Monday, July 4, 2022

Ed Gray, NDG Senior Columnist: A look at the legacy of George Herbert Walker Bush

President George H. W. Bush

Straight Talk with Ed Gray

President George Herbert Walker Bush, died Nov. 30, 2018, and the absence of life gives us pause to celebrate life. The balance of a man’s life can be told best in the objectivity of his total lifespan. Today the country has bestowed upon President George Bush 41 the respect of a beloved leader. The respect that his broad accomplishments of a leader recognized by a country that realized there should be decency in politics.

George W. Bush was partially responsible for building the Texas Republican Party in Texas in the last century. The 1960s were a time in which being a Democrat in Texas was the key to statewide victory. Bush built the Republican Party in Harris County as County Chair and then ran for the United States Congress. The Republican Party opened its big tent to disaffected Democrats fleeing newly registered southern black voters.

Despite the racism of some in the Republican Party, Bush was one of few southern Republicans who voted for the 1968 Civil Rights Act, commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Through the years, that and his monetary support of the United Negro College Fund was cited as reasons that Bush was not racist. He was not a racist, however, he was in politics, that sometimes appeals to racist sentiments for votes. The infamous Willie Horton advertising that played to white fears of black male rapists was used by his operatives to secure the 1988 election.

In office, Bush 41 was a moderate in a conservative Republican Party. Suspect to far-right leaders like Patrick Buchannan, he was indeed the last of the country club Republicans. Conservative in nature, he did appoint black leaders such as General Colin Powell, to preeminent leadership roles.

President George Herbert Walker Bush would successfully end the Cold War, thereby ending Russian dominance of Central and Eastern Europe. He would be remembered Bush for defeating the Iraqi led forces of Sadaam Hussein in Persian Gulf I. George Bush 41 should have been re-elected. Bush a man of his times, would lose the presidency to Governor Bill Clinton.

Patrick Buchannan and Ross Perot would become the precursors of the Tea Party Republicanism, and Republican populism that would remake the Republican Party. The candidacies of Buchannan in the Republican Primary and that of Perot in the general election would conspire to make, Bush 41, a one-time president. The Republican Party, a big tent party of small conservative principles, would eschew a tax hike to pay for a massive budget.

President Bush 41 until his death, earlier this month was best remembered, as a one-term president in an era of two-term presidencies. Presidents are men that we may not agree with at times, however, their intentions used to be never questioned as being less than honorable. In today’s political climate, President George Herbert Walker Bush will be remembered for his overall decency. We didn’t appreciate it, until today.

Rest in Peace, Mr. President.

I am Ed Gray, and this is Straight Talk.

Ed Gray is a presidential scholar at Southern Methodist University. He is the host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 3-5 p.m. on, can be reached at NDG was awarded NNPA’s 2018 Robert S. Abbott Best Editorial for Gray’s “Confederate Statues: The White Man’s Burden” column.


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