As the remembrances of George H.W. Bush pour in, one period not getting much of a look-in is the eight years he spent as Ronald Reagan’s vice president.
Bush was, by all available accounts, an extremely loyal vice president. A New York Times piece from 1984 describes his “relentless transition from suspect ‘moderate’ to dedicated Reaganite,” adding, “His place now is one of secret confidences with the President and of near-misery in public on those rare occasions when he is found to be differing even one iota from the collected wisdom of Ronald Reagan.” When Mike Pence cast around for which vice president he wanted to model himself on, he chose Bush.
So let’s just remember a small portion of the horror that the Reagan administration—in which Bush was the second-in-command and was loyal from beginning to end—unleashed on the world:
- The backing of dictatorships and death squads throughout Latin America
- The crushing of unions
- The racist attacks on welfare (and racism more generally)
- The callous indifference to the AIDS crisis
- The support for apartheid South Africa
- The ramping up of the war on drugs
- Iran-Contra (Bush’s role here was especially pernicious)
- The empowering of the religious right
And that’s just off the top of my head.
Make no mistake: the Reagan presidency was just as brutal, racist, and loathsome as the Trump or George W. Bush presidencies, and to have served in the Reagan administration is just as big a moral black mark as serving in either of those other two administrations. Even if George H.W. Bush had never done another thing in his life, being Ronald Reagan’s vice president is enough to earn him a place in the pantheon of evil.