UPDATED with video: President George W. Bush spoke at his father George H.W. Bush’s state funeral in the D.C.’s National Cathedral, breaking with the precedent of having the sitting POTUS deliver presidential remarks at such state events.
But then, President Donald Trump did not know 41, who died Friday, except to mock his “Thousand Points of Light” challenge to Americans, suggest one of his sons may be among the worst presidents ever and nickname another son “Low-Energy Jeb.” (This week, Trump took a more gracious tone, tweeting today of the upcoming “celebration for a great man who has held a long and distinguished life” and “will be missed.”)
Thanks to W, viewers watching across the TV landscape were treated to ways in which his father subscribed to the idea that it’s best to die young as late as possible. That included details of his dad’s octogenarian jumps from airplanes, and the delight 41 took in his 90s when closest pal James Baker smuggled Grey Goose vodka into his hospital room, which his oldest son reported went well with the steak Baker had delivered from Mortons.
W spoke of his father as an empathetic man who valued character over pedigree, looked for the good in each person, and usually found it.
“To us he was the brightest of a thousand points of light,” he said, which of course Trump not have dared.
W referenced his parents’ pain when they lost his sister, Robin, at age 3 to leukemia, revealing, “Dad always believed one day he would hug his precious Robin again.”
“He had an enormous capacity to give of himself” and acted as mentor/father figure to many, W said, including “unlikeliest of all, Bill Clinton.”
Clinton defeated the elder Bush in his 1992 re-election bid, after which they became friends.
“His short game was lousy … he was not exactly Fred Astaire on the dance floor,” W confided. “The man could not stomach vegetables, especially broccoli. And he passed these genetic defects on to us.”
In later life “he enjoyed watching police-show reruns,” W said. “With the volume on high.”
“After Mom died, Dad was strong, but all he wanted to do was hold Mom’s hand again.”
Bush 43 also said: “Dad taught me another special lesson: He showed me what it means to be a president who serves with integrity, leads with courage and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country
History books, he forecast, will show his father “was a great President of the United States, a diplomat of unmatched skill, a commander in chief of formidable accomplishment, and a gentlemen who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor.
“Dad, we’re going to remember you for that and much more. And we’re going to miss you. Your decency, sincerity and your kind soul will stay with us forever.”
Choking up, Bush added: “So, through our tears, let us know the blessing of knowing and loving you: a great and noble man, the best father a son or daughter can have. And, in our grief, we smile, knowing Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”
For which, has he concluded his remarks, the roughly 3,000 assembled in the cathedral broke into applause.