Vic Gold on George H.W. Bush Tuesday, Dec 4 2018 

This was written years ago at the request of USA Today, when those editors thought (as did his children) that Victor Gold would go on forever.

IMG_0988.JPGPhoto by Robert L. Knudsen, 1980.

The story was well-known at the time, but is worth retelling for the benefit of members of the Twitter Generation – those under the age of forty who remember George Bush the Elder only as a lively octogenarian with a penchant for parachuting out of airplanes on his birthday.

It goes like this: On the night of March 30, 1981, with President Ronald Reagan hospitalized after a failed assassination attempt, Vice President Bush landed at Andrews Air Force Base, following a hurried return from a trip to Fort Worth, Texas.

The nation’s capital was in a state of shock and confusion. With members of the Cabinet awaiting his arrival, Bush was advised by his Secret Service detail that for security reason he should helicopter directly to the White House South Lawn rather than take the inconvenient route of heading to the Vice President’s residence, then motorcading to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As Bush’s speechwriter at the time, I well remember the Vice President’s response: “No,” he said, “only the President lands on the South Lawn.”

So it was that, whatever the rush or inconvenience, George Herbert Walker Bush took the long way – but by his lights, the right way – to the White House that fateful night.

To those who knew and worked with him over the years, this was vintage Bush, a man of ingrained modesty, even in moments when the spotlight of history was on him.

In a political world of massive egos, it was a quality all-too-often mistaken for weakness, as when a newsmagazine, with front-cover emphasis, labeled him a “wimp.”

Some wimp. At age 18, with America’s entry into World War Two, he became the youngest aviator in the Navy, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after being shot down in combat. As a Houston, Texas congressman, he braved a rally of outraged segregationist constituents angered over his vote in favor of the civil rights open housing bill, telling them, in Edmund Burke’s words, “Your representative owes you not only his industry, but his judgment.”

And more: As director of the CIA – a job that would have buried the political future of a weaker man – Bush guided that troubled agency though one of the most dangerous periods of the Cold War.

And still more: As U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to Communist China, chairman of the Republican National Committee – the list goes on, for no American president in the 20th century entered the White House with his range of experience in taking on difficult (and politically risky) assignments.

Not to overlook that signature moment in George H. W. Bush’s presidency when, as commander-in-chief, he drew a line in the sand, putting together an unprecedented coalition to repel Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

All of which, given his more recent role as one of the country’s most-admired former presidents, makes an impressive resume for the Twitter Generation to consider; though Bush, true to form, discouraged all talk of his “legacy.”

As the last American president who could claim membership in the Greatest Generation, he would help build a presidential library on the Texas A&M campus for future generations to study his record. But time and again, despite the urging of friends (and publishers), George H. W. would turn down all requests to write his own presidential history. Appraising his record, he said, was for others to do.

Still, there was one concession he made to an interviewer who asked what, of all the things he’d done in life, was the accomplishment he was proudest of.

George the Elder thought a moment, then answered: “The fact that our children still come home.”

***                      ***                      ***

Victor Gold was co-author of George H. W. Bush’s personal memoir, Looking Forward.



-30- Thursday, Jun 8 2017 

Nearly four years ago, our father started his blog this way:

By popular demand (the same p.d. that urged Harold Stassen to run for president), I am entering the 21st century and starting a blog, The Wayward Lemming.
You can find it at
— Vic Gold
Although The Wayward Lemming blog is ending, his New Orleans style and wit live on. His children are publishing this final post for him, in the form of today’s Washington Post obituary.
Roll Tide, Daddy.

— Paige, Jamie and Stephen Gold

p.s. We’re still monitoring his email address at victorgoldwriter (at)

Post-election thought Thursday, Nov 10 2016 

Soundbite to remember

“There is a special Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America.” — Otto von Bismarck

Obviously, it took a day off Nov. 8; though the idiots and drunkards did turn out to vote.

A Doomsday Scenario… Monday, Jan 25 2016 

…for a presidential election now only nine months away: It begins as Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination with the acquiescence, if not support, of Republican Respectables like Bob Dole, Orrin Hatch, and Charles Grassley. (They know he’s a demagogic madman but they simply can’t stand Ted Cruz’s rudeness in the Senate cloakroom.) Trump then names Scott Walker as his running mate, reassuring the Respectable Right-Wing base, i.e., National Review and its readers, that if he gets to the White House at least there’ll be a sane conservative around to restrain him (as if Trump were ever to be restrained by a mere vice president).

At the same time, Hillary Clinton, a candidate so flawed she had a hard time putting away a 74-year-old Brooklyn socialist, takes the African-American and independent vote for granted by naming as her vice presidential running mate Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, overlooking (1) existing tension between the African-American and Hispanic base, which would diminish the African-American vote; (2) the fact that mainstream middle Americans, though not xenophobes, would have second thoughts about putting a young, little-known Hispanic named Castro one heartbeat away from the presidency; and (3) with Donald Trump, the “Mexican immigrants are rapists” candidate as her opponent, the Hispanic vote would have turned out if she’d named Donald Duck as her running mate (a Donald they’d consider preferable to the one she was running against).

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders supporters, as lunatic in their ideological purity as their Right-wing counterparts, place a Nader-like third-party candidate on the ballot in key states, and…

No. It’s all too far-fetched. Trump is a political hula-hoop, a fad that will soon pass way. It can’t happen here.


Sound bite to remember

Those princes who gain their princedoms by principled means do so with difficulty.

–Machiavelli, The Prince

Trump on Pennsylvania Avenue, 2016? Friday, Dec 4 2015 

The Washington Post, in a lead editorial on Donald Trump’s “politics of denigration” (11/29/15), deplores the fact that Republican leaders have not spoken out on Trump’s “despicable” campaign falsehoods and “mocking of others.” In previous editorials, the Post has condemned Trump for calling Mexicans “rapists,” favoring mass registry of Muslims and the closing of mosques, and for his vile comments about women and the disabled.

Oddly missing from the Post’s list of “despicable” falsehoods was his racist charge that blacks are the primary source of murders in this country – not only murders of other blacks but of whites and policemen. Not only did Trump make that charge but he posted a graphic fabricated by a neo-Nazi to support it.

Question 1: Why is it that the Post and other editorial voices outraged by Donald Trump’s vile campaign rhetoric have yet to address the issue of how such a racist xenophobe was allowed to acquire a historic landmark in the heart of Washington’s Federal Triangle – a 60-year lease on the Old Post Office building, halfway between the White House and Capitol?

The right to renovate the Old Post Office building into a modern hotel was handed to Trump, mind you, after a fierce bidding war with established and fiscally sound hotel developers. His typically grandiose, hyperbolic promise to “produce one of the great hotels anywhere in the world” persuaded Washington’s local officials – then-Mayor Vincent Gray, current Mayor Muriel Bowser, and congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton – that despite his record of hotel bankruptcies, Trump’s offer would prove a boon to the Washington economy. (Not to discount the possibility of other behind-the-scenes promises given Washington’s local officials.)

The artful deal was sealed in 2013, under pressure from Congressman Jeff Denham (R.-Cal.), subcommittee chairman for public buildings. Groundbreaking for the $200 million project came July 2014, a gala event centered around obsequious praise of Trump by Gray, Bowser, and Norton, who went so far as to say Washington would, thanks to him, finally have a first-class luxury hotel (ignoring the existence of the Four Seasons, two Ritz-Carltons, and the venerable 5-star Willard a block away).

Predictably, given Trump’s history of shameless self-promotion, problems weren’t long in coming. Once his campaign for the presidency got underway, he ordered a gigantic, block-long banner stretched across the reconstruction site, proclaiming COMING IN 2016 … TRUMP – offensive not only to the eye but the historic aesthetics of the Federal Triangle.

Protests followed, but – again predictably – local officials said there was nothing they could do about it. Then, after candidate Trump described Mexican immigrants as “rapists and criminals,” active street protests took place, leading Delegate Norton to ask that Trump apologize.

Not that he would but Norton, whose dealings with Trump deserve more attention than the Post has given them, didn’t pursue the matter. Nor has she or Mayor Bowser been heard to speak out on Trump’s racist use of neo-Nazi fabricated statistics regarding black crime.

Why not? Well after all, as Norton, Bowser and other local officials trumpeted at the groundbreaking a year ago, their friend Donald was bringing to the nation’s capital “a destination for power brokers, international visitors and luxury travelers.”

Oh, about the descriptive “international” – that’s actually the name the destination, when completed, will be known by: TRUMP’S INTERNATIONAL HOTEL; though judging by the owner’s campaign rhetoric, no Muslim, Mexican, Chinese or African American travelers need apply for reservations.

Question 2: How much “despicable” hate-filled rhetoric will it take for local authorities to speak out and take action to review and revoke the leasing of an historic Pennsylvania Avenue landmark to a revealed and unapologetic racist?

Sound bite to remember

“There but for the grace of God goes God.”

–Winston Churchill on Sir Stafford Cripps (1945) and what Winnie, if alive, would say of Donald Trump (2015)


Have You Called Your Mama? Monday, May 11 2015 

No Mother’s Day passes without anyone connected with the University of Alabama remembering Coach Bear Bryant’s indelible holiday commercial for Bell South Central in the mid-’70s. In it the Bear, on script, looked into the camera and allowed he always told his players to stay in touch with home, asking, “Have you called your Mama today?”

Then, off-script and to the utter surprise of Frank Lee, the ad agency executive in charge of the taping, Bryant added, “I wish I could call mine.”

Like the Coach, I am many years beyond being able to call mine. But this Mother’s Day, the Bear’s prompting in mind, I did the next possible thing. I paid homage to the best mother I know, the one who brought our three children into the world and gave them the love and guidance needed during those formative years when their narrow-focused father was on the political road intent on saving the country from the ravages of . . . I forget what.

A straight-A Phi Beta Kappa in physics, with a minor in biology, there is no telling how far Dale Solomon might have gone working for Sloan Kettering in cancer research had she not opted to partner with a middling law student of uncertain future. She had come of age as an apolitical Southern girl whose worldview was influenced by a Mississippi-born Birmingham lawyer, an Atticus Finch-type who, though hardly a civil-rights activist, expressed his opinion of local segregation laws by routinely passing the elevators set aside for whites each morning to take the one marked COLORED. David Solomon did not live to see those laws changed, but his daughter, up to the challenge of being a quiet contrarian, did.

So it was that when, years later, integration was ordered for the public schools of Virginia, our children’s elementary school principal called on Dale to help keep the peace and offset any incipient blowback from segregationist parents given to the state legislature’s philosophy of “massive resistance.”

And so it was that when change came across the broad political spectrum, she passed on to our children the quiet contrarian ability to think beyond the obvious to a larger truth: When Max Robinson became the first African American to anchor a news show, it was Dale who looked at the screen and asked, “Where have they been?” Seeing and thinking, while less perceptive viewers were wrapped up in the idea of progress, of the scores of qualified African American newsmen who had been ignored over the years by the self-congratulating “progressive” network suits.

And so it was that even in fields where her interest and experience are, to put it mildly, less than avid, Dale’s fresh, perceptive eyes take note of things that escape the experts (like her husband); as when, looking at a news photo of one of Bryant’s starting defensive lines – consisting of six African American players and one white – she could point to the white lineman and say, “He must be very good.”

And so it was on this particular Mother’s Day, going over a list of possible gifts I might ­­offer (a call, in this texting age being as our grandchildren say, so yesterday), I pulled out of memory a debt long owed her: Ten dollars received from Reader’s Digest, payment for a line credited to me but which was actually hers.

The context of our conversation I forget, but whatever it was, after I’d spouted off, my quiet contrarian life partner set me straight with the observation, “The squeaking wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced.”

A line so good I included it in my next article for Washingtonian magazine, without attribution. Readers Digest picked it up and the rest is plagiaristic history.

Debt paid yesterday morning, we had a happy Mother’s Day brunch. Our children approved, as I’m sure, did the Bear.


Sound bite to remember

I respect faith, but it’s doubt that gets you an education.
–Wilson Mizner (though often wrongly attributed to Mark Twain)