Men of Character

Dec 05, 2018

To the Editor:

The passing of George H.W. Bush this past week has resulted in an outpouring of praise for his integrity and decency as president by both historians and politicians. It brings to mind the commentary (“America on Edge: If We Didn’t, Who Really Did Start the Fire?”), written by Tom Meredith for last week’s SandPaper, that I feel is pertinent to evaluating our political leaders, past and present.

Mr. Meredith’s quote in the commentary, from Martin Luther King, is extremely relevant: “Let us judge a man by the quality of his character, not by the color of his skin.” In these times of “hate and fear being forced upon us by politicians, activists, etc.” we need to remember that moral character needs to be prioritized over political positions taken by both Republican and Democratic leaders of our country.

George H.W. Bush was one of two single-term U.S. presidents over the last 50 years, along with Jimmy Carter. One was a Republican and one was a Democrat. Having lived during the time of their presidencies, I had tended to look back and view their time in office as being marked by specific missteps and failures. The “read my lips, no new taxes” comment was certainly a political misstep by Bush, and the 444 days of American hostages being held by Iranian radicals will always mark Carter’s presidency.

However, mixed with these missteps and failures, there were certainly many positive accomplishments. Bush, for instance, was able to pass legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities and Clean Air acts in spite of being a Republican president controlled by a Democratic Congress. Carter was the broker of peace between leaders of Egypt (Anwar el-Sadat) and Israel (Menachem Begin) at his Camp David conference.

More importantly, though, both of these one-term presidents are viewed by most Americans today as leaders who are now remembered and revered as men of high moral character, integrity and decency.

Who knows whether Donald Trump will be our next one-term president? Either way, like Bush and Carter, his future legacy will probably be judged in the same way.

Jim Eller




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