This weekend we received the sad but expected news of the passing of former President George Herbert Walker Bush at the age of 94.
Bush's body was flown to Washington, D.C., today aboard Air Force One. The former president will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda this evening through Wednesday morning, when a formal state funeral will be held at the National Cathedral. President Trump has declared Wednesday, December 5th, as a national day of mourning.
Over the years, I got to know the former president fairly well. Carol and I met at the Republican National Committee during the tumultuous Nixon years. At that time, Bush served as chairman of the RNC. He would later go on to serve as ambassador to China and director of the CIA.
In 1980, George Bush and Ronald Reagan fought a bitter battle for the Republican presidential nomination. Reagan, of course, prevailed in that contest.
Going into the Republican National Convention that year, the party establishment, which despised Reagan almost as much as it despises Trump, tried to create a co-presidency by attempting to force Reagan to accept Gerald Ford as a his vice president. To prevent this, Reagan announced that George Bush would be his running mate.
Loyal Reagan followers were not very excited about the announcement, but it helped to unite the party. The Reagan/Bush team defeated Jimmy Carter in November, and was reelected in one of the biggest landslides in American history in 1984.
During the eight years I worked in the Reagan/Bush Administration, I had many opportunities to interact with then-Vice President Bush. He and President Reagan got along well. George H.W. Bush wisely never allowed any daylight between him and the president. But the Reagan/Bush White House was divided between the Reagan and Bush camps. It was a tension that existed throughout the entire administration.
On Mondays, the senior staff would have lunch with the president and vice president. It was clear they had a close relationship, and Reagan occasionally played jokes on Bush, much to the delight of the senior staff.
In 1988, as the Reagan presidency was ending, George H.W. Bush openly ran as Ronald Reagan's third term. He was successful because he convinced voters that he would not be an establishment president, but a Reagan Republican president.
Unfortunately, his presidency was marred by the reversal of the most famous promise he made during his nomination acceptance speech -- "Read my lips, no new taxes." That, coupled with a strong third party challenge by Ross Perot, gave us eight years of Bill Clinton.
While I have always identified with the Reagan brand of conservatism, I have always admired George H.W. Bush for his patriotism and commitment to public service. One of President Bush's great and lasting legacies is the appointment of my good friend Justice Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court.
By the way, some in the media couldn't wait to exploit Bush's death in order to attack Trump by reminding viewers about some of the things Trump has said about Bush Republicanism.
Of course, they completely ignore the fact that there will be many leading Democrats at the president's funeral. Every one of them lambasted Bush 41 and 43 with language way beyond anything Trump ever said.
Trump Trade Truce
At last weekend's G-20 meeting in Argentina, President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a short-term truce in the ongoing trade war between our two nations. Trump and Xi agreed to suspend further tariff increases for 90 days as they try to reach agreements on some major issues.
As part of the deal, China reportedly agreed to buy more U.S. goods and lower tariffs on U.S. cars, which currently stand at 40%. (I don't know whether to laugh or cry when commentators say the auto industry is hurt by "Trump's tariffs." The auto industry is hurt by China's tariffs!)
China also agreed to crack down on the export of fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid, by labeling it as a "controlled substance." The vast majority of this poison, which is wreaking havoc across America, is coming into the country from China.
While these promises are encouraging, we will have to wait and see what is ultimately agreed to in 90 days. The biggest problem remains China's policy of stealing our intellectual property as part of its plan to overtake the United States as the world's superpower.
President Trump has aggressively called the Chinese out for it. And it would be really helpful in strengthening Trump's negotiating hand if the Nervous Nellies on Wall Street would support him. Unfortunately, it seems that many corporate elites are more offended by "America First" than they are by China ripping us off.
The Supreme Court today turned back a challenge by three left-wing environmental groups seeking to halt construction of President Trump's border wall.
The Center for Biological Diversity, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Defenders of Wildlife sued the administration, claiming that the wall threatened the habits of various species and that the president's executive waivers authorizing the wall's construction violated his authority.
A federal judge ruled against the groups in February, but they pushed their appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court. If the court had accepted their case, legal proceedings could have stalled construction on the border wall for months.
This is a big victory for the president. Now all he needs is for Congress to find the will to fund the wall!
In other news, Mexico's new left-wing president seems to understand it is not good to be at logger heads with the U.S.
Within hours of his inauguration, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador signed a deal with the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that aims to "stem the flow of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S." Mexican health officials also shut down a center in Tijuana where thousands of migrants had been staying and relocated them further away from the border.
France In Flames
Demonstrations across France this weekend turned violent as protestors set fire to cars, tires and some local government buildings. More than 130 people were wounded and more than 400 were arrested.
The riots, considered among the worst France has seen in decades, stem from plans by President Emmanuel Macron to further increase taxes in France. The French already pay high taxes to subsidize their socialist welfare state.
But Macron, a true believer in the "global warming agenda," is proposing to tax gasoline even more. Apparently, the French aren't too keen on paying more than $7 a gallon for gas.
It wasn't that long ago when Macron was lecturing President Trump about patriotism. Now his government is attempting to negotiate with the rioters who have taken over the streets of Paris, as his approval rating collapses to 26%. I'm not sure Macron is in a position to lecture Trump on anything.