Point of View: Yearning Again

Yes, Virginia, there are principled people who happen to be Republicans

Can you believe, 10 percent of high school students, when questioned, think Judge Judy is a member of the Supreme Court, when, as everyone knows, she’s on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals? (Just kidding!)

Actually, we know a judge on that court, a high school classmate of mine who, when asked by the Reagan administration to interview for the job of F.B.I. director, declined, referring them instead to a man he thought highly of, Robert Mueller.

Yes, Virginia, there are principled people who happen to be Republicans. One such was recently laid to rest with heartfelt eulogies that made you yearn — liberals are always yearning, when they’re not hand-wringing — for decency again.

“He was a good guy,” Maureen Dowd said of the late President George H.W. Bush when asked by Judy Woodruff during a Channel 13 “NewsHour” round-table discussion for her final thoughts. High praise indeed from a columnist whose words can flay you alive at 20 paces. Dana Carvey, his chief lampooner, whom the president later befriended, was also of that mind.

My brother-in-law, who had been rendered nostalgic as well, did have one cavil, having distinctly remembered the late 41st president saying we could win a nuclear exchange. Oh well. We’re rid of that fantasy now . . . aren’t we? And there was Willie Horton, and the turkey shoot in the desert, the first shots fired in what became, with his son at the helm, a tragic mission in the Mideast, a “mission” that has, after all these years, yet to be defined.

Taken all in all, though, the late president was an honorable, accomplished man, a Yalie, who, while the most competitive person Jim Baker ever met, had the common touch, and who, while born to privilege, felt the need to serve his fellow citizens, to serve his country. He had a generous spirit, Carvey said, was gracious too. And what’s not to like about a guy who, confined to a wheelchair, celebrates his 90th birthday by jumping out of a plane? 

You do yearn, especially in these self-serving days, for honest public servants like the late president. Was he the last president to raise taxes? Perhaps the last Republican president to do so; anathema to those in his party clinging to the tenet — to the long-discredited fantasy, but no matter — that tax cut tides raise all boats. Tell that to the middle class, whatever’s left of it. And doing the right thing, of course, cost him.

So, we go about, like Diogenes, looking for an honest man, a man of principle, a man of decency, a man of generous spirit, a gracious man. My classmate is one, and by his account, which is good enough for me, so is Robert Mueller. We await his findings with bated breath.