Reflections on President Bush: From Jean Becker

Jessica Cuevas

On June 3, 2021, the LEAP ambassadors joined in virtually from their hometowns to watch President’s George H. W. Bush Chief of Staff, Jean Becker, discuss “the man she knew.” During the Pandemic, Jean Becker wrote the book, The Man I Knew, focusing on the post-presidency and personal life of former President Bush, who she believes “lived a bigger than life, life.”

Max Angerholzer, CEO of the George & Barbara Bush Foundation, had the honor to interview Jean Becker about her book and ask questions that both he and the public would want to know. During this event, a reoccurring theme that Becker was how President Bush left us all a “blueprint” on how to live our lives, including his iron-clad rule that “a successful life must include serving others.” She mentions that her book is meant to be inspirational, and it is symbolic to how she would want to live her life as well.

Becker discussed a few of the stories she in her book, one of those being how the special friendship between Former Presidents Clinton and Bush came to be. She recounts how President George W. Bush called upon his father, G. W. H. Bush and President Clinton to raise money and support for Asia following the Boxing-Day Tsunami. Not only was this trip successful in terms of fundraising, but also in forming a friendship. Becker notes that the former Presidents returned to the US “best of friends,” and even quoted Barbara Bush as observing that Bill Clinton “found the father he never had.”

This friendship is a prime example of “putting country before party” or making personal sacrifices. One minor example of the latter, according to Becker, was exemplified by a photo of President Bush and the five-year old son of a Secret Service agent. This young person was suffering from Leukemia, and had lost his hair from chemotherapy. As a sign of solidarity, President Bush shaved his head, too.

The biggest takeaway from this event is that former President George H.W. Bush was big on family, friends, and relationships. Most who knew him said he was a kind man, a man of action, and someone to who they were thankful for his service. Including but not limited to President Obama, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and James Baker, former Secretary of State, President Bush’s best friend.

I found out that he is buried at Texas A&M College Station and that he was transported in the Union Pacific Train 4141, which is exhibited in their library, neither of which I knew!

As Max Angerholzer and Jean Becker prepared to close this event, Becker read to us 10 life lessons that President Bush left us with. The three that most stood out to me were to (1) always give others credit when things go well for you; (2) to learn from friends and mentors, (3) and to always be kind to people and thank those who helped you along your path.

This event ended with an exclusive video composed of clips of Former President Bush and First Lady Bush’s life, altogether it was a great insight to their behind-the-scenes life, legacy, and a learning experience for those of us who were not present during our 41st president’s presidency.

My favorite quote being from a call President H.W. Bush received and said, “I’m not THE president, A president, I’m number 41.”

On behalf of the LEAP Center, we would like to thank the George and Barbara Bush Foundation and Jean Becker for presenting us with the opportunity to attend this event.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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