Go Ahead, Admit It: George W. Bush Is a Good Man


Ron Fournier @ National Journal:

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer walked into the media cabin of Air Force One on May 24, 2002, and dropped identical envelopes in the laps of two reporters, myself and Steve Holland of Reuters. Inside each was a manila card – marked by a small presidential seal and, in a simple font, “THE PRESIDENT.”

Handwritten in the tight script of President George W. Bush, both notes said essentially the same thing: “Thank you for the respect you showed for the office of the President, and, therefore, the respect you showed for our country.”

What had we done? Not much, really. An hour earlier, at a rare outdoor news conference in Germany, Steve and I decided to abide by the U.S. media tradition of rising from our seats when the president entered our presence. The snickering German press corps remained seated. “What a contrast!” Bush wrote. “What class.”

I dug out Bush’s thank-you note this week while contemplating the opening of his presidential library Thursday, a milestone that most journalists will use to assess the 43rd president’s legacy. The record includes Bush’s responses to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and bogus claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – all worth exploring skeptically.

But I’m going to take a few paragraphs to discuss something that gets less attention from the White House press corps – the essential humanity and decency of our presidents.

Bush’s note, a simple gesture, spoke volumes about his respect for the office of the presidency. He did not thank us for respecting him. He knew it wasn’t about George W. Bush. He was touched instead by the small measure of respect we showed “for our country.”

The same sense of dignity compelled Bush to forbid his staff to wear blue jeans in the White House. Male aides were required to wear jackets and ties in the Oval Office.

He was a stickler for punctuality. Long-time adviser Karen Hughes asked him years ago why he was always early for appointments. “Late is rude,” Bush replied. He thought that if people were going to take the time to see him, he shouldn’t keep them waiting.

He remembered names of the spouses and children of his staff, and insisted that hard work at the White House not be an excuse to let family life suffer. One steamy summer day in 1999, then-Gov. George W. Bush called me with an exclusive interview and interrupted my first question. “What’s all that noise in the background, Fournier?” he asked.

“I’m at the pool with my kids, governor.”

Bush replied, “Then what the hell are you doing answering your phone?”

Damn good question, sir. We quickly ended the interview.

His record as commander-in-chief will be long debated, as it should be. But for this story, at least, let’s remember that Bush insisted upon meeting U.S. troops and their families in private and after his public events, so that he could give them undivided attention.

He told his staff, “I never want to look at my watch and say, ‘I’ve got to go.’ ”

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Companion piece:

Understandably, Bush and his successor don’t have much of a relationship. Despite campaigning in 2008 against what he termed Bush’s failed Presidency, Obama is said to feel a kinship with 43 from the shared responsibilities of the world’s most daunting government job and their membership in the country’s most exclusive men’s club. But calling their policy differences vast is a gross understatement.

Bush supports Obama’s aggressive escalation of drone strikes to take out terrorists but thinks the administration has made a mess of relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan and projects weakness in dealing with adversaries like Iran and North Korea. He also disdains Obama’s attempts to raise taxes on the wealthy, his soaring budget deficits and landmark health-care law.

When asked about Obama in Q&A sessions after his frequent lectures, however, Bush meticulously takes the high road, politely declining to criticize his successor. His stock answer: “I want my President to succeed because when my President succeeds my country succeeds, and I want my country to succeed.”

Brothers Jeb and Marvin are incensed that Obama continues to blame their older sibling for assorted policy headaches four years after inheriting them. Their mother Barbara Bush is also known to be irked. But 43 “is perfectly willing to turn the other cheek” about the brickbats, a friend who speaks with him regularly said.

Obama political handlers deny they’re still making Bush the poster child for saddling Obama with two unpaid wars, an unfunded Medicare prescription drug benefit and the 2008-09 financial meltdown.

“The President thinks he did what he thought was best for the country and we respect that,” a senior Obama adviser countered, lauding Bush as “a gracious ex-President.”

“As time goes by Bush will benefit from the comparison with Obama,” Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford’s Hoover Institution predicted. “If Obama had been a Bill Clinton-like figure he would have made Bush look like the caricature his opponents have suggested. But Obama has been a great gift for Bush – he’s as polarizing a figure as Bush was.”

As politicians and academics parse his historical net worth in perpetuity, Bush is delighted to remain on the sidelines.

“He loves his granddaughter, he loves playing golf, he loves making money and he loves making a difference,” a Bush stalwart said. “And he enjoys the hell out of saying what’s on his mind without a microphone being stuck in his face anymore.”

He’s the nicest criminal I’ve seen! Lol!

Rewriting George Bush History By Jennifer Rubin

@This one:

He’s the nicest criminal I’ve seen! Lol!

You mean like the current criminal in the White House that is not nice?

Take any current article on any number of things: Benghazi, Boston bombing, Fort Hood jihadist, attending a Planned Parenthood dinner while ignoring the people of West, the lies about Fast and Furious, et al, and put Bush’s name in the article instead of Obama’s. How differently do you think the press would be reacting to all those stories?

A good man to have a beer with, maybe.

My opinion is that Bush would have been vilified for any action he took, simply because he was a Republican (actually, any Repub in the Oval Office is demonized by a small faction of fame-driven children: the media). Pop Culture had already been so infused with scapegoating the Right for all of America’s problems, not to mention the new expectation that a President be a celebrity, not a leader.

Bush was a leader, a real person.

Obama is a pop star, a facade.

It merely shows the ignorance of the mob in continuing to pin their “daddy issues” on George W. Bush.

The Democratic Party is so broken, so compromised . . . I hope some responsible people step forward (Like my Governor, John Hickenlooper) to clean it up.

We need another President like Bush: unfazed by social fads and the exploited masses. He honored the seal of the President of the United States rather than making his own symbol . . . like Lenin, Hitler, well, you know the rest.

@retire05: Wow, you got all the Fox News talking points there! Good for you! Obama didn’t ignore warnings and let 911 happen then invade a country with no ties to the act and hill hundreds of thousands.

And oh, by the way, Bush started ‘fast and furious.’

But we all know, Bush was not the President. He was Cheney’s puppet and now he wallows in his self imposed exile because of it, making paintings of his feet in a bathtub and drinking til he passes out.

@This one:

Wow, you got all the Fox News talking points there! Good for you!

Well, since I rarely watch Fox, your record of shooting blanks remains intact.

Obama didn’t ignore warnings and let 911 happen then invade a country with no ties to the act and hill hundreds of thousands.

Since I assume that you are talking about a vague PDB, you’re right. Obama just ignored a Islamic terrorist attack at Fort Hood. Oh, and he did not refuse an offer to kill bin Laden when the Saudis offered bin Laden up on a silver platter. That was another Democrat POTUS.

And oh, by the way, Bush started ‘fast and furious.

Nooooooooooo, Bush initiated another program that was also shut down when it was realized that the guns could not be tracked, using their homing systems, once they were placed in storage.

Congratulations, having you here to represent the left wing proves what low information voters you, and your ilk, really are.