tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS December 1, 2018 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, december 1: remembering number 41, president george herbert walker bush. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by:d bernd irene schwartz.r sue and edchenheim iii. seton melvin. the cheryl and philip milstein family. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. vagelos. the j.p.b. foundation. rosand p. walter. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate nding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company.ti adal support has been provided by:
and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in w york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening, and thanks for joining us. george h.w. bush, the 41st president of the united states, has died at the age of 94 at his home in houston. mr. bush died last night less than eight months after his wife of 73 years, barbara bush, passed away. >> i, george herbert walker bush, do solemnly swear. >> i, george herbert walker bush, do solemnly swear. >> that i will faithfully execute the office of president of the united states. >> that i will faithfully execute the office of president of the united states. >> sreenivasan: george herbert walker bush became president in 1989. his inaugural address included the words "kinder" and
"gentler," words thad become part of his legacy and tat he also used in his acceptance speech republican convention in 1988. >> i want a kinder and gentler nation. >> sreenivasan: mr. bush was 1 born on ju 1924, in milton, massachusetts. the son of a wealthy family, he grew up in greenwich, connecticut, and spent summers at the family's oceanfront home in kennebunkport, maine., his fatherprescott bush, was an investment banker who also served as a republr an u.s. senaom connecticut for ten years. after graduating from boarding school, mr. bush enaisted in the vy and became one of the youngest aviators in naval history at age 18. he flew 58 combat missions and was shot down in the pacific in 1944 but rarely talked about his mitary career. returning home, he married crbara pierce, who he first met as a teenager atistmas dance. footsteps, he attended yale university, graduating phi beta kappa in just two and half years.
but instead of continuing to follow his f street, in 1948, bush and his family headed for texas. there, he eventually formed an oil exploration company and quickly made his first millions. from there, gege h.w. bush embarked upon a political career spanning more than 30 years from a two-term texas congressman to u.n. ambassador under richard nixon. under president gerald ford, he became liaison to china and en director of the c.i.a. his quest for the presidency led to his serving eight years as vice president under ronald reagan, and finally to the highest office in the land in 1989. but before winning the presidency, mr. bush made a ise he would later come regret. >> my opponent will le out raising taxes, but i will. and the congress will push me to raise taxes, and i'll say, "no." and they'll push, and i'll say "no."th an'll push again, and i'll say to them, "read my lips, no new taxes."
( cheers and applause ) >> sreenivasan: in office, president bush sent troops to the persian guen war in 1991 raq invaded kuwait. >> seven months ago, america and the world drew a line in the sand. we declared that the aggression against kuwait would not stand, and, tonight, america and the world have kept thr word. >> sreenivasan: he's credited with bringing the cold war to a peaceful end after the fall of the berlin wall, and sigd the americans with disabilities and clean air acts into law. but in 1992, when he ran for re- election, the economy was failing and the new budget bill forced a compromise which included a tax increase. democrats seized on the broken promise, and it helped bill clinton become president. in the years after his presidency, george h.w. bush continued his life of ic service. fohe toured asia with his er political rival, bill clinton, to raise funds for victims of t the 2004 tsunare. in 2006, he did the same for
victims of hurricane katrina. and he lived an active and athletic life, celebrating his 80th and 90th birthdays by skydiving. he offered this advice for his fellow senior citizens: >> get out and do something. if you don't want to do a parachute jump, do something else. don't just sit around watchingtv , talking to it. get out there and realize at 80 years old you've still got a life. >> sreenivasan: president trump took to twitter today, writing: "president george h.w. bush led , successful and beautif life. whenever i was with him, i saw his absolute joy f life and true pride in his family." other former presidents expressed their condolces today. president obama wrote, "george h.w. bh's life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. and he did tremendous good along the journey." n esident clinton said, "few americans have b will ever be able to match president bush's record of service to then ed states and the joy he took every day from it." president jimmy carter wrote
at president bush "espoused a uniquely american volunteerit spfostering bipartisan support for citizen service and inspirin community volunteerism as a cherished responsibility." and in a statement, his son, george w. bush, who was the 43rd president, said, "george h.w. bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for." >> sreenivasan: the presidency of george h.w. bush and his career in public service covers decades of american history. joining us now to put his presidency into perspective presidential historian michael beschloss, who has written nine books on the presidency. he's also a contributor to pbs newshour and joins me now from washington, d.c. michael, a one-term president is somethinnthe modern generat of americans haven't seen in the last 20 years. what's his legacy going toe in the time he spent in office? >> well, you know, somimes people think that a one-term presidency means you haven't been a gren president--, yhe was not re-elected.
but he was not re-electe some extent because he did things that are really important, such as presided over the end of the co.ld war george bush made a relationship with the sovieteader, mikhail gorbachev, that madgorbachev comfortable enough to open the berlin world, andny let ger unify within nato. and result, when bush ran for president in 1992 for re-election, he couldn't make the argument that you americans really nd my foreign policy skills, because they felt we're in the wake of a cold war it's better to get someone whose obsession is with thec- domes which described bill clinton-- who won. >> sreenivasan: he said latere that regrets that famous line, "read my lips, no new taxes," because so much of the emphasis was on the quo o instead the status of the economy. and the idea that there was a haesident willing to make a compromise becausewas what was good seems almost antiquated
s,now. >> it dond especially a compromise that was very harmful to him politically because the democrats got the compromise out of him, and then they said,om "bush iseone who breaks his promises." and what's more, bill clinton in 1992 made the argument, the countris inecession. it's spinning out of control. in retrospect, we now know at the time of the '92 election, george bsh was presiding over an economy that was getting better, but what he didn't hae was communication skills. he wasn't tiebl make that plain to americans. >> sreenivasan: we'veo talked a bit about this after the passing of mccain, but he se gs a differeneration of the republican party that had room for such-- i would say a moderate voice-- as his. >> right, he was a modern-- moderate new england republican. those things are all an oxymoron how many republicans do we have in national office from new england these days? virtually none. and the other thing is that this ras someone who was known fo reaching across the aisle, known
for not talking in over-done ways about himself, not getting into brawls with people. all those things seem very antique in 2018. rhaps you and i will e a day, hari, when those things are in faion once in. >> sreenivasan: do you think that the willy horton ad against michael dukakis ushered in a new era. now, while that is still a bad ad, when you look tat now,t seems tame compared to what kind of ads are on the air every twao >> it seems tame now, but that was something that hinted at racial animosity. it was certain no means george bush's best moment. in later years, heot proud of it. best he could say was, "i make a differentation between campaigning and governing." in retrospect, he nev have allowed the ad. actually, the willy horton ad was an inependent ad, but there was an official ad that hinted at some of the same things.
they should not have done that. >> sreenivasan, you know, we talk about the fact that there have only been twoamilies that had a father and son as president. but it's hard to uderstate enormous impact one family has had on american politics, going from george h.w george h.w. busd all the wan to his son and perhaps his grandkids. >> that's right. over 30 years, you had bushes at the center of presidential politics. and hari, maybe not only that period of time of i talked to a french 578d whose father had the same job, and prescott bush, troduc bush's father, in him to the ambassador and said, "this is my son, george. he's going to be president some day." >> sreenivasan: all right, michael beschloss, joining us from washi so much.., thank you >> thank you so much. >> sreenivasan: barbara perry is director of presidential studies at the millecenter at the university of virginia and joins me now from charlottesville. you have conducts dozens of inrviews about then. you've written a book on the
subject. what did you learn about george h.w. bush? >> i learned that he is a great patriot, certainly one of the best-prepared presidents weae ever had,e to the white house with the golden resume. but a man of character that went all the way back to his childhood and the way his pareys taught him, particula his mother, not to be boastful. he once came home from a childhood baseball game and said, "i scored a home ru." and she said, "but how did the team do?" so it was alwtiays put himself at the head in terms of leadership, but not in drawing atnntion to himself iny kind of braggadocio way. and that peran of chracter, that person with the golden resume whoose to the highest office in the land was also a maof faith, a man who put family first, and the last of our greatest generation, the last of the world war ii veterans to serve in the white house. and that generation is passing
e.from the sc we miss their leadership. we miss them as our parents and grandparents. >> sreenivasan: did the president's views on his time in ohe oval office change over time the further he from the presidency? >> i think george bush'views on his own presidency matured after he left ofe in the sense that he looked back-- with no regrets, as h said very openly-- but he said that on occasion, perhaps he should hae been more open in his feelings. that was the case about the cold wai even some ofown people said, "why don't gutoerl," when the berlin wall fell. he said, "no, i'm not goi to dance on the ruins of the berlin wall." again, back toshe lesons of childhood. i'm not going to draw attention to myself. another examplltis how he dea with the recession, which really was the end point of his presidency. it brought down his presidency and made him a one-term president. the great debate wibit
clinton and ross perot and a woman stood up and said how doe the recession affect you, george bush gave an analytical answer, and bill clinton walked out inta the audiencd said, "i know exactly how it affects people. i'm a governor of a sll state and i know my people." >> sreenivasan: miss perry, many americans, st in the last 20 years, know of almost a post-partisan man, a man whoth befriendede adversary who defeated him for the white house. that hea famous lett left at the oval office desk in the last line is, "your success now is our country's success. i am rooting hard for you." that's almost unimanable i this day. >> you're so right, hari. and it's something that we-- we miss, and they fear george h.w. bush has taken with him. and that is, as he said oftentimes after his very bitfer -- it was a crushing defeat for him to be just a
one-- one-term president and to be defeated by a baby boomer, of l clinton., b but he said in later years, you don't ve to be enemies to be on opposite sides of an issue or even in opptiosing pa. you don't have to be mean spirited, and you don't have toe nemies. he was willing to compromise during his presidency. in fact, one of thereatest compromises, the 1990 budget deal that did with the democrats in congress, probably cost him the presidency, alongsi with the rec. so even in his efforts to compromise on the budget, on thn clir act amendments, for example, on the americans with disabilities act, people at the time didn't think that was a good thing. but certainly now we look back and we pine for it, and we' nostalgic for tand we view, i think, rightly so, the george h.w. bush presidency as a golden era. >> sreenivasan: finally, we spoke a little bit about this after the passing of barbara bush, but from what you've
eearned, what was th relationship like? how important was she in all of this? m>> as with ny first ladies-- and i've studied many of them-- barbara bush was a traditional wife and spouse and first lady in that she was theh woman ind the great man. and i did have a chance to meet her briefly fall a year ago at the bush library, and i went upn to her ad spoke to her. and i said, "thank you for your service to our country, because i think first ladies serve the nation, just as much as their husbands. and in typical barbara bush fashion with her steely gray eyes she looked right at me and bore a hole through me and said, "baloney." she was that strong person behind george bush and they were a great teaai one wonders if we will see that from generations other than the greatest generation. >> sreenivasan: barbara perry is the director of president studies at the miller center at the ugh. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you, hari.
>> sreenivasan: for more tributes to 41 from former secretary of state madeleine albright to talk show host ellen degeneres and the dalai lama,vi t our web site at www.pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: esident trump cancelled a scheduled press conference at the g20 summit in buenos aires, argentina, today, citing the death of former president george h.w. bush. in the tweet, he said out of respec would "wait until after the funeral to have a press conference." the summ wrapped up with world leaders agreeing on some trade issues but not unanimously on a hoin of other issues, includ climate change. f newshoeign affairs and defense correspondent nick schifrin joins us now fromen aires. nick, usually there are these communiqueses about what the entire conference does agree on inspect this case, there were a lot of things that we didn'tag e on. so how do we get over that impasse, and what's on the piece of paper? chifrin: yeah, three or four main disagreements, you mentioned one of them-- climat change. basically there is a g20 and a g19. the 9 is the reference to the 19 countries that are either in the paris climate accord or support the paris climate accord and the united states.
and this communique got over that difference byust acknowledging the u.s. is not going to support paris climate accord and that is language, hari, we've seen in the past as well. on migration. this was a real ree, according to multiple diplomats s.have spoken to from the u. side. the u.s. sherp aas he is known, the diplod t who negotiais deal basically said he cannot have have an in-depth discussion of migration, a global migration crise requiring a globa migration response because he didn't want the president to read that and get angry so te language everyone decided on is very basic. all it says is the g20 will study migration into the future. anrthe other was on tade and steel. on steel, they didn't accomplish very much, fraaily. they asaid they would study the issue. on trade, this was the most di. icult. the u.jected to any kind of the words of the use "protectionism." china was pushing for free trade. the compromise was this, "an
recognit the contribution of multilateral trading." that doesn't sound like much, but that to days, according to diplomats, to get just that one sentence. and that meant they could get to this sentence, "the system is faing short of the objectives," meaning the multilateral trading system is falling short of the objectives. >> sreenivasan: nick, w you and i are talking right now, it's about the same time that the president is starting to have a conversation, hopefully, with president xi of china. what are we expecting about that conversation? >> so we are taping as that conversation begins. and both sides are indicating at they want to make a deal. we heard robert lighthiser, the trade representative who has been a real reel hawk on china yesterday say he would be very surprised if the dinner was not a success. i spoke to a chinese official a few minutes oky who sid, i hope and believe this meeting will play a positive role for a bilateral relationship."
look, a lot of the officials are calling this the new cold watwr n the u.s. and china. that is not going to end tonight over. what you could see, hari if what is being indicated by both sides is true, is a kind of cease-fire. what does that look like? t e u.s. suspends tariffs that are supposed to st january 1, and china begins to buy products that is itt sopped buying, things like soybeans and energy products. and the larger problems, everything, asun, from intellectual property to chine's military expansion, those issues will simply have to wait for >>another day. reenivasan: finally, nick, what is the news of the death or h.w. bush? how is that being received here? because many of these countries-- obviously, these countries have long relationships with the united states. some of the leadership might still remember him. >> schifrin: glik yeah. a lot of the leaders, actually, not only still remember him. those who have been around to remeer him, but also newer leader positive so he heard
emmanuel macron of france, who is in his early 40s, who i don't believe ever worked with george h.w. bush, he said he went up president trump and said, "we're sorry for your loss condole and you heard the chancellor of germany, call george h.w. bush one of the fathers ofat unifn in his role at the end of the cold war in unifying germany. just as we're seeing in washington, here in buenos aires, from all of the leaders who represent 80% of the world'. p., an outpouring of >>esidency conveyed to president trump. sreenivasan: newshour foreign affairs and defense correspondent nick schifrin joining us from buenos airesgh to thanks very much. >> thanks very much. >> sreenivasan: mexico swore in a new president today, who has promised to launch a "radical transformation" of his country.e andres mlopez obrador not only won the presidency, but his party took the majority in both houses of congress while also
gaining control of numerous state legislatures. the leftist obrador has promises to incbenefits to the poor, young and elderly, and has vowed to fight corruption. m vice presidee pence and ivanka trump were part of a large u.s. delegation at today's inauguration. protesters in france known as the "yellow vests" clashed with police todayor a third straight weekend. demonstrators angry over rising taxes and thcountry's high cost of living lit fires and threw rocks at police, who used water cannons, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse them. for more than two week yellow vests" have protested throughout france against the administration of president emmanuel macron. two people have been killed and hundreds injured since the protests began over rising fuel taxes. more than 190 smaller tremors have struck parts of alaska since yesterday's 7.0 earthquake. there has been no new damage reported, but infrastructure, including roads and bridges, fre severely damaged.
the earthquake wast up to 400 miles from its epicenter just north of anchorage.ju a number of es were reported, none fatal. >> sreenivasan: finally tonight, when president george h.w. bushy diterday at his home in houston, he was surrounded by friends and family. his son, former president george w. bush, called in the evening and told his father he had been a "wonderful dad" and that he loved him." i love you, too," mr. bush said. those were his final words. mr. bush will lie in state in the capitol rotunda from monday through wednesday. a state funeral is being planned at washington d.c.'s national cathedral, and president trump has declared wednesday, december 5, a national day of mourning. we'll have more about the life and legacy of the nation's 41st president tomorrow. that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. have a good night.
captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. sue and edgar wachenheim iii. seton melvin. the cheryl and philip milstein family. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. vagelos. f the j.p.ndation. rosalind p. walter. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement cpany. ditional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for
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