Nancy Reagan made an unwitting connection when she recalled her final flight with Reagan on Air Force One as they left the White House in 1989. "As the champagne was poured and glasses were raised, someone shouted: 'Mission accomplished, Mr. President. Mission accomplished.'"
Former state Sen. Jim Brulte, R-Rancho Cucamonga, remembered the days when he was a "flunky junior nobody" in the Reagan administration. "The first Gorbachev summit," he noted, "ended in 'failure' because Reagan wouldn't give away the store." But it wasn't failure.
It was an episode in a campaign won, Bush noted, because of Reagan's "resolve." While Bush is different in many ways -- Reagan was supremely confident in himself and secure in his skin; for all his bluster, Bush is less self-assured -- they both shared a vision of what this world could be.
And so as political heat blasted this administration, amid stories of a petty feud with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and as serious legal problems threaten top White House aides, Bush had reason to dream of the day when the rancor is past -- the day when a president's children are no longer the stuff of negative stories, his work habits no longer the stuff of derision and his speech no longer fodder for late-night talk shows.
How America sees Bush depends completely on what happens in Iraq and the war on terrorism. While the outcome is uncertain, the goal, to Bush, is clear.
Dennis Revell, the widower of Maureen Reagan, mused: "History is seldom an instantaneous pat on the back. That time will come for this president, as well."