Tags: George W. Bush | Bush41 | Baker | Gates | Kuwait | Germany | Reagan

Bush 41 Reunion Looks to Polish Former President's Legacy

By Courtney Coren   |  

Former President George Bush will participate in a reunion that looks to polish the legacy of the first Bush administration.

More than 800 people are expected to attend the event, marking the Bush administration's 25th anniversary, at Bush's library at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The gathering will include supporters, allies, aides and even some former political opponents to discuss the impact of 41st president's 1989-1993 term, The New York Times reported.

"Twenty-five years later, history is beginning to recognize that George Bush was the best one-term president in American history," James Baker, who served under Bush as secretary of state, told the Times.

Bush, 89, suffers from a form of Parkinson's disease. His four years in office coincided with significant events in American history. Bush oversaw the end of the Cold War, helped reunite Germany, reauthorized the Civil Rights Act, signed the Americans with Disabilities Act and removed Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

Robert Gates, who worked as CIA director under the 41st president and secretary of defense under former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, said that the older Bush is "beginning to get the credit for the way he managed" the end of the Soviet Union, especially considering that "there is no precedent for the collapse of a great empire without a war."

However, Bush failed to be re-elected after breaking his promise not to raise taxes and was seen as wavering in the face of a struggling economy.

Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, who helped work on the Americans with Disabilities Act and is scheduled to participate in a panel at the event, said that he thinks Bush should get deserves more notoriety than Ronald Reagan, Bush's predecessor, who is often touted as the iconic conservative president.

"I know they're building statues of Ronald Reagan at airports," Harkin said. "But in terms of their lives and their life's work, to me, Bush 41 is much more integral to the development of American government and the process of democracy."

Former Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin is another Democrat who praised the former Republican president.

"If there's a single word that you can use to describe Bush's approach to politics, it's governance," Obey told the Times. "It was a where the adults ran the show."

However, others point to his failure to win re-election. He lost in 1992 to Bill Clinton.

"You never hear anyone point to Bush 41," said Matt Kibbe, president of a tea party group, FreedomWorks. "By definition, a one-term president is a failed president. The American people rejected his economic policies."

Anti-tax guru Grover Norquist called his tax plan a "disaster," but said that Bush was a "brilliant president" on foreign policy. But he lamented that in the end "he threw away the presidency."

Jon Meacham is working on a biography on the 41st president titled "The Last Gentleman," and said that the current divisive political climate makes someone like Bush who governed with grace and manners seem "more attractive."

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