We can always learn a lot from many sources. I'm not a huge fan of George H. W. Bush, although he was the youngest fighter pilot shot down in World War II and did some very heroic things back then. His years in the White House were marked with what many perceived to be diffidence and nonchalance, and when his advisors tried to get him to seem worked up about something, he came out with his political epitaph, "Read my lips! No new taxes!"
And then they thought, let's make him seem more down-to-earth, more relatable to Joe Sixpack, so one weekend when he was at Camp David his Secret Service team took him down to a K-Mart near the presidential retreat in Thurmont, MD. The cover story was, the president is going jogging, and needs tube socks.
Tube socks? Tube socks.
So he gets up to the register, and at first he's stunned at this new-fangled price scanner gizmo, and then the cashier asks him for the money, and he pats his rump and it was then that it became evident that George Bush was one of those guys so out of touch with everyday life in America that he didn't carry a wallet. One of his handlers shelled out the money for the socks, as the cameras whirred and clicked, and once again, the most powerful man in the free world was shown to be a noble patrician ill-suited to mingle with hoi polloi.
But - there is one great thing about GHWB! I really admired the man for one habit he had, and that was, he dashed off quick thank-you notes to people all the time. The guy who came to deliver a file cabinet to the secretary in his office, and the guy who came to serve on his cabinet as Secretary of Defense - they got thank-you notes for what they did! Or, he would read about a firefighter saving a life, or a cop corralling a crook, or someone doing some random nice deed, and then he would write a quick t-y and have it mailed off to that person.
And, unlike his son, whose team made totally false claims that staffers from the departing Clinton administration trashed the White House offices (part of the anti-Democratic smear campaign that continues yet today) Bush the Elder worked well with the incoming Clinton team, all the more remarkable considering that Clinton defeated Bush for the presidency. And as the years went on, Bush 41 and Clinton represented American cooperation at its finest all around the world, teaming up for natural disasters and other events in which they could lend a hand.
I'd be honored to shake the hand of George Herbert Walker Bush. His son, not so much.