Bush’s Letter to Clinton Cemented a Presidential Tradition, Historians Say
One of George Bush’s lesser-known legacies used to be the function he performed in cementing a fashionable presidential custom: leaving a letter of beef up for the incoming commander in leader on Inauguration Day.
During the 2016 presidential election, a picture of President Bush’s letter to the person who defeated him, Bill Clinton, used to be extensively publicized, with many commenting that it used to be a refreshing reminder of the opportunity of bipartisanship all over a bitterly divisive marketing campaign. Mr. Bush, a Republican, left the letter for his Democratic successor at the Resolute Desk within the Oval Office on Inauguration Day in 1993.
“Your success now is our country’s success,” he wrote. “I am rooting hard for you.”
Mr. Bush left his message of cohesion in spite of his contentious marketing campaign towards Mr. Clinton that denied him a 2d time period.
Mark Ok. Updegrove, a presidential historian who wrote a ebook concerning the Bush circle of relatives, stated Mr. Bush, who died on Friday night time at age 94, persevered the customized after Ronald Reagan left him a lighthearted observe all over their White House transition in 1989.
Reagan used stationery bearing the word, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” On the ground, a drawing depicted an elephant — the logo of the Republican Party — with turkeys hiking on most sensible of it.
Reagan’s letter used to be a funny gesture to welcome an previous pal to the White House, Mr. Updegrove stated, however Mr. Bush’s resolution to be offering an olive department to a political foe in his letter used to be profound. “It showed to me that he was a citizen — not a partisan,” Mr. Updegrove stated.
Future White House occupants made it a custom. Every departing president after Reagan has delivered a letter with phrases of knowledge and beef up on Inauguration Day.
In Mr. Bush’s autobiographical ebook, he described sitting by myself within the Oval Office with an empty table at the day he used to be scheduled to vacate it.
“I leave a note on the desk for Bill Clinton,” he wrote. “It looks a little lonely sitting there. I don’t want it to be overly dramatic, but I did want him to know that I would be rooting for him.”
In a column revealed on Saturday in The Washington Post, Mr. Clinton wrote that Mr. Bush’s 1993 letter published him to be an “honorable, gracious and decent man who believed in the United States, our Constitution, our institutions and our shared future.”
In flip, Mr. Clinton left a letter on Inauguration Day in 2001 for George W. Bush, writing, “Today you embark on the greatest venture, with the greatest honor, that can come to an American citizen.”
Then, on Jan. 20, 2009, the day Barack Obama used to be sworn in, George W. Bush left him a observe.
“There will be trying moments. The critics will rage,” his letter learn. “But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me.”
Barbara A. Perry, the director of presidential research on the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, stated it is sensible that this presidential customized has most effective been constant all over the closing 3 many years. For one, the Oval Office, which gives a symbolic repository for the transition letter, didn’t exist till the start of the 20th century.
“The letter is part of a bigger place, a sacred space of that office,” she stated. “That letter, when they write it, is their exit from the Oval Office into their post-presidency.”
Professor Perry added that 8 presidents have died in place of work, making them not able to depart at the back of such a letter. Other presidents — Richard Nixon, as an example — didn’t have a easy departure.
When Donald J. Trump used to be inaugurated in January 2017, Mr. Obama left him a letter within the table drawer of the Oval Office. At the time, Mr. Trump known as it a “thoughtful” and “beautiful” letter.
As CNN reported months later, Mr. Obama had written, partially, that “regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.”
Because Mr. Trump isn’t precisely recognized for keeping up presidential norms, historians will likely be intently looking at whether or not he continues the custom when he transitions out of place of work.