In Praise of George W. Bush (No Kidding)

Where was this guy while Dick Cheney was running the country?

Granted, George W. Bush has been looking a lot better during the disaster that is Donald Trump…but I’m still dumbfounded (and awed) by his speech last week at the Bush Institute’s Spirit of Liberty event in New York.

A few quotations:

“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”

 “Bigotry in any form is blasphemy against the American creed and it means the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation. We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools.”
“And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.”

“The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization.”

“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions, forgetting the image of God we should see in each other. We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, [and] forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.”

In a further reproach to Trump–whose name he never uttered and who has dismissed the evidence–Bush also underscored the conclusion of all the American intelligence agencies about Russian interference in last year’s elections, calling it real and labelling it “subversion.”

Credit where credit is due: during his presidency, Bush never came across as a bigot, although he often failed to push back against his party’s use of bigotry and especially homophobia to win elections.

It is obviously easier for politicians who are not facing another election to call out Trumpism, as we’ve seen with John McCain and Bob Corker. But it is also easier to refrain from publicly defying a sitting President of one’s own party, easier to avoid setting an example that cannot help but shame the current leadership of that party. Easier to keep your head down and enjoy the accolades that come from being an “elder statesman.”

Bush’s broadside is so important because it is his party (or more accurately, what his party has become). Trump ran as a Republican. The House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. Admonitions from Democrats–even previous Presidents–will be dismissed by the party’s base as partisan carping.

As welcome as this speech was, the fact that Bush delivered it is an ominous sign of how worried responsible people are. Those who understand government, who recognize the challenges facing the country and the incredible damage being done to America’s democracy at home and our stature abroad, are speaking up, and we need to recognize how  unprecedented that is.

Differences of opinion on policies would never prompt this behavior. Only a deep foreboding–a sense of existential crisis–can explain this departure from Presidential behavioral norms.

When George W. Bush feels it necessary to warn the country against Trump and Trumpism, we’re in trouble. Bigly.


  1. Gerald,

    “Marv – I am familiar with Wendy’s record and her tenure at Harvard (where she probably took one or more bankruptcy courses taught by my current choice for president, Professor and now Senator Elizabeth Warren). These two and other women I could identify are on the cutting edge of a new Democratic Party…..”

    I’m in total agreement with you on Elizabeth Warren, but we’re going to need a complimentary list of viable candidates in all 50 states. It’s imperative that we win back Congress in 2018 as well as elect the next President in 2020.

    In any event, it is going to take many years to recover from the damage already inflicted on America and the rest of the World in just a few months. The “bleeding” needs to be stopped as soon as humanly possible. We all owe it to Planet Earth.

  2. From San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman, Critic:

    “There’s just no way around it: This month’s visits from Indianapolis Symphony to San Francisco Davies Symphony Hall by the magnificent young Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbanski constitute the most exciting development on the San Francisco Symphony’s horizon in a good long while.

    “It’s not easy to write about Urbanski’s remarkable podium gifts without gushing, but let’s give it a try. His conducting combines a masterful precision of detail with a command of the broader expanse of even the most challenging repertoire. He seems to have inspired the Symphony musicians to remarkable feats of instrumental prowess even beyond what they normally muster. He brings a charismatic star power to every performance that makes him as thrilling to watch as to listen to.”

    Urbanski makes his triumphal return to the Indianapolis Symphony November 10 and 11 to conduct music of Haydn and Brahms.

  3. Marv – Removing Trump from the Oval Office would be a good first step – and I do agree that we have to start paying more attention to statehouse elections, especially with the looming possibility of a Constitutional Convention and gerrymandering run amok. We need to recruit good and fearless candidates who can go to such Republican bastions as Kansas and Wyoming and tell the truth, and tell it again and again. Otherwise, we can let seat after seat go uncontested while sucking up Wall Street money to no avail. It is important to go after state houses since the bicentennial gerrymandering game is only a few years away (which may not be such a problem if the case pending before the Supreme Court is decided favorably). However, even the court’s favorable finding may not be helpful if governors fail to implement such findings and instruction or otherwise delay enforcement of such decision, and besides, it is not too early to start planning for 2018 and 2020 in any event. We have work to do.

  4. Gerald,

    “We need to recruit good and fearless candidates who can go to such Republican bastions as Kansas and Wyoming and tell the truth, and tell it again and again.”

    “….and besides, it is not too early to start planning for 2018 and 2020 in any event. We have work to do.”

    Our candidates must be armed with the BEST VERBAL AMMUNITION that can be provided. At present, what VERBAL ammunition that has been available has been grossly inadequate due to the conflicting interests within our most important pro-democracy NGO as well as the lack of courage of our national media.

    As you suggested, let’s start saying it the way it really is. Possibly, this might help create a bit of COMPETENCE and/or COURAGE where it is has been absent in the places where it is needed most.

    If this isn’t necessary, why have we had to turn to “The Guardian” in London for our best in depth news coverage?

  5. Gerald,

    Earlier today, I purchased the domains and also Let’s be online before Thanksgiving. Have a great week.

  6. I was surprised that W spoke out at length. But not surprised at his point of view. I thought he was remarkably clueless, and less prepared than most, as a president, but he was never mean, cruel, discriminatory, or mannerless. The one time I could truly respect and applaud his leadership was right after 9-11, when he stood up against ill treatment of Muslims, and said strongly and with principle, that as Americans we do not behave that way – that we do not bully and torment others. Unfortunately, we have come to see that a surprisingly strong subgroup of Americans are bullies. They like cruelty. They like fights. They like humiliating and hurting others, and they like watching someone else attack, humiliate, and belittle people. Of course they voted for trump, who enjoys cruelty as sport and entertainment.

  7. Marv – I, too, am not a candidate for anything. I am also not positioned to actively do on the ground organizing of a new Democratic Party. However, I may be able along with others to serve as an idea man in putting together a new philosophical base with a view toward re-energizing the party and winning elections. I think there is only room in this country for one political party to be aligned with Wall Street and that that slot belongs to the Republican Party. I, like FDR, do not fear Wall Street. FDR called out the forces of greed and told us he welcomed their hatred the Saturday before the election in 1932 – and won big.
    We probably have others who are concerned about the future of our party who could and would serve in the return of this party to its roots in not only a Big Tent but in a gigantic tent that covers this country from sea to shining sea composed of all comers, and if we could identify such would-be activists and perhaps have a merger of people and interests with a view toward reform of our party we might start a political prairie fire on a windy day within our party and become a force for liberal reform. Can’t happen? Check out FDR’s adoption of Keynesian economics that laid waste to the laissez faire policies of his three Republican predecessors who gave us a hair-raising depression. It worked gloriously, only to again be sidetracked by Reagan’s inane adoption of trickledown economics (aka give it to the rich and put it to the rest of us) and flag-wrapped oil wars of the Bush-Cheney regime.
    There are also other areas, such as world leadership, which would need new ideas apart from our gunboat diplomacy as presently practiced. I think we must first organize the organization that will be tasked to carry out such reforms within our party, and that I leave to others who, literally, want to save our country and the democratic institutions that undergird it, as I do. Athenian democracy only lasted 169 years before Roman legions ended it, largely because the Greek city-states warred with one another and were so weakened that the Roman invasion was a cakewalk in the park. I fear greatly that we are approaching a similar situation today in politically divisive terms that are weakening our social cohesion, which will set us up for another invasive cakewalk by such as Bannon and his Leninism, which would end our democracy. As to organization, how about an email and/or twitter effort in seeking out those who are honestly interested in seeking reform of our party – or whatever other means one can employ to organize the organization, including, perhaps, some of the commentators on Sheila’s blog? Fruitcakes and fifth columnists will apply, of course, but they can be purged later when their treachery is discovered. Whatever – I am not an organizer. What do you think?

  8. Gerald,

    “Marv-I…..I am not an organizer. What do you think?”

    I think, you “hit the nail on the head.”

    First, as you said, we must organize. Either or can be the CENTRAL NODE for the NEW NETWORK. Since we’re coming from the OUTSIDE, we must move STRATEGICALLY in order to enter the INSIDE of the Democratic Party.

  9. Well,obviously the Democrats want to continue losing…

    An excerpt:”The new members-at-large of the Democratic National Committee will vote on party rules and in 2020 will be convention delegates free to vote for a primary candidate of their choice. They include lobbyists for Venezuela’s national petroleum company and for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.”

  10. Trump accomplishments up to now. NEW RECORD IN THE DOW TODAY….60 SINCE THE ELECTION…
    1. Supreme Court Judge Gorsuch
    2. 59 missiles dropped in Syria
    3. He took us out of TPP
    4. Illegal immigration is now down 70%( the lowest in 17 years)
    5. Consumer confidence highest since 2000 at index 125.6
    6. Mortgage applications for new homes rise to a seven year high
    7. Arranged from 7% to 24% Tariff on lumber from Canada
    8. Bids for border wall are well underway
    9. Pulled out of the lopsided Paris accord
    10. Keystone pipeline approved
    11. NATO allies boost spending by 4.3%
    12. Allowing VA to terminate bad employees
    13. Allowing private healthcare choices for veterans
    14. More than 600,000. Jobs created
    15. Median household income at a 7 year high
    16. The Stock Market is at the highest ever in its history
    17. China agreed to American import of beef
    18. $89 Billion saved in regulation rollbacks
    19. Rollback of A Regulation to boost coal mining
    20. MOAB for ISIS
    21. Travel ban reinstated
    22. Executive order for religious freedom
    23. Jump started NASA
    24. $600 million cut from UN peacekeeping budget
    25. Targeting of MS13 gangs
    26. Deporting violent illegal immigrants
    27. Signed 41 bills to date
    28. Created a commission on child trafficking
    29. Created a commission on voter fraud
    30. Created a commission for opioids addiction
    31. Giving power to states to drug test unemployment recipients
    32. Unemployment lowest since May 2007
    33. Historic Black College University initiative
    34. Women In Entrepreneurship Act
    35. Created an office for illegal immigrant crime victims
    36. Reversed Dodd-Frank
    37. Repealed DOT ruling which would have taken power away from local governments for infrastructure planning
    38. Order to stop crime against law enforcement
    39. End of DAPA program
    40. Stopped companies from moving out of America
    41. Promoted businesses to create American Jobs
    42. Encouraged country to once again – ‘Buy American and hire American’
    43. Cutting regulations – 2 for every one created
    45. Review of all trade agreements to make sure they are America first
    46. Apprentice program
    47. Highest manufacturing surge in 3 years
    48. $78 Billion promised reinvestment from major businesses like Exxon, Bayer, Apple, SoftBank, Toyota
    49. Denied FBI a new building
    50. $700 million saved with F-35 renegotiation
    51. Saves $22 million by reducing white house payroll
    52. Dept of Treasury reports a $182 billion surplus for April 2017 (2nd largest in history)
    53. Negotiated the release of 6 US humanitarian workers held captive in Egypt
    54. Gas prices lowest in more than 12 years
    55. Signed An Executive Order To Promote Energy Independence and Economic Growth
    56. Has already accomplished more to stop government interference into people’s lives than any President in the history of America
    57. President Trump has worked with Congress to pass more legislation in his first 100 days than any President since Truman
    58. Has given head executive of each branches 6 month time frame, dated March 15, 2017, to trim the fat, restructure and improve efficiency of their branch. (Observe the push-back the leaks the lies as entrenched POWER refuses to go silently into that good night!)
    59. Last, refused his Presidential pay check. Donated it to Veterans issues

  11. I like E. Warren better than Wendy and I met Wendy. I’m excited about Beto ORourke for Senate.

  12. Marge,

    I like all three. They need to represent the future of the Democratic Party. The “old guard” must be SUCCESSFULLY challenged early on. The Sanders campaign should be a vital learning experience in that regard.

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