The George H.W. Bush Renaissance

As the 41st president celebrates his 88th birthday, HBO releases a documentary about him.
George H.W. Bush. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The renaissance of
George H.W. Bush is in full swing these days as he celebrates his 88th birthday. Just days after
Maureen Dowd devoted her
column

to lionizing the 41st president, HBO tonight debuts at 9 a
documentary

entitled simply
41
.

The HBO documentary is, effectively, a first-person
story: Bush is the only interview subject for the 105-minute film, and
most of it takes place at the location most associated with the
Bush family—their windswept family compound in Kennebunkport,
Maine, where 41 still loves a good trip out on his powerboat,
Fidelity IV. (Watch the trailer here.)

The onetime congressman and then UN ambassador, Bush later
served as ambassador to China, CIA director, and vice president.
He has spent the two decades since his reelection loss turning
himself into America’s fun, friendly grandfather—parachuting
on his 80th and 85th
birthdays
,

teaming up with former President
Clinton to help fundraise on issues such as
Haiti,

and, more recently, wearing some crazy socks to his son’s
portrait unveiling at the White House last
week.

The force behind tonight’s documentary, producer
Jerry Weintraub (of
Karate Kid and
Ocean’s Eleven fame), told
Politico, “He was more prepared for the presidency than any other man who has
ever prepared for that office, and I think history is showing that.”

Last year,
President Obama awarded 41 the nation’s
highest civilian award, the Medal of
Freedom
,

saying, “His life is a testament that public service is a noble
calling.” Obama
added,

“His humility and his decency reflects the very best of the
American spirit. This is a gentleman.”

Former
Newsweek editor turned book publisher
Jon Meacham is now at work on what will likely
be the definitive biography of
41
,
since the elder Bush never published a memoir of his own.

Meacham’s phrase for the Bush renaissance? “Poppy chic.”

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