George W. Bush pleads for unity amid pandemic, but Trump chastises him for staying quiet during his impeachment
Ø On Saturday, former President George W. Bush tweeted a short video, calling for national unity amid the pandemic. "Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat," he said. "We are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God."
Ø On Sunday, President Donald Trump used the video to criticize Bush for staying quiet during his impeachment trial. “He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!” Trump tweeted.
Ø Trump, in his tweet, cited comments from Fox News anchor Pete Hegseth, who wondered why Bush did not call out people to put partisanship aside at the time of the impeachment trial.
Ø The video from Bush comes at a time when Democratic governors are against the Republican White House's coronavirus response, and the drugs that may prove useful for treating COVID-19 are the subject of partisan debate.
Ø In the U.S., the number of positive cases crossed 1.1 million, while over 66,000 people have lost lives. The economy is at the brink of a breakdown and over 3 million people have filed for unemployment in the last six weeks.
Ø There have been instances of a president consulting the former presidents during crises. Trump, however, has cleared previously that he has no plans to consult his predecessors. “I think we're doing an incredible job. So I don't want to disturb them, bother them,” Trump told reporters in March.
Bush v. Trump: A Race to the Bottom?
There's been this bizarre campaign on the left and the right both to rehabilitate Bush. The reason is obvious, because no matter how much my peers may want to deny this: the Democratic Party went along with every bad decision Bush made. We have to pretend Iraq was some sort of well meaning “oops” moment. To acknowledge what it actually was, a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people that was built on lies and prosecuted solely so corporations can make money, makes the entire government look horrible. Including the Democrats, lest we forget that they voted for that and the Patriot Act. Then they flip around and tell everyone Trump is undermining democracy. Even if he is, we cannot forget about the bipartisan share of blame that’s warranted here.
The entire Bush administration would be better dealt with on trial in the Hague. Instead, we're talking about what Bush thinks about public policy still is astounding. We know what happened when Bush ran the country, he arguably damaged it along with many others. Instead, we have people in the media trying to make excuses almost 20 years later for him because they can't accept that everything they believe might not be true.
It is very rare for former presidents to criticize sitting ones—and there is respect among those who have held the office of “one president at a time.” To politicians of this level, politics is like chess, everyone follows the same rules and what you do during your time at the board is your legacy. The disgust he has for the administration and the man was evident, as is the sorrow he has for his own party. His rebuke of the current admin was scathing (in its own way under the protocol). But I do not doubt that GWB has compassion and empathy. He has devoted his post-presidential life to the Wounded Warriors project where he does personal outreach and advocates and fundraisers for better veteran healthcare and recovery. Trump, on the other hand, prioritizes the golf course and his TV time over visiting front-line hospitals.
President Trump’s tweets directed at former President George W. Bush were out of line. This is not the time for petty political feuds—, especially within the Republican Party.
As we continue to wage war on the worst pandemic the world has seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu, Americans must strive to unify behind a common purpose. "Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat," Bush said in the video released on Saturday.
Bush released a video calling for people to put aside partisanship. Why would Trump be unhappy with that? “He was nowhere to be found speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!” Trump tweeted, referring to impeachment. So…because Bush didn’t speak up for you during impeachment; he can’t make a call for national unity?
Sometimes Trump truly needs to put Twitter away. First of all, this outburst does not in any way benefit him or the country. It is silly, childish, and unnecessary. These Twitter rants are the kind of things that cause on-the-fence voters to cringe and look somewhere else.
Secondly, the impeachment of Donald Trump was a disgrace to the Democrats and a blot on the history of the country, but to liken it to a pandemic that has killed over sixty-thousand people in the United States alone is not a good look.
I understand I am being hard on President Trump, but sometimes it is necessary to point out the flaws in Trump’s actions. Yes, the Bush family are not (major understatement coming) fans of Trump. Even so, Trump needs to understand that his outrageous tweets are not something most of the country approves of. He needs to understand that sometimes it is okay to just let things go. It would be no doubt better for the country and his reelection campaign.
Maybe Trump should take a cue from Bush’s video and put away political division and infighting at the moment. It’s the smart move.
Proof that the right is not united ... yet
Is a Trump supporter defined as being a person who cheers and wildly defends everything that falls out of the President’s face? No, of course not. And while I am proud to consider myself a Trump supporter (the red MAGA hat I own also fits charmingly well on my head), it doesn’t mean I see the President as being a divine gift from God, a brilliant orator, or a skilled politician by any means. The fact is that President Trump says a lot of things. it's a characteristic that has defined him his entire life, and which inspires mixed feelings on the political right.
Today, it did not serve him well.
To be fair, Pete Hegseth from Fox News was out of line by questioning President Bush on why he was silent during the impeachment hoax. (Yes, it was a hoax, that I will agree with.) We all know that retired Presidents have a precedent of silence to uphold in most political matters, and when they do come forward with something to say it will usually be to do exactly what Bush did: call for unity, try to raise the national dialogue beyond politics, stress the importance of civility, etc. So I don’t fault Bush for anything, nor do I think Trump needs his help.
But the real takeaway here is that by speaking out, Bush inadvertently tore the band-aid off a wound that has been festering on the right since Mitt Romney. The classic establishment conservatives and the newly rallied Trumpian conservatives are still waging a low level conflict beneath the skin of the Republican Party. People like Hegseth continue to dislike Bush and Romney being weak politicians, while enjoying Trump and his enthusiasm, energy, punching ability, and high production value. I tend to side with the latter more than the former, but I expect that in four years the Republican Party will resemble neither. I sense a new birth of conservatism is in the works, and while these old two hats squabble for the time being, I eagerly await 2024 and the promise of unity it carries.