He was always a man of grace, even in moments of defeat. The 1992 presidential contest told us more about the man than his long string of success stories – as war hero, U.S. Representative, Ambassador to the United Nations, head of the Republican Party, Vice President, and then President of the United States. Perhaps the greatest insight to the mind and heart of George H.W. Bush can be found in a letter.
Though Bill Clinton and his surrogates were relentless and cruel in their attacks throughout the campaign, Bush was a man of forgiveness. And he always put his country ahead of his feelings. This was never put on display more clearly than in the content of this letter. It wasn’t just any letter. It was the hand-written letter that George Bush left behind, on the desk in the Oval Office, on his last day of office. It was addressed to his successor, President Clinton.
This is that letter, without further comment.
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice, but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.