You know how, when a young person goes bad or does hideous things, the parents–and often the mother–usually get most if not all the blame? And I’m sure you’ve heard, as I have all my life, the old adage “a leaf doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
I can’t help thinking of that a lot these days, especially the past year or so as I’ve watched George Herbert Walker Bush cry at least twice during public functions, once at Coretta Scott King‘s funeral service and again at ceremonies honoring son Jeb as his Florida governorship ended last year. Could it be that old saying is beginning to bother him?
I realize he doesn’t need my sympathy, but I can’t help feeling sorry for him though I’m not quite sure why. Is it that in the process of aging, and now that he’s quite out of politics, George senior is becoming more introspective, as many of us approaching our geezer years do, trying to reconcile, in our minds anyway, the mistakes of the past, wishing we could undo them but now wise enough to know we can’t.
In spite of how I feel about his son, I always felt a certain amount of respect for George Herbert because he didn’t seem to a lot of damage during his brief tenure in office. Didn’t do a whole lot of good either as I remember, but sometimes doing little but not causing more trouble is better than what George junior has accomplished so far.
One thing he did do (George senior) that clearly needed to be done was the attack he ordered on Iraq and Kuwait in 1991 to chase Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. When that was done, and realizing we’d need more backing than we had were we to go forward trying to rid Iraq of Hussein as well, he had us pack up and get out. That shows a certain amount of intelligence, or at least a willingness to listen to his advisors, and not insisting on being “the decider” himself.
So I confess I’ve wondered if the crying during these public events was because he realizes what a mess boy George has been making, and just can’t fake it any longer. As I’ve stated before, I never voted for his son and I’ve always believed he wasn’t the real choice of the majority of Americans, but when the Supreme Court decided otherwise, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, hoping he’d surprise me. He continues to surprise me, just not in the way I’d hoped.
When Barbara Bush first took over as First Lady of the country, I was sort of impressed with her seeming forthrightness. She wasn’t afraid to express her opinions, and I wish more women were able to do that unafraid. She seemed to be what we think of as genuine. But, in the last weeks of her White House residency, disappointed perhaps that her husband had only four years in office, she began to sound vindictive and shrewlike, showing her true colors, I imagine. I realized I’d been wrong about her all along.
So with all due respects Mr. former President George H. W. Bush, in the unlikely event that you’re ever reading this, don’t cry about that errant and straying leaf of yours who never did quite manage to pull off sucessfully any of his former incarnations: reserve pilot, business man, oil tycoon, etc. I know you must have hoped that with a little help from his friends, he’d finally found his niche in the biggest job in America. You must have felt proud of him getting so far in spite of his not being the brightest branch on the tree.
And about that leaf falling “not far from the tree?” It may not be you. Remember, hard winds frequently come and blow those leaves every which way. So quit blaming yourself, Mr. Bush senior. Let’s just blame the mother. Yes, that’s a good idea. It’s all Barbara’s fault.