Principle over Politics? The Domestic Policy of the George H. W. Bush Presidency

By Richard Himelfarb; Rosanna Perotti | Go to book overview

Questions and Answers

Antonia Novello, Moderator. So, there you have all the presentations, and now we will have the floor open for discussion. But as the prerogative of the person who has been in charge of this, I want to say that one of the things that really I look back on and it kind of saddens me—so many things that happened during the Bush presidency, specifically in the Department of Health, and now, when they get mentioned, people assume that it’s to this current administration’s credit and not to ours. With respect to that, the women’s health issues bill passed in 1992—$600 million, fourteen centers—to study the woman through her lifecycle. That came out during the Bush administration. The biggest fight against tobacco was done by Dr. Sullivan in addressing Uptown cigarettes and with yours truly marching against old Joe Camel and big tobacco, when I told him, “It’s time to take a hike.” And now I see everybody’s trying to dismiss this and not remember the short Puerto Rican surgeon general that took on Joe Camel in 1992.

I also remember the health agenda for the Hispanics during the time of Bush, with the participation of Columba Bush, which now is still the same agenda in the books and nothing has been done, even though the Hispanics will be the emerging majority of the year 2000, three years from today. We also were the ones who did the AIDS Report—not in the little drawings that were done during the times of Dr. Koop but with words and pictures that were appropriate for the time, and whose distribution was to be requested through a 1–800 phone number rather than distributed to all the houses, as the previous report was.

And most importantly, when we did health care, I remember many times when President Bush used to say, “Let’s do the five A’s: Available, Accessible, Affordable, Accountable, and Affable.” And that also was lost.

But more than anything, I remember the useless fight that we had over the spelling of potato, while no one screamed when someone in the Clinton administration said, “I don’t know how a Republican can be called a Christian.” But more than anything, I think that when a president confuses the Gettysburg Address with the Constitution and no one is disturbed, then we understand from where the press is coming. The press was always telling more things about Bush than they have said about this administration. With that in mind, I open the floor for discussion, whether for responders or the presenters, or the audience, or both. Senor Sununu, identify yourself, please.

John Sununu: I used to work for the president. I do want to comment on three or four things, because I am very concerned that a conference as significant as this make sure it has a fact base that is correct. In terms of the repeal of the catastrophic component of Medicare, there is one reason primarily for the repeal of that, and that is the senior citizens surrounding Congressman Rostenkowski’s car, and if you don’t think that was the reason and you think it had something to do with the

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