George and Barbara Bush were the same gracious and welcoming hosts Friday night that they had been when my family last visited Kennebunkport five years earlier. Mrs. Bush even asked about my youngest children, who she remembered remarkably well considering the countless guests that have streamed through their world since that summer’s day in 2011. But her human touch is the kind of thing the family always seems to manage with ease. They make others around them feel special despite the fact that they have lived the most remarkable of lives, serving in Congress, running the Republican National Committee, heading up the CIA, being the UN Ambassador as well as the US Ambassador to China, serving as Ronald Reagan’s vice president and then leading America as the 41st president of the United States.
But good luck getting George or Barbara Bush talking about themselves. They just don’t do it and they never will. First of all, their parents didn’t allow it. And besides, that kind of thing wasn’t done in the world from which they came. It is just one small way that the ethos of Walker’s Point is so radically different from the mindset that infects Donald Trump’s garish corner office high above 5th Avenue in Trump Towers.
As Meacham and I walked down the driveway after saying goodbye to the Bushes, Jon lamented the fact that the same Republican Party that nominated a man like Bush, who rarely spoke about himself, would a quarter century later select a reality TV showman who obsessively talked about little else. Meacham paraphrased Henry Adams in saying that the historical devolvement from Bush to Trump proves that Darwin’s theory of evolution was less compelling when applied to American politics.