December 5, 2018

No, It’s Not Time for a Critical Analysis of GHW Bush

Posted by Adam Graham in : Politics

On the passing of George W. Bush, ABC News’ Matthew Dowd offered a warning, “[O]ne thing I would like to say is, I think often in the times when we have these deaths, we’re way too quick to canonize these people. George Herbert Walker Bush was a great man. He did great things, but he also had flaws.” As an illustration of Bush’s flaws, Dowd offered as an example that Bush’s campaign for President ran the Willie Horton ad when it actually didn’t. funeral

The warning that Dowd offers is one I’ve heard a lot when famous political figures die. Whether its Richard Nixon or Ted Kennedy, when a controversial political figure dies, critics fear that the funeral week coverage represents a whitewash of the bad or troublesome things they did, that the act of memorializing them will, as Dowd said, canonize them.

Yet, it doesn’t happen. Nixon was given a lovely funeral and respect from opponents. Yet, he’s still remembered for the way his presidency ended. The decency of Republicans at the dead of Ted Kennedy hasn’t wiped away the stain of Chappaquiddick. In fact, I’m aware of no instance in this country where a political funeral has altered public views of the deceased.

There are two reasons to cast aspersions on the recently deceased politicos. First, you could have an intense hatred for the dead politicians and you can’t stand the idea of them being respected and honored and their family not being reminded of how terrible you think their loved one was. Second, it is possible to have such a high regard for your opinion that you can’t possibly imagine withholding it from the world for something as mundane as showing respect for the dead and their survivors. Neither are particularly good looks.

To forbear from criticizing a recently passed politician that we had issues with develops self-control and humility. Listening and mounring can help us to realize that people we disagree with are human beings who love and are loved.

This period doesn’t last forever. In a few weeks, it’ll be perfectly appropriate to discuss Bush’s weaknesses and shortcomings, but right now, it’s far better to save your criticism for another day.

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