No matter where one falls on the political spectrum, there is no denying that George H.W. Bush dedicated his life to his country.
The life and career of the 41st U.S. president are recalled in “41,” a documentary premiering on HBO?Thursday, June 14, two days after his 88th birthday. The film, directed by Jeffrey Roth (“The Wonder of It All”) and executive produced by longtime Bush family friend Jerry Weintraub, follows the former chief executive around his summer home in Maine and presidential library in Texas as he reflects on the events of his life in his own words.
“He was in a life of service,” Weintraub tells Zap2it. “He never felt it was an imperial presidency; it was never something that was ordained or supposed to be. He went from job to job to job, and that job was the next job.”
At different times, Bush, a decorated Navy pilot during World War II, served as a congressman, U.S. envoy to China, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, director of the CIA, and vice president under Ronald Reagan, in addition to his own four years in the Oval Office.
During those 36 years, he participated in some of the most important events in U.S. and world history: the downfall of Richard Nixon during Watergate (as RNC chair, he advised the president to resign), the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War (he refused to go to Germany to bask in the victory), and the ouster of the Iraqi army from Kuwait during the first Gulf War (which he refers to as a “just war”).
He’s also seen adversity. In slow, measured tones, Bush recalls the death of his young daughter Robin from leukemia in 1953, the pain still evident after nearly 60 years. He speaks very abruptly about Ross Perot, the man some blame for splitting the vote and giving the ’92 election to Bill Clinton. And he refers to raising taxes during his term in office — thus going back on a campaign promise — as the right thing to do.
What comes through is a man of principle who is truly happy at this stage of life.
“He’s very, very involved with history,” Weintraub says, “and he sincerely believes … history repeats itself. And it does.”