Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 18, 2009

HE ALMOST MADE IT FIVE MONTHS.... In March, George W. Bush had a chance to criticize his successor, but he took a pass. "I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him," Bush said. "There are plenty of critics in the arena. He deserves my silence."

It was a good move. Not only is there an expectation of decency when presidents leave the stage, but Bush, of all people, should be as silent as possible. After all, it's Bush's spectacular failures in practically every area of governmental policy that his successor is now forced to deal with. The less he says, the better.

Last night in Pennsylvania, however, the failed former president decided to play fast and loose with his vow not to criticize President Obama, who Bush apparently no longer believes "deserves his silence."

Former President George W. Bush fired a salvo at President Obama on Wednesday, asserting his administration's interrogation policies were within the law, declaring the private sector not government will fix the economy and rejecting the nationalization of health care.

"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said to applause from members of a local business group. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."

Repeatedly in his hourlong speech and question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush said he would not directly criticize the new president, who has moved to take over financial institutions and several large corporations. Several times, however, he took direct aim at Obama policies as he defended his own during eight years in office.

Bush, without a hint of irony, talked about his expertise in knowing how to use government to "expand the job rate in the United States." What's more, asked about the facility at Guantanamo Bay, the former president said "I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," before using some unusually cheap rhetoric: "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."

Asked if he finds the new president's policies "socialist," Bush started to answer, saying it "depends on..." before concluding, "We'll see."

Stay classy, George.

That said, I wouldn't be too surprised if Obama's team found all of this encouraging. The more there's a "Bush vs. Obama" dynamic, the more it benefits the current occupant of the Oval Office, not the former.

Steve Benen 8:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Comments

Looks like five months' vacation hasn't improved Bush's IQ any.

"You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."

The point, you little dipshit, is that the collective "you" - we Americans - aren't spending our money, which results in fewer jobs and a deeper recession. If the government doesn't spend, then things will be worse rather than better.

It's as if we elected a fruit fly as our President back in 2000 and 2004.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on June 18, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK


And another example:

"I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work."

Double negative much?

Posted by: Lab Partner on June 18, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

why'd they allow that penn biz group in his prison cell?

Posted by: neill on June 18, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent! C'mon, George, I'm sure you've got more to say. How about health care reform? Aren't your buddies in the corporate suites deeply insulted and horribly discouraged by the mean things Obama is saying about them?

And you're not going to let Michelle Bachmann keep stealing your thunder on how healthful and invigorating carbon dioxide is, are you?

And clean coal! You have to give a MAJOR speech about how fabulous coal is and how we should be adding it to baby formula.

But don't forget to praise Obama to the skies for maintaining DADT and your patriotic policies on secrecy.

You are far from done serving your country, sir - get out there and make sure everybody knows just where you stand.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on June 18, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

I am still waiting to see the evidence that ANY repubican has the slightest degree of intelligence. They are always asking if the policy conforms to the ideology, rather than, does the policy work?

They will cling to their apriori belief system in the face of any amount of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: c4logic on June 18, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Who cares if Bush is critical? Let's be honest, we all would have gotten a kick out of it if Clinton or Gore had talked smack about that cretin early into his term.

Posted by: Anthony on June 18, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is, and always will be, nothing more than a shit stain ...

Posted by: stormskies on June 18, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

his expertise in knowing how to use government to "expand the job rate in the United States.

Without a hint of irony? How about mind numbing ignorance?

If the downturn had started a couple of months earlier he would have been the first two term President in history to leave office with the total number of jobs in the US being lower than it was eight years earlier when he started. At the high point of his Presidency he had created barely 5 million jobs, at a point where Clinton had created almost 20 million. In the end he had barely 1 million jobs to show for 8 years on office. A job creation rate that will live in infamy.

Keeping his mouth shut for the past 5 months was the smartest thing he ever did in his entire life. It gave him the appearance of class and maybe a little gravitas (elder statesman and all that, you know). Knew it was too good to last. Stupid is as stupid does.

Posted by: majun on June 18, 2009 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

the ex pres seems to have forgotten who nationalized AIG. Fact is that when the private sector collapsed, he let his competent subordinate Paulson stop the bleeding with massive public intervention. Fortunately for us, he was effectively absent during the crisis, as is shown by bis lack of recollection of his administrations policies

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on June 18, 2009 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind.

ROFL! He's like a DJ on a Golden Oldies station. "This one's going out with hugs to Donna in Duluth--the always popular 'No Therapy for Terrorists'"

George sure hasn't spent his spare time on memorizing any new talking points.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on June 18, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

It's amazing how after 8 years in the White House all he can do is spout the same cliches as when he first stood for office. It's not just stupidity, which is a kind of incapacity, it's the positive determination to learn nothing from experience, because that would be to display weakness. We know from that movie character that greed is good. Bush and his ilk tell us that ignorance is good too.

Posted by: davidp on June 18, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

People are too polite in this country. That any major Republican can even show his/her face in public, after plunging us into 2 wars and economic calamity, is unthinkable. That the former president who is directly responsible for this should make any public statements at all, much less a speech, is unconscionable.

Look at the Iranian people marching in the streets - would they have swallowed Bush v. Gore?

Posted by: brooklyn on June 18, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

low-tech cyclist got it in one.

I'd also like to point out to anyone capable of nuance, subtlety and shades of gray that Obama's administration has taken over two BANKRUPT mega-employers. That leaves THOUSANDS in the private sector. His people have intervened in a handful of really irresponsible financial firms. Thousands remain largely untouched.

The private sector, not the government, WILL get us out of the recession. No one said otherwise, boy king.

Keynes and fellow pinkos like myself merely indicate that in a deflationary environment, perverse incentives encourage a downward spiral. Government spending is the "tip-in" that economies need for the much beloved private industyy to realize that taking risks again is in their best interest.

It's really quite brilliant. Which explains your struggle to grasp it. Run out of brush to clear, sir?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on June 18, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Clinton didn't make it 5 minutes...and Obama probably won't make it 5 seconds. The dude is entirely void of class and humility. Bush has been a gentleman continually and especially in the face of the rabid hatred and over the top ad hominems thrown at him by the loony left. I say it's about time he defend himself to these creeps.

Posted by: Joe on June 18, 2009 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

It's as if we elected a fruit fly as our President back in 2000 and 2004.

Although that image is humorous, using it makes it impossible for Democrats to support the notion that calling a black man a monkey is racist.

Is it worth it?

Posted by: MatthewRQuarreler on June 18, 2009 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

"It's as if we elected a fruit fly as our President back in 2000 and 2004."

Posted by: low-tech cyclist

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

We never elected George Bush. In 2000, the rethugs used their 'Brooks Brothers Riot' to shut down counting in Florida and the Supremes SELECTED George Bush. In 2004, the evidence is there of massive vote counting fraud in Ohio, which was the margin by which Bush supposedly 'won' reelection.

George Bush was never legitimately elected president of the United States and it matters not that the corporate media refuses to acknowledge or even discuss it.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on June 18, 2009 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said to applause from members of a local business group. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."

Far be it from me to excuse Bush the Lesser, but that passage is just boilerplate faith-based Republican bullshit, which few outside Republican dead-enders actually believe.

Posted by: Gregory on June 18, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

If Carter can criticize Bush for not fixing things that Carter broke, why shouldn't Bush defend himself from Obama's whining about things Bush had no control over?

I know, lefties are immune to logic and consistency.

Posted by: Myke K on June 18, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Back In The Day ...

Remember the fall of 2008, when the stock market was tanking, mega-businesses going broke, the housing market collapsing, and every sign indicating the four horsemen of the Apocalypse were about to come riding out of the clouds? Where was Mr Bush, Junior then?

He was taking his victory lap on all the talk shows. He was spending his time bragging about how great his terms in office had been. He was lapping up praise from the so-called "librul meedia".

He sure wasn't leading his country in the crisis, which had been a direct result of his and Dick Cheney's policies. He was AWOL yet again, in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, letting his government run on autopilot.

I'm hoping that Jon Stewart points this out - and maybe Ober-Schultz-Maddow. It's a good bet that few others will!

Posted by: Zandru on June 18, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

I bow to no one in my contempt for George W. Bush, but this is really pretty mild stuff, isn't it? If you're going to develop a serious case of the vapors over such mild, routine criticism, you might as well be Michelle Malkin

Posted by: Paul Gottlieb on June 18, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

I hate to tell you, but George Bush isn't the only one claiming his illegal policies & practices were legal. Russ Feingold used up his time during the Senate hearing/review of Eric Holder yesterday trying to get the AG to repeat his own & the President's earlier charges that Bush's warrantless wiretapping program was illegal. Despite Feingold's repeated questioning, Holder would not say Bush warrantless wiretapping was illegal. He just wouldn't.

As far as I can tell from this & from the briefs the DOJ has filed in support of state secrets defenses & DOMA & I forget what else, Holder must have taken his oath of office on the Bush family bible. From the moment of his nomination, I said this guy was a weasel, & he's proved to be worse than I imagined.

The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

Posted by: Marie Burns on June 18, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I bow to no one in my contempt for George W. Bush, but this is really pretty mild stuff, isn't it?

Rather than criticize, B*sh should APOLOGIZE for leaving multiple disasters to his successor.

Preferably from the prisoners' dock at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Posted by: jasperjava on June 18, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

"You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."

Really? Is that why Shittybank and Skank of America were going belly-up? Because they, and their investors, knew the best way to spend their money?

Supposing the greedheads who caused the financial crisis had been taxed 5% more, and the government had spent that money on providing health care for people who can't get private insurance. That would have been 5% less that would have been set on fire during the financial crisis, would it not? That would have been money that provided an actual good or service, rather than just going up in smoke when the bottom fell out.

Remember that photo showing what looked like a box under Bush's jacket at one of the debates with Kerry? It wasn't a feed for an earpiece; it was where they pull the string to make him talk.

Posted by: Jennifer on June 18, 2009 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if this is just W making sure Jeb doesn't get a shot at the WH. If he keeps popping up and reminding the peeps of the national tragedy which was his presidency, Jeb may very well suffer.

Which is fine and dandy with me.

Posted by: becca on June 18, 2009 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money.

Damn straight, George! Now can you ask your Saudi pals to lend me a trillion dollars?

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on June 18, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in,"

Because it was the private sector that led us into them?

Posted by: Qbert on June 18, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

@low-tech cyclist It's as if we elected a fruit fly as our President back in 2000 and 2004.

To be honest, we would have been better off if we actually did. Too bad, not many people would want to have a beer with a fruit fly.

Posted by: Mick on June 18, 2009 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

@stormskies

Bush is, and always will be, nothing more than a shit stain ...

A shit stain would have been a better president, much like a fruit fly. Comparing Bush to a shit stain is disrespecting it.

Posted by: Mick on June 18, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

majun,

"If the downturn had started a couple of months earlier he would have been the first two term President in history to leave office with the total number of jobs in the US being lower than it was eight years earlier when he started."

He already was:

Civilian Employment-Population Ratio

Posted by: Joe Friday on June 18, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

It's as if we elected a fruit fly as our President back in 2000 and 2004.

What do you mean, "as if"?

But to be fair, we only elected him in 2004. He lost the 2000 election.

Posted by: Stefan on June 18, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

In the end he had barely 1 million jobs to show for 8 years on office.

Considering the rate of population growth in that time, that's actually a negative number. He would have needed far more than 1 million just to keep up with the increased population.

Posted by: Stefan on June 18, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

So, let's see. Bush doesn't have the slightest clue as to what caused the current economic crisis, insisting on repeating failed ideology instead of acknowledging facts or actually learning anything. He lies about his opponents wanting to give terrorists "therapy", lies about the current healthcare proposals amounting to "nationalization", and he lies about not criticizing Obama after criticizing Obama.

In other words, he's still the same lying moron he always was. Who's surprised?


Posted by: DH Walker on June 18, 2009 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

"...his expertise in knowing how to use government to "expand the job rate in the United States."

If he knew how to expand the job rate, why didn't he do it? The only thing I can imagine is that he really didn't want to for some reason known only to him and the devil (and rove and cheney, but I repeat myself.)

Posted by: Texas Aggie on June 18, 2009 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bush never seemed to mind the government deciding where the people's money would be spent when he was the government. And don't tell me his tax cuts made up for the billions and billions he appropriated for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by way of Emergency Supplementals. That sure wasn't his money he was throwing around.

Posted by: Mark on June 18, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. It's ironic that Bush is criticizing the massive expansion of government intrusion into the private sector when he put our nation on that slippery slope six months ago, but his words are more or less the truth. The above comments strengthen my belief that we truly do deserve the governments we elect.

Posted by: J on June 18, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think someone owes me an apology.

Posted by: Fruit Fly on June 18, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Democratic Party: Compulsion disguised as compassion.

Perhaps President Bush feels that the erosion of freedom under the new administration is even swifter than expected. It feels that way to me.

Posted by: MKS on June 18, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, boo-hoo-hoo, MKS! Your feelings! Your precious wittle feelings!

Hey, you lost. Elections have consequences.

Posted by: Stefan on June 18, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, MKS; I'm just curious - in what ways, specifically, are you less free under Obama than you were under Bush, that are directly attributable to Obamaa? People snooping on your email? Oops, that was Bush. Snooping on your phone calls while you're chatting with fringe groups? Sorry; Bush again. Are you less able to travel to foreign countries? Access your bank accounts? Move your money around the way it suits you? Criticize the government?

Simply making spirit fingers on either side of you face and shrieking, "where's my FREEDOM!!!" isn't going to inspire a wave of lemmings to follow you over the cliff. You're going to have to actually make a case. Can you do it?

Posted by: Mark on June 18, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I personally have no problem with Bush speaking out to criticize the current administration, just as I didn't have a problem with Clinton speaking out, or Carter, or whoever. First Amendment, open debate, etc.

I agree with Steve that the more Bush speaks out, the deeper the grave he digs for himself and the Republicans. Bring it on, Arbusto!

Quarreler:

Geez, another tortured and incorrect analogy. I realize that your post was probably a spoof, but I still want to say this. Historically African peoples have been compared to apes and monkeys to demean the Africans and to help people keep considering them as somehow not quite human, thereby justifying horrendous mistreatment and slavery. No historical precedent exists for fruit flies, nor is there any implication that it's therefore OK to treat Bush as less than human. And the analogy is specifically about Bush, with no implication that it applies to other Caucasian men. DUH.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on June 18, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Bush was spot-on when he said the American people spend their money better than the government can spend their money.

Look at the F-22 program. Obama takes it out. Congress puts it back in. Half of the stimulus money is for nothing but pork. Regular federal government budgets crammed with Bridges to Nowhere. The problem isn't just a Republican one or a Democratic one. It's a political one.

Of course I can spend my money more wisely than some bureaucrat, Congressmen or lobbyist. I'm not in debt to the Chinese, or a credit card company or some bank on TARP life support. No thanks, I'd like to keep more of my money so I may invest it and give it to charity as I please.

I prefer my tax money to go to my state, which must have a balanced budget and where the politicians are more accountable to me and the rest of the electorate, not a bunch of fat lobbyists.

Posted by: PGut on June 18, 2009 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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