I’m writing this perspective on the day of George Herbert Walker Bush’s state funeral. I did not vote for Mr. Bush in either the 1988 or 1992 presidential elections. I can confidently say a generation later that I disagreed with many of his education policies. But I can also confidently say I was ignorant of what drove the man.
It’s been in the last 10 years or so that I’ve come to realize just how wrong I was about Mr. Bush both as a person and as a president. I owe much of that education of our 41st president to Jon Meacham’s biography, Destiny and Power, and PBS’s series American Experience.
For me, Mr. Bush’s nickname during his youth best summed him up as a person. He was known in those days as, “Have Half,” the result of his offering, out of simple generosity, half of whatever he was eating to whomever he was with.
George H.W. Bush wasn’t a reluctant politician, but many of his best traits as a man ran counter to what it takes to be reelected as a politician. He was too humble, too much devoted to doing the right thing versus the expedient thing, and too much about serving others over serving himself. In retrospect, he was the right man with the right temperament in the right job at the right time.
And if I had it to do it over again, I think I’d vote for him.
I’m Andrew Nelson and that’s my perspective.