Sunday, July 11, 2010
The Kids and the Future President of the United States
Some years ago, when George W Bush was Governor of Texas, we lived in a neighborhood in Midland near Laura's family. It is an ordinary middle-class neighborhood, a few blocks from where the elder Bush's lived when George was a child. When George and Laura came to visit their family, he sometimes took walks, alone, around the quiet streets. Back then, he didn't need the Secret Service to shadow him.
Ethan came home one day very excited. He and his friends had met the Governor during one of these walks. With the gregariousness of youth, they had introduced themselves to him and asked him to wait while one ran home to get a camera. Mr. Bush agreed, and chatted with the boys. They treated him to a lively discussion about their bikes, their pets, school, sports. Nick drove past while they waited and Ethan pointed him out. Mr Bush said "Your brother has a cool car!" Eventually, the photo was taken and they waved goodbye.
It was only later that evening that the boy with the camera discovered there wasn't any film in it (yes, digital cameras are that recent). They had no photo of them with the Governor. They were disappointed as only 12 year old boys can be.
Fast forward to a year later. Fate twinkled. Once again, Mr Bush, still Governor, was walking in the neighborhood. Once again the same group of boys encountered him. Without hesitation, they hailed him down again, explained the previous lack of film and asked him to wait once more while they obtained a camera (being sure to check for film).
Mr. Bush again waited, friendly and patient, and finally the boys got their photo.
No one could have blamed the man if he had just wanted some peace and quiet on his walk. No one would have faulted him if he'd politely said he "needed to get back" and couldn't spare the time to hang out with an excited and unruly bunch of boys.
Life has taught me that how people act "when no one is looking" is the best way to judge their character. Like it or not, we all have public personas we adopt in our never-ceasing attempt to be all things to all people or further whatever agenda we have.
Most of us spend our lives trying to reconcile our real selves with our public selves. Trying to be as good and kind in reality as we would seem to be.
If we are lucky, the person we are when no one is looking is the better of the two.
When no one was looking, Mr. Bush was kind to a group of boys when it didn't matter to anyone but them.
2010 addition: The above was written and originally posted in 2006. Many now know that this is a significant trait in Mr Bush's character, and he not only frequently, but regularly, shows kindness where the media can't see it, where the public may never know. The presidency couldn't take that away from him because it's part of who he is. Of all the events and actions of Mr Bush's service in office, this seems to me the most important, and the most worthy of emulation.
Regular readers of my blog know that Ethan is now a Marine Drill Instructor who served two tours in Iraq. While Ethan returned home safely, several of his brothers in arms gave their lives and others gave the health of their bodies to secure liberty for the Iraqi people, and to preserve American security and liberty. Mr. Bush spoke about Cpl Adam Galvez when he addressed the American Legion in Salt Lake City shortly after Adam, along with Lance Cpl Randy Newman and Seaman Chadwick Kenyon, were killed in action in 2006. And, just as important, is that Mr Bush also visited, and later followed up with, at least one of the Marines who were injured in that same IED explosion. Such quiet, private visits are habitual for Mr Bush, and well known to the troops and their families who see these signs of the respect Mr Bush has for them.
If George Washington was the President who could not tell a lie, and Abraham Lincoln was the President who taught himself Law by candlelight, George W. Bush was the President who did the right thing even when nobody was looking.
Marines DI Sgt Ethan Duncan Arguello