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Is it okay to talk trash about a dead politician right away?

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This week we are in familiar territory, mourning the passing of another great American only months after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was laid to rest. George Herbert Walker Bush was the 41st president of the United States, the 43rd vice president, the 11th director of the CIA, a congressman from Texas’s 7th District, ambassador to the United Nations and a decorated World War II veteran. Wow.

I didn’t even include in the above list that he seemingly was the best husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, which for many observers were his greatest accomplishments. From having pored over countless anecdotes — and some of his love letters to his wife Barbara — I’d say that his approach to family was up there with his role in the re-unification of Germany.

{mosads}We need more people in public office who love so openly and honestly, and who set such a good example for our nation.

I am not forgetting that he was a Republican, just as McCain was a Republican. For many, that’s the only story that matters. On both sides of Capitol Hill there is still a shocking amount of venom flying around these past two days.

Both the senior Bush and McCain were men epitomized by integrity, duty and service. Heck, H.W. openly voted for Hillary. That should get him some serious bonus points.

The way we hand out bonus points, however, is far too tribal, too controlled by our internal leanings. I say this as a Democrat who became politically active during the George W. Bush years. I knew about the Willie Horton ad that many decried as racist and, having grown up in NYC (then ground zero for the AIDS crisis), I was aware that the elder Bush failed to dedicate the resources, personnel and policy necessary to saving millions of lives.

There were no Republican good guys in my household growing up, and I don’t remember any Republicans when I attended one of the most liberal colleges in the nation. Let’s just say that if I had turned out to be a Republican, jaws would’ve dropped.

Even so, I can’t understand any outcry suggesting that we shouldn’t honor the life and death of a former president who was a great philanthropist and family man and who was such a deep contrast to our president today. Can’t we at least take a moment to acknowledge the parts that can be universally revered?

There’s a trend that is developing. It’s not yet a solidified movement, but the murmuring signs are out there. In the deaths of figures such as George H.W. Bush there’s another opportunity to prize the civility we lament as having passed.

Who knew he would spark a reassessment and a reinvention of our values and of our notions of ourselves? Not Donald J. Trump. This is one impact of the Trump era that he did not intend.  

I’d like to see more pieces and tweets celebrating political marriages that make us all go “Awwww!”

I saw a tweet from New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi when Sen. McCain died and it really resonated with me. She wrote: “BTW, using the occasion of a person’s death to attack them isn’t edgy or cool, it’s childish and cowardly.” Nuzzi retweeted it this weekend as a reminder, and I largely agree.

I know that there are enough outlets to satisfy those who hated and those who loved GHWB and those somewhere in between. Can we just have more cartoons of H.W. meeting Barbara at the gates of heaven, though?

Jessica Tarlov is head of research at Bustle Digital Group and a Fox News contributor. She earned her Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in political science. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaTarlov.

Tags Bush family George H. W. Bush John McCain John McCain Military personnel

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