Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The First GB

I don't remember when, now - or who it was I was talking to - but recently, I mentioned how I saw a special on PBS awhile ago that outlined how the first George Bush voted for the Civil Rights Act when he was in Congress, and how he lost his next election because of it. Whoever I was talking to - was it you, Mom? - told me that they didn't believe it. I said no, it's true - and it was really compelling, how he said that he had to do the right thing, regardless of popularity.

That got me thinking this a.m.: was I wrong? No. I wasn't. Here is a link to an article which appears connected to that PBS special - http://www.pbs.org/newshour/character/essays/bush.html - and an excerpt from it -

Never again during his career did George Bush wage a campaign so unrelievedly conservative, or so oriented toward issues. When he ran for Congress from Houston in 1966, he created the archetype of the Bush campaigns of the future: the candidate's personal qualities were emphasized over stark ideological commitments. Bush told a reporter, "Labels are for cans." ......

Another sign of Bush's new moderation was his vote in April 1968 for Lyndon Johnson's Fair Housing Act, which banned discrimination in the sale and rental of housing. In his district, Bush told a town meeting, which jeered him, that it seemed "fundamental that a man should not have a door slammed in his face because he is a Negro or speaks with a Latin American accent." He wrote a friend, "I never dreamed the reaction would be so violent. Seething hatred--the epithets... The country club crowd disowning me and denouncing me.... Tonight [I was on] this plane and this older lady came up to me. She said, 'I'm a conservative Democrat from this district, but I ....will always vote for you now.' ...Her accent was Texan (not Connecticut) and suddenly somehow I felt that maybe it would all be OK--and I started to cry--with the poor lady embarrassed to death--I couldn't say a word to her." ......

What a time it must have been, back in 1968, making those kinds of decisions - It matters to me, to know that he was on the right side of that history.

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