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The 41st

Posted: July 25, 2013 9:07 a.m.
Updated: July 26, 2013 5:00 a.m.

George H. W. Bush just might be the best ex-president this country has ever seen.

As the country’s 41st chief executive, Bush was marvelously popular during the early days of presidency, following the quick and successful Gulf War, but he failed to win a second term when the economy tanked and he reneged on his promise of “Read my lips. No new taxes.”

We have written before about the time after presidents leave office. Bush has handled what some call the “has been” years gracefully and energetically. Earlier this week, he shaved his head in a show of solidarity for the leukemia-stricken, 2-year-old son of one of the Secret Service agents who form his security detail. All the other agents on the Bush detail scalped their pates, too, and the group photo of them was moving. Somehow, we can’t see many ex-presidents taking a razor to their dome.

The elder Bush and Bill Clinton, who defeated him in his re-election bid, have become fast friends and have worked together in charitable endeavors. He has traveled extensively on behalf of worthwhile projects. He has jumped out of airplanes and cavorted through record-quick rounds of golf. And he has done it all with grace. He has also resisted the urge to criticize presidents of the opposing party who have followed him into the White House.

Bush and his wife, Barbara, lost one of their own children to leukemia. He no doubt feels an empathy with the parents who are suffering through this ordeal, though the young boy’s outlook appears bright. Bush’s head shaving is just one more sign of his good humor and his bright outlook on life. He’s indeed a heck of a former president.

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