Finding Words to Express a Lack of Feelings on the Passing of President George H.W. Bush

I ask myself why I am not feeling grief, pain, or even emotion at the passing of President George H.W. Bush.

I know the answer, but it is hard for me to put my feelings into words I want to publish. In my entire life, I have followed a credo that I will not speak negatively about the deceased at the time of their passing. I anticipate that I will break that credo only once in my life, when Obama someday moves on to his just-and-deserved next phase in a world where oceans do not rise. But otherwise I will not be among those who lack the basic rudimentary decency to hold their peace when a person dies.

And yet I struggle to find some words, to give voice for others who feel as I do, as every television station preempts its regular nonsensical offerings to televise the proceedings of state in the nation’s capital as we pay homage to the memory of our 41stPresident. Here is my best effort:

I do believe that Bush 41 was a man of personal decency and class. I wish to G-d that President Trump, whose policies I so strongly support, somehow could bear some of that comportment. I believe, too, that George H.W. Bush was one of the bravest, most courageous of unsung heroes, a war hero who repeatedly risked his life for a greater cause, the cause of America and freedom. How fitting that long before we all became cognizant of the media’s indulgence in “Fake News” and lying to the American people to push their liberal Democrat agenda, it was that media that described this man as a “wimp”! Newsweek ran a cover story on him: “The Wimp Factor.” This man was a war hero, and the wimps who wrote about him would have released their urine in their pants if they had confronted even one-tenth the danger that this man of courage and bravery faced and over which he triumphed gallantly. But I can never forgive him for two things: one microcosmic and one macrocosmic.

The Microcosmic: James A. Baker III and the Hate

Microcosmic — he had James A. Baker III as his Secretary of State. Baker was the worst public anti-Semite in high government office since the time of World War II. I can forgive Baker for hating Jews because that is his DNA. I cannot expect someone to overcome his DNA. But I cannot forgive Bush for allowing Baker to run roughshod over Israel and for his despicable quoted closed-door comments about Jews.

In the late 1990s, I decided to move from the highly regarded national law firm where I was practicing law to a new firm, and I had a law recruiter lining up interviews for me. I actually was in somewhat high demand. All the interviews were with similarly regarded national firms. The process typically entails six or so hours of interviews, all day long, with six to eight attorneys, one after another. At one law firm the day was going exceptionally well until a late-afternoon interview with a gentleman who had a photograph of James Baker on the wall. I entered his office. He offered me a seat.

I do not talk politics at work. I definitely never ever talk religion at work as an attorney. (I have been known occasionally to discuss religion in my other career, as a synagogue rabbi.) I wear a yarmulka.

The guy interviewing me immediately did the politically incorrect and said, “I see you are wearing a yarmulka. What are your thoughts about Israel and the West Bank?”

I could not believe the question. People just do not ask that. And certainly not during an interview to practice complex civil litigation at a major national law firm. I delicately responded with a soft joke, trying to change the subject. However, like a rabid dog, this fellow would not leave it alone: “What are your thoughts about Israel and the West Bank?”

I softly asked him why he wanted to go that route in the interview instead of discussing my litigation skills and experience. He explained that he had worked as a top aide to Secretary of State Baker, and he then proceeded to lambaste Israel, its political leaders, and said something quite inappropriate about Jews. It was surreal. He made his point pretty clearly: If I am strongly supportive of Israel, there will not be room for me at that law firm.

I got the point and quickly grasped that this interview was going nowhere. So I smiled gently, and I replied: “Well, I guess I will not be working here. I love America deeply and passionately, and yes I also have a deep affection for Israel, just as Italian-Americans have a special place in their hearts for Italy, just as Irish-Americans relate warmly to the Old Sod. In terms of my political views on the Middle East, I believe that Israel should annex the West Bank and extend sovereignty over all of it. I do not even call it ‘West Bank’ but ‘Judea’ and ‘Samaria.’ In fact, I was part of a group of 35 young families ten years ago, before I went to law school, who pioneered creating a new Jewish community in Samaria, what you and Mr. Baker would call a ‘West Bank Jewish settlement.’ I later came back to America and went to law school. But that Samaria Jewish community is one of the proudest achievements of my life, and I will tell you that Israel never will leave that land. There now are thousands of Jews living there. And you can tell that to James Baker, too.”

He got from me what he wanted. But he had one more question: “And what is your opinion of James Baker as a person?”

I responded: “You mean the guy who said ‘F- – – the Jews’? Well, he is entitled to his opinion. You now have asked me my opinion. I regard James Baker to be a bastard. And I regard people who admiringly worked for him not only to be bastards but also to be lowlifes. Any more questions?” End of interview. I went to work somewhere else — same salary, same benefits. All the major law firms pay the same.

George H.W. Bush should have removed Baker, as other Presidents remove cabinet officers who do not represent Administration values. However, Baker accurately reflected Bush Administration values. By contrast, Ronald Reagan’s Secretaries of State had been Gen. Alexander Haig and George P. Shultz, each fantastic.

 

The Macrocosmic: Destroying the Reagan Revolution and Institutionalizing the Era of the RINO

On the bigger macrocosmic plane, I identify George H.W. Bush as the man who destroyed the Reagan Revolution. No Democrat could have done that. Only a Republican successor to Reagan. Bush never believed in Reagan’s economic principles and in the economic miracle that Reagan wrought. He mocked Reaganomics as “voodoo economics.” When he took over after Reagan was termed-out, he reversed the great economic miracle of the post-Carter age, and he sent the economy into a downspin that cost him the White House. He promised “No New Taxes” and then imposed new taxes. He brought in the RINOs who transformed the Reagan conservative revolution and left the GOP vision of conservatism stymied for the next quarter century. Symbolic of his vision thing, he named David Souter to the United States Supreme Court. That was not prudent.

Theodore Roosevelt had been a transformative President. TR chose not to seek reelection, and he promoted the candidacy of his protégé, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt came to believe that Taft had become too conservative, so TR formed the Bull Moose Party to oppose Taft. With the 51% Republican vote split between the two, Woodrow Wilson was elected with 41% of the vote. The next transformative President, Franklin Roosevelt, died in office and was succeeded by Harry Truman who carried out FDR’s program. And then came the next transformative President, Ronald Reagan. Reagan did not die in office. He did not choose to bypass reelection; rather, he was termed out. But he was so popular that his coattails carried his Vice President, George H.W. Bush, into the White House. Bush had Reagan to thank for making it in, and he inherited a fabulous prepared table. As history confirms, Reagan had driven the Soviets into terminal decline, with collapse of the USSR around the corner. America was strong and at peace. The Iranian hostages were at home, safe and sound. The economy was humming. A new morning had dawned in America. All Bush had to do was be prudent and stay the Reagan conservative course — and also secure the southern border. Instead, he went full-steam RINO, promised a “kinder, gentler” approach than Reagan’s kind and gentle approach, introduced new taxes that he promised never to launch, tanked the economy, and fatally terminated the Reagan revolution.

Today the liberal-left media honor his memory. From CNN to MSNBC to NBC and ABC, they all mourn and miss him. I can understand why. May G-d rest his soul.

 

Dov Fischer
Dov Fischer
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Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., a high-stakes litigation attorney of more than twenty-five years and an adjunct professor of law of more than fifteen years, is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California. His legal career has included serving as Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerking for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and then litigating at three of America’s most prominent law firms: JonesDay, Akin Gump, and Baker & Hostetler. Through the years, he has practiced both in the United States federal courts and in the state courts on a broad range of case matters, gaining expertise in virtually every subject area of complex civil litigation including labor and employment law, securities litigation, federal government contracts litigation, bankruptcy law, ERISA law, Hague Service Convention and Hague Evidence Convention practice, professional malpractice law, entertainment litigation, federal and state fair-credit-reporting requirements, the filed-rate doctrine as it affects carriers on land and rails, insurance bad faith, cybersquatting, commercial lessors’ rights, international contracts, fair-housing litigation, the law of computer role-playing games, federal and state antitrust matters, director and officer liability, defamation and false-light litigation, unfair-business-practices law, and the fuller gamut of advanced torts and classic breach-of-contract case matters. He also has practiced appellate law successfully, authoring the winning brief in Bierbower v. FHP, Inc., 70 Cal. App. 4th 1, 82 Cal. Rptr. 2d 393 (1999). His UCLA Law Review analysis of director-and-officer liability issues in depository institutions has been cited in a broad range of federal district court and appellate circuit opinions. Among his major complex litigation representations, Rabbi Fischer represented Philip Morris during the California tobacco litigation, overseeing their massive document production effort; and the accounting firm of KPMG Peat Marwick during the Orange County bankruptcy litigation. In addition to representing such other major corporate clients as Samsung, Hughes Aircraft, Experian, KPMG Peat Marwick, Albertson’s Stores, Embassy Suites, Spencer Gifts, Cardinal Health, BOC Gases, IHI Danmark, Wet Seal, Bioware (“Baldur’s Gate”), and Occidental Petroleum, Rabbi Fischer also has devoted substantial pro bono efforts unique to his background, working to prevent unwarranted autopsies, inducing recalcitrant spouses to grant Gett-based Jewish divorces, representing communal rabbinic leaders sued for advocating unpopular but courageous positions, and participating in representing the successful plaintiffs’ class in the nationwide class-action lawsuit brought against European insurance companies by surviving families of Holocaust victims. He also disappointed his then-young son when he successfully represented a client named Stan Lee in a cybersquatting defense against an eponymous plaintiff whose colorful literary output his son admired. In his rabbinical career, Rabbi Fischer has served three terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, is Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, has been Vice President of Zionist Organization of America, and has served on boards of Jewish Federations in New Jersey and in Los Angeles, on boards of the American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith Hillel, and several others. Earlier in his career, he was national director of American Friends of Likud / Herut Zionists of America, and he participated with 35 other once-young families in founding, building, and living a year in a then-new American community in Ginot Shomron, Israel (referred to by Israel’s opponents as a “West Bank settlement”). His writings on contemporary political issues have been appearing nationally for forty years, dating back to his undergraduate years at Columbia University, where he amazingly was elected to represent the college student body in the University Senate. Those writings have appeared over the years in publications including but not limited to the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Jerusalem Post, National Review, American Greatness, American Thinker, The Weekly Standard, Frontpage Magazine, American Thinker, Jewish World Review, Israel National News / Arutz Sheva, and in other Jewish newsmedia in American and in Israel. He also is the author of two books, including General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine, which covered the Israeli General’s 1980s landmark libel suit. Among his proudest honors, Brooklyn-born Rabbi Fischer has been named an “Honorary Kentucky Colonel” by four different Governors of that Commonwealth recognizing his service to and passionate love of that state, has been honored by law students for faculty recognition, has received national awards and recognition for his academic and scholarly writings, and is a winner of an American Jurisprudence Award in Professional Legal Ethics.
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