21 NOVEMBER 1992, Page 35

LETTERS Bush neatly trimmed

Sir: When I first glanced at your lead arti- cle, 'Virtue unrewarded', mourning • Presi- dent Bush's electoral loss (7 November), I assumed that you were being ironic. As I read on I realised that you were serious, indeed solemn. The article reads

Remarkably, the American people have cast aside an honourable, if awkward, man who has served his country with dedication as a war veteran, an entrepreneur, a congressman, a diplomat, and finally a successful comman- der-in-chief.

Whether a politician who has been so cavalier with the truth, and not only about himself, can be declared 'honourable' is questionable. Was it simply his 'awkward- ness', his excited campaign rhetoric, that led him to refer to his opponent, Governor Clinton, as a 'bozo'?

The President, born in 1924, served in the second world war, as did all other American males born in that year, except for those who were physically disabled. It was not a very remarkable or unique achievement. His business 'success,' still Inadequately documented, though appar- ently real, owed a great deal to the money provided by his family. It compares hardly at all with the real post-war entrepreneurial successes of hundreds of thousands of oth- ers, less endowed with 'old money'.

His role as a two-term congressman was undistinguished, and is scarcely recalled even by his more ardent admirers. At the United Nations, he served as ambassador in an administration where all the important decisions and calls were made by the Presi- dent, Richard Nixon, and Henry Kissinger. In Peking, he achieved a public relations success, riding his bicycle in public, but accomplished almost nothing. The fault was not his: China was simply waiting for the grand old man, Mao, to die. Everything at the time was 'on hold'.

As for his achievements as commander- in-chief in the Gulf — there is no need to dwell on his performance in Panama they are substantially less than your lead article suggests. There is no reason to mourn the passing of 'lucky George'. Neither he nor his patron, Ronald Reagan, will be remem- bered favourably. The second Coolidge- Hoover era is at last over. This is not to say that we are about to witness a new Franklin Roosevelt in the White House.

Stephen R. Graubard

Editor, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Norton's Woods, 136 Irving Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA