Blaska hereby takes his name out of consideration as Donald Trump’s chief of staff. Can refer the White House to a good temp agency.
The grand poobah of the Blaska Policy Werkes likes to warn friends, acquaintances, and adversaries alike: “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” But he really does aspire to be a better father, husband, and friend. (Just can’t seem to pull it off.)
Which brings us one more time to George H.W. Bush. Of course, we never called him that when he was President — just as the world didn’t call it World War 1 until there was a second.
And this factoid: #41 called #43 “Quincy” on occasion, showing a fine sense of history and humor. Who else would dare wear those loud and colorful socks? Who else was so grounded that he could laugh at himself and not hold grudges? For Presidents, none since maybe JFK and a little Gerald Ford (“not a Lincoln”) and W, too. (#43 did invite #45 to the funeral.) Oh but for a tiny bit of self-perspective from the Current Occupant instead of being so grasping, so needy, so petulant!
Two eyewitness accounts
We’ve always liked Dana Carvey, who seems like a fine person as well as a great comedian. The Church Lady reveals his long-term friendship with #41 in a wonderful essay in the New York Times. After losing to Bill Clinton, H.W. invited Carvey to the White House to cheer up his demoralized staff. Carvey says he hopes he never went over the line, to hate. That is more than Alex Baldwin can say. Then again, he is imitating Trump.
Suddenly I’m on the phone with President Bush, who had lost his bid for re-election the month before. I’m more than a bit nervous.
“How ya doing, Dana?”
“Doing fine, thanks, Mr. President”
“Well Dana, wondering if you would consider coming out to the White House and help cheer up the staff. Folks are a little down. Could use a laugh.”
Wow, I thought to myself. I make fun of him for years, he loses the election, and now he wants me to come to Washington and cheer up the staff? I was caught off guard, and the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “Well, uh, where would I stay?”
It felt stupid as soon as I said it. I had just asked the president of the United States to book a hotel for me. There was a long pause. Then, “Well, you could, uh, stay right here in the White House, with Bar and me.” Two weeks later my wife, Paula, and I put our luggage down in the Lincoln Bedroom.
The second is a masterpiece of the essay form from Maureen Dowd, one of the few liberal writers we actually enjoy reading here at the Policy Werkes. Her piece is headlined “The Patrician President and the Reporterette: A Screwball Story.”
“I like you,” the first President Bush wrote me once, after he was out of office. “Please don’t tell anyone.”
In decades of correspondence, he tried to figure out why we stayed in touch, beginning one note “Darn you, Maureen Dowd” and mischievously observing in another, “Sometimes I found it better around my family to go ‘Maureen who?’”
If the Clintons are the careless Tom and Daisy Buchanan and Barack Obama is a Camus-like figure of existential estrangement and Donald Trump is a flimflam man out of “Huckleberry Finn,’’ H.W. was Bertie Wooster, an airy WASP propelled to the top by the old boys’ network. …
What other commander in chief wore a bunny tie on Easter and a pumpkin tie on Halloween? Who else would sit in the White House reading women’s magazines with his wife and then look up to ask, “Bar, what’s a bikini wax?” …
‘If you ever need a shoulder …’
Somewhere along the way, H.W. and I grew to appreciate each other. “We have a love-hate relationship,’’ he told me when I ran into him in 2001 at a book party in Georgetown. “I talk to my shrink about it.” He knew that I knew he was kidding; he avoided introspection at all costs. …
“Put it this way,’’ he wrote me once. “I reserve the right to whine, to not read, to use profanity, but if you ever get really hurt or if you ever get really down and need a shoulder to cry on or just need a friend — give me a call. I’ll be there for you. I’ll not let you down.”
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Resolved: to hold fewer grudges, goddammit!