I think it’s perfectly possible – and acceptable – to acknowledge George W. Bush’s many faults as a man and a president and still be able to acknowledge his humanity and his moments of decency. I hated his presidency, and I still believe the way Bush & company lied us into the Iraq War was the beginning of the end of the American presidency. But I can also say that Bush, as a man, was capable and is still capable of moments of grace, decency and profound kindness. Those moments have become a stark contrast to the general era of indecency, rage and ignorance from Donald Trump.
Dubya has adored Michelle Obama from the word go – during the Obama presidency, Bush seemed to actively pursue a friendship with both Obamas, and he seemed especially sweet on Michelle. Over the years, we’ve seen their friendship play out – Michelle embracing Bush in the middle of an event, or Bush taking Michelle’s hand in prayer, or Bush sneaking a piece of candy to Michelle at McCain’s funeral. At his father’s funeral, Bush once again made a point of handing Michelle a mint.
Michelle has previously said that she thinks Bush is a “beautiful, funny, kind and sweet man.” Well, she’s still on her book tour – which is wildly successful, and her book is selling out – and she was asked again about her friendship with Bush, and the latest candy-passing moment:
Michelle Obama was just as charmed by former President George W. Bush‘s mint passes as fans were. The Becoming author and Bush were at the center of two viral moments this year when cameras caught the former president passing her mints — first at Sen. John McCain‘s state funeral in September and then at former President George H.W. Bush’s state funeral in December. Asked about the latter surprise on Friday during the San Jose, California stop on her ongoing book tour, Obama, 54, spoke sweetly of George W., 72.
“He has the presence of mind and the sense of humor to bring me a mint,” Obama said, according to ABC7. “And he made it a point to give me that mint right then and there, and that’s the beauty of George Bush.”
Is Michelle overselling this? Or are we so hungry for ANY moment of grace, bipartisanship and just NICENESS in the Trump era? I think it’s a little bit of everything. We desperately want to see anything like the Bush-Obama friendship because we believe that, at the end of the day, we can all get along. And it’s genuine to boot – Dubya adores Michelle, and she seems to truly like him.
Photos courtesy of Getty.
I hated Bush’s presidency and don’t like how much we have been glossing over the horrors of his presidency – but in her last memoir, Hillary also wrote about liking him personally. Apparently after Trump was elected, Dubya called up Hillary and they went for burgers together to commiserate.
Maybe Michelle is over-selling their friendship, but loads of more prominent democrats are buddies with him and don’t get raked over the coals for it.
I agree that we have glossed over the horrors of his presidency and the effects of his foreign policy in particular. I think part of that is because we have trump now, who has zero redeeming qualities, and I think part of that is because George W always had that good ol boy quality. I was never a fan and didn’t vote for him, but lots of people liked him more than Gore or Kerry because he was “folksy” or “likeable” or whatever term people used at the time. So I am not surprised that now that he is no longer in power, that side of him is what dominates and what people remember.
I think as time goes on history will circle back on him in a negative way. I’m not worried that because he gave Michelle Obama a mint at his father’s funeral, people in the future wont talk about the lives lost in Iraq.
I’ve come to believe that men and women who are successful at this level must be very good at compartmentalizing. I mean that as an observation, not any criticism.
Some years back I attended a talk by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The topic was the collegiality of the Supreme Court, which seemed like an oxymoron.
This was still in the time of Scalia. In her telling, Scalia came across as a pleasant, personable guy, in informal, social situations. She seemed very much to like him. And yet, in the course of their work life, she must have opposed nearly everything he stood for.
I’m sure respect for the institution was a factor in how the justices behaved towards each other. But from hearing her speak, I truly believe she was able to separate Scalia’s personal characteristics from his legal thoughts and opinions. I assume Michele Obama is able to do likewise, possibly with a bit of “there but for the grace of God”, since history will judge the Obama presidency as well.
In any event, this isn’t me! Which explains why I’m writing comments on a gossip blog, and not legal briefs…
RBG has referred to Scalia as a best buddy. I think the man was horrible, and his decisions are causing great harm to the nation, but I do like how RBG said that he made her better – that her arguments were stronger because he argued with her.
Thanks for the link, very interesting!
Yes, that coincides with what she said that night. I saw her 8-10 years ago; she didn’t go as far as calling him a best buddy, and as I recall she didn’t discuss anything related to her (or anyone’s) work on cases. The topic of this particular talk specifically avoided that. I remember how surprised I was that she seemed to like him. I guess he was a worthy adversary.
But as I said above, this would not be me. I join in your opinion of the man.
You can be a mess in your job, you can be the opposite, “the other side”, but still be a well mannered respectful person, this is how I read it.
That’s how I take it as well. Dubya was not a good president and it was a relief to see him go but that doesn’t make him a bad person.
I ADORE MObama (if you are reading this, be my mom pleeeeeeease!!), but I find the constant whitewashing of Bush and his presidency really disconcerting. Yeah compared to Cheeto he is grace personified, but come on, the man was at the helm of projects that have literally cost tens (hundreds?) of thousands of lives – not to mention in many ways led to the nightmare we are living through now, on a global scale.
The fact that he is nice to my pretend mom and paints pretty watercolors shouldn’t overshadow his actions and decisions when he was in the WH.
I am going to see MO on her speaking tour and am so excited!
Ok I totally get why he crushes on her. I crush on her. Millions of people crush on her. Who can blame him?
But I kind of want her to pump the brakes on the whole “George Bush is so wonderful” thing. I physically feel ill when I read it or hear it. The Bush years were HORRIBLE. He was HORRIBLE. This retroactive sugarcoating of a war criminal is no bueno.
Agreed. I adore MO, but she is too good for him.
I wonder if there is a subtext here – perhaps Michele Obama consistently speaks well of George W. Bush simply because he’s a former Republican President and her husband’s a former Democratic President, and it offers a striking example of how opposing political parties don’t HAVE to be mortal enemies. Trump supporters, take note.
Okay, after writing this I noticed Jessamine and others’ comments directly below. I hope we’re right about this.
Agree with Anastasia, completely. I hated the guy passionately. Disgusting liar. No amount of candies can distract me from the way that he started an unjustified war that we in europe are still very very much suffering from.
I’m inclined to think this lovefest isn’t about minimizing his personal faults and terrible deeds as president and more about absolute personal and political solidarity in the age of Trump. They are drawing a bright, shining line and making sure it gets press.
Yes, this has been my take, too. His “beauty” derives mostly from the fact that he isn’t Trump. Not that I agree, btw, but I think that’s the intended message.
That’s like saying Dylan Klebold’s beauty mostly derives from not being Ted Bundy.
War crimes aside (and god help me for that phrase), but Dubya actively sought support for Kavanaugh. Nope.
Yes, this is what makes me think he does not deserve this redemption tour. Okay, maybe with some distance and time he realizes choices he made as president were not the best and has some regrets. But the fact that he was willing to actively lobby for Kavanaugh tells me that nope, he might loathe Trump, but he’s no better than someone like McConnell–his vision for America and the world and what is good for us as a society is still very different than mine.
I wonder if part of her public affection for him is a dig at the Trumps. I adore Michelle and have great respect for her, but none of us are above being a little “we’re all friends and you’re not because you suck” sometimes.
Still, I wish she’d ease up on it a bit.
Yes, I agreed with a similar sentiment above. These are not normal times and I think had Hillary been elected, people would be less inclined to feel generous about W.
Why can’t she acknowledge that he’s a decent PERSON without people foaming in the mouth?Was Bush a great president, not exactly(And maybe up for debate)But gosh I have no doubt he’s at best a decent PERSON & just cause you don’t agree Politically doesn’t mean an all out War needs to occur.
It’s not up for debate when you are, by the very definition, a war criminal.
Yeah, I was actively against the W era from the very beginning when he stole the election. He maybe charming and all that good stuff, privately. However it’s extremely difficult to look past all the crap he put our country in. Sorry. Try telling a loved one who lost someone in a bullsh*t war, that the guy who spearheaded the war, is a charming guy who likes to pass around candy.
Thank you. He may have given Michelle candy, but for many other he gave bombs and destruction.
Exactly, he stole the election from Gore thanks to his governor brother and yet that get’s glossed over because he paints dogs and plays nice with the Democrats. I’m sorry, but that says a lot more about the Democrats who indulge in his whitewashing than about him.
He should be in jail. So should Cheney, Condi Rice and Rumsfeld (and Tony Blair).
They are war criminals, they lied to their citizens and to the world, they forged evidences of WMD in Irak to justify an invasion that lead to the death of more than a million civilians and lead to the rise of ISIS and even more deaths and insecurities in the Middle East and Africa (let’s not forget that daddy and Rumsfeld were responsible for the rise of Bin Laden in the 80/90s, they didn’t learn). So yeah, people are angry because their lies are responsible for about 40% of what we see on the news daily.
I’m sure that W is fun to chat and share candies with, many criminals are fun, seemingly nice and sweet people: John Wayne Gacy used to volunteer at the children hospital after all. But he is a war criminal and MO should go visit him in jail.
‘Decent person’ and ‘war criminal’ do not go together.
I’m sure he’s quite charming and friendly and nice in person. That doesn’t make him a decent person, that makes him a person with social skills.
Michelle said George and Laura were very gracious and helpful to them, when they arrived at the White House and over Obama’s presidency.
The Bush daughters took Malia and Sasha all over the WH and pointed of their favorite places, and wrote them letters.
Small acts of kindness should never be forgotten.
Even when Obama took a dig at George it was not mean spirited.
Of all the people that George HW Bush could call to visit him on his death bed, one wonders why he asked Obama to visit 2/3 days before his passing.
I’m not gonna slam Michelle for this. She goes overboard, but she’s had to deal with so much drama and racism from the press that I believe she’s allowed to occasionally be wrong without people canceling her-especially as she’s talking about him as a private individual and not defending his politics.
I also feel like people are ignoring three important things: she tends to be effusive and overly kind about nearly everybody, past presidents are almost always friendly with previous ones, and the press is the one who came up with this friendship and is always asking her about it. So she’s in between a rock and a hard place, especially considering the press dragged her for her comments about Trump.
Now, would it be better for her to say he’s been kind and decent to me and helpful? Sure, that would be preferable to her gushing. But again, the world’s been so nasty to her that I think she’s allowed to not be perfect on everything.
…..Also, the Carters and Clintons are friendly with the Bushes and see them out of official events, but don’t get nearly the backlash.
I will never shade Michelle.
Whenever I see those photos of 45 at George HW Bush’s funeral, I have to wonder what is he thinking?
Yes, both Bush president’s terms in office were involved in some terrible things, but then you look at all the people who loved and respected them enough to show up for HW’s funeral and earlier this year Barbara Bush’s.
45 got some death ray glares when he walked in and the temperature in that room must have dropped! George Bush passing that candy to Michelle was cute at a time when he was dealing with his own grief
Would be nice to think being at the funeral would cause 45 to change his ways and be a better person , but unfortunately I don’t see that happening. It is quite sad that a person has to be like that
This candy garbage just shows there are two groups in the world – the powerful and the rest of us. Some in the powerful group – like the Obamas -are way better than others. But once you’re in that bubble, you end up defending others in it.
It must be nice…when money and position can shield you from the HORRIFIC policies that Bush et al has pushed and will continue to push upon our country and the world…policies that are right now…causing death/destruction/and unending heartache…
So…good for Michelle…
Not sure his intent was so innocent & sweet. I think he did it , in part, to troll the Trumps, who sucked all the positive energy from the cathedral when they made their appearance. Everyone stopped smiling & talking & looked straight a head with serious expresssions. Loved Michelle’s big smile in contrast to the terse “Good Morning” that the Orange Man & Mylanta got.
I agree. I believe Bush is trolling IQ45 with his friendliness with the Obama’s. He knows 45 loathes them, their presidency, and the affection they receive.
My high school classmate is dead bc of an unproven provocation and unwanted war. His only daughter turned 18 this year. Candy is nice, but peace would have been better. Trump is horrible, but let’s not rewrite W’s history bc we need to feel good.
There would be no Trump…if it wasn’t for Bush 2.0….
Bush’s first election was won based on election fraud…and he was the test pilot for the fraud that happened with Trump….
Not to mention every policy that Trump has (saved for the horror at the border)…they are the same as Bush….
So I could be cordial to Bush…but I’m not going to stoke his “Black Mama” fantasies (which I TRULY BELIEVE HE HAS…based on the fact that this is the EXACT same way he acted around Condoleeza also…to the point where folks was looking at Laura…saying…”so you just not gone PUT your husband back in his husbandly lane”? yet he doesn’t showcase that over familiar/inappropriate behavior with any other women in his orbit…) so that he can be more palatable to the humanity….
Bump THAT mess!!!!
Ugh. I cannot even look at that man. He’s caused so much destruction in our world.
Nah, hundreds of thousands of civilians alone are no longer on this planet because of him and his administration. Iraq has been completely bombed out, it’s a wasteland. He can keep his dumb candy, and that’s the polite version of what I’d like to say.
Actually, in Iraq alone, the current estimate is past a million of civilian deaths (I refuse to call them casualities, it’s way too polite and clean). So yeah, I don’t care about candies.
If Michelle says he’s nice, then he’s nice. If she doesn’t want to criticize the Bushes publicly, then she has her reasons. She knows how to shade if she wants to.
I love Michelle, and agree with the comments about the awful presidency of Bush 2.0. But hasn’t Trump made him look like a great president?
I don’t understand people who think this way. If tomorrow you completely shattered your leg in an accident, would that make the time you just broke it in three places a good experience you think of fondly?
I think if we don’t compartmentalize, or allow for complexity, we end up basically doomed. The past decade at least has been nothing BUT painting people as either 100% good or 100% cancelled, and it hasn’t brought us forward as a country.
I’m not saying to condone or gloss over specific policy missteps, scandals, or wrong-doing. We should address grievances and make complaints in specific, targeted ways. But we also need to acknowledge that NOBODY is 100% good or 100% bad, and hindsight is 20/20, anyway.
W’s painting practice and candy-passing don’t ‘make up for’ his warmongering. But they don’t ‘have’ to. They exist apart from each other, and are weighed separately. I also like to think I can get credit for being a good sister or good coworker without someone saying, ‘Hold up! You skipped a lot of class in high school!’ Yeah, war crimes are different than skipping class. But the point remains. Oversimplifying people for good reasons is the same as oversimplifying people for bad reasons. It all leads to an oversimplified, divisive, us-against-them, black-and-white view of the world. Which is what this country has, and part of why this country sucks right now.
He has been a lovely person to Michelle, and likely to others in his circle of friends and acquaintances and colleagues. If Michelle was asked about past politics, she could answer to that if she liked. But does anyone really expect her, when asked about Bush in the context of his gesture to her at the funeral of his loved one to say, “THAT MAN?!? HE STARTS WARS.” That would have been as tone deaf and irrelevant as something Trump would say.
But when we compartmentalize, we get Nazis and concentration camps. And before people start yelling at me for exaggerating, I’m not. I’ve literally read scholarly articles on the psychology of how all those doctors who were kind family men and good friends were able to come to work and put random humans through unthinkable suffering, and then go home and be good fathers to their kids. They were the masters of compartmentalization. So, I’m far from convinced that compartmentalizing has served us better.
It feels like white washing to me, Hannah Arendt and the banality of evil. He seems like a nice guy, is probably lovely to his family, friends, dogs, etc. but he and his administration went above and beyond in their abuses at home and abroad. Another example…I saw Henry Kissinger at a breakfast buffet once, he was asking for cheese. He looked like a little, cranky old man, but he’s still responsible for so many unnecessary deaths… So yeah, it’s about a lot more than passing candy to a friend…
This comment section is honestly horrifying if not outright triggering. Just because Bush has gone through a PR makeup ever since the painting dogs days and uses Michelle to score some popularity points among liberal women as far as I can tell, doesn’t make him less than a detestable individual. Some things cannot be compartmentalized. People are up in arms because of the inhumane treatment migrant children have gone through. Well Bush wars killed thousands of children. I don’t know how people can so easily compartmentalize that!
Thank you…and very well said…
Agreed, well put.
And nobody is above criticism, so long as it is respectful and fair. Michelle Obama doesn’t get a pass because she is smart and lovely.
I’ve always put the horrors of the Bush administration at Dick Cheney’s feet. I think Dubya was pretty much a puppet or figurehead, with Cheney and Rumsfeld actually calling the shots. Yes, he should have had the courage and conviction to stand up to evil, but I think Cheney and Rumsfeld played to Bush’s Daddy issues: “Your dad wasn’t able to get Saddam Hussein, but you can!”
Taking the long view, I blame Bud Selig for the GW Bush presidency. What Bush really wanted was to go from owning the Texas Rangers to being commissioner of baseball (MLB). Bud Selig wanted the commissioner’s job for himself, so he blocked Dubya. The rest is history.