Cantor's Would-Be Successors Line Up; Trende's Take; Bush 41's Example

Cantor's Would-Be Successors Line Up; Trende's Take; Bush 41's Example

By Carl M. Cannon - June 12, 2014

Good morning. It’s Thursday, June 12, an eventful date in American history.

On this day in 1776, delegates to the Virginia Convention in Williamsburg unanimously approved the Declaration of Rights drafted by George Mason. On June 12, 1862, Confederate cavalryman Jeb Stuart began his famed ride around the Army of the Potomac. Two years later, on June 12, 1864, Ulysses S. Grant pulled his badly mauled army out of Cold Harbor. And on June 12, 1963, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was gunned down outside his Jackson, Miss., home by a white supremacist.

Nineteen years earlier, Evers, a U.S. Army volunteer, had spent June 12 helping secure the French coast after the Normandy invasion. That same day, June 12, 1944, future U.S. president John F. Kennedy received the highest honor the U.S. Navy bestows for gallantry in battle.

On June 12, 1987, President Reagan helped bring down the curtain on the long Cold War -- and offered a stirring American sequel to JFK’s famed visit to Germany -- by appearing at the Berlin Wall, the very symbol of Soviet tyranny. Reagan cut to the chase: Going against his own State Department, he challenged his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, to tear the wall down.

Emboldened by America, the Germans eventually did that themselves. Reagan’s vice president was in the Oval Office by then. He had a different style than Kennedy and Reagan. He also differed temperamentally from Bill Clinton, Barack Obama -- and even his own son and namesake. George H.W. Bush’s mother had raised him never to boast and never to crow. So the 41st president of the United States resisted his own staff’s entreaties -- and the media’s -- to make a grand declaration of victory in the Cold War. Bush thought it more important to leave Gorbachev his dignity as the two nations maneuvered their way to an uneasy peace.

A touching accounting of that episode is contained in a new documentary, to be aired Sunday on CNN. It’s “41 on 41.” I highly recommend it. If you wonder why Bush is on my mind this morning, it’s no mystery: Today is the man’s 90th birthday.

I’ll have a couple more observations on George Herbert Walker Bush, including one about his 18th birthday, in a moment. First, let me direct you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which aggregates stories and columns from across the political spectrum. In addition, we offer a full complement of original material from RCP reporters and contributors this morning, including the following:

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Cantor Backs McCarthy as Majority Leader Successor. Caitlin Huey-Burns updates the positioning that took place yesterday when the defeated congressman decided to resign his leadership post. 

What Cantor’s Loss and Graham’s Win Mean. Sean Trende weighs in on Tuesday’s surprising results.

An Uncertain Dave Brat Meets the Press. Scott Conroy reports on the post-election appearance of the man who upset Eric Cantor.

Paul Ryan: U.S. Must Show Strength in Foreign Affairs. Michael Cipriano has details on the congressman’s forceful speech yesterday.  

Pollsters: Immigration Reform Would Benefit GOP. Christina Breitbeil has details from a briefing yesterday on two surveys taken by a consortium of Republican polling firms. 

Alexis Simendinger on the Bergdahl Swap. RCP’s White House correspondent and I discuss the controversial issue in this RealClearTalk video segment.

When Lanny Met Hillary. Longtime Clinton friend Lanny Davis holds forth in the latest installment of “Changing Lanes.”

Feminists and Their Daddy Issues. Heather Wilhelm weighs in on some allegedly controversial remarks regarding sexual assault and self-defense.

EU-Israeli Relations: Hijacked by Settlements? In RealClearWorld, Jan Techau explores the possibility.

The Beauty, Business and Science of the Spurs’ Success. In RealClearSports, Carson Cunningham and Mark Frigo write that business leaders can learn a few things from the way the San Antonio Spurs go about their affairs. 

Three Surprising Benefits of Moderate Booze Consumption. RealClearScience has this slide show.

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George Herbert Walker Bush, the second son of Prescott and Dorothy Bush, was born on this day in 1924, which means that the spring he turned 18, his nation was at war. Poppy Bush, as he was called, had just earned his high school diploma at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass, where captained the baseball team and earned a reputation as a handsome and friendly class leader.

With the assistance of Bush’s father, a future U.S. senator, Andover secured the services of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson as its 1942 commencement speaker. One of his tasks, Stimson decided, was advising the 213 all-male members of the graduating class that they not rush off to war. Go to college first, he advised. Your country will still need you in three or four years -- as officers.

But Poppy Bush had quietly acquainted himself with the men assigned to the U.S. Navy’s local recruiting office. And as he and his family filed out of Cochran Chapel on June 12, 1942, Prescott Bush asked his son whether Stimson’s speech had changed his mind.

“No, sir,” the young man replied. “I’m joining up.”

It was George Bush’s 18th birthday. Days later, he was in the United States Navy.

A year after that, he was flying combat missions against the Japanese, the youngest Navy flier in the Pacific theater. He would fly 58 missions and be awarded the Navy’s Distinguished Flying Cross. On the last of these missions, on Sept. 2, 1944, his plane was shot down. His two crewmen did not survive, but Bush was rescued by a U.S. submarine after floating for hours in the ocean.

As president, Bush went back to Andover, and he recalled what he remembered of Henry Stimson’s long-ago commencement speech. “He observed how the American soldier should be brave without being brutal, self-reliant without boasting, becoming a part of irresistible might without losing faith in individual liberty,” Bush said. “I never forgot those words.”

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau Chief
Twitter: @CarlCannon

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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