Appearing as a guest on Thursday's CNN Tonight to preview the network's upcoming special on the Bush political family, CNN historian Tim Naftali was true to form as a CNN analyst as he praised President George H.W. Bush for, among other things, raising taxes, stating that he "owed it to all Americans," as he also complained that Bush ran a "dreadful" campaign in 1988, obviously referring to the Willie Horton issue.
At 11:52 p.m. Eastern, host Don Lemon set up the commentary by asking: "So, as we gain more distance from each of the Bush presidencies, what is time starting to reveal about each of these men and how they made their mark on America?"
The first thing is, of course, because they're human beings, they're flawed. As we move back, however in time, we should, I think, ask questions about the grander effect of their decisions. And, in the case of George Herbert Walker Bush, I think that, with time, people will become more and more appreciate of the hard calls that he made while he was in office.
He certainly wasn't perfect, and the 1988 campaign was quite dreadful. But he understood because of his life of service and, I think, because of his psychology, he understood how to handle the collapse of the Soviet empire -- first in Eastern Europe and then the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Then came the praise for tax increases as he added:
And, secondly, he understood that, despite the fact he had promised his base that he would not raise taxes, when staring into the abyss of a federal budget deficit, he recognized that he owed it to all Americans to break his promise not to raise taxes and take the political hit.