Did George W. Bush Really Bash President Trump?

There has been a lot of criticism from Trump supporters for President Bush after his speech on conservative values this week. The criticism stems from the perception that Bush was attacking Donald Trump in the speech, even though Bush never specifically mentioned Trump.

In the speech, Bush laid out the case for traditional conservative solutions and decried a number of disturbing trends that are rocking western countries. Among the problems that Bush cited are lack of public confidence in institutions and democracy, bigotry, casual cruelty, nativism, and isolationism. Pundits, both on the left and the right, assume this to be an attack on Trumpist populism.

What most observers miss is that many of these problems are as easily attributed to the left as to the right. For example, wasn’t it Barack Obama who argued that America should have a smaller role in world affairs and who led the national retreat from the world stage? With his opposition to free trade and interventionist foreign policy, Bernie Sanders can be called an isolationist as easy as Donald Trump.

It was also Barack Obama’s presidency that saw public faith in government shattered. Ironically, the president for whom government was the solution to every problem presided over eight years in which public confidence in almost every branch of government fell to historic lows.

With respect to bullying and bigotry, would Trump supporters and others on the right argue that Antifa and Black Lives Matter are not bullies and bigots who engage in casual cruelty? Leftist groups that promote violence in place of civil discourse and who value one ethnicity over others are as deserving of these labels as anyone.

But in fairness, President Bush’s words do bear a strong resemblance to President Trump as well. If the president’s partisans get defensive on these counts, it is probably because the general denunciation of policies and attitudes can be applied as easily to the new Republican Party as to the left. It is only by looking back to past Republican presidents, that we can fully see much the GOP has changed in recent years.

The “deficit of confidence” that President Bush named as “one of our worst national problems” applies not only to both Donald Trump and Barack Obama, but to Democrats and Republicans in general. For more than a decade, government has seemed incapable of addressing anything but the simplest problems. If you need a post office named, they can do that. Anything more significant gets bogged down in partisan stalemate.

President Bush’s speech was not aimed at Donald Trump. Or rather, it was not aimed only at Donald Trump. But it is understandable why Trump partisans would take offense. It is, after all, the truth.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

If The Shoe Fits, This Might Be Aimed At You

There’s a reason everything the left hears is a Rorschach about President Donald Trump. There’s a reason why they appear so clownishly ridiculous fawning over a speech by former President George W. Bush when less than a decade ago they were portraying Bush as a satanic chimpanzee who personally ordered every one of our Iraq and Afghanistan dead into a hail of killing bullets.

There’s a reason why Jonah Goldberg, after many hundreds of weeks penning “Dear Reader” gags for his G-File missives, finally ran dry writing about the Bush speech. See, Bush spoke of values born of a moored, externally-referenced world view, where the terms “rights,” and “civil” and “freedom” are imbued with transcendent meaning to all human culture.

The great unmoored

The progressive left pretends to buy into those meanings, but they have long unmoored the words from any external references. In Bush’s speech, the word “God” was only mentioned twice, and both times in the same general context.

We have 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.

Two political groups, both of whom have unmoored their value sets from an external reference point, saw that paragraph as a repudiation of Donald Trump, for good or for ill, depending on which group. But as Goldberg suggested, it in fact was a repudiation of both groups themselves. It was a form of the old phrase “if the shoe fits…”

The “American ideal” to which Bush referred is one he learned from the Eisenhower and Kennedy era, of the Cold War and the post World War II world order. It was one of order imposed by freedom-seeking people opposing the forces of tyranny and communism. But the schism is no longer defined that way.

It’s now in terms of President Trump’s “Western Civilization” speech given in Warsaw. The great foe is very similar to the one that preceded World War II, when communism was discussed favorably at dinner parties,. It was a period when Ayn Rand and Margaret Sanger and the value of Fascism to promote order and progress in savage humanity’s bosom were popular ideas on campuses and in many boardrooms (and newsrooms).

Western self-abolition

That was a time when “Western Civilization” was presumed to be white and Christian, and when intellectuals began to question the assumptions of the values of colonialism. When Swami Vivekananda arrived in Chicago in 1893, his opening remarks at the World Parliament of Religions swooned the crowd of 5,000, quoting from the Bhagavad Gita, with messages of faith and tolerance.

He called the world’s faithful to fight “sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism.” He may as well have been standing on the platform with George W. Bush.

India’s Hindus are not without blood on their hands, of course. And in India, as in much of the world outside of “Western Civilization,” criticism of their religion, history, or social order is today met with stern opposition, if not prison and violence. Only in the West are travesties like “Piss Christ” tolerated, while the foundations of faith are mercilessly attacked as the cause, not the cure, for our ails.

It’s not like this century-long trend (interrupted by a few wars, but those only slowed it) of Western rebellion, skepticism and self-bashing has gone unnoticed. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, rugged in his intellectual honesty, and afraid of no man, defined it very well in his 1978 Harvard commencement address. (Please, read the whole speech.)

Anguish about our divided world gave birth to the theory of convergence between leading Western countries and the Soviet Union. It is a soothing theory, which overlooks the fact that these worlds are not at all developing into similarity; neither one can be transformed into the other without the use of violence. Besides, convergence inevitably means acceptance of the other side’s defects, too, and this is hardly desirable.

I imagine that Solzhenitsyn would not be comfortable sharing the platform with Mr. Bush. However, he would agree with some of the basic foundations that drive Bush’s antiquated and disproven curatives.

I have spent all my life under a Communist regime, and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society that is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very small advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the issue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral medicrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses.

Then the dissident moved along this line into some topics which became very uncomfortable for the Harvard progressives in the audience. They’d be very uncomfortable to progressives today.

To be candid, they’d also be very uncomfortable for many Trump supporters. If the shoe fits…

A current paradox of sin

To bring this full-circle and out of the realm of heady intellectualism, look at California. Specifically look at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which just ruled that a challenge to the state’s 145-year-old law against prostitution (which as of 2017 isn’t really enforced anyway) may proceed.

The suit, brought by three ex-sex workers, a client, and the Erotic Service Providers Legal, Educational and Research Project, says California’s current laws violate the rights of people to engage in consensual sex. The Supreme Court backed up those laws 14 years ago when it revoked criminal laws against gay sex acts.

“Why should it be illegal to sell something that it’s legal to give away?” said Judge Carlos Bea, a conservative.

So in California, it may be okay to pay money for consensual sex with someone who may or may not be engaging in that transaction completely of their own free will. But it’s not okay to engage in consensual sex with a movie producer who may or may not end a woman’s career if she doesn’t.

Because women must be empowered to do whatever they must to do advance their careers, including selling their bodies, except when men expect them to sell their bodies in order to advance their careers. Except when their career is actually selling their bodies, for the benefit of men who call themselves pimps (or movie producers in the most lucrative branch of filmmaking, hard-core pornography).

In any logical world or mind, that’s total nonsense. It goes back to the old joke about would the woman have sex with the man for $1 million? Yes? Then what about $10? Upon her objection, “What kind of a woman do you think I am?” he replied, “We’ve already established that, now we’re just haggling over the price.”

California is a shining example of the progressive ideal gone exactly where it was meant to go. The solution is always just past the next fence, which must be knocked down for the sake of obtaining the solution.

It always leads to intellectual poverty, ideological tyranny, and eventually, actual poverty and tyranny, if left to fester unabated.

G.K. Chesterton wrote in “Orthodoxy,” 109 years ago, his very astute observations of rebellion against everything except pure skepticism. In every topic from law to ethics, to politics, to journalism, the progressive left rejects the foundations that support its own conclusions.

They are as unmoored as a ship at sea in a storm, rudderless and without charts or any reference to position. I leave you with Chesterton’s words, why the progressive leftist can laud Bush when they perceive his words to attack Trump, with whom he very well may agree more on many issues than they do.

But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time.

A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . . The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.

New: George W. Bush Delivers Impassioned Defense of American Values

President George W. Bush delivered a stunning speech in New York on Thursday at “The Spirit of Liberty” forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute. In the eloquent, 15 minute address, Bush warned against threats to democracy and American values.

Many observers believe that the speech contained veiled references to Donald Trump, even though a Bush never mentioned President Trump by name. In the speech, Bush warned against both external threats such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation as well as internal threats from lack of faith in government and institutions, bigotry, conspiracy theories and “outright fabrication.”

“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” Bush said in a widely quoted passage. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

Bush listed several recommendations for the future. First, he called for defenses against external threats, including Russian cyberattacks intended “to turn Americans against each other.” Second, Bush called for America to remain a global leader in freedom and free markets.

President Bush delivered an impassioned argument against bigotry as part of his third point, a focus on strengthening democratic citizenship. In a line that received sustained applause, Bush said, “It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”

Bush called “a deficit of confidence” the worst American problem, but ended the speech with a stirring tribute to the American spirit.

“The American spirit does not say, ‘We shall manage,’ or ‘We shall make the best of it,’” Bush said. “It says, ‘We shall overcome.’ And that is exactly what we will do, with the help of God and one another.”

Watch the full speech here: https://youtu.be/S2YlVZxu_L0

Read the full text of the speech here: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/19/full-text-george-w-bush-speech-trump-243947

 

Nancy Pelsoi’s Strange New Case of Bush Derangement Syndrome

Apparently, Nancy Pelosi does.

During an appearance last Sunday on This Week, host Jonathan Karl asked the once and (she hopes) future Speaker of the House about how Democrats would be able to work with Donald Trump if they come back into power after the 2018 midterm elections.  Undeterred by the possibility that she might not even be there if this Bernie Sanders fan gets his way and bumps her off in the primary, Pelosi did the usual spinning–but at one point, her mouth got ahead of her talking points and she had a bit of a slip:

I see everything as an opportunity. And I’ve never have seen so much willingness to help win. And winning means winning for the American people, that either we win or whoever wins understands the priorities of the American people. And they are not the President Bush — excuse me. So sorry, President Bush. I never thought I would pray for the day that you were president again. But…

Juicy!  Here’s a video clip in case you have some popcorn handy:

Now I could engage in a cheerful bon mot and make an observation about Pelosi having a senior moment, or perhaps imply that the Botox treatments are finally starting to take their toll–but we have standards here at The Resurgent (plus it would be kinda cruel going after such low-hanging fruit).  Besides, I don’t believe that Pelosi is so addled by nostalgia for her gavel that she’s pining away for the good old days.  It’s far more likely she’s just a political hack who thinks that Republican presidents are pretty much interchangeable.

It’s one of the many things about politics that drive normal people crazy.  Everybody knows that her empty “prayer” that W was still president doesn’t mean a damn thing.  The Democrats would still be fighting him tooth and nail, just as they did when he really was president.  Sure, they were more than happy to cooperate when W, offering an olive branch, gave away the store on the education bill and Medicare Part D;  but when he wanted the Dems to meet him halfway on practically any other issue, they opposed him every step of the way–which included Harry Reid’s infamous lie about the failure of the troop surge in Afghanistan, even as American troops were fighting there.  Despicable doesn’t begin to describe their behavior–but it would have been the same with any Republican president, even the biggest RINO squish in Washington.

Pelosi inserted “Bush” instead of “Trump” because to her–to all Democrats, really–they’re both the same.  In their view, the only good Republican is one who’s out of office.

The Grace of Former President George W. Bush

Whether you agreed with his brand of “compassionate conservatism” or not, former President George W. Bush remains a classy guy.

While appearing on NBC’s “Sunday Today,” promoting his new book, “Portraits of Courage,” President Bush was asked what advice he would give President Trump.

“I’d say the same advice I gave before: It’s a really hard job and I wish you all the best,” Bush told Willie Geist on Sunday TODAY.

Unlike his successor, when President Bush left the White House, he trusted that the people had spoken and he avoided making any commentary on what President Obama was doing.

In fact, even when Obama was slamming him, Bush remained stoic and in control, letting the words roll on past.

Class.

Now, as the nation grapples with a new president, and one who at the very least is equal to Bush in stirring controversy (if not more so), he still has kept his comments cursory, at best.

“It depends on what he asked,” he added.

Noting that he wants to see Trump succeed in office, Bush offered this suggestion to the current commander-in-chief: “You picked some really good people. Empower them and make sure they’re able to give you their unfettered advice.”

By “really good people,” the former president is impressed with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

He went on to say that while he felt going into Afghanistan and Iraq was the right thing to do, he did regret those lives lost and the injuries some of our servicemen and women suffered.

The new book is a compilation of portraits painted by the former president, and all proceeds will go to benefit the cause of injured vets.

The wild part is that President Bush was never an “artist” until he got out of office, but boredom led him to pick up a paintbrush, and he’s not half bad.

No, he’s no Rembrandt, but given his lack of formal training before then, and the fact that he has poured his heart into these paintings, I’d say he has done an amazingly good job, for a perfectly good cause.

In NBC Interview, Former President George W. Bush Reminds Us What It Was Like to Have an Adult in Charge

You can say what you will about former President George W. Bush, but he has always been the very epitome of class and grace.

He endured years of derision and disdain from Democrats, Hollywood, the media, and even some members of his own party, but if it bothered him (I’m sure it did), he steeled up his backbone and soldiered on.

What he did not do was take to social media to writhe, spit, whine, and complain, like a spoiled child, over every perceived slight.

It really does feel like Bush was the last time we had an adult in the White House.

The former president met with NBC’s Matt Lauer this morning to promote “Portraits of Courage,” a new book featuring paintings done by Bush, himself, in honor of America’s veterans.

While sitting with Lauer, naturally, the subject of current President Trump was broached, and President Bush was asked to opine on the job being done, so far.

Bush didn’t directly criticize Trump in an NBC interview on Monday, but he used his own time in office to contrast with what how the current president is using the presidency. When asked about Trump’s spats with the media, Bush said he never considered the press the “enemy of the American people” as Trump said last week.

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” Bush said. “We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be vindictive and corrosive, and we need the media to call out people who abuse their power.”

He added, “It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.”

This is a point I’ve made, over and over again.

The media is hideously left biased. There’s no getting around that.

However, what we don’t do is label the media “enemies of the American people,” because we have seen the chilling effects of pitting citizens against each other. We also know that a government unchecked can soon give way to tyranny.

Lauer went on to read one of Bush’s speeches, given days after the September 11, 2001 attacks, where he reached out to the Muslims to assure them that the U.S. was not at war with them.

President Bush would not use the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” because experts have said it confirms terrorists to be true Muslims.

I have my own views about how much of Islam promotes violence and compulsion against non-Islamic peoples, but I also understand the value of diplomacy in forging clear paths for dialogue.

Bush said freedom of religion, and not discriminating based on religion, are core American values.

“It’s very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to worship the way they want to, or to not worship at all,” he said.

And this is true, as well.

Bush was asked if he agreed with Trump’s immigration ban, and in true Bush fashion, he neither endorsed, nor condemned the policy, but remained neutral.

“I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and upholds the law,” he said.

Now, if we could get a few more adults in charge of following up on just that, maybe we could bring some peaceful resolution to what has been weeks of national chaos.

Inauguration Letter: Bush to Obama

Perhaps one of my favorite inauguration traditions as a writer is the Inauguration Day Letter from the outgoing president to the incoming president. While the letters are brief, they capture the character of the outgoing president and provide a source of inspiration mixed with a dose of reality for the president-elect.

We won’t know exactly what President Obama says in his note to President Donald Trump in the near future, unless he chooses to make the note public. But, we can guess based on President Obama’s final press conference and an interview he did with 60 Minutes that two pieces of advice might be that the president-elect should rely on his team (can’t do the job alone) and that “certain norms” and “institutional traditions don’t get eroded.”

There may be some unknowns about the Inauguration Day Letter that’s left in the Oval Office today, but we can look back to January 20, 2009 (thanks to the National Archives and Records Administration) and see what President George W. Bush included in his note to President Barack Obama.

Jan 20, 2009

Bush-to-Obama-Inauguration-Letter
Image courtesy of ABC News and National Archives and Records Administration

Dear Barack,

Congratulations on becoming our President. You have just begun a fantastic chapter in your life.

Very few have had the honor of knowing the responsibility you now feel. Very few know the excitement of the moment and the challenges you will face.

There will be trying moments. The critics will rage. Your “friends” will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead.

God bless you.

Sincerely,

GW

I had the honor to serve President Bush as a White House Intern in 2008. While the interns don’t get to spend a lot of candid time with the president, there were a few times that we got to see him when the cameras were off. I grew to admire his character the more I was there. He was a man of God – and that’s clearly reflected in his note – not just in the mention of having an Almighty God as a source of comfort, but also in saying that he will be pulling him, despite their political differences.

So when did this whole Inauguration Day Letter tradition start? Like so many awesome things, it started with President Ronald Reagan. President George H.W. Bush shared a glimpse of the note he received at President Reagan’s funeral – the heading? “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” According to President Bush’s description of the note, the stationary President Reagan used showed a group of turkeys trying to take an elephant down.

One final thought – Do you think President Reagan left any jelly beans to accompany his note?

Bush 43 To Attend Trump Inauguration, Will Clinton Follow?

The former president attendee list just doubled. George W. Bush announced that he and Laura Bush will attend Donald Trump’s inauguration as 45th President of the United States.

In a statement Tuesday, Bush’s office said the couple is “pleased to be able to witness the peaceful transfer of power — a hallmark of American democracy — and swearing-in of President Trump and Vice President Pence.”

I’m glad that Bush decided to attend. If the Koch brothers can’t even enjoy a nice round of golf at one of Trump’s courses, civility within the GOP has reached its nadir. Having Bush, who left office one of the least popular presidents in a half century (you can’t count Nixon), join Trump actually goes a long way toward party unity.

Former President Jimmy Carter, 92, will also attend, and hopefully not utter a single word from his sadly weakened mind. Bush 43’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, Carter’s elder by a mere 111 days, will not attend.

The only question left is if former President Bill Clinton (and his wife) will show up. Not that anyone there to see Trump would actually want to see Hillary, but #winning, right?