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Ethics & Religion
March 16, 2017
Column #1,855
Comparing Donald Trump with George H.W. Bush
By Mike McManus

 

As Donald Trump assumed power, I've been reading a penetrating biography of George H.W. Bush by Jon Meacham, "Destiny and Power."

The contrasts between the two Presidents could not be more stark.

Trump's experience in Washington or even in politics: absolutely zero.

By contrast, Bush has had "one of the great American lives - heroic service in World War II, success in Texas oil, congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, envoy to China, director of Central Intelligence, vice president of the United States, forty-first president and the only president since John Adams to see his son win the ultimate prize in American politics," writes Meacham.

Second, Trump's temperament is emotional and out of control. He rises early and Tweets without any editing. "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my `wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"

Moments later, he blasts: "How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy." Two weeks after these rants, he has provided no evidence to back up his charges against Obama.

By contrast, Bush is unemotional and lived the values "duty, honor, country." At age 18 he enlisted in the Navy and became its youngest pilot. In 1944 he was shot down, crashed in the sea, barely escaping death or capture. At Yale, he finished a four year degree in 2.5 years, Phi Beta Kappa.

Trump's ego is HUGE. This week, after barely 50 days as President, he launched his campaign for re-election in 2020! Each sentence begins with "I."

Bush's mother taught him St. Luke's admonition: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required."

Bush's motto: "Be kind, generous of spirit, grateful. Do what's right. Finish strong." He was armed with self-confidence, but was marked by kindness and grace that charmed others with his perpetual ebullience, driven by an ideal of service.

Both men were ambitious - essential to reach the Presidency. But Trump cheated others on his way up. He filed for bankruptcy so often, many banks would not lend to him. Yet he always escaped with millions while his workers were often left unpaid.

Bush was driven by a hunger to determine the destinies of others, but he was respectful of tradition and others. Meacham asserted he was "armed with self-confidence, marked by kindness and grace. His goal was the accumulation of power to be deployed in the service of America."

America's 2016 election was influenced by Russia. The first evidence came in April when the British spy service passed along a tip that Russia was funneling money through two banks to influence our election. Russia hacked into the Democratic Party and leaked emails stolen from Clinton's campaign manager.

In September, The Washington Post reported that the FBI was investigating a possible Russian operation against the election. That was followed by "a public assessment from all U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was interfering in the November vote," TIME reported. Obama demanded that Russia remove 35 diplomats.

The key issue is whether Trump and his people were involved. The new President was furious with persistent leaks that fed this conclusion. His National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to step down Feb. 13 after misleading the Vice President about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from oversight of the FBI's probe after confessing that he had also met with Kislyak twice in 2016, though he told Congress he had not done so.

George Bush has never had his integrity questioned. His life code has been to "tell the truth, don't blame people."

He had the temperament to end the Cold War. He proposed cutting 25% of U.S. forces in Europe if Gorbachev would do the same. In Germany he said, "For 40 years, the seeds of democracy in Eastern Europe lay dormant, buried under the frozen tundra of the Cold War."

On November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall had opened. It was a great victory, but Bush did not gloat, even when 230,000 people flowed from East Germany to the West.

Some months later he told Gorbachev that he had conducted himself "in ways not to complicate your life. That's why I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall."

"Yes, we have seen that and appreciate that."

A new era of U.S. - Soviet relations had begun.

Trump is unlikely to be as successful.
____________________________________
Copyright (c) 2017 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous columns go to  www.ethicsandreligion.org. Hit Search for any topic.

 

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