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Turning Critics into Admirers

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The outpouring of admiration for the late President George Herbert Walker Bush largely ignores his troubled history with the press; like all Republican presidents of the last 50 years, Bush endured carping, contemptuous treatment. One highly critical reporter, Ann Devroy of the Washington Post, was surprised to receive a handwritten letter after her cancer diagnosis in 1996. The then-former president candidly acknowledged a “tension that clouded things between us…I was the out of touch President, the wimp; you were the beltway insider…. but strangely, wonderfully, I feel close to you now. I want you to win this battle. I want that same toughness that angered me and frustrated me to a fare-thee-well at times to see you through your fight.”

Sadly, Devroy lost her fight the next year, but Bush’s graceful gesture highlighted his ability to turn critics into admirers.

Every American should cherish and develop that precious capacity.

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