like Trump) – as almost a son, commenting that Clinton seemed to regard him almost as the father he never had.  The impossibility of imagining anything at all like that for President Trump cements the utter contrast the two men offer in style.

The third order of ramifications extend to the ceremonial farewell.  Cindy McCain pointedly excluded the sitting POTUS from Senator John McCain's funeral.  Will the Bush family follow suit?  If they do, it will be a historic rebuke.  There is so far no information on funeral arrangements, either in Houston or Washington, D.C., where a late president must be honored and commemorated.

But this is the moment to offer our sincere condolences and to wait for the time to come to an understanding of the Bush presidency and dynasty and the implications for politics going forward.