The Passing of George H.W. Bush: Points of Light

The Story:

The 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, died on November 30, 2018, at his home in Houston. Those who recall his presidency (1989 – 1993), recall also a certain vivid expression he used to express what he loved about the United States.

The Image:

The elder George Bush was not known for rhetorical elegance, and it was President Ronald Reagan, whom Bush loyally served for eight years as Vice President, who was often called the “Great Communicator.”  But Bush — when he was nominated for his own Presidency in 1988 — did invoke a memorable image, when he spoke of “a thousand points of light,” spread across a “broad and peaceful sky.”

The following January, at his inaugural, Bush used and re-emphasized the phrase (which had in the meantime been on the receiving end of some ridicule). He explained that the thousand points represent “all the community organizations … doing good.” They were his image of a decentralized civil society, one that doesn’t have to turn to the authorities in the District of Columbia for guidance.

The Thing to Know:

The elder President Bush (father of George W. Bush, who became the 43d President) may be remembered as a representative of an earlier time in the development of the Presidency and of the Republican Party, very much a pre-Trump time. Indeed, President Trump has mocked Busk’s signature expression, asking rhetorically, “What does that mean? … Putting America first we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one.”




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