So much has been said about the passing of Mr. 41 at 94 it’s hard to add anything new about one of our most important and endearing presidents of the last 50 years.
George H.W. Bush, Mr. 41, brought more experience to the office than any other president in the last four decades. His extensive experience and knowledge of international relationships was essential in the turbulent era of the 1980s. I can only offer a few of my personal highlights of his profound deeds.
Few millennials and Generation-Xers today understand how close the world was to self-annihilation in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Two superpowers were rattling sabers and willing to bankrupt their economies for world supremacy.
By the late ‘80s, the Soviet Union was crumbling and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of the end, resulting in the USSR collapsing and the reunification of Germany.
To baby boomers like myself who grew up climbing under classroom tables whenever a siren went off in fear of an atomic attack and imminent destruction, this was the greatest event of the second half of the 20th century.
President Bush helped make the transition of a new Russia safe and welcoming to the capitalist world. We may regret the rise of Vladimir Putin, but making Germany whole and saying goodbye to the Soviet Union are among the great achievements of the 20th century.
President Bush also had the great intuition and insight into how America should conduct itself internationally. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, President Bush quickly cobbled together an international alliance of nations including many rival Arab states to go in, beat the heck out of Saddam Hussein, then leave in five months.
The international collaboration had Iraq under such close scrutiny there was no need for the U.S. to invade 12 years later. This lesson went unlearned by his son, George W. Bush, who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, then attempted to democratize them. Seventeen years later, we are still caught in the quagmires.
However, one of the most endearing achievements accomplished by Mr. 41 was the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ADA is arguably the most important civil rights act this country has created since the Emancipation Proclamation.
The law prohibits discrimination against millions of Americans who now enjoy better access to jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places nationwide. As an architect, I grimace when I have to tell a client he has to move a toilet 2 inches to meet the law, but then I am always reminded of the basic premise: “thou shall not discriminate.“
Considering we will all be affected by a disability in our lives, I’d say President Bush was very perceptive.
Not enough can be said about how humble, kind and thoughtful he was. A pillar of civility that calm the political waters all around him. Our present world could learn a few things from Mr. 41.
Chris d Craiker