By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.
The passing of President George H. W. Bush has brought the whole nation to focus on his life and the contributions that he made to our country. President Reagan brought the Soviet Union down, but President Bush managed the clean-up of the Cold War. Eastern Europe emerged from the Berlin Wall. Although his service as President was only one term, he served President Reagan for 8 years. I don’t need to dwell so much on his accomplishments because they have been all over the news.
Let me tell you a little about the George Bush that I knew. When I arrived in Washington, D.C. as President Reagan’s Secretary of Agriculture in 1981, that was when I first met Vice President Bush. He was aware that I was a runner and one Friday he called me and asked if I would like to do a training run with him. He said, “Just meet me at my house.” I did. His chauffeur drove us to a bike trail and off we went. After the run, we went back to his house where we had a coke. We did that many times.
There was a 10K run and he asked if I would run it with him. I met him at his house and then into the limo and off we went. Just before the race was supposed to start, his security officer told me that the Vice President wouldn’t be able to do the run because they had been informed that President Reagan would be returning to the White House from the hospital.
You may recall he had been shot earlier that month. I understood that the Vice President should meet with the President upon his return from the hospital, but I asked if we couldn’t just do the run. I said, “We’ll run fast.” The security detail agreed. We ran the race, jumped into the limo and drove to the White House. We were both sweating from the run. I wasn’t aware, but Bush had his suit with him. He changed in the back of the limo – with shirt and tie. He looked great – ready to greet President Reagan. I looked a mess in shorts and sweaty shirt. Anyway, we did greet the President. I tried to stay out of sight most of the time.
I knew President Bush as a wonderful human being. He was on my farm in Illinois when we welcomed farm leaders from across the country. I am happy that he has been receiving the gratitude and respect that he deserves.
Next week, we’ll talk about the farm bill and trade.
John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill. If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.