With the certainty of the tides, the media is awash with invidious comparisons between George H.W. Bush in death and Donald J. Trump in the White House. From the anti-Trump metronomes at the Washington Post there was this: “Trump’s time in office, by contrast, has been defined by a war against virtually all of the norms and institutions that Bush held dear.”
Manifestly, George Bush’s death has put in motion a nostalgia for something lost. And it is a nostalgia that appears to be bipartisan. What has been lost, however, predates the election of 2016.
Recall that the same longing for a vanished era occurred when Barbara Bush died in April. By contrast with this week’s commentary, what she stood for was discussed without political recrimination or score-settling.
Her private and public values, shared over a lifetime with her husband, were said to be rooted in New England traditions of comportment and belief originating far back in American history. Those Bush values are definable in words such as temperance, self-restraint, plain-speaking, honesty, duty, forbearance, humility, prudence, courage.