Bush’s legacy

When former President George H.W. Bush is eulogized at his Washington, D.C. fundral today, people will remark on his legacy of a kinder, gentler nation fully capable of using an iron fist.

Bush, our 41st president, was 94 when he died last Friday, joining his beloved wife, Barbara, who died earlier this year. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas could have been speaking for the nation when he summed the two up as “the essence of decency.”

His service as a Navy pilot in World War II made Bush a war hero. He followed that up with success in business, politics and diplomacy.

It has been pointed out that Bush, a one-term president, had a mixed record. That is true enough. He broke his word regarding new taxes. Some say he ended the first Gulf War, in 1991 prematurely. He should have ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, critics say.

Perhaps so. But Bush was our last president with wartime service in the military. The slaughter of Iraqi troops in 1991 affected him deeply. It is difficult to be too critical of someone who just wanted the killing to stop.

He was fearsome enough, after all, that Soviet communism collapsed during his presidency, continuing the fall that started with the Ronald Reagan administration.

Bush’s legacy can be summed up in five words: He was a good man.

That ought to be enough.