Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What did he know that his sons did not?

When Oliver Wendell Holmes talked about Roosevelt's first class temperament, he never explained why that was important.

It didn’t explain how, for a future President presiding over victory in two wars in just one term, without braggadocio, might matter,
or respecting those with disabilities and allowing it to become a civil rights issues mattered, or how respecting manners in the conduct of both public and private affairs might shape the destiny of a great nation.

Yet it is precisely that temperament, that George Herbert Walker Bush brought to the Presidency. Imagine any of today’s candidates exercising similar temperament, or restraint or manners. It would be a little like looking for the cool of Sinatra or Jesse Owens, in today’s music or sports celebrities.

All of this just might be an amusing dinner table conversation about days and behaviors gone by, if Jon Meacham, in his new biography show us so profoundly how these qualities matter in the conduct and outcome of public and international diplomacy Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.

My conversation with Jon Meacham: