Newsletter: Essential Politics: Remembering George H.W. Bush and the moment in which he was president
A solemn flight from Houston to Washington in the plane that’s normally called Air Force One will capture the nation’s attention on Monday — carrying to the capital city the body of the 41st president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush.
Bush died on Friday night at age 94, a passing that served as another reminder of the evolution of American politics away from an era of patricians to polarizing leaders. For better or worse, the late president’s tenure feels as if it took place a long time ago.
REMEMBERING BUSH 41
David Lauter leads The Times’ official obituary of Bush, which offers a sharp observation about the man and his moment:
During his single term in the White House, the Berlin Wall fell, newly democratic states sprang up across Central and Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union came to an end. And in the Middle East, the U.S. military launched its most successful offensive since World War II.
But the end of the Cold War also signaled the end of an era of American bipartisanship that the long conflict with the Soviets had fostered. Bush, the product of an earlier era, seemed out of phase with a younger, harder-edged generation of conservatives rising in his party.
That kind of finality perhaps explains the emotion behind some of the tributes and sympathies expressed over the weekend.
COVERAGE OF THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT BUSH
-- President Trump designated Wednesday as a national day of mourning, part of a shift in tone about the former president and his family. He also canceled a Saturday press conference “out of respect” for the Bush family.
-- As vice president, Bush wrestled with the aftermath of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. It was seen as one of his finest hours and revealed his character — poised, empathetic and in charge.
-- “Read my lips,” “a thousand points of light” and broccoli: memorable lines and moments from the 41st president.
-- Politicians, celebrities and other admirers flocked to Twitter to salute the late president.
A RATCHETING DOWN ON TRADE WAR
The president and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed to a cease-fire on trade after meeting for more than two hours Saturday after the close of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires.
Under the agreement, Trump won’t raise tariffs while negotiations continue and China will purchase more U.S. agricultural and energy products, the White House said in a statement.
Don Lee writes that the handshake deal was “less an end to the trade war than a tenuous truce that buys time for more negotiations but doesn’t begin to resolve deep-seated differences on trade and economic philosophy.”
NATIONAL LIGHTNING ROUND
-- The Democratic chairman of the North Carolina elections board resigned Saturday, saying he didn’t want his partisan views to undermine a widening investigation into alleged election fraud in a congressional race.
-- South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott has blocked a Trump judicial nominee who has ties to the controversial campaign tactics of the late North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms.
-- The fallout over Florida’s turbulent election recount is escalating after Gov. Rick Scott decided to oust a South Florida elections official.
-- The online platforms that reshaped the midterm elections are likely to do the same to the presidential race, as some two dozen hopefuls prepare for a frenzied and prolonged Democratic primary.
-- Former FBI Director James Comey will testify behind closed doors on Friday before the House Judiciary Committee at the request of Republican lawmakers.
-- Nearly everyone special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has charged, convicted or targeted has spun a web of lies. The only figure of proven probity is Mueller himself, and he hasn’t spoken publicly since taking the job.
WELCOME BACK, CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE
The rush of legislators making their way through Sacramento International Airport on Monday morning can only mean one thing: a new session of the California Legislature is about the get underway.
There are several historical notes about the upcoming two-year session of the legislative branch of state government. With 60 Democrats in the 80-member Assembly and 29 in the 40-member Senate, this is a body dominated by California’s most powerful political party.
But equally important, as I noted in my Sunday politics column, is that an astounding number of these 120 lawmakers are coming back for another term in office — and the state will see the smallest number of freshman legislators after any election since 1988.
The reason: The overhaul of term limits by voters six years ago, allowing up to 12 years of continuous service in a single post, designed to provide better leadership by more experienced legislators. We’ll see what happens in the weeks and months to come.
Columnist George Skelton expects them to swing for the political fences.
-- After the owner of the San Francisco Giants gave money to controversial Mississippi Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith, talk of a boycott ensued. Once he backed off, some were ready to move on but others don’t want to forget.
-- Six state lawmakers are proposing to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products — including those used in electronic cigarettes — in retail stores and vending machines in the state, citing concern over a steep increase in nicotine use among youths.
-- The group behind the failed gas-tax repeal effort, Proposition 6, was given state approval Thursday to begin collecting signatures for a new ballot initiative to cancel the high-speed rail project and revamp state transportation funding.
-- The new legislative session will see a change in the upper house’s top executive position, with state Capitol veteran Erika Contreras nominated Friday to become secretary of the state Senate, the first woman to ever hold the post.
Essential Politics is published Monday and Friday.
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