LARRY ELDER: Media and false praise for GHWB – Opinion – The St. Augustine Record
As with the death of former President Ronald Reagan, the media are raving about the death of former President George Herbert Walker Bush. Where were they when the one-term president needed them? In Reagan’s case, even his enemies reluctantly recognized the overall success of his presidency. As for Bush 41, the media praise of Bush’s “grace” and “class” serves indirectly to attack President Donald Trump by showing the contrast between the styles and characters of the two Republicans.
But what did most of the liberal media think and say about Bush at the time?
When Bush announced his intention to run for president in 1988, a Newsweek cover story showed the former Neo-Englishman sailing a small boat – get it, he’s an elite – with the caption “Fighting the Wimp Factor” . Wimp? Bush joined the Navy on his 18th birthday, serving in World War II as the Navy’s second youngest aviator. He flew 58 combat missions, was shot down by the Japanese and rescued by an American submarine.
When he ran in 1988, his resume included nearly seven years as Vice President of Reagan, two terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives, director of central intelligence, head of the Republican National Committee, Ambassador to the UN and de facto Ambassador to China, in addition to being a decorated WWII fighter pilot. President Barack Obama was apparently not impressed: in 2016 he said: “There has never been a man or woman more qualified for this job than Hillary Clinton”.
Despite Bush’s incredibly impressive credentials, he found himself somehow labeled as insufficiently macho. In 1997, Evan Thomas’ Newsweek wrote: “Bush suffers from a potentially crippling disability – a perception that he is not strong enough or tough enough for the challenges of the Oval Office. That he is, in a nutshell villain, a wimp. ”The year before, Republican scholar George Will called him a“ pocket dog ”. A Washington Post editorial now praises Bush. Yet neither the Post nor the New York Times endorsed him for president in 1988 or 1992.
In fact, during his presidency, The New York Times aided and abetted the story of an elite “out of touch” patrician. In the 1992 election year, The Times ran a front-page story about a president so ignorant of the life of the average American that he was unfamiliar with the supermarket checkout scanner. But the story was wrong. A National Grocers Association systems analyst, the man who showed Bush the scanner, said: “The whole thing is ridiculous. What amazed him was the scanner’s ability to take that torn tag and to reassemble it. “
Black Democrats like California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters called him “racist.” In 1992 Waters said, “(Bush) is a mean man who doesn’t care what happens to the African American community in this country. I really believe him.”
Bush was accused of racism for “using” the infamous Willie Horton ad that ran during the 1988 campaign, even though his campaign did not produce the ad. Additionally, the issue of his Massachusetts opponent Michael Dukakis ‘leave schedule was first raised by Dukakis’ Democratic rival Al Gore. As part of Dukakis’ program, Horton, a convicted murderer, committed rape while on leave.
Bush, under pressure from Democrats and some in his own party, broke the famous promise he made at the 1988 Republican convention: “Read my lips. No new taxes ”. Andrea Mitchell of NBC News now says that “breaking that commitment showed the man’s character and determination.” Likewise, Newsweek’s Thomas now calls the broken tax pledge an act of “courage.” But, when asked at a press conference in 1992 if he was considering breaking his presidency’s “biggest mistake” pledge, Bush replied, “Well, I don’t know the biggest one, but yes. … I am very disappointed with Congress. “At the 1992 Republican convention, he apologized for breaking the promise. James Carville, Clinton’s chief campaign strategist, called it “the most famous broken promise in American political history.”
Did the journalists reward Bush for his tax advantage? Barely. A poll from Washington, DC, found that in 1992 89% of them voted for Bill Clinton. Only 7% voted for Bush.
When her son George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000, mom Barbara Bush expressed her surprise. “You’re not going to like it,” she said, “but my gut is all the media is against George, Republicans, any Republican. Indeed. According to the same media, which currently flatter a man they now call a “statesman,” George Herbert Walker Bush deserved better – much better.