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November 30, 2018 9:28 PM   Subscribe

George Herbert Walker Bush, first baseman for the Yale Bulldogs baseball team in the 1947 and 1948 College World Series, WWII naval aviator, twice elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 7th district of Texas, 10th U.S. Ambassador to the UN, head of the CIA, 43rd Vice President of the United States for two terms under Ronald Reagan, 41st President of the United States for one term, member of a multigenerational political dynasty, and skydiving enthusiast, has died at age 94.
posted by theory (247 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
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I was too young for Bush, but he always seemed to be decent, at least from what little I knew of him. RIP, 94 is a hell of a good run.
posted by Alensin at 9:31 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


I have a lot of thoughts colliding in my head, but for now,

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posted by Guy Smiley at 9:32 PM on November 30 [11 favorites]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:35 PM on November 30


I missed my edit window, but - we could use a president with a diplomatic, international-relations philosophy now. I'd prefer an Obama, but a GHWB would be good enough these days.
posted by Guy Smiley at 9:39 PM on November 30 [8 favorites]


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posted by hippybear at 9:40 PM on November 30


The CNN obit is pretty well balanced as well.

I guess I never knew or forgot that he was only the head of the CIA for a single year, because I had always had that in the back of my mind about him - "yeah, he seems likable, but he was the head of the CIA!"

Overall, I guess I'd have to say he was a decent man, and served his country with honor. Godspeed then, Mr. President.
posted by yhbc at 9:40 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


It’s worth noting his wife Barbara only died this year. He is reputed in many quarters to have loved her very much. I am not surprised he has not survived her long.

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posted by corb at 9:41 PM on November 30 [13 favorites]


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posted by monopas at 9:46 PM on November 30


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posted by mmoncur at 9:46 PM on November 30


Invaded Panama, fathered Iraq War I, Lord knows what else when doing jobs for Nixon.

Godspeed. They’ve been waiting for you!
posted by notyou at 9:47 PM on November 30 [57 favorites]


Yea also full of complicated thoughts and emotions.

But I’ll say this: the man dedicated much of his life to public service. I find that admirable.

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posted by Frayed Knot at 9:48 PM on November 30 [9 favorites]


I missed my edit window, but - we could use a president with a diplomatic, international-relations philosophy now. I'd prefer an Obama, but a GHWB would be good enough these days.

What a wonderful example of how evil relies on this sort of slow, public deterioration of moral norms. I wonder what nastiness will be "good enough" tomorrow.
posted by invitapriore at 9:48 PM on November 30 [131 favorites]




Bush was the first president I remember. I have vauge flashes of Reagan. Berlin Wall and all that. But Bush was the first person I really remember. My 2nd grade teacher took us to a Bush reelection rally in 92. It was creepy. All us kids were chanting "Four more years!" along with the crowd. We didn't know what it meant or represented. A pure performance to participate with the crowd. And now that I know more I don't look at that teacher very fondly.

I don't know what to think now. I do think the Republicans rejecting him because he raised taxes when needed was the first inkling of what they'd become today. But he wasn't Trump. Thank God he wasn't Trump.

(I also remember being in a Dairy Queen in Texas doing my personal impression of the kid that did the impression of Dana Carvey's impression on America's Funniest Home Videos (or the Joey spinoff - ch:ching:bada:bing). And the locals all thought I was that kid. That's when I first realized I could do voices.)
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:52 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


Would've thought Mefi was mostly people old enough to remember Iran-Contra?
posted by praemunire at 9:53 PM on November 30 [33 favorites]


What a wonderful example of how evil relies on this sort of slow, public deterioration of moral norms. I wonder what nastiness will be "good enough" tomorrow.

You're gonna love my "No, really fascism is good!" FPP then.
posted by Guy Smiley at 9:54 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


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posted by Going To Maine at 9:55 PM on November 30


I felt the need to make this FPP because his presidency played such a big role in my nascent political awareness and activism before I was able to vote him out of office.
posted by theory at 9:55 PM on November 30 [20 favorites]


Mr. "Outside the Loop" was in up to his ass on Iran-Contra, dismissed investigations as a "witch hunt," and then pardoned his fellow traitors. Unless you believe the former director of the CIA wasn't involved.

He was a war hero and seems like a decent guy and a good husband. Skydiving on his 90th birthday was totally badass. But he did bad things as president.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:56 PM on November 30 [64 favorites]


Yeah, it’s quaint now who we thought of as unspeakably evil back then. But yeah, he shaped much of our subsequent relationship to Iraq and practically pioneered the US tradition of “ start a covert war to put a horrible dictator in power then start an overt war to take them out ten years later.” Friend of Ferdinand Marcos, friend of Apartheid, invader of Iraq, invader of Panama, invader of Somalia.

For the quiet, pointless but dignified old grandpa he spent the last ten years of his life portraying:

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posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:56 PM on November 30 [26 favorites]


Oh yeah, he vomited on the Prime Minister of Japan at a state dinner. Let’s not forget that shining moment.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:58 PM on November 30 [34 favorites]


War for oil.
Arms for hostages.
Noriega's our man.
Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy.
War on Drugs.
Man, there's a list a mile long, and none of it's good.

I'm sorry Twitler makes him look good, but next to a couple of other Sith lords who need to Wrap This Up, he was on that list. I got no dot for him. But the Interwebs do giveth, yea they do:

Jimmy Carter asked CIA Director Bush to brief him on UFOs, and Bush said no.
posted by petebest at 10:00 PM on November 30 [32 favorites]


When all is said and done, GHWB will be remembered for four things:

1. Iran-Contra
2. Desert Storm’s legacy
3. Throwing up on the PM of Japan
4. Making it uncool to hate broccoli
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 10:01 PM on November 30 [15 favorites]


I will not speak a single kind word about anyone who employed Lee Atwater and Paul Manafort.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:02 PM on November 30 [51 favorites]


For good or ill, Bush 41 was the only intelligent, competent Republican President since Eisenhower.
posted by tclark at 10:02 PM on November 30 [19 favorites]


Per this Mother Jones article: As a congressman from Texas from 1967 to 1971, George H.W. Bush "championed federal funding for groups including Planning Parenthood and access to family planning for all Americans. His dedication to the issue earned him the nickname 'Rubbers.' "
posted by virago at 10:04 PM on November 30 [27 favorites]


Oh man, Obama’s statement is amazing. I didn’t realize they’d seen each other this week.
posted by corb at 10:07 PM on November 30 [6 favorites]


I hope he has a slightly nicer condo in hell than John McCain.
posted by codacorolla at 10:07 PM on November 30 [16 favorites]


I felt the need to make this FPP

Oh, definitely FPP-worthy. Just some of the comments seem to display a surprising degree of historical amnesia. As a public servant, he was involved in some truly nasty shenanigans.
posted by praemunire at 10:08 PM on November 30 [12 favorites]


I am sorry for anyone who dies with the knowledge that Trump is their president.
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:12 PM on November 30 [14 favorites]


1980 was my second Presidential election. I was solidly behind Jimmy Carter but also 100% against Reagan and Bush was running as a more reasonable alternative and when he was chosen as running mate, I was hopeful he'd be a moderating force. Eight years later, when received his party's nomination for president, in his acceptance speech, he called for a "kinder, gentler nation." He was far less than successful, but his heart was as close to "the right place" as any Republican since Dwight Eisenhower.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:13 PM on November 30 [6 favorites]


The Death of Manuel Noriega—and U.S Intervention in Latin America
In 1976, CIA Director George H.W. Bush learned that Noriega had managed to penetrate an American operation spying on him—and was bribing American soldiers to provide tapes. The double-cross was particularly notable because Noriega was still receiving payments from the CIA. Some intelligence officials wanted Bush to press for prosecution of the soldiers, which would have uncovered Noriega’s role, but he declined.

American intelligence officials also knew that Noriega was likely involved in drug smuggling at the time, but they overlooked it because of what they saw as positive benefits of his presence. In fact, even before Noriega’s accession to power, intelligence officials had identified Panama as an essential hub of drug trafficking and laundering of U.S. dollars.
Bush and Noriega: Examination of Their Ties
Mr. Bush, as C.I.A. Director, was one of a number of officials in Democratic and Republican Administrations who had access to intelligence reports on Mr. Noriega that would have described the Panamanian's suspected activities, including drug trafficking. In those years, the United States maintained a relationship with him because officials believed, on balance, that the cooperation they were receiving from Mr. Noriega was more valuable than the damage he was causing.
Manuel Noriega, the Invasion of Panama and How George H.W. Bush Misled America
In the fall of 1989, Bush's inability to deal with Noriega contributed to his low approval ratings: It made him look weak, a charge that had followed him for years. In 1980, William Loeb, the right-wing publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, had derided Bush as "an incompetent wimp," and the word stuck. His political opponents often referred to his Ivy League pedigree and implied he was not capable of taking strong military action. Now Noriega was defying the United States, and the word wimp again was appearing in print. On December 20, 1989, Bush sent 25,000 troops into Panama.

Bush justified the invasion—code-named Operation Just Cause—on national security grounds. Noriega, he said, was a drug dealer who had declared war on the United States, threatened the lives of Americans living in Panama and now threatened the security of the Panama Canal. None of that was proved true.
Manuel Noriega: feared dictator was the man who knew too much
Human rights and security aside, Bush had plenty of personal reasons for wanting Noriega out of the way. As CIA director and two-term vice-president to Ronald Reagan prior to 1988, Bush was implicated, by association, in often illegal, covert interventions in the civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua. During this period, Noriega, who rose to head the Panamanian security forces, became a highly paid informant and CIA “asset”.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:13 PM on November 30 [19 favorites]


Good job with negotiations with Gorby...... And the ADA.....

Everything else? Mostly Evil
posted by lalochezia at 10:14 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I found myself rather randomly reading the Wikipedia page on Saddam Hussein only a few hours before I learned about GHWB's death. That's an... interesting coincidence.
posted by Ruki at 10:15 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


He nominated Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court.
posted by kerf at 10:16 PM on November 30 [39 favorites]


aside from his opposition to broccoli which i support wholeheartedly and without reservation, he was not a particularly admirable man for his political policies and choices. he helped make the countries south of us a horrifying and deadly place for millions of people whose only crime was being born there, and it's alarming to see so many people here either forgetting or not caring about that in the first place. still, likely a better man than 45 but i've shat out things better than 45 so it's not saying much.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:17 PM on November 30 [33 favorites]


GHW Bush employed Lee Atwater, the expert at Southern Strategy race baiting, to win his election. Bush ran the racial fearmongering "Willie Horton" ad. He put out rumors that his opponent, Dukakis, had been treated for mental illness. He played the part of the dignified patrician while in the background he fought as dirty as it gets. Nothing to be proud of.
posted by JackFlash at 10:22 PM on November 30 [35 favorites]


Also let's not forget that he was president through the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I honestly just teared up and not for him.
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:22 PM on November 30 [16 favorites]


. for Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, assassinated by right-wing death squads that Mr. Bush knew about.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:23 PM on November 30 [11 favorites]


A reminder that people may acknowledge an important figure's passing in ways—a dot, a link, a milquetoast remark, rose-tinted nostalgia—that might not reflect the complexity of their actual feelings.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 10:23 PM on November 30 [13 favorites]


["and it's alarming to see so many people here either forgetting or not caring about that in the first place. "

To be fair, I'm deleting some of the strongest and most vividly-stated opinions on HW's character, and also, hey guys, save your fact-free afterlife torture fantasies for Dante.]

posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:23 PM on November 30 [51 favorites]


Would've thought Mefi was mostly people old enough to remember Iran-Contra?

I was born during Bush's presidency. I still remember the absolute WTF reaction I had when I was a teenager clicking around on Wikipedia and read about the invasion of Panama for the first time.
posted by edeezy at 10:24 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


Here is another appreciation from historian (and former head of the Nixon Library) Tim Naftali.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:25 PM on November 30


It's also important to remember his lack of moral leadership following the Rodney King beating and the officers' acquittals. While he did say he was sickened by King's beating, he maintained a close relationship with LAPD Chief Daryl Gates and displayed little interest in the concerns of African Americans.
posted by theory at 10:27 PM on November 30 [10 favorites]


Oh god, I forgot about Willie Horton.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:34 PM on November 30 [5 favorites]


it's a bummer. it's a bummer that bush's political party, which used to venerate war heroes like him, is now in thrall to a foreign dictator's pawn. but bush was president, and he and his son shaped that same party half a generation before everything went sideways. so it's his damn fault as much as anyone's. the death of a republic depends on its heroes staying silent. have a nice sleep, george.
posted by wibari at 10:35 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]




Bush's AIDS policy was...probably the best you were going to get out of a conservative in the late 80s/early 90s. I mean, that's a low bar, but it's probably one of his less weak points. The anti-retrovirals were developed during his administration.
posted by praemunire at 10:42 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


I also am old enough to remember him as one of the bad ones. We have fallen much further, but he assisted the decline.
posted by matildaben at 10:43 PM on November 30 [14 favorites]


I"m either old enough or just callous enough that I reached for a Dana Carvey upon first hearing.
posted by stevil at 10:45 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


I feel a deep emptiness at his death.

Reagan was the villain of my childhood - the man who gave me childhood terror of nuclear war, who gutted the economy of my African American neighborhood, and killed my parents friends with his neglect and homophobia. So when he died I felt a sense of justice finally served.

Bush was the enemy that ushered in my adulthood. The man I learned to demonstrate against with his deceitful wars, declared and undeclared. I would cry watching footage of bombs falling on Iraq, yet his cold, almost robotic affect defied the kind of hatred I and many felt for Reagan before him. He felt like nothing - that 'wimp' label he was given by the media penetrated. But he wasn't nothing, he did deep harm.

In retrospect we can see how his legacy still harms, in the impacts of his drug war, ongoing policy in the Middle East, and so forth. (As Corey Robin tweeted tonight: "How George H.W. Bush lives on: The Willie Horton ad that helped get him elected was made by Floyd Brown. After '88, Brown formed an organization to get Bush nominees onto the courts. One of those nominees was Clarence Thomas. The name of that organization was Citizens United.")

My previous comment was deleted, I know moderation of this type of thread is a challenge, but I hope there is room to express the honest feelings I have toward this man and about his death.
posted by latkes at 10:47 PM on November 30 [57 favorites]


Mr. Bush was one of the youngest naval aviators of World War II and was shot down while leading a dive bomb attack after his plane was hit by antiaircraft fire.

A stark contrast from his chickenshit son, who didn't even have the decency to serve in his champagne unit assignment to the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:47 PM on November 30 [8 favorites]


Bush's AIDS policy was...probably the best you were going to get out of a conservative in the late 80s/early 90s.

And his son established PEPFAR (at Bono's goading), which did more to help with Africa's HIV crisis than any other program. Literally millions of lives saved.

The Bush family has been generally good with HIV/AIDS. I will always remember that.
posted by hippybear at 10:49 PM on November 30 [12 favorites]


I’m not much of a Rachel Maddow fan, but her podcast on Spiro Agnew (I know, right!) is really good if you can tolerate the big news org overproduction, AND Rachel Maddow reading it, BUT it has some really terrible/informative things to say about GHWB and you should all totally Google it, that’s all I’m saying.
posted by notyou at 10:51 PM on November 30 [6 favorites]


[I have deleted a handful of comments that are just throwaway one-line jokes or graphic imaginings of torture, which we have been clear over and over in politics threads and obituaries are not welcome, partly because of the trauma those graphic imagining do to your vulnerable fellow members who have asked us, over and over, to stop that shit. Plenty of people in this thread are cogently and clearly expressing their hatred of GHWB without needing to be disgusting in a triggering fashion that may make them feel clever for thirty seconds but harms their fellow mefites. If this is a problem for you, you need to take it to MetaTalk. I attempted to be a little jokey so it wouldn't intrude too much into the thread, but this is the real talk: if you can't post about GHWB without forcing everyone else to read your violent vengeance fantasies without their consent, don't post.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:54 PM on November 30 [83 favorites]


If I have any sympathy at all for the man, it’s that, gosh darn it, his name is George Bush. It was George Bush when he was President, it was George Bush when he was Vice President, it was George Bush when he was CIA Director, it was George Bush when he was all the other things he was. Then that pipsqueak kid of his came along, and suddenly the name he had deliberately and sympathetically left out of his otherwise same-named son’s, the superfluous middle name that kept us all from simply calling them Sr. and Jr. like we’d all like to, came back and hit his legacy like so many memoir pages through the blades of an uncontrollable outboard motor.

Herbert.

That poor man.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:58 PM on November 30 [6 favorites]


U.S. Gave Iraq Little Reason Not to Mount Kuwait Assault
In the two weeks before Iraq's seizure of Kuwait, the Bush Administration on the advice of Arab leaders gave President Saddam Hussein little reason to fear a forceful American response if his troops invaded the country.

The Administration's message to Baghdad, articulated in public statements in Washington by senior policy makers and delivered directly to Mr. Hussein by the United States Ambassador, April C. Glaspie, was this: The United States was concerned about Iraq's military buildup on its border with Kuwait, but did not intend to take sides in what it perceived as a no-win border dispute between Arab neighbors.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:08 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


not a fan
never a fan
not as bad as Trump, I guess.

Mr. Bush was one of the youngest naval aviators of World War II and was shot down while leading a dive bomb attack after his plane was hit by antiaircraft fire.

What comes to mind was my dad (a WW2 combat veteran himself) as the first Gulf War started. He just couldn't believe that somebody who'd experienced horrors similar to what he had would force an unnecessary war. He was disgusted.
posted by philip-random at 11:12 PM on November 30 [20 favorites]


Oh hey, I thought of something good he did!

Even George Bush couldn’t bring himself to vote for Trump.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:15 PM on November 30 [7 favorites]


Goodbye Herbert
posted by mannequito at 11:17 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Trump, I wonder what his excuse will be for not attending the funeral. Because you know he’ll skip that, too.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:17 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]




Farewell to the last non-Dunning-Krugerred Republican.
posted by monotreme at 11:23 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


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posted by Samuel Farrow at 11:27 PM on November 30


During WWII he likely strafed Japanese lifeboats, a war crime. His "oil company" is presumed to have been a front for the CIA-organized Bay of Pigs invasion. More recently, he has been accused of sexual assault during the #metoo movement.

. For the last "decent" Republican.
posted by St. Oops at 11:31 PM on November 30 [21 favorites]


It's also important to remember his lack of moral leadership following the Rodney King beating and the officers' acquittals. While he did say he was sickened by King's beating, he maintained a close relationship with LAPD Chief Daryl Gates and displayed little interest in the concerns of African Americans.

While this is all totally legit, he did direct the DoJ to investigate the cops who beat King for civil rights violations, ultimately convicting two of them. And yeah, his rhetoric felt empty at the time, but it's worth considering that he said anything at all considering where Republicans are today.

We have vastly more video evidence of police brutality against people of color now. How often do Republicans at any level even go so far as to say it sickens them? Now they go straight to "let's not judge until we have all the facts" and "we don't really know what happened."

I don't bring it up to defend Bush. I don't think he was an advocate of racial justice by any stretch. But I do think it's worth looking at him for perspective on how ugly things are today.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:35 PM on November 30 [13 favorites]


The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

He was President during the fall of the Soviet Union and the democratization of Eastern Europe. I do not give him credit for that miraculously peaceful evaporation of tyranny, but misteps by an American President could easily have derailed those events, perhaps catastrophically. He did not screw it up.

.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:45 PM on November 30 [14 favorites]


I feel conflicted when reflecting on the death of George Bush Snr. First of all, he was of an age where his passing was not unexpected and indeed was to be expected. Some may reflect that he lived to such an age precisely because he lived a life of privilege, a life that is denied to the overwhelming majority of his fellow citizens. He never had to worry about health insurance premiums. We can also point to any number of his failings both President and as head of the CIA. For many MeFites, his legacy deserves no respectful dots. Yet some also point out the good he did, whether by word or by deed. His support of AIDS/HIV suffers for example. He was also clearly a loving husband, if not a loving father too. Neither are no mean feat.

We also need to bear in mind that the current President sets such a low bar, that just about anybody, including any former President, seems so much better than what the US has now. For example, as repugnant as Nixon was, at least he was intelligent, something you could never say about Trump. And I think Bush Snr. was an intelligent person.

I remember the funeral of an elderly acquaintance of ours, where his son, with more than ample justification, told the congregation, in no uncertain terms, of his dead father's many and manifest failings. It didn't sit well with me. Yes, what his son said was true, but the timing wasn't right. The dead deserve at least some respect, especially in the days after their passing. There is time enough for pissing on their grave. And I say that as someone who has literally, as in actually, pissed upon someone's grave.

So, I am conflicted by Bush Snr's passing. I see both the bad, and the good. At this time, I prefer to remember the good, rather than the bad, recognising that history will judge him. So, in respect, I say,

.
posted by vac2003 at 11:50 PM on November 30 [11 favorites]


When my grandmother had her first stroke in 1990, the ER doc asked her who the president was.

"That skinny-lipped weasel," she said.

"Close enough," said the doc.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:15 AM on December 1 [92 favorites]


he became a member of a contending college baseball team with a lousy .215 average

somehow i think that can stand as a metaphor of his whole life
posted by pyramid termite at 12:40 AM on December 1 [8 favorites]


Those who want to reflect on his personal qualities separate from his political career might want to keep in mind that he was a serial groper with documented incidents stretching back into the 90s, to the point where he had a stock line to deliver as a prelude to the grope.
posted by Copronymus at 12:41 AM on December 1 [15 favorites]


Race baiting is the way to get selected
Willie Horton or
Will he not get elected on...
Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy - Television, the Drug of the Nation
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:51 AM on December 1 [9 favorites]


One of my beefs against the father was his support for the son, when the latter did indefensible things like the second Iraq War.

Also it's a bit of a derail, but I've been seeing this "GWB was great on AIDS in Africa" argument lately and it strikes me as odd, because what I remember from that period is his insistence on funding only abstinence-only efforts. So a complicated legacy, at best.
posted by trig at 1:06 AM on December 1 [10 favorites]


MetaFilter: fact-free afterlife torture fantasies
posted by oheso at 1:14 AM on December 1 [7 favorites]


Of the four most recent Republican presidencies that I am old enough to remember, GHWB was the least terrible.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:39 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


I'll always remember him as the first Republican presidential candidate I ever voted against. Then, four years later, I voted against him again. The second time worked.
posted by skybluepink at 2:17 AM on December 1 [4 favorites]


The only president I’ve ever seen in person. It was 1988 and he’d topped off his pre-election visit to our military post by donning shorts and jogging the perimeter of the parade field. It was how a candidate in his mid 60s back then proved that he had the health and vitality needed to withstand the presidency. While showing military support. We all talked about it for weeks.

Things were more quaint back then.
posted by mochapickle at 2:22 AM on December 1 [5 favorites]


I remember the funeral of an elderly acquaintance of ours, where his son, with more than ample justification, told the congregation, in no uncertain terms, of his dead father's many and manifest failings. It didn't sit well with me. Yes, what his son said was true, but the timing wasn't right. The dead deserve at least some respect, especially in the days after their passing. There is time enough for pissing on their grave. And I say that as someone who has literally, as in actually, pissed upon someone's grave.

This isn't a private funeral, and neither are we H. Bush's son. This Bush (and, so far as I can tell, no Bush who's ever been in the public eye) deserves such a degree of respect, because they took the reigns of power and are thus judged for their actions in that position. The trump presidency didn't come out of nowhere. It's not a surprise that the GOP, as truculent and evil as it was in the 80s and 90s, is now even more unabashedly vile in the later 2000s: not even bothering with the thin pretence that H. put on his presidency.

This is exactly the time to piss on his grave, because he deserves it, and so much more. The dead deserve no particular respect, especially when the dead haven't given that same benefit to the living during their residency, and especially when they've elected to be a (comparatively minor in the eyes of history) monster as president of The United States.
posted by codacorolla at 2:32 AM on December 1 [26 favorites]


For the quiet, pointless but dignified old grandpa he spent the last ten years of his life portraying:

This "dignified old grandpa" was accused by more than one woman of getting gropey with them as they posed for pictures with him, and would joke to them that his favorite magician was "David Cop-a-feel".

I will respect the fact that he is a human person who died, a fact that itself demands its own small measure of respect - one accorded to all. But I remember his actions while in office and his current behavior, and I shall not grant his passing one whit more dignity than that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:35 AM on December 1 [8 favorites]


But he wasn't Trump.

Putin would be a better comparison.
posted by pompomtom at 3:11 AM on December 1 [4 favorites]


Would've thought Mefi was mostly people old enough to remember Iran-Contra?

Some of us are old enough to remember Watergate. Bush escaped any taint from that particular Republican scandal but he was Nixon's ambassador to the UN and then head of the RNC during the time of the investigation. He's not the cartoon villain that our current president* is but he was deeply involved in republican shenanigans for a long time.
posted by octothorpe at 3:24 AM on December 1 [7 favorites]


Came to this thread for shelter from the media hagiography that is sure to dominate the airwaves today. Was not disappointed. Will be interested to see how long Trump keeps the White House flag at half-staff, as well as how his supporters react on social media. When McCain died they were far more vicious than more liberal people, even though the same people had supported him for president just a few years before. Of course, they may have already forgotten that he didn’t support Trump.
posted by TedW at 3:55 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


Another monster that should've died in a cell in Den Haag.

.

For the AIDS victims he didn't let into the US, the thousands murdered on the Highway of Death, the hundreds of civilians in that shelter in Bagdhad, the hundreds of thousands more who died due to the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure and sanctions.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:04 AM on December 1 [20 favorites]


@vac203 "The dead deserve at least some respect, especially in the days after their passing."

You know... no, they don't. At least, not simply for being dead, not as a default and unearned privilege. No longer. I've heard this my entire life and used to accept it as true - but no longer.

Maybe, just maybe if the not-yet-dead wish to be well-remembered they can live their lives in such a way as to earn it. And the friends and family who would be pained by ill will would do well to encourage others to do the same.

GHWB was the first person I voted against for president. (First election I was able to vote.) I didn't have anything against Dukakis but I definitely voted against Bush not for Dukakis. Even then I could not understand why anyone not rich and/or deeply racist would vote Republican.

Previous commenters are correct in saying that, while Bush was "better" than Trump by light years, he paved the way for where we are today. On the whole, his presidency did not make the world a better place, and I do not believe he intended to. Not for the vast majority of us, anyway, not if it came at the expense of power or wealth for him or his circle.
posted by jzb at 4:07 AM on December 1 [15 favorites]


In general, to have been president of the US is to be an amoral monster and that doesn't really differ if they're Republican or Democrat. Clinton too was guilty of starving Iraqi children, Obama of drone murdering Yemeni civilians.

If there's a hell below, they're all going to go.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:07 AM on December 1 [12 favorites]


Heck, even Carter upheld the murderous Somoza regime in Nicaragua and started the jihadi resistance in Afghanistan. Don't think a lifetime of building houses afterwards weights up against that either.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:09 AM on December 1 [6 favorites]


We've had worse. And that's not including Cheeto Hitler.
posted by tommasz at 4:31 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


Every US President walks into a bar.

They stub their toes, because it was set so low.
posted by pompomtom at 4:55 AM on December 1 [31 favorites]


.
posted by bunderful at 5:02 AM on December 1


George H.W. Bush and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Three weeks after Independence Day in 1990, a group of White House officials, organization leaders, people with disabilities and George H.W. Bush himself gathered to celebrate another day of independence – a different kind of independence, and one that would forever change lives.

It was July 26, 1990, when Bush passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law prohibiting discrimination of those with physical and intellectual disabilities. The act was arguably Bush’s most important and influential piece of legislation during his presidency.

To disabled Americans, it was their Civil Rights Act -- their declaration that they deserve the same rights as those without disabilities. To Bush, it impacted his lasting legacy.
posted by homunculus at 5:06 AM on December 1 [9 favorites]


Oh hey, I thought of something good he did!

Even George Bush couldn’t bring himself to vote for Trump.


More accurately, that's him not doing a bad thing. I've seen no indication that he voted for anybody for Pres that election. We could compile a list of other awful things he didn't do, but it wouldn't improve my opinion of him.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:09 AM on December 1


This tendency to ascribe years of US foreign and domestic policy to a single individual, when we have a honking huge govt bureaucracy, plays into a disturbing strain of narcissism around political discourse. Yes, the president is important in setting the tone and priorities of government for a few years, but he's not some sort of semi-divine king who issues edicts from the West Wing -- current office-holder notwithstanding.

In fact, it's almost as if Presidents and other leaders are not gods but human beings,* with moral complexity, who are simultaneously shitty and decent. So for all the presidents (except Lincoln) who ended up in the Bad Place: .

*As much as it pains me to say it, I suppose that includes Trump. Still waiting for the "decent" part of that equation to come through, but ....
posted by basalganglia at 5:10 AM on December 1 [8 favorites]


He was a war hero and seems like a decent guy and a good husband.

As a moral exemplar for his children, he seems to have failed pretty hard, so “family man” is a laurel that sits poorly on him.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:25 AM on December 1 [12 favorites]


This tendency to ascribe years of US foreign and domestic policy to a single individual

I think you may be misreading things. I don't see anyone ascribing the crimes of the US solely to him. I'd say jointly and severally with many other parties.
posted by pompomtom at 5:27 AM on December 1 [5 favorites]


This tendency to ascribe years of US foreign and domestic policy to a single individual, when we have a honking huge govt bureaucracy, plays into a disturbing strain of narcissism around political discourse.

when it comes to foreign policy conducted with armed forces, the president is the commander in chief, the head general

he is absolutely in charge and absolutely responsible
posted by pyramid termite at 5:42 AM on December 1 [10 favorites]


Wow, I feel extremely alienated from this population now! GH Bush cut federal AiDS research funding, banned HIV positive people from entering the country, encouraged “behavior change” to the exclusion of sexual education and extended or continued the murderous policies of the Reagan years.


The only upside to this is that Larry Kramer outlived both Reagan and Bush and the grim joke that he dies on World’s AIDS Day.
posted by The Whelk at 5:44 AM on December 1 [42 favorites]


An enormous part of my life.

I'll just leave it at that, here.

.
posted by jgirl at 5:48 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


Herbert.

That poor man.


Be careful who you mock. To many people the name Herbert is synonymous with 'bad ass!'

Goodbye Herbert

.
posted by homunculus at 5:59 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


It’s worth noting his wife Barbara only died this year. He is reputed in many quarters to have loved her very much.

Google "Jennifer Fitzgerald"
posted by mightygodking at 6:09 AM on December 1 [8 favorites]


When asked about the patriotism of atheist Americans, GHWB said this:

"No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God."

To Hell with moral complexity--
Some people just can't die soon enough.
posted by KHAAAN! at 6:21 AM on December 1 [26 favorites]


I have/had absolutely no use for him or his awful family.
posted by james33 at 6:28 AM on December 1 [6 favorites]


presidents are not gods or demons or heroes or villains but people, and that people are morally complex

Agreed.

My point was more that blaming the crimes of his administration (both as president and as director of the CIA) on 'bureaucracy' is BS. The very point of bureaucracy (for all its faults and failings) is to limit the power of bureaucrats (which is why Sir Humphry is satire).

If the leader of a bureaucracy causes thousands of pointless deaths, the responsibility lies with them - even if it also lies with their underlings.
posted by pompomtom at 6:31 AM on December 1 [5 favorites]


Mefites of a younger age may not be aware how ubiquitous, ubiquitous Dana Carvey’s impression of him was during his presidency. It was like Alec Baldwin today. His SNL cold opening, usually just sitting at the Oval Office desk and talking about the week’s events (he did throw up once), was must-see TV. Not ga do it. A thousand points of light. I’m a one termer!!! All of my memories of GWB are through Dana Carvey.

.
posted by Melismata at 6:38 AM on December 1 [16 favorites]




And Bush loved the Dana Carvey bits and invited him to the White House to perform. The Bushes did a cold open with him. I would not be surprised if Carvey attends the funeral.
posted by jgirl at 6:48 AM on December 1 [3 favorites]


Well, at least he's dead now. That's one good thing.
posted by briank at 7:16 AM on December 1 [7 favorites]




Jesus, the hate coming from Metafilter today is just a bit over the top.

He played the part of the dignified patrician while in the background he fought as dirty as it gets

Yep. That's how politics always has, and always will, be. Go study how most successful political campaigns are run. Watching how the sausage gets made is pretty gruesome stuff.
posted by tgrundke at 7:41 AM on December 1 [9 favorites]


Here to celebrate another AIDS-funding-cutter absitenence-only-educator dying! 🍻
posted by griphus at 7:42 AM on December 1 [14 favorites]


To paraphrase P.J. O'Rourke, Bush was awful, but he was awful within normal parameters.

Eisenhower was before my time, Nixon and Ford were blurs in my childhood, Reagan was palpably doddering almost as badly as the Current Occupant, and W. was just dismal. George Bush was the last GOP president who seemed to take the job seriously and was better prepared to sit in the Oval Office than any random person on the street.

I marched in the streets during the first Gulf War protesting him, but if all the R presidents from then to now were no worse than he, we would have a much better world.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:45 AM on December 1 [14 favorites]


A thousand points of light. A new world order!

Yeah, I'm old enough to remember Iran-Contra well. I think that was the setup for the way our modern culture of impunity for the rich and/or well connected works. The "intelligence community" missing the fall of the USSR, ditto 9-11, bankers skating after 2008, etc. There's a cute scene in _American Psycho_ where the banksters mock Reagan for lying unskillfully about Iran-Contra.

I also remember the dissolution of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, which Bush did handle very well. It's pretty extraordinary to realize the enormous potential for all kinds of things going wrong then, from bio or nuclear materials getting loose to violent revolutions, civil wars, and more. What happened in reality is far, far more humane. (It wasn't all Bush, obviously)

Also, after Gulf War I Bush was riding *high*. Approval ratings in the 90s. That he lost to Clinton and Perot in 1992 was a sign of how badly he campaigned, how well Clinton performed*, and the weird role of big-ears Ross.

*I have never been a Clinton(s) fan, but can recognize a successful campaign, well run, against the odds.
posted by doctornemo at 7:45 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


“On July 3, 1988, the US shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, massacring all 290 passengers, including 66 kids.

Bush responded saying, "I will never apologize for the USA. I don't care what the facts are"
posted by The Whelk at 7:47 AM on December 1 [27 favorites]


Also, after Gulf War I Bush was riding *high*. Approval ratings in the 90s. That he lost to Clinton and Perot in 1992 was a sign of how badly he campaigned, how well Clinton performed*, and the weird role of big-ears Ross.

*I have never been a Clinton(s) fan, but can recognize a successful campaign, well run, against the odds.


I remember this campaign very well, and I agree - it's amazing how badly the Bush team fumbled this election.

At it's core, it's because GB was president at a critical juncture in history and I don't think he recognized the scope of the changes going on around him. He was the last vestige of the Cold War order and helped to successfully bring it to a close without catastrophe. He did not recognize the social changes occurring at home.

I think the second thing to doom him, in terms of popular politics, was the fact that his modesty was both an asset and worked against him. I know several people who were friends with GB, and they echo the popular conception that he was always a very kind, helpful, exceedingly modest person.

The man hated campaigning and let the party do that for him - that fact, along with the Perot factor and Clinton's absolutely amazing political sense and brilliant campaigning, sealed his fate in '92.
posted by tgrundke at 7:59 AM on December 1 [4 favorites]


Clinton was also extremely charismatic and a very talented speaker. The economy was also in a recession during that campaign, and whatever accomplishments Bush might have been able to point to were overshadowed by both the recession and basically looking like a lump next to Bill.

Not that anyone ever forgave the Clintons for winning, because that was when the Republican propaganda machine began to realize that you could just flat-out lie about people and the public wouldn’t be able to withstand it.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:03 AM on December 1 [5 favorites]


Buh-bye.

I'd like to have been able to remember you with fondness but yeah, no.
posted by flabdablet at 8:07 AM on December 1 [6 favorites]


I've lived under Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, and Voldemort. Bush I was far from the worst of the lot. Kind of a middle-of-the-road asshole.

Any idea if the Bush family has a "No Trump" rule for the memorial, the same as McCain did?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:17 AM on December 1 [3 favorites]


Bill and Hillary Clinton’s joint statement is here:
He never stopped serving. I saw it up close, working with him on tsunami relief in Asia and here at home after Hurricane Katrina. His remarkable leadership and great heart were always on full display.

I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts.
posted by corb at 8:18 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments deleted; please just make your point without the namecalling that you know means I have to delete it.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:27 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


.
posted by double bubble at 8:27 AM on December 1


He was horrible and a huge part of why our Overton Window has shifted so far into a living hellscape. It's people like him that make me question my atheism just in case there might be a hell for these people to go to atone for their sins against humanity.

Good riddance. Please take your dumbass kid with you.
posted by loquacious at 8:37 AM on December 1 [9 favorites]


GHWB was, arguably, the most qualified candidate for president in the latter half of the 20th century. He had served in the legislative and the executive, including the diplomatic and intelligence branches thereof, had first-hand experience of the military and knew how to put the pieces together to make policy and run a government.

That said...he was also someone who readily compromised his beliefs (remember his pre-Veep criticism of Reagan's trickle-down magic as "voodoo economics"?), who fell into inappropriate roles (for example, his put-on machismo after debating Geraldine Ferraro in which he claimed he'd "kicked ass") and evaded responsibility (remember Ted Kennedy's mocking "Where was George?" chant at the Dem convention in reference to GHWB's claimed ignorance of all things Iran-Contra?)

Others on this page have pointed to his many crimes in the foreign affairs arena. Maybe history would've judged him better had he not been associated with the repugnant Reagan. Maybe, in a different context, he would've been more of a centrist and not pandered to the religious right that Reagan cultivated for support. Maybe maybe maybe.

He was better as an ex-president and, it should go without saying, immeasurably more competent than the piece of crap currently cosplaying POTUS. But, no, he (and his idiot son acting to avenge Poppy) screwed up our policy in the Gulf to an extent that we have paid and will continue to pay in lives and dollars for at least a generation to come.

So, goodbye.
posted by the sobsister at 8:37 AM on December 1 [10 favorites]



Any idea if the Bush family has a "No Trump" rule for the memorial, the same as McCain did?


I wish, but McCain was not a former Oval Office occupant.
posted by jgirl at 8:38 AM on December 1


This tendency to ascribe years of US foreign and domestic policy to a single individual, when we have a honking huge govt bureaucracy, plays into a disturbing strain of narcissism around political discourse. Yes, the president is important in setting the tone and priorities of government for a few years, but

the best takedown I've ever heard of Gulf War #1 came from a junkie, ex Vietnam grunt who also happened to be somewhat of a genius when it came to military history. As he put it and I've got it on tape:

"So 1991's what, more than fifteen years since America finally bailed from Vietnam for good. And we haven't had a full-on war since. What we do have is a MASSIVE slag heap of rusting weaponry and related infrastructure and ABSOLUTELY no justification for replenishing it. Unless we take some desperate Iraqi windbag and turn him into the biggest threat since Adolph Hitler. Which is exactly what's happened. From nothing to the biggest desert war since Montgomery-v-Rommell in World War 2 in a matter of months. Problem solved. America needs BIG war. Without BIG war, America would probably have to change its name."

Thanks George Bush Sr for condemning us to the future we now have the pleasure of enduring. You couldn't have done it all on your own but you sure as hell gave it yrrr worst.
posted by philip-random at 8:39 AM on December 1 [18 favorites]


One last thing that has been brought up elsewhere and I think needs to be said.

Before being in the running for VP, Bush was known as being pro-birth control. In order to hitch his star to Reagan, who had the anti-sex Ed, forced-birth religious right behind him, he had to go from a moderate to a hard position just at the time doctors and abortion clinics were being targeted and subject to bomb threats. For political gain and future riches, he helped usher in an unprecedented attack on reproductive rights, health, and basic bodily autonomy that continues in monsterous parade to this day - he did this knowing full well it would never effect him, his family, or anyone he knew.
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 AM on December 1 [32 favorites]


A new world order!

I forgot that was his speech. And kids, this was many many years after the "look at the back of the dollar bill - there's some spooky stuff going on there" theories were well known. It was jarring and so weirdly deliberate to use that expression.
posted by petebest at 8:47 AM on December 1 [4 favorites]


But he did bad things as president.

I would not deny that at all. However, he did some amazingly important things too, ones that I certainly can't imagine the current crop of Republicans (let alone the Trumpists) would ever contemplate.

He signed the clean air act, to limit acid rain emissions. Indeed, reports are that he's the person who got Reagan to talk to Canada on this in the first place. He's hardly the only person who was important to this process, but it wouldn't have happened if he opposed it. We have functioning ecosystems in NA east of Ohio because of it.

He was also a proponent with Reagan of the Montreal Protocol to ban CFCs and limit atmospheric ozone collapse.

On the environmental side at least, these were some very big steps forward. It's not perfect, but this brand of conservatism has been entirely forgotten by the present party.
posted by bonehead at 8:49 AM on December 1 [12 favorites]


Also:

“Among all his other profound fuck-ups and abuses of power, George H. W. Bush’s White House tanked the 1989 climate talks that were our best chance at a binding international carbon treaty back when that could have meant something. Bush ran as an environmentalist and promised action on global warming. He then kowtowed to John Sununu’s machinations on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, dooming the entire planet in the process.” @jhermann
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 AM on December 1 [25 favorites]


Twitter thread (from here-ish):
President George Bush wanted to show America what crack cocaine looked like at his first Oval Office address on Sept 5, 1989. He wanted to show you could even buy crack in front of the White House. That’s how bad the crisis had gotten. That’s how Bush announced his War on Drugs.

But there wasn’t much crack sold near the White House. As a U.S. Park Police official explained, "We don't consider that a problem area…There's too much activity going on there for drug dealers." Easy solution: invite someone to sell crack outside the White House!

The DEA caught wind of Bush’s plan and they set about arranging a deal for Lafayette Square across from the White House. DEA agents planned to lure someone there to sell them a small amount of crack. Later a WH official claimed no one requested the DEA make the purchase.

On August 31, DEA Special Agent Sam Gaye was approached by his boss and asked if he could make a crack purchase across from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The DEA’s first choice ended up not showing up, so agents went to work on a second choice. That was Keith Jackson, an African American resident of Anacostia and 19 year old high school senior who agents had been in contact with for months.

Jackson + Bush lived in the same city, but they lived worlds apart. DC was deeply segregated, two-thirds Black, but a city where most whites cloistered in the NW corner. The halls of power in the fed govt were shut off to most Black DC residents, too.

“Where the fuck is the White House” Jackson asked in a secretly recorded call with an undercover DEA agent. That’s how segregated DC was. The Agent had to explain the location to Jackson, who eventually replied, “Oh, you mean where Reagan lives."

Agents lured Jackson to Lafayette Square where they made the small purchase from him, but didn’t arrest him, on September 1.

On September 5, President Bush held up the bag of crack on national TV. "This is crack cocaine...seized a few days ago in a park across the street from the White House . . . . It could easily have been heroin or PCP."

Without getting too deep into the details, Bush’s central point was this: “we need more jails, more prisons, more courts and more prosecutors.”

DEA agents had decided not to immediately arrest Jackson. Not sure why, but it seems that they thought the story of a White House drug bust would make the news and undercut the drama of the President’s address.

DEA agents worried Jackson would see the address and hear Bush discussing the Lafayette Square purchase and flee. But they were happy to learn that Jackson “had absolutely no idea what went on” with the national address, and they easily arrested him after the speech.

Many applauded Bush’s story of the arrest, but Kevin Zeese, a defense atty specializing in drug cases, didn't. "It's disgusting...The situation is not bad enough that they have to create a false situation? It's the government creating a hoax so they can rev up the war effort."

Keith Jackson was charged and then tried two times his senior year, once in December 1989 and again in January 1990, both times ending in hung juries. Prosecutors tried him a third time and finally got a conviction in September 1990.

At sentencing, “U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin told Jackson, who had no prior criminal record, that he regretted having to impose the sentence of 10 years without parole. At the same time, Sporkin urged Jackson, 19, to ask Bush for a commutation.” (Washington Post, 10/01/90)

Sporkin: "He used you, in the sense of making a big drug speech," said Sporkin, former CIA general counsel appointed to court by President Reagan in 1986. "But he's a decent man, a man of great compassion. Maybe he can find a way to reduce at least some of that sentence."

Sporkin apparently thought 10 years was too harsh, but regretted, "I've got to follow the law."" Congress had recently passed a new mandatory minimum law as part of the Anti-Drug Abuse of 1988. (WP, 10/01/90)

Bush never commuted his sentence. According to one historian, Jackson served almost 8 years for the sale in four different prisons until being released on August 5, 1998.

Joshua Clark Davis (@JoshClarkDavis)
01/12/2018, 16:06
posted by Grangousier at 8:54 AM on December 1 [58 favorites]


I disliked the man and thought he was a poor President. Others in the thread have mentioned most of the reasons I feel that way.

On the occasion of his death, I’ll mention one of the good things that often goes unremembered. At the end of the Cold War, Bush and his administration did a great deal to reduce the risk of nuclear war and proliferation. The US nuclear stockpile was reduced by nearly half, and the US unilaterally removed its weapons from Europe and South Korea. As the Soviet government frayed, the US helped to secure Soviet weapons in locations they could no longer control. While some of those weapons were returned to Russia, the US purchased a huge amount of the uranium, de-enriched it, and used it to fuel power plants in the US. Many of these efforts were continued over following decade, but Bush’s administration negotiated them.

I think he left the world worse than he found it, and I won’t miss him. I want the Party he loved so much to be reduced to rubble. But he was no cartoon villain, but a complex man who did good as well as bad. If there is an afterlife where he is Judged, let it include both.

.
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 9:23 AM on December 1 [14 favorites]


A new world order!

In a just universe, this song would be played at the funeral.
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on December 1 [4 favorites]


Before I heard about the serial groping, I always liked him personally. He was a stiff politician, but he seemed like a thoughtful person and a good dinner guest. (Until I heard about the groping.)

It's hard not to extend some credit for HW's foreign policy because he didn't try to hold Iraq, like his idiot son. I try to resist the urge. (For one thing, if he was really so smart, why didn't he teach his son the same thing? If your child uses your connections for personal wealth and political success, you are somewhat responsible for their actions. Sorry. But I would do almost anything to prevent some members of my family from being president. I sure wish some of these "political dynasty" types would exercise a similar level of judgment.)

People in this thread have touched on America's foreign adventures in Central and South America and the Middle East during his many years of service as President, as Vice President, as CIA head. It's worth remembering that, as with many of our enemies, the United States brought Saddam Hussein to power. We were actively, openly supporting Iraq as they used chemical weapons on Iran. (He also pardoned his buddies involved in Iran-Contra. In the grand tradition of all great shit-stirrers, they weren't sorry they did it. They were sorry about getting caught.) He did a lot of bad stuff. It might seem like usual president "bad stuff," but...maybe the first step in changing what is acceptable is to point out that we're not gonna accept that stuff.
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:34 AM on December 1 [6 favorites]


He's hardly the only person who was important to this process, but it wouldn't have happened if he opposed it.

It's always interesting that the best you can say for any Republican president is that he merely didn't veto an important public policy that Democrats had fought for years to pass and finally had a veto-proof majority.
posted by JackFlash at 9:42 AM on December 1 [10 favorites]


I almost brought a skillet full of hot grease down on the kitchen radio this morning listening to fuc*ing Scott Simon on NPR wax weepy over the man that brought us the Willie Horton ad, federal bans on stem cell research and people w/HIV entering the US, and Operation Condor.

I hate the right, but for some reason it's the affluent liberals that so easily fall into bed with them that really bring out the bloodlust.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:48 AM on December 1 [15 favorites]


The Trumps Will Be Attending George H.W. Bush’s Funeral
Details of Bush’s planned funeral services are beginning to trickle out—including that both Donald and Melania Trump will attend the services, which will be held at the National Cathedral in D.C. While details and timing are still to come, the Trumps’ attendance could lead to a few awkward moments awkward. In April, Melania Trump, with a rare smile, attended former First Lady Barbara Bush’s funeral, alongside two members of the White House staff, on behalf of her husband—who did not attend himself because he wanted to avoid “disruption due to added security.” While their presence is not yet certain, it’s likely that former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will all be in attendance as well.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:49 AM on December 1


Kind of a middle-of-the-road asshole.

That's more or less where I am. He was sort of exemplary of the transition of the Republican Party in the late 20th century, and was carried along by that transition, mostly sailing with the wind. Most of the establishment obits and eulogies hold onto Kennebunkport over Houston, as if the only Texan George Bush was W.

(Consider 1992, and how Maine and Texas politics look today compared to the political landscape of Arkansas and Tennessee.)
posted by holgate at 9:54 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


I heard an NPR reporter who used to travel with him talking this morning on the way to work. She said that while on a plane to Texas with him during his run for president, when he was all but assured a win against Dukakis, she said to him, "This must the best time of your life." He said no, and explained that the best time was after he got out of the military and was sitting in the library at college with the sun coming in at a slant through the window. He was thinking about Barb and baby Georgie back in their apartment. That, he said, was the best time of his life.

.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 9:55 AM on December 1 [8 favorites]




Yep. That's how politics always has, and always will, be. Go study how most successful political campaigns are run. Watching how the sausage gets made is pretty gruesome stuff.

and his sausage was terrible
posted by entropicamericana at 10:12 AM on December 1 [4 favorites]


Don't forget that Bush saw fit to install Dan Quayle one heartbeat away from the Oval Office -- the prototype for Sarah Palin as incompetent dimwit. Bush did this as a cold political calculation to ingratiate himself to the radical right. He used Quayle as his surrogate to dish out red-meat bigotry and misogyny to the Republican base, as usual, as a cover to keep his own hands clean.
posted by JackFlash at 10:15 AM on December 1 [13 favorites]


he was the first incumbent president i had the pleasure of voting out of office.

if reagan was the earthquake, bush was the aftershock. more of the same, but less so. in office, he seemed like the dog who caught the car - he had waited forever to be president but now that he was there he had no grand plan that he wanted to implement. he was the four bars that loop over and over in the fadeout of a song that isn't sure how to end.

i was angry at him for most of the time he was in office but i gradually became convinced that he wasn't going to be the prime mover of Armageddon, which gives him a slight leg up on his predecessor.

i bet his grandkids are sad, and some of them are probably all right.

.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:16 AM on December 1


Bracing myself for mainstream media hagiography.
posted by the_blizz at 10:21 AM on December 1 [3 favorites]


Bush helped lay the groundwork for Trump and did terrible things to the marginalized, both in this country and all over the world:
He committed war crimes. Under Bush Sr., the U.S. dropped a whopping 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, many of which resulted in horrific civilian casualties. In February 1991, for example, a U.S. airstrike on an air-raid shelter in the Amiriyah neighborhood of Baghdad killed at least 408 Iraqi civilians. According to Human Rights Watch, the Pentagon knew the Amiriyah facility had been used as a civil-defense shelter during the Iran-Iraq war and yet had attacked without warning. It was, concluded HRW, “a serious violation of the laws of war.”
That this man could be thought of as decent just means plenty of liberals will mourn Trump as decent because my goodness, at least Trump isn't as bad as RoboDavidDuke.
posted by Ouverture at 10:27 AM on December 1 [9 favorites]


Reagan may have been all style and no substance, but at least he had style.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:39 AM on December 1


In all the obituary chatter today, this gem has surfaced.
The President Who Escaped Cannibalism

posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 10:42 AM on December 1


“If the media were willing to be more critical of dead elder statesmen, perhaps living ones would think harder before committing atrocities” @nataliesurely
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on December 1 [25 favorites]




George Bush was the last GOP president who seemed to take the job seriously and was better prepared to sit in the Oval Office than any random person on the street.

The way I see it, before Reagan, Republican presidents were no-nonsense and all-business, and if there's a nose that needs punching in the world, then by golly the US is not afraid to throw that punch (for better or worse, as elsewhere in this thread).

Reagan put a smile on the presidency, effectively telling us not to worry about it, things are going to be just fine, while raping and pillaging the Third World and finding noses to punch on the slightest pretext. Bush continued this, establishing the image-based presidency that connects directly to Trump.

That is, I don't think of him so much as the last serious president as the second unserious one who solidified the tradition. He was the first Spokesperson President, who was just relaying what else was going on with the country's efforts and governmental acts rather than taking a leadership stance. The buck did not stop at Bush's desk, and the buck has not stopped at any president's desk since then. Maybe since Iran-Contra.

if reagan was the earthquake, bush was the aftershock

Exactly.
posted by rhizome at 11:02 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


I would not be surprised if SNL has Dana Carvey on tonight.
posted by 4ster at 11:08 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


The dead deserve at least some respect, especially in the days after their passing

The dead's innocent family and friends deserve some respect. I won't be calling up any of his relatives tonight (I started to write "W," but realized he doesn't belong in the "innocent" category) to heckle them about their relative's failings. If you're a voluntarily public figure, even friends and family must expect discussion in the public sphere of your wrongdoing.

(By the way, I just checked and what I thought was true: the ban on HIV-positive people's entrance into the U.S. was instituted in 1987, so, under Reagan, not Bush. Not that Bush shouldn't have repealed it. But, then, so should have Clinton, and Bush II.)
posted by praemunire at 11:36 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


I'd much rather they just not do it live and aired a special of old Carvey as Bush clips instead (with a bonus "Gerald Ford died today..." at the top for good measure).
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:51 AM on December 1


To his credit, GHWB, as C-in-C, did preside over the most honestly named military operation in U.S. history.

- Why are we invading Panama?
- Just 'Cause.
posted by the sobsister at 12:02 PM on December 1 [4 favorites]


some of them are probably all right.

His granddaughter Barbara (W's daughter) is a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood and HIV prevention.
posted by brujita at 12:20 PM on December 1 [8 favorites]


.

The only half-decent Republican president since Eisenhower.
posted by M-x shell at 12:21 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


I saw him speak in 92'. His train tour. At 5:00 minutes, I'm near the American flag. He waved and pointed at me and my ex.

👋
posted by clavdivs at 12:22 PM on December 1


Read my lips letters: no dot for you. Won't have one for W either. Assholes one and all.
posted by yoga at 12:25 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


May his name be a curse.
posted by tzikeh at 12:51 PM on December 1 [3 favorites]


M-x shell: The only half-decent Republican president since Eisenhower.

I'll take "Damning with Faint Praise" for $600, Alex.
posted by tzikeh at 12:53 PM on December 1 [9 favorites]


An elite who skated through life on family money and patrician disregard of poor and vulnerable people and deserves neither accolades or grief. Good riddance.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 12:57 PM on December 1 [6 favorites]


Short of Gandhi and Mandela I am not sure any political leader would meet the standards and expectations of many in this crowd--and I am not even sure they would. As far as I am concerned one of the last, if not the last, Republican that worked to put country ahead of Party. Remember--he raised taxes.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:12 PM on December 1 [2 favorites]


As far as I am concerned one of the last, if not the last, Republican that worked to put country ahead of Party.

Have you even read the complaints in this thread? He put *some* of the country ahead of party. He left a fuckton of us out to struggle and die. His war against women and lgbt should never be forgotten or forgiven.

Just because others have been worse does not make him decent.

Signed,
An atheist “non-citizen” in his eyes
posted by greermahoney at 1:46 PM on December 1 [28 favorites]


OK "An atheist “non-citizen” in his eyes"-Nope, I did not read all the complaints--only 30 or 40.And I did not say he was able to put the country ahead of Party--But I did vote for Clinton and have never voted Republican.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:58 PM on December 1


Whenever a president or other major political figure dies, we tend to get a lot of, "Leaders from both sides of the aisle say nice things about them" type articles, even if they did some reprehensible things during their lifetimes. It's a sort of ritual, a way of bringing the country together.

Somehow I don't think we'll see that when our current president passes on.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:17 PM on December 1 [8 favorites]


ford gave a damn about women's rights
posted by brujita at 2:28 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


He was a despicable person in most respects, but he did sign the ADA into law, and for that I am grateful.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:07 PM on December 1


Nobody's gonna bring up JFK or Nazis, huh?

Ok. Wouldn't be prudent. It's probably more appropriate to deny everything. Yknow.
WINK
posted by petebest at 3:24 PM on December 1 [3 favorites]


GHW Bush employed Lee Atwater, the expert at Southern Strategy race baiting, to win his election. Bush ran the racial fearmongering "Willie Horton" ad. He put out rumors that his opponent, Dukakis, had been treated for mental illness. He played the part of the dignified patrician while in the background he fought as dirty as it gets. Nothing to be proud of.

I remember the Bush vs. Clinton election (I was 19), and how the press was going on and on and on about Clinton's womanizing, until suddenly it just seemed to stop, or at least was dialled back considerably. A few years later I was reading an interview or article or something in which a member of Clinton's campaign was quoted as saying that he'd gone to the Bush campaign with proof of Bush's affair/mistress, and said something along the lines of, "Look, I know we're weak on this issue, but so are you, and if you don't stop harping on Clinton's infidelities, we're going to go public with Bush's."

It was the first time I ever realized just how much control corrupt, wealthy and powerful people can have over what gets said in the press.

No dot for GHWB from me.
posted by orange swan at 3:30 PM on December 1 [18 favorites]


My friend is 100% convinced that HW was involved in the Kennedy assassination. He was the one I thought about when Bush died.

And I had forgotten about the report a woman made that he full-on squeezed her ass. In 2016. Fucking gross.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:32 PM on December 1


George H.W. Bush is dead. He should be remembered for his policies and the impact they had on millions of people. That is the only reason why we even know who he is. He should be discussed and judged accordingly.
Don't mourn war criminals. Don't feel pressured to mourn war criminals. Their very real war crimes outweigh anything "nice" about them. Their victims weren't mourned, never held in high esteem by the people telling you to honor and praise and show respect today.
Most of his crimes have been listed upthread.
My . is for the innocents killed by American intervention which never seems to stop.
posted by adamvasco at 4:02 PM on December 1 [14 favorites]


Somehow I don't think we'll see that when our current president passes on.

We will. Everyone already forgot how awful W. was because he paints picture of dogs now and gave Michele Obama a hug and a candy.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:03 PM on December 1 [14 favorites]


I think Trump will get a different treatment. I think the site will likely think that mainstream obits aren't negative enough but that is more of a house style. What I think in personal reflections you'll see things like, "because of Trump I now see the importance of x" (insert "freedom of the press", "citizen activism", "being civically engaged", "voting", "protesting", etc.).
posted by mmascolino at 4:26 PM on December 1 [2 favorites]


Whenever a president or other major political figure dies, we tend to get a lot of, "Leaders from both sides of the aisle say nice things about them" type articles, even if they did some reprehensible things during their lifetimes. It's a sort of ritual, a way of bringing the country together.

Eh. Metafilter and Twitter have convinced me that whenever a political figure dies, there is a massive airing of grievances. Even the Jimmy Carter thread will be a misery.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:35 PM on December 1 [8 favorites]


The curse of leading a superpower is that a lot of people will be happy when you're dead.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:36 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


reagan and the bushes were awful, but they thought they were doing what was best for the country.

our current dictator only gives a flying fuck about himself .
posted by brujita at 4:38 PM on December 1 [6 favorites]


No dot.

An awful person does not become a good person because he's dead.

The world is worse for his presence in it and better for his absence from it.
posted by sourcequench at 5:13 PM on December 1 [4 favorites]


GHWB was the only recent Republican president who wasn't an obviously unqualified psychotic clown. Naturally, conservative voters thought he was a boring wimp and tried to dump him for Ross Perot.

He was still a conservative though, so his politics were still terrible, but he probably just never knew, never understood. If he had any character, he failed the test of it.

All people deserve respect and honor and compassion and mercy and understanding, but rich powerful people who lived a long life and had a bad effect on the world have to go way, way back to the back of the line. The desire to honor these people is IMHO morally repugnant. That's just how I feel.

Good riddance.
posted by fleacircus at 5:18 PM on December 1 [2 favorites]


> Everyone already forgot how awful W. was because he paints picture of dogs now and gave Michele Obama a hug and a candy.

The Reclamation of George W. Bush Is an American Tragedy
posted by homunculus at 5:36 PM on December 1 [8 favorites]


"More loathsome than Eisenhower, but less loathsome than Nixon, Reagan, his son, or the current president," is an awfully low bar to clear. I don't celebrate his death the way I'll celebrate Kissinger's or W's - which celebration will be pointless, anyway, because they killed, got old, and stayed respectable - but I don't mourn it, either. Mourning's for the people he got killed.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:52 PM on December 1 [6 favorites]


Well, I suppose the ACLU will miss him. Yes, my family and I joined once 41 started having hissy fits about the ACLU, and yes, I still carry my card in my wallet.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 6:31 PM on December 1 [2 favorites]


Every death is a tragedy - if there are good people absent of all bad, that we have lost their presence, and if a bad person absent of all good, that they lost themselves before they could redeem themselves. Most people, however, fall in between.

I mourn the loss of the good and the lack of redemption of the bad. It is easier for because he was no longer in power - I doubt that I am a good enough person to mourn the loss of Trump, were it to happen tomorrow. But people mourn for all sorts of reasons. It doesn’t mean that the bad is invalid.
posted by corb at 6:34 PM on December 1 [2 favorites]


With the death of every human being comes the destruction of an entire universe — the total obliteration of the world as it appeared to that person subjectively. The permanent loss of a universe is a tragedy unimaginable in its enormity. Years of experience, years of memory, years of life made irretrievable forever. Death is, truly, the worst, far worse than any Bush.

Nevertheless: fuck that guy.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:53 PM on December 1 [5 favorites]


wikipedia:
Manafort was an adviser to the U.S. presidential campaigns of Republicans Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole. In 1980, he co-founded the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Black, Manafort & Stone, along with principals Charles R. Black Jr., and Roger J. Stone,[8][9][10] joined by Peter G. Kelly in 1984
If in the 90s and late 80s the "moderate" republicans had frozen out the Stone/Manafort gang instead of hiring them to run dirty tricks campaigns, we'd have a functioning democracy right now. And if in the 90s or late 80s you hired people from the Stone/Manafort gang, you knew exactly what you were doing, because you were hiring them based on what they had gotten up to in the 70s and early 80s.

Every fight from Nixon to Reagan to Bush to Bush to Trump has been the same damn fight against the same damn pack of crooks.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:02 PM on December 1 [17 favorites]


I always liked James Cromwell's rendition of Poppy in Oliver Stone's "W."
posted by rhizome at 7:34 PM on December 1


I forgot that was his speech. And kids, this was many many years after the "look at the back of the dollar bill - there's some spooky stuff going on there" theories were well known. It was jarring and so weirdly deliberate to use that expression.

My recollection is that the conspiracy theories of course existed, but didn't really reach beyond the cranks until a while after Bush's use of "new world order" in a completely different context.

One of my friend's parents was into it by the early 80s, but it was rare enough that most of his communication with other people if they bent was through the mail despite living in a city of 70,000 people where that shit took off like wildfire after Clinton was elected President.

To me Bush Sr. was pretty much the white bread average President we've had. Sadly, his level of corruption and backroom dealing and general fuckery was no worse than the norm historically, so I have a hard time hating on him in general. That said, I had forgotten about the Willie Horton ad and his other egregious race baiting, which was definitely bad even by the standards of the day.

(To give you an idea of what I was exposed to in my youth, notorious tax cheat and sovereign citizen wannabe Oscar Stilley had his office across the hall from my dad for some years, so very little of what we now associate with the Teahadists and other far right wingers is new to me, though they've done some remixing, they're fundamentally playing the same old song, just with more overt racial animus)
posted by wierdo at 7:39 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


The Reclamation of George W. Bush Is an American Tragedy

It has also repeatedly struck me as the product of a skillful PR firm. There is some interesting investigative reporting to be done on this, I suspect.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:42 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


.

HW was a complex man. There was good and bad in both his presidency (good: raising taxes when the situation changed and it was the right thing to do, managing the collapse of the Soviet Union, environmental efforts; bad: the war on drugs, Dan Quayle) and his personal life.

From what I've read it seems being born a Bush was not something he wore easily - the sensitive temperament combined with expectations of success, the family pattern of public service - he seemed not a natural fit for the family he was born into.

she said to him, "This must the best time of your life." He said no, and explained that the best time was after he got out of the military and was sitting in the library at college with the sun coming in at a slant through the window. He was thinking about Barb and baby Georgie back in their apartment. That, he said, was the best time of his life.

This rings true. I think he might have been happier being an Ivy League professor. I think in the end he lived up to his family's expectations, and then some.

It's worth noting that the "refusing to apologize for America" quote:
I'll never apologise for the United States of America, ever, I don't care what the facts are
... was actually related to his experience of pro-US views among Polish Solidarity supporters (video, about 2:30), at least in that instance. Wikipedia notes that attributing the quote as a response to the airliner downing is mistaken, and this is cause for doubting the attribution.

(I think in this instance it's not "callous bastard", more "putting food on your family.")

It's also interesting to note the number of links in this thread to... less than reputable sources of information, including a link to a forum thread full of speculation.

The curse of leading a superpower is that a lot of people will be happy when you're dead.

I think it's appropriate for people to express their distaste for a given leader, while maintaining a high level of discourse... if possible.
posted by iffthen at 7:59 PM on December 1 [5 favorites]


This exchange:
Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are Atheists?

Bush (Senr): No, I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
posted by PHINC at 8:54 PM on December 1 [3 favorites]


triggerfinger: And I had forgotten about the report a woman made that he full-on squeezed her ass. In 2016. Fucking gross.

Try six. And he used the same unbelievably terrible "joke" each time he did it.
posted by tzikeh at 9:26 PM on December 1 [3 favorites]


According to a recent doc W is friends with the Dalai Lama.

When I heard Gloria Steinem speak in the early 90s she claimed that HW had wanted to be a pro baseball player but Prescott made him go into politics.
posted by brujita at 3:39 AM on December 2


Regarding the rumored Jennifer Fitzgerald affair and the alleged back-channel deal made with Clinton campaign staff to squash it: it does not appear to have been terribly successful, as this August 1992 People article about it mentions that the L.A. Weekly broke the story back in 1988, and that Hillary Clinton in May 1992 complained in Vanity Fair that everyone was talking about Gennifer Flowers, but no one was talking about George Bush's Jennifer. By August, more than just People magazine were talking about it; according to this Phil Donahue NYT op-ed, CNN and NBC asked George Bush about the alleged affair directly.
posted by skoosh at 4:06 AM on December 2 [1 favorite]


The Trumps Will Be Attending George H.W. Bush’s Funeral

And Trump will try to make the event about him, as usual. Maybe it's Karma, that the reprehensible product of Bush's political strategies should show up to mar his funeral.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:10 AM on December 2 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Gelatin at 6:29 AM on December 2


His politics were horse shit but he was not. I got to know him towards the end of his life. He was a kind person. Even in the throes of dementia, even in scary and stressful situations, he was so considerate of the people around him. Thankful and appreciative.

I know his presidency started a war, caused death, caused sufferering.

Goodbye to a nice man.
posted by pintapicasso at 7:01 AM on December 2 [4 favorites]


"New World Order" is definitely not a phrase that popped up in public consciousness until after GHWB used it in a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 11, 1990. He was talking about the possibility of a more cooperative, just, and harmonious post-Cold War international system, where the nations of the world could finally cooperate to oppose oppression and tyranny. He used it to justify getting broad-based international support, including from the Soviet Union, and working within the framework of a United Nations intervention, to reverse Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Because the UN was involved, some conspiracy theorists decided that this was a backdoor way to lead us into an eventual one-world government, which is self-evidently the worst thing ever because 'Murica.

George Bush was not a conspiracy theorist. That phrase, which expressed his vision for a better world, was hijacked by conspiracy theorists. Though his offenses are numerous, as they have been for every U.S. president since FDR, this is not among them.
posted by skoosh at 7:30 AM on December 2 [2 favorites]




I know his presidency started a war, caused death, caused sufferering.

Goodbye to a nice man.


I understand what it must be like to have all the power in the world and do bad things with it. we are all corruptible and some of us are wicked, and I can see how GHWB got to be what he was. empathy without sympathy is easy enough.

but I don't understand what it must be like to call that person "nice" just because it wasn't your body he molested, your harasser he nominated onto the supreme court, your attempted rapist he congratulated Susan Collins for helping onto that same supreme court, or you or your family who suffered and died by his will. this idea -- which is necessarily an argument that "niceness" is worthless and meaningless -- is a bad one.

because niceness is not meaningless and not worthless. niceness isn't everything, you can be good without being nice, but niceness has real value. niceness and kindness, which you also claim for him, are more than politeness. more than knowing the forms, more than being well-brought-up and well-trained. niceness is a real thing with some small value, and this makes an obscene joke out of it. nice people don't assault women. kind people don't encourage and manipulate racism for the good of their party and themselves.

what you felt around him is real, you and everyone else who liked him personally. it is also a fact about all of you, not about him, and the responsibility for it is yours, not his. it is an extraordinary thing to attribute your pleasure in his company to some decency in his soul.

tl; dr: "he was nice to me" may be true; "he was a nice man" is a lie.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:25 AM on December 2 [17 favorites]


It's also interesting to note the number of links in this thread to... less than reputable sources of information, including a link to a forum thread full of speculation.

Did the NYT, or the halftime football tributes mention the amount of death he oversaw and ordered? The first gulf war was not necessary. It was politics, and he was perfectly fine with it.

And did they mention his work with Zapata Offshore and how it oddly mirrored the places and personnel directly involved in bloody CIA business? Did they mention his work to move CIA operations off the books to avoid accountability from the people who paid for it? They did not. Or, if they came close, it was half a sentence, refuted by the following one.

GHWBush was no milquetoast wanna-be academic. He was hard-core, and not many people live such a life, but he wasn't a good person (if you're an American white male born after he was in office you might argue that, but you'd be wrong).

"New World Order" is definitely not a phrase that popped up in public consciousness until after GHWB used it in a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 11, 1990

That is not the case, unless you're specifically referring to the Internet. See: the dollar bill.
posted by petebest at 9:30 AM on December 2 [1 favorite]


@Ebonyteach:
I remember his entire Presidency well. I was 11 years old when he took office & 15 when he left the White House.

90% or more of what I've seen today is a clear reminder that few of you, or your elders, considered me, my family, or my community as humans whose lives mattered. 🤷🏿‍♀️

No one who lived through the worst of the War on Drugs, or the early AIDS epidemic, will stand for your hagiography. Perhaps you were safe and snug, shut away in the suburbs, or protected by SES and cishetness, but the rest of us were like lambs to the slaughter.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:41 AM on December 2 [4 favorites]


I remember I voted for him in our kindergarten poll, because I could barely write at the time and Bush was easier to spell than Dukakis. Not sure what excuse the adults who actually voted for him had.
posted by ckape at 10:14 AM on December 2 [2 favorites]


I got to know him towards the end of his life. He was a kind person.

That's the thing, though: all of these people are nice at the luncheon. People still talk about how Bill Clinton can work a room and his godlike chit-chat skills, but he still still e.g. signed the 1994 crime bill.
posted by rhizome at 10:38 AM on December 2 [5 favorites]


I remember I voted for him in our kindergarten poll, because I could barely write at the time and Bush was easier to spell than Dukakis. Not sure what excuse the adults who actually voted for him had.

wimp versus simp, if i recall my bloom county (and i do)
posted by entropicamericana at 10:47 AM on December 2 [1 favorite]


I got to know him towards the end of his life. He was a kind person.

No, he wasn't. I know other people have responded to this, but the concept of believing George HW Bush to be "kind" is how we end up with "first they came for".

Nobody who wields enormous power and uses it to kill people or allow them to be killed, or to demean where they should uplift, or to marginalize where they should include and protect, is kind, by any definition of the word. George Bush may have punched the people you wanted punched, or maybe you didn't care one way or the other, but he always, always punched down. Gays, atheists, women, PoC (American PoC in general and Iraqis in particular)... whether he actively harmed them or passively allowed them to be harmed, he cause immense suffering and death.

I know the easy response is "well, but how could he punch anywhere but down--he was a straight white Christian American male!" Obviously, the answer is that he shouldn't have punched at all.

It doesn't matter if he was kind to you. He wasn't a kind man, by any definition.
posted by tzikeh at 11:01 AM on December 2 [7 favorites]


Saul Landau and Sarah Anderson, Miami Herald, Jun 1 1999: What's Behind the Bush-Pinochet Friendship?
Former President George Bush is acting strangely these days, as if he may have something to hide. On April 12 The London Times reported that Bush had written a letter supporting former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whom British authorities have detained since October while trying to decide whether to let a Spanish magistrate extradite and try him for crimes against humanity. The Times quoted Bush's letter to former British Chancellor Lord Lamont, calling the accusation against Pinochet a travesty against justice. Britain, Bush concluded, should allow Pinochet to return to Chile.

Why would a former President who spends his time schmoozing at fund raisers issue an impassioned defense of a notorious Latin American dictator? Hoping that the full text of the letter might help explain Bush's actions, we tried to get a copy. On April 26 Michael Dannenaher, Bush's chief of staff, told us that he, not Bush, had written said letter and that he would not provide a copy. We then turned to House International Relations Committee member Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., who also requested a copy. Her aide told us that Dannenaher gave him a different story: that no letter had been written. Lamont insists he received a letter from Bush but has yet to comply with McKinney's request for a copy.

Bush's behavior raises questions about his relationship to Pinochet, whose 17-year regime executed more than 3,190 people. The CIA backed Pinochet's rise to power in a bloody 1973 coup. Three years later Bush, as head of the CIA, had access to information that Pinochet headed Operation Condor, an international network of secret-police agencies established to eliminate dissidents. CIA officials knew, for example, that Chile had sent agents to Argentina and Italy to assassinate prominent exiled opponents. The CIA also knew Pinochet's method for foreign killings because it and the FBI collaborated in some phases of the Condor operations.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:16 AM on December 2 [3 favorites]


Charlie Pierce: George H. W. Bush Couldn't Fight His Own Ambition
He could have refused to run a race-baiting campaign against Ralph Yarborough in Texas. He didn’t. He could have stood up for old-line Yankee Republicanism against the rising, brainless fanaticism that entered the Republican Party with Barry Goldwater and blossomed rankly through the victories of Ronald Reagan. There is no evidence that he ever did anything of the sort.

He was wise enough in the ways of the world to know that the Iran-Contra “enterprise” was both a criminal act and a completely loony proposition. He actively turned off any attempt at public accountability for it. He could have replaced a giant like Thurgood Marshall with someone other than Clarence Thomas. He could have picked someone else besides the puppy, Dan Quayle, to be his vice president. He could have beaten Michael Dukakis without hiring Lee Atwater. (Dukakis’s midsummer lead always was vaporous.) I don’t know what you say about someone who hires out the personal destruction of a political opponent, but “integrity” does not enter into the sentence.

As president, he is credited with bringing the Cold War in for a relatively soft landing and with running Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, both of which carried very little real political risk. In 1990, he signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, which had passed the Senate, 91-6, and which had passed the House, 377-28, and thus was approximately as controversial as the annual Easter Egg Roll. However, that same year, he vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990 because some of the prion-infected yelled “Quotas!” at him.
[...]
He could have been one of the most powerful voices against the slide of Republicanism into movement conservatism, religious fanaticism, and irrationality in general. Maybe nobody could have stopped it. (Even his son, George W. Bush, made a kabuki stab at it. Remember “compassionate conservatism”? But, because he was a Bush, W handed this phantom philosophy over to Karl Rove, who had been too much of a ruthless ratfcker for the elder Bush. We ended up as a nation that tortures.) But he could have tried. His stature would have counted against it.

But he could never muster enough political gumption to overcome his own ambition. And so, to me, that will be history’s verdict on George H.W. Bush—that he, as the late Richard Ben Cramer put it, did What It Takes to be president and never seemed to realize how brutal a price that was.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:25 AM on December 2 [10 favorites]




> As president, he is credited with bringing the Cold War in for a relatively soft landing...

I mean, this was the consensus at the time. But very quickly people in the old eastern bloc realized that what looked like a soft landing (blue jeans rock 'n' roll mcdonalds!) turned into something very unpleasant indeed as the old nomenklatura reinvented themselves as gangsters and then reinvented themselves as oligarchs. And then in 2016 the mistakes we had made when we let the disaster capitalists have their way with russia came home to roost.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:37 PM on December 2 [6 favorites]


> .

For the AIDS victims he didn't let into the US, the thousands murdered on the Highway of Death


Joyce Chediac, Global Research, Feb 27, 2016: Twenty-five Years Ago: The 1991 Iraq Gulf War, America Bombs the “Highway of Death”

Torie Rose DeGhett, The Atlantic, Aug 8, 2014: The War Photo No One Would Publish: When Kenneth Jarecke photographed an Iraqi man burned alive, he thought it would change the way Americans saw the Gulf War. But the media wouldn’t run the picture.
posted by homunculus at 12:49 PM on December 2 [4 favorites]


I'm rather surprised nobody has mentioned the Project for the New American Century and 41's role in creating it. While he wasn't a signatory, Jeb was, W was the implementation figurehead of it, and most of the principals knew 41 or had actively worked for him. 41 is personally and directly responsible for starting and perpetuating almost all of the current wars in the Middle East.
posted by Revvy at 2:46 PM on December 2 [4 favorites]


In railfan news, UP 4141 has been pulled out of storage and will lead a funeral train.

I'm not sure why it exists in the first place, and as far as I know it was the only of Union Pacific's specialty painted engines to be put into storage because of the economic downturn, the heritage units painted based on other railroads the UP had gobbled up were the same model of engine and kept running.
posted by ckape at 4:38 PM on December 2


I just realized that I would like Bob Odenkirk to play him in a biopic.
posted by the_blizz at 5:46 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]


but I don't understand what it must be like to call that person "nice" just because it wasn't your body he molested, your harasser he nominated onto the supreme court, your attempted rapist he congratulated Susan Collins for helping onto that same supreme court, or you or your family who suffered and died by his will. this idea -- which is necessarily an argument that "niceness" is worthless and meaningless -- is a bad one.

Thank you, queenofbithynia, for articulating this, because I think this sort of posthumous hagiography that we're seeing right here is painful and retraumatizing for many people on a broad scale who were affected by his presidency in a way that's similar to seeing someone who personally victimized you being exalted after they die (not entirely similar, I want to make clear, since trauma crystallizes around the immediate, and when you suffer from a US president's whims it's the result of a long chain of bureaucratic imperatives). GHWB has the monstrous distinction of being able to claim both victimizing people on a population-level scale and a person-level scale, and those have different effects and different contexts, but what they share is that people who aren't targets of a person like him can effortlessly disclaim his intention of, or responsibility for, doing horrible things.

All in all, I can't claim suffering any direct harm from Bush, although I've been present for the suffering of those who have: my mom's best friend, a fellow Puerto Rican in the NYC drama scene of the 70s, and a gay man who died of AIDS, who in addition to enduring the symptoms of that disease also had to endure all the aggressions of an institutional culture that wanted to make it his fault, is just one example.

It's painful and traumatic and disgusting to watch your family cover for an abuser, ignoring the testimony of the person who's been a target of their abuse, just because it would be unsettling for them to admit to themselves that they'd raised or harbored a person who could do such terrible things. It's also painful and traumatic and disgusting to watch your society cover for an abuser, ignoring the testimony of the people who've been a target of their abuse, just because it would be unsettling for them to admit to themselves that they'd accepted the legitimacy of that person's office and rule, whatever the nature of their anodyne "ideological" disagreements.

It's not abstract for everybody. It really does hurt some people.
posted by invitapriore at 8:01 PM on December 2 [12 favorites]


"The phrase 'Vision Thing' was initially used by George Bush in his campaign for the 1988 election, appearing in Time in 1987. When it was suggested to Bush that his plans were all to do with short term issues, and that he lacked ideas that might be more significant in America’s longer history, he dismissed the question by claiming that he did indeed have ‘…the vision thing…’. Since then it has been the subject of journalistic rhetoric to ask whether or not particular politicians have 'the vision thing', with varying levels of irony."

"As it turned out, the invasion of Nicaragua in order to depose General Noriega seemed to indicate that was Bush’s vision was for the USA to become the world’s policeman, using it’s [sic] military might to interfere in foreign countries which had the audacity not to be American pawns. A fairly expensive interpretation of foreign policy, and thus a ‘…billion dollar vision thing…’ "
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:13 AM on December 3


It's a vision thing
It's a terrible thing to lose
It's a given thing
What a terrible thing to lose
posted by kirkaracha at 7:41 AM on December 3 [1 favorite]


I must admit, my "praise with faint damnation" comment earlier was definitely too conciliatory (I didn't even remember Gerald Ford, who was marginally better than GHWBush). If anything, I'm thankful to MetaFilter for its negative-but-realistic consensus, especially after a Sunday when my hospital roommate was clicking his TV between channels showing NFL Football and fawning eulogies for Bush Sr. (including the most 'liberal' news and the local news). GHW wasn't guilty of pushing the Republican Party toward Fascism, but he certainly enabled many of those who did, his positions on civil rights were definitely driven by the usually-rightward political winds, and his interventionist foreign policy was pretty much the same as my father's, who was also a WWII vet who flew in bombing runs and was shot down once (is that a 'defining experience'?) In retrospect, I was probably comparing him to my father, whose Republican Activist wife died the day Reagan was re-elected - an embittering thing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:50 AM on December 3


Find it a bit weird no one has (apparently) mentioned the executive order making Wednesday Dec 5th a Federal holiday, to (paraphrasing here) "allow us all to go to our places of worship and mourn the loss of this great man."

This came out on the 1st, agencies are scrambling to figure out how to handle it. I work for Veterans Administration, we have employees asking about it repeatedly (and have gotten some emails mentioning "Since Dec 5 is a holiday, ...") but no officialm word from leadership on how we'll handle it.

My boss has been a federal employee for a long time, and said she has seen multiple Presidential funerals but has never seen anything like this before. Military seems to do it, but the civilian branches? I mean, I'll take the free day off, but if I am "in mourning", my "place of worship" is apparently a ski hill.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:57 AM on December 3 [5 favorites]


Well, without George Sr., there'd be no Comrade Jeb!, so there's that.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:31 PM on December 3 [1 favorite]


there would also be no "something D-O-O economics..."
posted by rhizome at 12:47 PM on December 3 [1 favorite]


An interesting commentary from Yascha Mounk lamenting many (most?) of the reactions to Bush's death, from the Left AND the Right...
posted by PhineasGage at 1:07 PM on December 3 [1 favorite]


Isn't the 5th the deadline to prevent a Federal Government Shutdown?
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:22 PM on December 3


[One deleted; if folks want to dig into present-government stuff, better to do that in the catchall.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:35 PM on December 3


My boss has been a federal employee for a long time, and said she has seen multiple Presidential funerals but has never seen anything like this before. Military seems to do it, but the civilian branches?

I was on active duty when Reagan died, and I'm about 90 percent certain that we didn't get a day off.
posted by Etrigan at 4:37 PM on December 3


Watching C-SPAN's live stream of Bush lying in state in the rotunda.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:41 PM on December 3 [2 favorites]


Me too—mesmerizing, actually.
posted by Melismata at 7:52 PM on December 3 [1 favorite]


caution live frogs, I’ll be in travel status to stakeholder meetings tomorrow, so I’ll be rolling up comp time, oh, yeah!

More seriously, I get kind of angry when I think of my lab’s budget versus what it’s going to cost the government to be closed tomorrow. The party of fiscal responsibility strikes again.
posted by wintermind at 3:47 AM on December 4


OPM Guidelines for Dec 5

If you don't have it scheduled off, you get paid normally. If you already had it off, you have to schedule another day of leave sometime before the end of the year or else lose a day of leave.

No word on what to actually do, just details on how pay and benefits will be affected.
posted by petebest at 5:32 AM on December 4


George Bush was not a conspiracy theorist.

Why would the man need to have theories about conspiracies?

In death the Washington Post placed a video about him that was 3 minutes and 22 seconds long and one can decide for themselves why that might matter beyond knowing how to manage your time as a reader. (Hint: Go look at the logo for a group he and son are members of.)

Zapata Petroleum would be one example of seeming to live at a center of a thing that people then have a theory about some kind of conspiracy.

If one wants to have hate for Zapata - I'm all for hating on 'em for the strip-mining of the sea with their animal-oil and making marine critters into animal feed. Now the use of fishing boats for not fishing is a historic thing, but I'm willing to point out the long term food web problem for short term profits being its own kind of problem.

Then the old Franklin cover-up which if one opts to believe there was something there and covered up becomes part of a reason to think a DC based eatery could be part of a similar cover up in the last few years.

There is a book that tries to pull together threads of various records - Family of secrets where one can read it and make up their own mind on what may be happening.

That phrase, which expressed his vision for a better world, was hijacked by conspiracy theorists.

The term conspiracy theorist goes back to the CIA memo about offering up counters to the Warren Comission finding if one wants to try and make the discussion of 2 words an Ouroboros due to the CIA tie(s).

The 3 word phrase goes back to the great seal of the nation and plenty of people want to invoke that phrase to invoke by association the founding fathers. So it's not some 1990 turn of a phrase. The latin phrase was used as a book title in 1985 and said book was tied together with people who like to theorize about why REX 84 was important along with fears of who was the vice-president during the years 1986-1987 on shortwave radio. Examples would be people like Alan Stang.

Humans looks at history from the lens of their own experience which would be why some might think that a 1990 speech became the sudden use by people expressing a theory about a conspiracy. President Bush signed Al Gore's 1991 opening of the internet billl and the internet lowered the bar to information access so hearing or repeating the phrase in question became eaiser. And Sept. 1991 was the publication date of Pat Robertons book named after the 9/11/1990 speech but the ideas in that book have ties back decades if not longer with the anti-masonic elements. And Pat's club of 700 remains folllowed by people.



Something to consider about '41: The reality of the human situation is well described in a link provided when discussing the death of the 41st human to hold a position of ritual power.

"I suppose another way to put it that you might understand better, is that the world is run by men who truly understand the dark nature of the human spirit. So, YOU provide the evil and these men create scenarios where they know how you will react. It is scary how accurately refined these rule-based systems have become. "

Almost all the evil that Mr. Bush did or President Bush did needed others.

Take a moment on Wed to reflect - Am I enabling evil? Then decide what you'll do about the result of that reflection.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:29 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]


Take a moment on Wed to reflect - Am I enabling evil?

To be sure, this is an age-old question with few settled criteria for answering it.
posted by rhizome at 10:08 AM on December 4


CBC reports: "Flags on all Canadian federal buildings in both Canada and the U.S. will be flown at half-mast tomorrow to pay tribute to former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau."
posted by sardonyx at 11:55 AM on December 4


Another lament, this time from Frank Bruni at the NYT, about the all-or-nothing reactions to GWB's death.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:01 PM on December 4


Bothsides ... bad?
posted by petebest at 1:14 PM on December 4


Any idea if the Bush family has a "No Trump" rule for the memorial, the same as McCain did?

I wish, but McCain was not a former Oval Office occupant.


Individual One will be there, per 41's wishes, so that the office of the president will accorded respect. Office.

Individual One, with his Thousand Points of Spite, will give no remarks, to my enormous relief.
posted by jgirl at 1:15 PM on December 4


Find it a bit weird no one has (apparently) mentioned the executive order making Wednesday Dec 5th a Federal holiday, to (paraphrasing here) "allow us all to go to our places of worship and mourn the loss of this great man."

Came here to complain about USPS being offline tomorrow for the "day of mourning" holiday. Is this not some weird bs? And is it going to throw a wrench in a bunch of people's plans?? For a president whose loss isn't exactly a tragic shock? UGH.
posted by witchen at 1:48 PM on December 4


well, i was expecting a 400 buck check in the mail tomorrow - i guess not

what really pisses me off about this is that if it was president carter or president clinton who died, i don't think there'd be a federal day off for them

what rancid horseshit this is
posted by pyramid termite at 2:16 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]


Trump visited the Bush family staying at the presidential guesthouse on Pennsylvania Avenue. He spent only 20 minutes there. (via Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs)
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:27 PM on December 4


Came here to complain about USPS being offline tomorrow for the "day of mourning" holiday. Is this not some weird bs?

I will say, if it's that easy to create a paid federal holiday, I really hope the next president does it for election day.
posted by corb at 5:03 PM on December 4 [14 favorites]


Ford died in 2006 and Reagan died in 2004, in both cases the President declared a national day of mourning.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:45 PM on December 4 [2 favorites]


Watching the live feed of the memorial service via PBS News Hour (youtube link). It's fascinating to see the Presidents sitting together (and their Vice Presidents behind them); watching their body language.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:51 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]






Though to be fair he isn't even pretending.
posted by Grangousier at 9:51 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Ford died in 2006 and Reagan died in 2004, in both cases the President declared a national day of mourning.

But did not, IIRC, decree that all federal offices (including the post office) would be closed.
posted by witchen at 12:52 PM on December 5


Apparently, there were such closures for Ford and Reagan. And Wikipedia claims that it's happened for every President since Kennedy.
posted by Etrigan at 1:06 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Ah! My bad. I reflexively blame DJT for this kind of weird screwing-everything-up disruption stuff. Even when the specific disruption is not his fault, per se.
posted by witchen at 1:13 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


“Morgant?" Taran asked, turning a puzzled glance to Gwydion. "How can there be honor for such a man?"

"It is easy to judge evil unmixed," replied Gwydion. "But, alas, in most of us good and bad are closely woven as the threads on a loom; greater wisdom than mine is needed for the judging.”

― Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron

posted by JDC8 at 2:48 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter and Hilary Clinton were pointedly sitting apart from each other. There seems to be an emnity between the families that goes way back.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:50 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Jesus Christ. It's been seven days and this national display of sickening praise for a bad president who did bad things drags on with no end in sight.

Bury the asshole already so we can start pissing on his grave. I'm so bloody tired of all this yay Bush crap. He was a traitor, a bigot who contributed to the death of countless LGBT Americans, and a criminal. Can we please just stop this praise of him just because he's dead?

People don't magically become good just because they die.
posted by sotonohito at 2:04 PM on December 6 [6 favorites]


"The dead deserve at least some respect, especially in the days after their passing."... You know... no, they don't. At least, not simply for being dead, not as a default and unearned privilege.

"The dictate that one 'not speak ill of the dead' is (at best) appropriate for private individuals, not influential public figures." Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian, about "misapplied death etiquette."

p.s. I’m surprised that in all these comments no one has brought up what I always considered the most accurate decription of GHWB: Jim Hightower’s "He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."
posted by LeLiLo at 12:22 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]




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