Alexander: America is Fortunate to Produce Leaders Who Bring Out the Best in Us, As President George H.W. Bush Did

Posted on December 4, 2018

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*Click here for video of the senator’s full remarks.* 

WASHINGTON, December 4, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today paid tribute on the Senate floor to President George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States.

“All of us have shared memories and stories about the president, but I want to talk about three aspects of his service very briefly,” Alexander said. “When I think of President George H.W. Bush I think of a gentleman, I think well-prepared, and I think of a pioneer, especially a pioneer in education. First, a gentleman – his temperament and conduct while he won and while he lost in war and in peace, with adversaries and friends, reminds us that you can be tough, but you can win the presidency and that you can be a combat pilot in a world war, and you can still treat others with respect, which he unfailingly did.”

Alexander continued, “I was thinking about that last night as we stood outside on the [Capitol] steps and watched the casket being brought up, a beautiful evening -- the sunset looking out over the Library of Congress and over the Supreme Court -- and I was thinking that with all the rancor we sometimes have here as we work out difficult problems, we’re pretty lucky to have this form of government we have. And we’re extraordinarily fortunate that we can produce men and women like President George H.W. Bush who bring out the best in us.

“Second, what we had in President George H.W. Bush may have been the best prepared president in our history – a congressman, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, head of the national Republican Party, the first ambassador to China, head of the United Nations, Vice President of the United States, head of the Central Intelligence Agency and the youngest aviator in a world war. I think how fortunate we were that he happened to be the one who came along then, because the things that he accomplished in his four years – and the things that he presided over and led us to do – weren’t that easy. He served at a time when we needed that preparation because the challenges were immense.

“Finally, I think of President Bush as a pioneer in education. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush assembled all the nation's governors in Charlottesville to talk about education. Terry Branstad, the current ambassador to China was then the chairman of the governors. And out of that summit came national education goals that every child by the year 2000 would learn math, science, history, and geography in a proficient way. Then with ‘America 2000,’ in the last two years of his term -- I was education secretary then -- he launched ‘America 2000.’ That was to help states and communities reach national education goals state by state and community by community. Most of the steps that states, including my state of Tennessee, have taken to make schools better in the last 30 years were either started by or encouraged by President George H.W. Bush since the National Governor's Summit in 1989, and that includes charter schools.”

Alexander served as President Bush’s Education Secretary from 1991-1993.

Alexander concluded, “President George H.W. Bush may have been the most successful one-term president in history. A man who put the country first, and a man whom we all admire.”

Alexander’s full remarks are available here.

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Lamar Alexander is the senior senator from Tennessee, and he serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. For his full biography, click here.