Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day. This week’s question: What were your reactions to the opening ceremony of the Bush Presidential Library attended by five living presidents?
The Independent Sentinel: President Obama sold himself as the non-politician when he ran for office in 2007. He was not a DC insider. He was going to change the way Washington operates.
President Obama’s speech at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas, Texas Thursday morning seemed to prove the opposite.
President Obama politicized the event by making his pitch for immigration reform:
Seven years ago, President Bush restarted an important conversation by speaking with the American people about our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And even though comprehensive immigration reform has taken a little longer than any of us expected, I am hopeful that this year, with the help of Speaker Boehner and some of the senators and members of Congress who are here today, that we bring it home — for our families, and our economy, and our security, and for this incredible country that we love. And if we do that, it will be in large part thanks to the hard work of President George W. Bush.
The man who was supposed to be a man of the people is pretty much a PAC hack.
He never stops campaigning and he never lets a good crisis go to waste.
The Razor: I didn’t pay much attention except for the press reaction to Bush. It’s clear that Bush Derangement Syndrome is in decline, especially since Obama has followed many of Bush’s policies. I find it interesting that Bush’s poll numbers are now the same as Obama’s, and they’re likely to continue growing. Bush has also showed greater dignity than any of the other living presidents with the exception of his father by avoiding the limelight – something that seems impossible for both Clinton and Carter. His silence speaks volumes, and proves he simply outclasses the other living presidents and makes his detractors look petty.
Rhymes With Right: My reaction? YAWN!
This is one of those events that happens a few years after the end of a presidency. Whether the former president whose library is being dedicated was loved or hated, all the members of the club gather and make nice.
Of course, Bill Clinton said something wildly inappropriate.
Obama was gracious as expected — because he expects his successor to likewise speak kindly of him.
And Dubya was himself — the man we all had personal affection for even as we disagreed with him.
But if I am to point to any single thing said that day, it would be this from the speech given by George W. Bush:
I believe that freedom is a gift from God and the hope of every human heart. Freedom inspired our founders and preserved our union through civil war and secured the promise of civil rights. Freedom sustains dissidents bound by chains. Believers huddled in underground churches. And voters who risked their lives to cast their ballots. Freedom unleashes creativity, rewards innovation and replaces poverty with prosperity. And ultimately freedom lights the path to peace.
The words are beautiful and they are true.
But I wonder — did Dubya leave the American people as free as we were when he took office? Has his successor increased or decreased our freedom since January 20, 2009 and what is he likely to do in that regard in the remaining years of his presidency?
Bookworm Room: I didn’t have much of a reaction. Some people praised Jimmy Carter’s surprisingly gracious speech, but I don’t think that gives him a pass on a hostility to Israel that’s tantamount to antisemitism. Barack Obama was as tacky as always (it’s all about me and let’s talk about giving citizenship to illegal immigration), but that was scarcely surprising, since we’ve come to expect narcissistic crassness from him. Otherwise, he did a fine, albeit bland job. Clinton looked dreadful. Bush Sr. looked fragile.
The only thing I really enjoyed about the whole thing was a photo I saw. I’m still wondering what occasioned these expressions:
Beyond that, I was reminded once again what a gentleman George W. Bush was and is.
JoshuaPundit: I was seriously tempted to avoid this one, just to be nice but…
I rate George W. Bush as one of our worst presidents, along with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and my first thought was that George W. Bush fit in with the group quite well, with the exception of his father, whom at least got the Saudis and the Emirates to pay the tab for pushing Saddam back out of Kuwait and had the common sense to listen to advisers like Dick Cheney on why invading Iraq itself was a seriously bad idea.
Dubbya looks good only in comparison to his successor, President Obama, and that’s frankly a pretty low bar. And I say that as someone whom voted for him and worked on his campaign in 2004.
You know what occurred to me when I saw a picture of these particular presidents? Who paid for that library?
There’s been a huge involvement with Arab money and the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood here in America, and these presidents all had a part in it. All of them built their libraries and made a nice dollar after leaving office with substantial Saudi and Emirates funding, starting with the execrable Jimmy Carter.
Muslim immigration to America has increased over forty percent since George W. Bush took office, he was almost as big an apologist for Islamism as President Obama and President Bush made a habit of speaking in Jihadi mosques run by the Brotherhood.
Bill Clinton became a seriously wealthy man as a consequence of a ‘business opportunity he was given after he left office by the Sultan of Dubai. Small wonder that when President George W. Bush wanted to turn the security of our ports over to the Sultan of Dubai (remember Portgate?), Mr. Bill was hired as a consultant to lobby congress at a seven figure sum. He was by no means alone.
A great deal of the Bush family money is involved in the Carlyle Group, a huge mega-hedge fund mainly run by former cabinet members, influential congressmen and yes, a few former presidents. President Bush worked directly for the Carlyle Group. He was appointed in 1990 to the Board of Directors of one of Carlyle’s first acquisitions, an airline food business called Caterair, until he left in 1992 to run for Governor of Texas.
Former President George H.W. Bush was a senior adviser to the firm from April 1998 to October 2003, specializing in bringing in investment capital from the Arabs, including a couple of million from the bin-Laden family, which was liquidated after 9/11. He was chairman emeritus until recently and in 2007 shepherded through a deal to have another of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi buy a 7.5% equity stake in the company, which has a lot to do with investing (or not investing) in defense companies. The deal put substantial money in the Bush family coffers.
That investment was also a factor in the huge bailout that took place during the waning months of the Bush Administration.
That was my reaction when I saw these five presidents together. Remember this?
Here’s hoping we do better in the future.
Well, there you have it.
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