Anderson Cooper remembers George H.W. Bush

George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, has died at the age of 94. CNN's Anderson Cooper looks back on his legacy.

Posted: Dec 2, 2018 3:51 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2018 4:10 PM

President George H.W. Bush embodied a value that seems to be vanishing from our nation: public service. Love or hate his politics, most politicians who worked with Bush valued his deep commitment to government. And few would challenge the argument that he devoted his entire life to the public arena. He was part of a generation in American politics when working for the government was a virtue, not a vice.

His career was remarkable. After serving in World War II and later making millions in the oil business, Bush entered the rough world of politics in 1966 when Texas voters elected him to the US House of Representatives.

Five years later, President Richard Nixon appointed him to be the Ambassador to the United Nations. He took over as the chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973, a difficult time, as Watergate was breaking. Nonetheless, he proved effective and his career boomed.

President Gerald Ford appointed Bush to be the ambassador to China and then in 1976 made him director of the CIA.

But Bush was also interested in seeking higher office, and ran in the Republican primaries in 1980, losing to Ronald Reagan, but winning election as vice president. When Reagan finished his second term, Bush defeated Massachusetts Michael Dukakis in 1988 to become President of the United States.

He would not win reelection, losing to Bill Clinton in 1992, but Bush remained active in the public eye teaming up with his predecessors -- including Clinton -- to raise money for disaster relief.

In politics, Bush was not above going low. During the 1988 campaign, for instance, he helped open the door to some of the nastier elements in our modern political world, such as Lee Atwater's cut-throat campaign style that capitalized on division as a path to victory.

But Bush also was not always successful at what he set out to do. He lost reelection in 1992 because he proved to have a tin ear toward the economic struggles of middle class Americans.

The history books look back kindly on other aspects of his presidency.

He took a huge political gamble by pushing a major deficit reduction bill in 1990, for example and he handled the collapse of the Soviet Union with the adroit skill necessary to ensure that US political leaders did not bungle the end of the Cold War.

On domestic policy, he repeatedly proved that he was willing to break with the most conservative elements of his party, even as their clout increased on Capitol Hill. Despite the rightward drift of his party, he gave his support to environmental and civil rights legislation. Newt Gingrich -- in 1990 the No. 2 Republican in the House -- never forgave Bush for agreeing to raise taxes that year, though the deficit reduction package would become a major legacy of his administration.

On foreign policy, Bush demonstrated restraint as the hawks in his party were beating the drums for the US to maintain an aggressive stance. When President Bush did use force in Operation Desert Storm he insisted on pulling back US forces after the mission of freeing Kuwait was completed.

But what is most striking about Bush's life, beyond the policies or the politics, was the fact that this man believed so firmly in the virtue of serving government. He was a civil servant to the core at a time that his own party was smashing government as inefficient and even corrupt.

Reagan called government the problem, not the solution, yet his vice president made government his professional home. Bush believed in the power of political leaders to help usher the nation and the world through big changes. Not only was he a politician to the core, but he was notably a father who raised two sons who served as governors -- with one going on to become President.

We need more of George H. W. Bush's spirit in this country today. We live at a moment in history when the values that he represented seem to have been jettisoned, with a President who often makes a mockery of the institutions he governs.

On the sad occasion of Bush's death, it is a good time to raise a toast to people such as him, Republicans and Democrats, who understand that what happens in Washington plays a massive role in the quality of our lives.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 489116

Reported Deaths: 6614
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1014901592
Ramsey43327810
Dakota36619394
Anoka33496391
Washington22208262
Stearns18822202
St. Louis14887265
Scott13403107
Wright12609116
Olmsted1185990
Sherburne878574
Carver787641
Clay695588
Rice677691
Blue Earth601035
Kandiyohi581274
Crow Wing523582
Chisago501745
Otter Tail486071
Benton450990
Winona419749
Mower410831
Douglas394568
Goodhue389069
Nobles387247
Polk345063
McLeod341250
Beltrami338951
Morrison327747
Becker314842
Itasca314646
Lyon313845
Isanti309456
Steele303611
Carlton300449
Freeborn286424
Pine283216
Nicollet262441
Todd249730
Brown248237
Le Sueur238120
Mille Lacs229447
Cass221224
Waseca210417
Meeker208134
Martin190829
Wabasha18733
Roseau181017
Hubbard161041
Houston158214
Dodge15404
Renville152640
Redwood147127
Fillmore13969
Pennington138716
Chippewa136935
Cottonwood136020
Wadena131420
Faribault124917
Aitkin119133
Sibley118310
Watonwan11828
Rock116314
Kanabec108820
Pipestone101824
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9548
Jackson94610
Swift87818
Pope8165
Marshall78615
Stevens7478
Lake74218
Clearwater72014
Lac qui Parle68716
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5173
Lincoln5122
Grant4928
Norman4798
Unassigned44768
Mahnomen4437
Kittson41021
Red Lake3615
Traverse3115
Lake of the Woods2221
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337676

Reported Deaths: 5494
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52087560
Linn19512317
Scott17167212
Black Hawk14970293
Woodbury13847214
Johnson1317075
Dubuque12450196
Dallas1022593
Pottawattamie9897146
Story965045
Warren514976
Clinton502684
Cerro Gordo501383
Webster495788
Sioux480369
Marshall465273
Des Moines428461
Muscatine426393
Buena Vista413237
Wapello4059110
Jasper387767
Plymouth368978
Lee354653
Marion341571
Jones285155
Henry279837
Bremer270555
Carroll266948
Crawford253635
Boone244330
Benton241154
Washington239547
Mahaska215746
Jackson210339
Dickinson204240
Tama203065
Kossuth198655
Delaware186240
Clay184425
Winneshiek183628
Fayette179335
Page178119
Buchanan177829
Wright174531
Hamilton173942
Cedar172723
Hardin170239
Harrison167670
Clayton160254
Butler159331
Mills148520
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146236
Lyon145741
Allamakee144848
Madison143218
Iowa140723
Hancock138030
Grundy132430
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129611
Cass129651
Jefferson128634
Appanoose123247
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
Chickasaw119915
Union119331
Sac118818
Shelby117634
Emmet115340
Humboldt113725
Franklin109719
Guthrie109628
Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9720
Montgomery96936
Clarke95120
Keokuk92429
Monroe90028
Ida81832
Adair81630
Pocahontas80919
Davis76623
Monona76527
Greene73110
Lucas72221
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Taylor64112
Decatur5719
Fremont5619
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50620
Audubon4759
Wayne47221
Adams3194
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