Welcome back to the political arena, Mr. President … even if you remain on the edges of it.
George W. Bush, who maintained stone-cold silence during Barack Obama’s presidency, has now decided to weigh in on some of the issues dogging the current occupant of the White House.
He is being a gentleman about it, but one cannot help but believe that his genteel approach to criticism masks an attitude with a bit more bite.
NBC’s “Today” host Matt Lauer interviewed the 43rd president this morning. Bush made quite clear that he disagrees with Donald J. Trump’s view that the media are “the enemy of the people” and that the war against terrorists isn’t a war against Islam.
The former president had made a pact that he wouldn’t criticize President Obama. He said the job of being president is difficult enough without former presidents weighing in with their own view of how to run the country. If Obama wanted his help, Bush said he could pick up the phone, call and ask for it.
As National Public Radio reported: “Lauer noted that President Bush — who took the country to war in Iraq and who presided over an economic crisis — faced plenty of criticism from the media while in office. Lauer asked Bush, ‘Did you ever consider the media to be the enemy of the American people?’
“Bush chuckled and then answered: ‘I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive. And it can be corrosive. And it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.'”
As for Trump’s assertion that the enemy are “radical Islamic terrorists,” Bush said: “You see, I understood right off the bat, Matt, that this is an ideological conflict, and people who murder the innocent are not religious people. They want to advance an ideology, and we have faced those kinds of ideologues in the past.”
I cannot get past the personal aspect of what the former president might think of the current president. It was Trump, you’ll recall, who called the Iraq War a “disaster.” He also launched intensely personal insults at the ex-president’s brother, Jeb, who was one of 15 Republican Party primary opponents that Trump vanquished on his way to the GOP nomination.
Bush didn’t attend the GOP convention; neither did Jeb, nor did the men’s father, former President George H.W. Bush.
Blood, as they say, is thicker than, well, almost any other substance.
No one should expect George W. Bush to throttle up his return to politics into a full-time endeavor. Still, I happen to one who welcomes his world view while the current president struggles to get past serious questions about national security and whether the Russians helped him get elected.