Five days into the 1993 calendar – 15 days before his White House stay concluded – George H.W. Bush traveled to West Point for one last presidential address.
The event was short on bells and whistles. Gray-uniformed Army cadets provided the backdrop. The event opened with the National Emblem March and wrapped up with the West Point March. Bush’s reward for making the trek up the Hudson River: a cadet parka – a curious bit of clothing for a Navy man.
Bush 41 was all business that solemn day. He chose the venue to impart wisdom on what role the attending future warriors would play in global theatres. He chose not to pat himself on the back for peacefully concluding the Cold War and humiliating Saddam Hussein, but instead outlined America’s commitments as a triumphant superpower in a reshaped world.
Fast-forward 14 years and five days to Chicago’s Lakeside Center at McCormick Place and President Obama’s Tuesday evening “farewell address” before an effusive crowd – the second time, now, that an outgoing president said goodbye in a venue beyond the nation’s capital.