John Solomon: A Wimp George H.W. Bush Wasn’t

Roundup: Talking About History

[Solomon is executive editor of the Center For Public Integrity.]

He’s 86 now, his eyebrows silver and his legs weakened by Parkinsonism, a vascular disorder akin to Parkinson’s disease. But as George Herbert Walker Bush approaches his twilight years, he is beginning to get his due.

President Obama last month awarded him the Medal of Freedom. On March 21, Bush will be feted—by Bill Clinton, no less—at a major Kennedy Center event in Washington honoring his contribution to volunteerism through the Points of Light Foundation. Qualities once branded as vices—his civil tone, willingness to reach across the aisle, even his sway with Mideast strongmen—suddenly seem more like virtues in a world weary of attack politics and confronting a cascading series of global crises....

“At the time, [Bush’s style] didn’t seem to be leadership qualities to the public. Some even saw it as weakness,” says Roman Popadiuk, a national-security spokesman in the Bush White House who today heads his presidential-library foundation.

“But now people are looking back at how he treated people and how Washington is now. And they’re appreciating how he harkened back to an era in which people were treated with respect and in which politics had some civility,” Popadiuk says. “The mutually cooperative way he tried to address things, the calm way he handled things in crisis. People see it today as a strength.”...

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