Former Congressman Steve Israel, now chairman of the Global Institute at LIU, drew upon President George W. Bush’s recent appearance at the Tilles Center at LIU Post to opine about his relationship with his father in an article that was just published in The Hill, an influential political newspaper and website based in Washington, D.C., which gets its name from Capitol Hill.
“On a stage at Long Island University earlier this fall, I asked President George W. Bush if he remembered any profound moments between him and his father during his presidency,” Israel wrote in an article headlined “A Father and Son Unite the Nation.”
“He did not have to think long,” added Israel.
The 43rd president recounted his experience at the Washington National Cathedral for a memorial service held for the victims of the 9/11 attacks three days after the tragedy. After delivering his remarks, Bush took his seat and, Israel wrote, “he felt a hand reach across to hold his. It was his dad. It was the reassuring grasp of a father with a son who bore the weight of a new world on his shoulders.”
Adding to the poignancy of the Dec. 5th op-ed, Israel observed that Bush’s father, the 41st president of the United States, would lie in state in that same cathedral for the national funeral service held that very Wednesday. Israel used the sad occasion to compare presidential styles, adding that “we do not simply mourn a president. We mourn the slow passing of a type of presidency. That was when humility was a virtue, not a character flaw. It was when the presidency was an institution whose occupant was a trustee, in every sense of the word.”
In his piece, Israel observed, “Most, but not all, adhered to the vital notion that the White House is an institution more important than the person who occupied it.”
Israel recalled that when President George W. Bush had appeared on stage at Tilles Center less than two weeks before the mid-term elections, he asked the 43rdpresident if he’d ever sought his father’s advice. “If I had,” Bush replied, “he would have told me to send my briefers to him in Houston or Maine. Then he would give me advice.”
Israel described that response as “quaint” compared to the behavior of the present occupant. As the former Long Island Congressman described that bygone era: “In the White House, listening to those in front of you is preferable to browbeating others for attention. As the president, receiving private unvarnished counsel is better than the public waving of pink slips. The highest office in the land deserves this kind of respect.”
Our presidents, Israel also wanted to remind his readers, are “fathers and sons, sometimes clasping hands in dark moments.”
As chairman of the Global Institute at LIU, Israel is doing his part to shed more light when the nation needs it most.