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Jewish World Review / July 10, 1998 / 16 Tamuz, 5758

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas George W. Bush: a different 'boomer'

HOUSTON -- The cover of this month's Texas Monthly magazine depicts a mock campaign button which says "Bush for President?" On it is a smiling image of the Texas governor who carries a past and possibly future presidential name.

The article, by Paul Burka, analyzes the strengths that Gov. Bush
George, Jr.
could bring to the Republican Party and the presidency if he a) runs, b) is nominated and, c) is elected. In Texas, where it's being predicted that Bush will only blow away his Democratic opponent and be reelected in November, but also possibly lead a Republican sweep of state offices, "a" and "b" are foregone conclusions and "c" is an article of growing faith among Republicans.

The contrasts between Bush and President Clinton, both baby boomers, couldn't be more obvious. Though Bush, if he runs, would not face Clinton, he presents an image that would project without his saying so a sense of integrity, stability, honor and humility that is in stark contrast to the current White House occupant. People from all political persuasions could vote for him without having to admit they made a mistake in voting for Clinton.

Bush has several strong personal qualities that come through as one gets to know him. As the Burka article notes, he makes one feel the person he is talking to is the most important one in the room. At a baseball game last month in Arlington, he arrived drenched in sweat after jogging in the oppressive Texas heat. Instead of rushing to the shower and heading for his seat, he hung around in his jogging clothes exchanging pleasantries with a small number of people inside the executive offices of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, which he had just sold at a $10 million profit. In response to a question he told me that he favors school choice, but thinks it should be handled locally by individual jurisdictions and the federal government should stay out of it. That's a hot issue with Republican social conservatives who share his position.

Like Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush doesn't appear to need the presidency to complete his personality. Bill Clinton wanted to be president since he was a kid. "I'm not sure I want to spend the rest of my life living in the bubble," says Bush, referring to Washington. He is concerned that his and wife Laura's twin 16-year-old daughters might have to spend their college years in Washington, accompanied by Secret Service agents. "Parenting is the most important thing a person does," he tells Burka. "Parenting requires sacrifice. I believe that. It's my legacy." His remarks recall a speech his popular mother made several years ago at Wellesley College. Barbara Bush said, "If you have children, they must come first. Your success as a family, our success as a nation, depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens in your house."

Bush might not be the first choice of some social conservatives. Though he believes many of the things they do -- he is pro-life for the unborn and favors capital punishment for killers -- he is more of a persuader than a fire-breather. He appears to realize that zeal alone is not enough to make a majority believe as you do. Great changes often take time and must be achieved incrementally. Such a strategy might well put the Reagan coalition back together, something no other potential presidential candidate appears capable of doing. Bush also has a "conversion story." He gave up drinking 11 years ago and has left behind his self-described "wild" life. Again, this contrasts with Clinton who is unwilling to rise above his lower nature. It's another reason why some might vote for him for president without having to admit the country needs purifying. Blessed with more political talent, he could be Jimmy Carter II.

In one of John Keats' poems, he writes that fame is like a coy woman who, when pursued, pretends she doesn't notice, but if ignored, might decide she likes the man "and may follow" him. George W. Bush is being coy. Fame, not to mention the presidency, may be about to start flirting with him.


7/08/98: My lunch with Roy Rogers
7/06/98: News unfit to print (or broadcast)
6/30/98: Smoke gets in their eyes
6/25/98: Sugar and Spice Girls
6/19/98: William Perry opposed
technology transfers to China
6/19/98: The Clinton hare vs.the Starr tortoise
6/17/98: The President's rocky road to China
6/15/98: Let the children go
6/9/98: Oregon: the new killing fields
6/5/98: Speaking plainly: the cover-up continues
6/2/98: Barry Goldwater: in our hearts
5/28/98:The Speaker's insightful remarks
5/26/98: As bad as it gets
5/25/98:Union dues and don'ts
5/21/98: Connecting those Chinese campaign contribution dots
5/19/98: Clinton on the couch
5/13/98: John Ashcroft: another Jimmy Carter?
5/8/98: Terms of dismemberment
5/5/98: Clinton's tangled Webb
4/30/98: Return of the Jedi
4/28/98: Desparately seeking Susan
4/23/98: RICO's threat to free-speech and expression
4/21/98: Educating children v. preserving an institution
4/19/98: Analyzing the birth of a possible new nation
4/14/98: What's fair about our tax system?
4/10/98: CBS: 'Touched by a perv'
4/8/98: Judge Wright's wrong reasoning on sexual harassment
4/2/98: How about helping American cities before African?
3/31/98:Revenge of the children
3/29/98: The Clinton strategy: delay, deceive, deny, and destroy
3/26/98: Moralist Gary Hart
3/23/98: CNN's century of (liberal) women
3/17/98: Dandy Dan
3/15/98: An imposed 'settlement' settles nothing
3/13/98: David Brock's Turnabout

©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.