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jerryking : george_h.w._bush   7

I’m not calling to revive WASP culture. Just to learn from it.
December 6, 2018 | The Washington Post | By Fareed Zakaria.

The death of George H.W. Bush has occasioned a fair amount of nostalgia for the old American establishment.....provoked a heated debate among commentators about that establishment, whose membership was determined largely by bloodlines and connections. You had to be a WASPto ascend to almost any position of power in the U.S. until the early 1960s. Surely, there is nothing good to say about a system that was so discriminatory toward everyone else? Actually, there is. For all its faults — and it was often horribly bigoted, in some places segregationist and almost always exclusionary — at its best, the old WASP aristocracy did have a sense of modesty, humility and public-spiritedness that seems largely absent in today’s elite. Many of Bush’s greatest moments — his handling of the fall of communism, his decision not to occupy Iraq after the first Gulf War, his acceptance of tax increases to close the deficit — were marked by restraint, an ability to do the right thing despite enormous pressure to pander to public opinion.

But, and here is the problem, it is likely these virtues flowed from the nature of that old elite. The aristocracy was secure in its power and position, so it could afford to think about the country’s fate in broad terms, looking out for the longer term, rising above self-interest — because its own interest was assured. It also knew that its position was somewhat accidental and arbitrary, so its members adhered to certain codes of conduct — modesty, restraint, chivalry, social responsibility.....Today’s elites are chosen in a much more open, democratic manner, largely through education. Those who do well on tests get into good colleges, then good graduate schools, then get the best jobs and so on. But their power flows from this treadmill of achievement, so they are constantly moving, looking out for their own survival and success. Their perspective is narrower, their horizon shorter-term, their actions more self-interested.

Most damagingly, they believe their status is legitimately earned. They lack some of the sense of the old WASP establishment that they were accidentally privileged from birth. So the old constraints have vanished. Today, chief executives and other elites pay themselves lavishly, jockey for personal advantage and focus on their own ascendancy.
Fareed_Zakaria  George_H.W._Bush  WASPs  elitism  meritocratic  self-restraint  The_Establishment  arbitrariness 
december 2018 by jerryking
Mulroney, Bush and the last lyrical act of a unique friendship
December 5, 2018 | The Globe and Mail | ANDREW COHEN.

When Brian Mulroney delivered a eulogy to George H.W. Bush at his funeral in Washington Wednesday, it was the last, lyrical act of a unique friendship between a prime minister of Canada and a president of the United States......It was natural, then, for Mr. Mulroney to lionize him as he did at the Washington National Cathedral, declaring no president of the great republic “more courageous, more principled, more honourable.” For Mr. Mulroney, paying this kind of tribute has become an avocation. He spoke at the funeral of Ronald Reagan in 2004 and that of Mr. Reagan’s wife, Nancy, in 2016.....In June, 1999, they met in Montreal to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the agreement. They needed no reason to see each other then; they forgathered every Labour Day weekend at Mr. Bush’s seaside retreat in Kennebunkport, Me.....William Thorsell, who was then editor of The Globe and Mail, asked me to come from Washington to join him and a colleague in conversation with the two former leaders....focus on free trade; William suggested exploring the personal, such as friendship, public service and life after politics.

Today, in Donald Trump’s America, the conversation that day is a hymn to civility, loyalty and humanity. There were differences in temperament. Mr. Bush was detached and modest. Mr. Mulroney was self-conscious, restless and in search of vindication.......In the years since, Mr. Mulroney has become an elder statesman in Canada, an éminence grise who robustly supported the Liberal government in renegotiating NAFTA. It was a display of patriotism that Mr. Bush surely applauded.

Both reflected their political cultures. Mr. Bush was welcomed into the circle of former presidents, which would allow him to call Mr. Clinton “a son.” In Canada, where prime ministers face each other as gladiators in Parliament, there is less of this kindness and gentility. It explains why former prime ministers dislike each other.

But presidents and prime ministers generally do play well, particularly Republicans and Conservatives, Democrats and Liberals. John F. Kennedy and Lester Pearson got along famously, as did Pierre Trudeau and Gerald Ford, as well as Mr. Clinton and Jean Chrétien. Some have no chemistry at all: Mr. Kennedy and John Diefenbaker; Richard Nixon and Mr. Trudeau; Barack Obama and Stephen Harper.

There were prime ministers and presidents who held office longer than Brian and George. But none maintained a friendship longer, out of power, with the depth of affection that Mr. Bush and Mr. Mulroney did.

And so that’s why Brian Mulroney stood in the well of the Washington National Cathedral Wednesday. He was saying farewell, amid laughter and tears, to a friend
Brian_Mulroney  éminence_grise  farewells  friendships  obituaries  tributes  George_H.W._Bush  eulogies  personal_chemistry 
december 2018 by jerryking
Lessons From '92 Give GOP Hope - WSJ.com
Dec. 26, 2008 Gerald Seib article on steps that Haley Barbour
took to resuscitate the Republican brand following George H Bush's
defeat in 1992.
republicans  GOP  rebuilding  rejuvenation  Gerald_Seib  turnarounds  George_H.W._Bush 
january 2009 by jerryking

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