Monday, 10 Dec 2018
Business

Bush family seeks to avoid anti-Trump sentiments at 41st President's funeral

The family of former President George H. W. Bush has planned state funerals that avoid the anti-Trump sentiment manifested at the recent funeral of Senator John McCain, according to people familiar with funeral planning.

The Bush family contacted the White House last summer to say that President Trump would be welcome to the funeral, scheduled for Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral, and to ensure that the focus would be on on Bush's life rather than on their disagreements, according to a former government official.

The Trump Truce allows the Bush family and the country to honor the legacy of a president who guided the United States in the 1991 Gulf War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union without getting bogged down in the toxic politics of today. Trump, in turn, has been laudatory in praising Bush since his death on Friday, and was due to pay homage on Monday night to the US Capitol, where the 41st president lies in the state.

But relaxation also comes after Trump's long history of insults and provocations of the Bush family – calling his main opponent of 2016 "low energy," Jeb Bush, claiming that the September 11 attacks were partly due the inability of President George W. Bush to keep the nation. sure, and making fun of George HW Bush's "thousand points of light" volunteer program. And this comes as Trump has taken full control of the Republican party, leading a categorical rejection of the traditional GOP establishment that the Bush family has represented and helped to build.

A person close to funeral planning said that the Bush family's statements to Trump were at least partly pragmatic. Trump has the last word on the details of the funeral, said this person, including providing Air Force One transport of the remains of the former Texas president in Washington Monday for the funeral and his return to Texas on Thursday for a another service and another burial.

While Trump will not eulogize, he will sit in the front row alongside former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Bush's son, former President George W. Bush, will deliver a eulogy.


Former President George H. W. Bush is on Monday in the US state at the Rotunda Capitol, Washington. (Melina Mara / The Washington Post)

Neither he nor the other praise – former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former Senator Alan K. Simpson and Bush's presidential historian and biographer, Jon Meacham – are expected to linger on the profound differences between the distinguished and patrician Bush and the mysterious Trump.

"If you have a sensitivity for human feelings, you're just not going in that direction," Simpson said in an interview Monday. "This is not what the funeral is for."

Another Bush confidant said, "The comparisons come up; we do not raise them, "according to a person familiar with the preparation of funerals.

A third person, who, like others close to the preparations, spoke anonymously to express himself frankly, said that the tone of Wednesday's funeral would reflect the sense of Bush's decency. "Would not want anyone to feel uncomfortable, including the outgoing president. "

"It is, however, interesting to note that praising the Bush or McCain may seem critical of Trump, even when it is not part of the ideas," said the third person.

Three officials and former administration officials said that there was deep frustration in the White House about Trump's anti-Trump tone of McCain's funeral on September 1, to which Trump did not agree. had not attended. A senior administration official said Trump's reaction to the critics was "almost crippling for a week" and that officials were assured that Bush's funeral would be different.

An official said that the first lady, Melania Trump, who represented the White House at the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush in April, was struck by the kindness of the Bush family towards her, whom she had passed on. to the president who did not attend these funerals.

Two White House officials said Trump had little interest in forming better relations with the Bush family, especially during the first year of his presidency. He has regularly stated that his political supporters want a radical change on the part of the Bush family.

But a former senior administration official said: "There is no particular animosity towards the former Bush."

The Trump White House has hosted all funeral requests from the Bush family, including providing Air Force One and allowing the Bush family to stay at Blair House, the official guest house located across from the White House, said a person familiar with planning.

The remains of the former president will be transported from the Capitol to the Washington National Cathedral, northwest Washington, in a procession that will follow a route directly past the White House.

In service, two of Bush's granddaughters, Ashley Bush and Lauren Bush, will give readings, according to the source. They are the two daughters of Bush's son, Neil Bush.

The praises have all known the 41st President for many years.

Mulroney was Prime Minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993 and participated in the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Bush. He also delivered speeches at the funeral of President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy Reagan.

Meacham, who wrote "Destiny and Power," a Bush biography of 2015, also delivered a funeral speech at Barbara Bush's funeral. "During the hours of war and peace, turmoil and calm, the Bush ruled in a spirit of friendliness, civility and grace," said Meacham. ". . . Barbara and George Bush put the country ahead of the party, the common good before political gain and service to others before settling accounts. "

Simpson said he met Bush in 1962, when his father, Milward Simpson, was elected to the US Senate and took over the post in the Senate from Bush's father, Prescott Bush, who was retiring from the Senate.

Then, he said, when his father retired after a term, he sold his home in Washington to a newly elected Texas congressman, George H. W. Buisson.

"It was a handshake agreement, no real estate agents, no lawyers, no one is present," Simpson said. "Dad remembered meeting him and he said," We have a nice house; you have children, "and they said," exactly what we want. "

Simpson said he and Bush worked together on many bills over the next few decades.

"We have accomplished a lot," he said. "Everything was a matter of friendship and doing something for the country, not for the party."

Simpson said that the Bush family had asked him several years ago he would agree to pronounce a eulogy.

"It was years ago, when George failed. They said, "Al, we want you to be part of the service." Then, of course, George has beautifully recovered and put the harps back in the closet, "he said.

"I knew that an unknown day I would be invited to do that," he said. "It's a great honor and I'm ready to go."

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