In The Atlantic, Franklin Foer explains that nostalgia for George H.W. Bush is anti-Semitic:
FRANKLIN FOER DEC 2, 2018 IDEAS
… But the encomiums for George H. W. Bush are coated in thick, water-beading layers of nostalgia. On the surface, obituaries for 41 carry the longing for a time when American politics was ruled by men of “high character” and a sense of “public duty,” the very antithesis of the present partisan era’s coarseness.
What goes unstated, however, is the subtext of that yearning. All the florid remembrances are packed with fondness for a bygone institution known as the Establishment, hardened in the cold of New England boarding schools, acculturated by the late-night rituals of Skull and Bones, sent off to the world with a sense of noblesse oblige.
Maybe the new elites should try a little noblesse oblige?
For more than a century, this Establishment resided at the top of the American caste system. Now it is gone, and apparently people wish it weren’t.
And what could be more anti-Semitic than that?
When George H. W. Bush passed, so did the last true wasp. In appearance, he embodied what The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley once called “The Presidency by Ralph Lauren.” The evocation of the legendary fashion designer was a sly bit of sociology—the old American aristocracy was already in decline, since its aesthetic had been commodified (by none other than Ralph Lifshitz) and made accessible to all in the democracy of the shopping mall.
But George H. W. Bush came from an elite cluster; Harvard President Charles W. Eliot described them as the “superior families.” Bush’s ancestors did business with Rockefellers and Harrimans. In places like Newport and Kennebunkport, these families existed in an inbred world that for many decades self-consciously segregated itself by race, religion, and class.
Eh, sort of, sort of not. The Walkers and the Bushes were business families from the Midwest who moved to the northeast for opportunities. This talk of elites in the Old America as “inbred” obfuscates just how much careers were open to talents and how big the pool was that talent was drawn from. Foer, the co-editor of Jewish Jocks, is projecting a tad about how inbred GHW Bush was, as a look at the novels by his younger brother Jonathan Safran Foer about their ancestors might suggest.
Old Money was superior to New Money, because those born into their wealth had been groomed to have perfect manners. The sons of the American aristocracy were sent off to Wall Street, the Foreign Service, and the Senate.
One of the facts of this establishment is that it always worried about its imminent death. In his canonical memoir, Henry Adams, the descendant of presidents, worried that people like himself were disappearing in the tradition of the Indians and the buffalo. And there could be little doubt what a Brahmin such as Adams believed threatened the extinction of his kind. In 1907, he wrote about the worrying presence of immigrants; in particular, he described a “furtive Yacoob or Ysaac still reeking of the ghetto.”
George H. W. Bush had traces of this sense of superiority, with his relentless pursuit of dynastic governance. One can read this instinct as laudable: a father cultivating love of public service in his progeny. But there was a dangerous undercurrent, too. The nation needed the Bushes because of their breeding. Here was a family intent on preserving its place at the high table of American life.
I haven’t seen any mention of how the Bush Dynasty began preparing George P. Bush, Poppy’s “Little Brown One,” to carry on the dynasty in the new mestizo America they were helping forge. As far back as the 1988 convention, 10-year-old George P. led the Pledge of Allegiance.
One thing that made WASPs so successful at subverting and conquering places like Texas, California, and Hawaii was their canny use of intermarriage: they’d hop off a ship from Boston or New York, like the sunshine and find an indigenous landowner’s daughter to marry.
Barack Obama and George P. Bush are variations on this theme: Obama’s mom saw herself as a female version expanding America’s Cold War soft empire by marrying foreign elites, while George P. Bush was intended to reverse the process and be the nature leader of the newly imported Mexican-American voters.
The sociologist who coined the term wasp was a professor from the University of Pennsylvania with the perfect name, E. Digby Baltzell. … He predicted that with their prejudice and insularity, the members of this old aristocracy would find themselves in abeyance, pushed aside by more talented members of minority groups. …
I don’t mean to dismiss the wasp sense of duty. It was real, and quite often a force for good in the world. George H. W. Bush acquired a certain wisdom through his years of service: He showed a steady hand at world-historic moments and a tenacious commitment to diplomacy, and he displayed remarkable grace in defeat and often dealt with his political foes in uncommonly good faith. But sometimes nobody seemed to believe in George Bush’s best intentions more than himself—which meant that he couldn’t understand when people failed to forgive his most odious mistakes.
Foer, the former editor of The New Republic under Marty Peretz, goes on to explain that Bush was bad because Republicans are racist — see Willie Horton etc etc. But Jeremy Senderowicz has a good thread on how Jews like him despised GHW Bush for not being pro-Israel enough:
I think it's important to explain why so many people in my millieu - observant Jews, pro-Israel activists or both - absolutely despised GHWB at the time and considered him borderline anti-Semitic.— Jeremy Senderowicz (@jsende) December 3, 2018
With the prestige of the Desert Storm victory, Bush and his secretary of state James Baker tried to restrain Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, which led to a collapse in Jewish support in 1992.
The neocons hated the Arabists — the descendants of Protestant missionary families who had founded the American colleges in Beirut and Cairo — and feared globetrotting Texas oilmen because both had access to independent perspectives and expertise on the Middle East and didn’t need to be dependent upon the neocons for advice. Bush and James Baker were urbane, worldly Texas oilmen who seemed to combine the worst of the Arabists and the Texans to the neocons.
In contrast, the neocons loved George W. Bush because he was a bumpkin state governor who didn’t know anything about the rest of the world and was willing to rely upon the neocons and neocon approved figures like Dick Cheney.