George H.W. Bush – A Tribute to a Mensch

It’s rare to meet someone in politics as decent and honorable as George H.W. Bush.

I interviewed our 41st. president in the Spring of 1989, during Tiananmen Square. In the 1988 campaign, The Boston Herald (where I wrote for 19 years) endorsed Mr. Bush over Gov. Michael Dukakis, the hometown nebbish.

As a reward, we got a one-on-one interview while the president was on vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine.

He’d come off his cigarette boat. We were sitting on the lawn. There were just two solidary chairs. I wanted to record the conversation and take notes, but there was no place to put my cassette recorder.

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The President of the United States and leader of the Free World offered to hold the recorder while I interviewed him, which he did. (Hillary would have asked for a fee.)

This was a mensch.

H.W. was not my kind of Republican. It’s always seemed to me that for the Bushes, being a Republican was as much a matter of genetics as politics. But Bush ’41 was one of nature’s noblemen.

He served his country with honor and distinction in World War II. He was married to Barbra for 73 years. There was never a hint of scandal. It’s ironic that he lost the presidency to a walking bundle of hormones.

Before he entered politics, H.W. was a war hero and a successful businessman. There’s no shortage of war heroes and successful businessmen in politics. There are damned few menschen.


For years, I thought mensch was a derogatory term, but after reading the above post by Don Feder, I looked up the word and found that I had been wrong about the term for years. defines mensch as:

“A decent, upright, mature, and responsible person.”

It is believed the word comes from Yiddish –  German, meaning human being.

Merriam-Webster  and the English Oxford Living Dictionary define mensch as:

“A person of integrity and honor.”

MacMillan Dictionary defines mensch as:

“Someone who is good, kind and generous.”

I never had the honor to meet Bush 41, but I know someone who not only knew Bush 41 but also knew Bill Clinton.

He said that Bush 41 and First Lady Barbara were kind and personal. They took time to learn the names of the military personal assigned to them. They also took time to learn about their families and asked about family members on a regular basis. The Bushes also acted in some kind way whenever they heard that a military family member was sick.

He also said that both Bill and Hillary Clinton were hateful snobs who treated their military escorts and guards with contempt. They were rude and often demanding. They would talk down to members of military and others and treat most everyone as if they were nothing more than lower servants who were not worth their time or attention.

But when it came to Bush 41 and Barbara, he has only good things to say. Perhaps the best compliment he gave Bush 41 was that he was a real person who cared about everyone else, so, Feder is right, Bush 41 was a mensch.


The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website,

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