Good Job, 41!

Later this week, the United States Navy will bestow one of our nations highest honors on our 41st President, George H. W. Bush, the naming of a US Naval war ship in his honor, the USS George H. W. Bush (a nuclear powered aircraft carrier). I was not a huge fan of the policies of our 41st President, but I am a huge fan of the person. This honor is clearly deserved in recognition of a life spent serving others and the grace with which he did it.

He ascended the Presidency with, arguably, the best resume of any of the 42 men who have occupied the Oval Office. A naval officer, Congressman, ambassador, CIA Director, chairman of his party and Vice-President, were all positions of selfless service to our country prior to being elected to the highest office in the land.

When Mr. Bush enlisted in the US Navy in 1942, he was 18 years old. He was qualified as a naval aviator in 1943 just prior to his 19th birthday. That made him the youngest naval aviator ever, as of that date. On September 2, 1944, the future President was in command of VT-51 aircraft launched from the US aircraft carrier, USS San Jacinto. His plane was then shot down, but he was able to successfully complete his attack. This is all quite impressive for the son of a United States Senator and a child of privilege.

After successful business ventures in Texas, Mr. Bush was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served two terms. After failing to win a Texas Senate seat in 1970, President Richard Nixon appointed his as Ambassador to the United Nations. Then, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, Mr. Bush resigned his position at the UN and became Chairman of the Republican National Committee, a somewhat thankless task in 1973.

In 1974, President Gerald Ford appointed Mr. Bush as head of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China (essentially, US Ambassador to China). Mr. Bush served in that post for 14 months until President Ford came calling again. At the end of 1975, Mr. Bush accepted the appointment as Director of Central Intelligence. At that time, the CIA was an agency in crisis as a result of the revelations of Watergate. Mr. Bush served as DCI for only about one year. He returned to private life after the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976.

In 1979, Mr. Bush heard the call to public service again by seeking the Republican nomination for President. Of course his first attempt at the Presidency was unsuccessful, but it led to Mr. Bush being elected the forty-third Vice-President of the United States. In that office, he served President Reagan with wisdom, dignity and grace. He was a part of the most successful administration of the 20th century.

As an integral part of the Reagan Administration, Mr. Bush was rewarded by the American people by being elected the forty-first President of the United States on November 8, 1988. Again, as you can see, he entered the Presidency with a resume like no other before him.

While some of his Presidential decisions left a lot of us on the right disappointed, we were never disappointed by the way he conducted himself or the trappings of his office. As a matter of fact, one of the most disappointing decisions of his Presidency was being too trusting of the other side. He agreed to raise taxes only in exchange for spending cuts. When it came time to cut the spending, the Democratic controlled Congress refused to hold up its end of the bargain. Mr. Bush made the mistake of thinking that since he would keep his word, others on the Hill would do so as well. But this is emblematic of the way he conducted his life – as an honest man who’s word was his bond.

Upon leaving office, President Bush let it be known that as a former President, he would not be publicly critical of those who followed him. Unlike the behavior of President Carter, who has actively attempted to subvert the foreign polices of at least three of his successors, or President Clinton, who was often publicly critical of the current President Bush, Mr. Bush - 41, kept a low profile and only took on missions when asked (like the tsunami relief efforts).

His long record of selfless service to our nation is something that very few of us will ever achieve. In addition, his dignity and grace should be an example to all of us. It is people like George H. W. Bush who made this nation as great as it is. So to you Mr. President, I salute you and say a job well done! The honor of having our newest and greatest weapon of war named after you is something that you have earned and it is only a small way for all of us to say thank you.

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