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Budowsky: Thank you, George H.W. Bush

One of the most moving moments in memory occurred Tuesday when former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), one of the greatest Republicans who ever served in public life, was lifted from his wheelchair to salute former President George Herbert Walker Bush, who like Dole embodied the core values of a great generation.

On Wednesday the world was lifted and inspired when leaders and luminaries from across the spectrum of opinion gathered at Washington National Cathedral for a state funeral that radiated genuine admiration and profound appreciation for the life and works of George Herbert Walker Bush. When George W. Bush eulogized his dad he spoke as a loving son of a proud father who was a great and noble man who united a grateful nation with admiration and respect.

Duty, honor, country, service, patriotism, loyalty to friends, respect for adversaries— these timeless notions guided the man affectionately known as Bush 41 who we remember kindly today.

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As a Kennedy Democrat there were things that Bush 41 did that I disagreed with, but this occasion is a moment to say thank you.

Thank you, President Bush, for all you did for our country. Thank you, Sen. Dole, for all that you have done. Thank you, to the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Senate Armed Services chair eyes Russia, China threats | Pushes Trump not to cut defense budget | Mattis says US looking for more Khashoggi evidence Dem strategist says Trump should not have attended George H.W. Bush's funeral Inhofe eyes Russian, Chinese threats in first major speech as Armed Services chairman MORE (R-Ariz.), one of the noblest senators who ever served who made the Senate better by his presence.

President George Herbert Walker Bush, perhaps the best one-term president who ever served, was the right person at the right moment at a critical moment in history.

In the days before the Berlin Wall tumbled down, Bush 41 governed with profound skill, acting as a true leader of the free world, guiding America and Europe as an alliance of democratic nations, advancing the reunification of a democratic Germany, culminating great events from the Second World War he served in so bravely to the Cold War he steered toward a peaceful conclusion.

It would be wise for all succeeding presidents to consider the lessons Bush 41 learned from his vast experience in war and peace, and how he applied those lessons in the service of our security and
democracy. 

After Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, President Bush 41 worked with his dear friend and long-term counselor James Baker, then secretary of State who served Presidents Reagan and Bush so brilliantly and wisely, to assemble a massive international military coalition that drove Saddam out of Kuwait and ended that war so successfully.

Reagan, Bush and Baker understood the lessons learned from Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy that democracy must be fiercely defended by alliances of free nations working in harmony for common purpose. All future presidents would be wise to remember this timeless lesson that is essential to preserve, protect and defend our democratic life that George Herbert Walker Bush learned so well and practiced so skillfully.

My former boss and mentor Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) ran against Bush for the Senate in 1970, and defeated him, and ran against Bush again in 1988 as the Democratic nominee for vice president, and was defeated by him. When Bush 41 was elected president he governed alongside a Democratic Congress, where Bentsen was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Bentsen, like Bush and Dole, was a war hero in the Second World War, shared the ethic that there is a time to boldly campaign and a time to wisely govern, which demands that leaders of both parties must sometimes work together, as Bentsen and Bush did so respectfully and well when Bush was president and Bentsen was chairman. 

The outpouring of respect and affection for Bush 41 demonstrates a national yearning for a return to civility, respect and decency in public life.

As George Herbert Walker Bush ascends to heaven to be greeted by Barbara, the woman he loved for seven decades, and Robin, the daughter they loved so much and lost much too soon, it is a moment to say thank you, Mr. President, for a life well lived and a job well done!

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.