It is so laughable to see Liberals especially a magazine that is only found in Dentists offices and will soon go all digital, refer to those who actually have been under fire in front line service to our nation, as wimps. Although not a fan of George H.W.Bush, he most definitely was not a wimp as his war time service indicates. As for Mitt Romney he successfully worked in private industry, ran for governor (and won) in liberal Massachusetts, ran against Ted Kennnedy for the Senate, and is taking on The One. Not exactly a shrinking violet.
by Carl M. Cannon
Given the myriad problems facing print journalism, Newsweek editor Tina Brown can hardly be faulted for her quest to create provocative magazine covers. And this week’s edition, in which Newsweek reprised its hoary “wimp factor” conceit, certainly attracted attention.For starters, there’s little evidence that Romney is actually a wimp, whatever that really means, and there are some indications to the contrary. Even more jarring, in the fourth presidential election of the 21st century, are we really employing schoolyard language to claim that a presidential candidate lacks the requisite amount of machismo?
Perhaps the problem for Newsweek was bad karma. It reprised a 25-year-old cover, but it was a fatuous device the first time the magazine’s editors used it — in October of 1987 — when they applied that appellation to George Herbert Walker Bush.
It must be noted that the text of the 1987 cover story, written by Margaret Warner, was insightful and fact-based — and not necessarily unsympathetic to its subject, the sitting vice president. The same care wasn’t taken in assembling the 2012 “wimp factor” piece. This year’s version is more informed by the sensibilities of cartoonist Garry Trudeau, the man who did the most to push the “wimp” line against Bush back in the 1980s — long before Newsweek did.
Through his popular “Doonesbury” comic strip, Trudeau was, and remains, a reliably partisan operator. He was particularly spiteful toward the Bush family, with whom he shared a Yale background. Trudeau often let his ideology, or perhaps his excitements, get the better of him. Over the years he and his cartoon characters regurgitated old rumors about George W. Bush using drugs, needled the Bush daughters for underage drinking, asserted that the 43rd president didn’t fulfill his National Guard obligation, and routinely characterized Dubya as a dim bulb.
(Regarding this last critique, Trudeau inadvertently brought his own candlepower into question by falling for a ludicrous Internet hoax. Citing a study from the [non-existent] Scranton, Pa.-based “Lovenstein Institute,” Trudeau passed along the claim that George W. Bush had an IQ of 91 — and that Bill Clinton’s was exactly twice as high.)
For the most part, the Bushes took the abuse in good stride. The exceptions were the “Doonesbury” cartoons in the mid-1980s depicting George H.W. Bush as a “wimp” who had “put his manhood in a blind trust” to be Ronald Reagan’s running mate.
As Bush later confided to a journalist, “I thought, ‘What the hell? Who is this, you know, elitist . . . who never ran for sheriff, never taken his case to the people? Who is this little guy that comes out of some of the same background as me?”
Even before their father succeeded Reagan as president, two of Bush’s sons — George W. and Jeb — also told the old man they’d like to “kick Trudeau’s ass.” And on March 13, 1991, Bush referred to Trudeau in his diary as “a little elitist who is spoiled, derisive, ugly, and nasty.”
That’s political expediency, not wimpishness. Mitt Romney also switched positions on abortion — and gun control and health insurance mandates — and in 2012 he stands accused of genuflecting before the Tea Party movement. Criticizing him for this is fair game, but it’s more Machiavellian than unmanly.
In George H.W. Bush’s case, the criticism that he wasn’t more forceful in opposing President Reagan also ignored the basic parameters of the vice presidency. These limitations have bedeviled the inhabitants of that office back to John Adams. The job has no real power and, in a way, is a trap. A “veep” rises and falls with the boss, as Hubert Humphrey found out in 1968, when he got blamed both for Lyndon Johnson’s policies and for not speaking out against them.
Twenty years later, Bush was trying to avoid Humphrey’s fate, and there was widespread anger, and no small amount of consternation, inside his campaign when the very limitations of the vice president were used to impugn his character.
As the Reagan era came to a close, Bruce Curtis, a professor of American thought and language at Michigan State, was struck by the prominence of the wimp angle in the campaign to succeed the 40th president. In a scholarly article for American Heritage magazine, Curtis teased out two fascinating points: First, the rhetorical impulse to label your opponent a sissy is an enduring — if not endearing — aspect of U.S. presidential races. It literally dates to Jefferson’s time.
Second, he noted that the symbolism and imagery employed in this cause in modern times are often based on make-believe. George Herbert Walker Bush was the former head of the CIA and a hero in World War II. The president to whom he was unfavorably compared spent the same war making training films in Hollywood; and the man who unseated him in 1992 went out of his way to avoid military service altogether during the war in Vietnam.
Curtis recalled in his American Heritage piece how Reagan was once asked if he’d been nervous debating President Carter in 1980. “Not at all,” the Gipper replied, “I’ve been on the same stage with John Wayne.”
George Herbert Walker Bush was a Texas wildcatter, captain of the baseball team at Yale — when the Elis were a national powerhouse — and gung-ho about going to war. He was a 17-year-old a prep school senior at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.”
That spring Poppy Bush, as he was known at Andover, finished his high school degree and led the varsity ball club to a winning season. The last issue of the school newspaper that year shows a tall, smiling Bush — neither a wimp nor a nerd — standing with his hands on hips above the caption “Poppy Bush, Captain of Baseball.”
All the while, he was planning to enlist as soon as school let out for the summer. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson gave the commencement address at Andover that spring. It’s going to be a long war, Stimson told the 213 all-male members of the graduating class. Go to college first, not the military. The United States will still need you in three or four years — as officers.
But the captain of baseball had already made inquiries at the local naval recruiting office, and as he and his family filed out of Cochran Chapel on June 12, 1942, Prescott Bush asked his second eldest son whether Stimson’s speech had caused him to change his mind.
“No, sir,” the young man replied. “I’m joining up.”
It was George Bush’s 18th birthday. Days later, he was in the United States Navy.
A year after that, he was flying combat missions against the Japanese, the youngest Navy flier in the Pacific theater. He would fly 58 missions and be awarded the Navy’s Distinguished Flying Cross. On the last of these missions, on Sept. 2, 1944, his plane was shot down. His other two crewmen did not survive, but Bush was rescued by a U.S. submarine after floating for hours in the ocean.
He recounted his struggles while awaiting rescue: He vomited sea water, worried about sharks and Japanese patrol boats, cried while thinking of home, and agonized over whether he’d done all he could for his comrades in the ditched plane — a feeling that never entirely went away. But the frustrated tears of a downed combat pilot are not exactly what come to mind when one thinks of the word “wimp.”
“That’s an awful word to use — and we used it on the cover of Newsweek,” Evan Thomas, a former star writer at the magazine, conceded after Poppy Bush had left the White House. “It was too harsh a word.”
Read the rest – Romney, Bush and Newsweek’s “Wimp Factor”
Tags: Carl M. Cannon