Four pieces by Quin, regarding the death of former president Bush. It is worth noting that the first piece on Bob Dole — the second piece in the series below — was published the day before his now-famous appearance saluting Bush’s coffin in the U.S. Capitol. The second Dole-related column ran right after that salute.

 

Bush, at ebb tide, kept wading forward:

Never has a reluctant second choice so momentously changed world history.

George H. W. Bush entered the Republican National Convention in 1980 looking like a beaten man. He had finished a fairly distant second to Ronald Reagan in the hunt for delegates for his party’s presidential nomination, and Reagan himself had been serially angered by and/or unimpressed by his patrician opponent.

The haze covering Bush now obscures the reality that Bush the candidate had sharp elbows, such that several of that year’s other also-rans were none too fond of him, either…. [Later in the column:]

I was a 16-year-old page at that convention in Detroit, and the “holding room” for the pages was in the same back hallway (behind the stage area of the Joe Louis Arena) through which VIPs and convention officials walked. I was not shy about approaching VIPs (if they didn’t look too busy) and asking to take photos with them; after all, just about everybody wants to encourage polite young people to engage in politics…. [The full column is here.]

Bob Dole survives:

Much is being made, rightly so, about the late George H.W. Bush having been the last living president to have fought in World War II. In one respect, it is a wonder any president who served in that war still survived so long. World War II ended more than 73 years ago, which is 11 years longer than the full life expectancy of American men when the war began.

Yet one former major-party presidential nominee is still going strong, his wits fully about him. He’s one who, several times in 1945 and 1946, was seen as unlikely to live for 73 more hours, much less 73 more years.

The survival of Robert J. Dole of Kansas, now 95, is one of the most remarkable stories imaginable…. [See the full column here.]

The touching backstory of Bush and Dole:

… Dole’s salute to Bush is even more touching when one considers the long backstory. The two men, both hugely admirable, triumphed in bizarrely parallel, but oh-so-different lives….[The rest is at this link.]

Bush’s malapropisms did not detract from his integrity:

Good use of language is important, especially for presidents. What matters more, though, is what a president’s actions say.

For years, George H.W. Bush joked that his infelicity with off-the-cuff public speaking led some to conclude that English was his second language; several humorous asides at his memorial service Wednesday made reference to that.

It’s absolutely true that Bush evinced some odd phraseologies. “Whine on, harvest moon,” he said of former Vice President Walter Mondale in one debate — and no, context doesn’t really make that one any better. More than a few other times did Bush get confusingly tongue-tied. My personal favorite was when he tried to make reference to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and what came out was “Nitty Ditty Nitty Gritty Great Big Bird.”…. [You may really like this, if you finish it. It’s not long.]…

 

 

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