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 4:48 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2018 5:10 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 768624

Reported Deaths: 13993
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1055891807
Lake569801031
Allen43032699
St. Joseph37344568
Hamilton37335426
Elkhart29783470
Tippecanoe23503230
Vanderburgh23240405
Porter19580327
Johnson18843392
Hendricks18089323
Madison13575347
Clark13552198
Vigo12869256
LaPorte12578225
Monroe12575178
Delaware11155198
Howard10693237
Kosciusko9792124
Hancock8761150
Bartholomew8274157
Warrick8084157
Floyd8043182
Grant7378181
Wayne7239201
Boone7211105
Morgan6924143
Marshall6345117
Dubois6283118
Cass6096112
Dearborn602178
Noble600890
Henry5958111
Jackson517277
Shelby511598
Lawrence4928127
Gibson463696
Montgomery459292
DeKalb456785
Clinton456055
Harrison454077
Huntington417882
Whitley416745
Steuben411260
Miami406073
Jasper401655
Knox388691
Putnam385762
Wabash370384
Adams353856
Ripley351971
Jefferson343487
White340154
Daviess3089100
Wells304081
Greene295185
Decatur292693
Fayette286564
Posey282635
Scott281058
LaGrange277772
Clay274949
Washington254637
Randolph247783
Jennings239749
Spencer238731
Fountain235850
Starke229959
Owen222959
Sullivan221643
Fulton208945
Jay203032
Carroll197722
Orange191756
Perry189939
Vermillion181144
Rush177627
Tipton173347
Franklin172535
Parke155916
Pike142534
Blackford138032
Pulaski123748
Newton123336
Benton109715
Brown106243
Crawford105816
Martin92515
Warren87915
Switzerland8378
Union73610
Ohio58411
Unassigned0429

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1125420

Reported Deaths: 20490
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1305631493
Cuyahoga1173952263
Hamilton825481261
Montgomery536581062
Summit489381014
Lucas43799834
Butler40064614
Stark33876939
Lorain26072510
Warren24959312
Mahoning22738613
Lake21482396
Clermont20425261
Delaware19169138
Licking16879227
Trumbull16829492
Fairfield16825207
Medina15880276
Greene15565254
Clark14366308
Portage13450218
Wood13358201
Allen12064245
Richland11748213
Miami11047228
Wayne9275228
Columbiana9216236
Muskingum9144137
Pickaway8755123
Tuscarawas8724255
Marion8716140
Erie8146166
Ashtabula7280179
Hancock7050135
Ross7031165
Geauga6975153
Scioto6726108
Belmont6224179
Lawrence5964104
Union591649
Jefferson5729162
Huron5644122
Sandusky5498130
Darke5448131
Seneca5380128
Washington5373111
Athens527260
Auglaize507787
Mercer491785
Shelby484397
Knox4621113
Madison448066
Ashland446198
Defiance439499
Fulton436875
Putnam4358104
Crawford4120111
Brown410462
Preble3956107
Logan392279
Clinton391466
Ottawa376481
Highland366668
Williams357378
Champaign349860
Guernsey331554
Jackson321954
Perry299050
Morrow294943
Fayette289350
Hardin279665
Henry277467
Coshocton273061
Holmes2726102
Van Wert252365
Gallia251150
Adams250958
Pike244837
Wyandot235557
Hocking222963
Carroll201449
Paulding180142
Meigs151540
Monroe137945
Noble137939
Harrison115438
Morgan111724
Vinton87517
Unassigned04
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