Amid well-deserved praise for former President George H.W. Bush, unfortunately he did miss the Trump Train. Yet President Trump is showing his class by paying his respects anyway.
It is difficult to imagine two Republicans who are more different from each other than George H.W. Bush and Donald Trump. Bush based his career on the Establishment, while Trump rose by defying it.
Bush pushed for a “New World Order” and entangled us in foreign wars. Trump promotes national sovereignty and seeks to Make American Great Again.
Bush generally pandered to the liberal media, which mostly got its way with him. Trump is not afraid to take on liberals in the media and call them out.
Bush pledged “read my lips: no new taxes,” but then raised taxes anyway. Trump has not caved in on any of his campaign promises despite enormous pressure to do so.
Everything about Bush was a mixed bag, a compromise, and a combination of the bitter with the sweet. Everything about Trump is unambiguous, clear, and sharply defined.
Despite their contrasts and how the Bush family broke with precedent by refusing to support Trump, he has graciously put the federal government at the service of those honoring the 41st president. Now is a good time to observe how much the Republican Party has changed since it was Bush’s party.
The Bush political dynasty began when Bush’s father, Prescott Bush, was elected U.S. Senator from Connecticut in 1952. As a typical liberal Republican of that era, Prescott Bush voted to censure the anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954, and backed his fellow eastern liberal Senator Henry Cabot Lodge’s last-ditch effort to stop the nomination of Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Prescott Bush, who made his money on Wall Street as a partner of the leading Democratic power broker, W. Averell Harriman, was the epitome of the “eastern establishment.” Like his mentor, Nelson Rockefeller, Bush was an internationalist and a fanatical supporter of birth control, both domestically and around the world.
Senator Prescott Bush’s son George H.W. moved to Texas as young man, first Midland and then Houston, but the apple didn’t fall very far from the family tree. During his brief service in Congress, George H.W. Bush sponsored the landmark legislation that made family planning a federal priority, the program known as Title X, which distributes $56 million a year in taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood.
Bush was a supportive acolyte to Ronald Reagan during his eight years as vice president, but as President Bush he seemed to forget the lessons that made Reagan so successful. Reagan was not a globalist, but Bush was.
It was in a high-profile address to Congress on September 11, 1990, that Bush shocked Americans with his proclamation that it was time for a “New World Order.” Ronald Reagan would never have used that kind of language, which Bush kept repeating although he never defined it.
By launching the first Persian Gulf War in 1991, Bush changed American foreign policy from focusing on defense of the homeland to engaging in foreign interventionism. Bush’s war was the first of several futile attempts to impose Western values on Middle Easterners who lack the cultural conditions for democratic self-government.
President Trump, by contrast, has reclaimed and rehabilitated nationalism and America First. As he said in his address to the United Nations in September, “America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.”
Even when it comes to Planned Parenthood, Trump has turned the corner on Bush. New regulations published by the Trump administration would curtail taxpayer funding of groups like Planned Parenthood which violate federal law by using abortion as a method of family planning.
In remembering Bush 41, we should note his affection for our national pastime, ever since he was captain of his college baseball team. As president, Bush honored the holders of two of the most remarkable records in baseball history, both set in 1941: Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and Ted Williams’ .406 season batting average.
Those records had stood for 50 years when President Bush welcomed the elderly DiMaggio and Williams to the White House in 1991. Another 27 years have gone by since then, but no other baseball player has ever come close to those feats.
Bush set important records of his own, which richly deserve the praise that he is receiving. He was the only president to have received the Distinguished Flying Cross, which he earned for having been shot down during a World War II bombing mission.
Bush also loyally stood by his Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas despite the all-out smear campaign by the Left to stop him. As Bush’s continuing legacy, Thomas has sided with Trump more than Bush did.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.