It’s amazing, really, how one word can dog a person. Newsweek applied the “W word” to former President George Bush in 1987. And people repeated it until it stuck for the same reason characterizations stick today in social media: People often believe what they’re told to believe, and much of politics is marketing.
Not a particularly popular president, and certainly one whose political strategies are fair game for questioning (See Atwater, Lee), George Bush nonetheless is the only living president who actually fought in a war, enlisting when he was 18. It wasn’t for show when he parachuted out of a burning plane during a battle in the South Pacific.
It’s a safe bet that the writers at Newsweek never did, but the word stuck anyway.
It took 24 years for the magazine to correct its characterization of the former president, which it did in 2011, reporting on Bush’s trip as vice president to confront the death squads of El Salvador.
Wimps don’t generally jump out of perfectly good aircraft on their 90th birthday.