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David M. Shribman National Perspective – An American life. A life on purpose


So endeth one of the great American lives. It wasn’t the Ragged Dick upfrom-poverty American life of a Horatio Alger bootblack; George H.W. Bush was born to privilege and profited from primogeniture. It wasn’t the Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington American life of a James Stewart ingenue; he was the son of a senator (and then the father of a president). It wasn’t the rusticated eloquence of an Andrew Jackson of the Carolina Waxhaws or an Abraham Lincoln of the Indiana farmlands; the 41st president was the product of Phillips Academy Andover and of the Cole Porter anthems of Yale, and yet he mangled the English language in a goofy, sometimes incomprehensible way. And it wasn’t a parade of triumphs celebrated by a nation that loves a winner: He lost a brutal 1970 Senate race, a trying 1980 presidential-nomination campaign and an excruciating 1992 battle for re-election as president. He also witnessed his son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, get defeated in the 2016 GOP primaries against Donald Trump. But Bush lived a great American life, one of purpose (a word of unusual prominence in his speeches and letters) and of service (the leitmotif of his 94 years). He was the quintessential citizen of the American 20th century, his life shaped by World War II, the Cold War, Watergate, the energy industry, the fall of communism, the resurgence of conservatism and the emergence of a Republican Solid South. As he aged, with a grace that defied the timbre of the times, he lived to see many of the buoys of his life, and of American life — global engagement, collaboration in multinational alliances, government thrift — questioned or repudiated.

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Posted by on Dec 7 2018. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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