Let me finish tonight with this.
I love these stories of how the former presidents get to be so close, especially Bill Clinton getting to be like a son to the senior president Bush.
Think about it. This is the guy he beat and now Bill’s out there speaking openly about how he feels toward the older man. I completely get it and for totally personal reasons.
Bill Clinton lost his father early on in a car crash, never really had him as a father. Then he had a stepfather who beat his mother to the point where young Bill, who was big for his age, had to stand up and threaten to beat the heck out of the guy if he ever touched his mother again.
Imagine, it’s not hard, how Bill feels toward a perfect gentleman like the senior George Bush, a guy who so obviously loves his children, who so clearly knows how to show affection, how to really be the kind of father young Bill Clinton (and, yes, grown-up Bill Clinton) never had.
I do think of Dick Nixon, too, and the way he wanted so much to be an older counselor of sorts to Clinton back when Clinton was first in office.
Okay, maybe there was some guile there, I’ll accept that. Maybe Nixon wanted to use the young Democratic president to “bring him back into public life” the way a Republican president couldn’t do. I think of how Harry Truman brought back Herbert Hoover into public acceptability by giving him charge of the Hoover Commission that re-organized and reformed the federal government back after World War II.
But there was also something there that was human. Nixon had two great daughters but he didn’t have a son, and maybe Bill Clinton was the kind of young political star he imagined having for a son.
And maybe Bill Clinton, who knew his own imperfections, saw in Nixon a guy who wasn’t as judgmental and holier-than-thou as so many public figures come across as.
The thing is, as someone who looks up to politicians, I love to see they can get along–at least after all the games of day-to-day politics are over with.
Wouldn’t it be great if they could show the same humanity when they’re playing the political game? Wouldn’t it be good for the country if they’d find a way to let their human side show when it came to finding the sort of human compromises that get to the heart of challenges facing this country, like the growing American debt and the chaotic immigration situation?
Wouldn’t that be something.