"I was offered a job on Wall Street by my uncle. But I wanted to get out. Make it on my own kinda thing," George H.W. Bush (1924-2018), the 41st President of the United States to his biographer.
Perhaps not our most articulate President, but among the most genuine of the modern era. Born possibly with the silver spoon of which former Texas Governor Anne Richards so derisively spoke, George H. W. Bush, the son of a former Wall Street banker and powerful U.S. Senator, Prescott Bush (R-Connecticut), graduated prep school and at age 18 joined the Navy, by age 19, becoming the U.S. Navy's youngest aviator and aircraft tail-gunner . Shot down over the Pacific in 1944, Bush would parachute out of his flaming aircraft, after also hitting most of his assigned bomber targets. Following a post-war graduation from Yale, Bush broke out for Texas and a shot at the oil business with his young bride Barbara.
While Bush had modest successes in the oil business, he would soon begin to cut a path of public service. Bush was elected to Congress, representing suburban Houston and later a twice unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate. President Richard Nixon appointed Bush as Ambassador to the United Nations, and then Chairman of the Republican National Committee, during the Watergate years. Bush was actually one of the first voices to publicly call, in a written letter to Nixon, for the President to resign for the good of the country. Ford would later appoint Bush the U.S. Envoy to China, and then Director of the C.I.A.
When Bush began his campaign for President in 1979, he was joined early by a prominent Georgia Republican, Paul Coverdell and their strong friendship would last for decades.
After winning the White House in 1988, Bush appointed Coverdell his U.S. Peace Corps Director, and in 1992, Coverdell left the administration and returned to Georgia to seek the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Democrat Wyche Fowler.
Coverdell faced four statewide elections that year, including the state's first U.S. Senate run-off. On that long runoff election night, three weeks after Bush had lost his own re-election to President-elect Bill Clinton, President Bush was attempting to keep tabs on the race of his pal Coverdell.
But in 1992, Al Gore had not yet invented the internet, and the Associated Press did not track results of state contests for national wire distribution. The President's eldest son, and family campaign manager, George W. Bush, was constantly calling my mobile phone for updates to relay to his father, who had lost the White House three weeks prior, and his beloved mother Dorothy Walker Bush the week prior.
With election results swaying back and forth all night, only the north metro Atlanta suburbs remained to be tallied, George Bush asked me via mobile, "What's still out?”
I told him what we knew was that most of North Fulton County was still out (some things never change).
Amidst the sound of rustling papers W. said, "You mean places like Roswell, and Alpharetta?" I had forgotten at the time that the President had kicked off his re-election campaign in nearby Woodstock.
Me - "Yes, those are still out.
W. - "Well...Dad carried Roswell by more than 70 percent, and Alpharetta by nearly 80. I'm going to go ahead and tell him that Paul has won."
Before I could say, "Wait.." or make it across that ballroom to Coverdell with the phone, the unmistakable voice of Poppy Bush came on to say..."
I apologized and asked the President to repeat himself as I thrust the phone into the hands and ear of my boss, soon to be Senator-elect Paul Coverdell.
The slightly premature congratulations boost Coverdell's ego and often stooped stature visibly by several inches, a smile beamed across his face as he thanked the President for bothering himself with keeping track.
"You'll be our 51st Senator Paul...this one is more important than either of us."
The Bush family's favored biographer, Jon Meacham, has often referred to 41 as "The Last Gentleman." I don't think that is quite accurate as George W. Bush (43), his brother Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and a few others in public life still remain in the arena, but it is a shrinking league, which was once a much larger league of extra-ordinary gentlemen... Thankfully, the Bush bloodline isn't quite done serving America yet, and thankfully there are still a few stars America hasn't met quite yet from that Bush league. God bless you Mr. President.