An Unexpected Rival Offers Praise To Obama For His Policies On Counterterrorism And Immigration

Fascinating that a hard-right partisan offers praise at a time when other conservatives are exhausting themselves to dismiss and denigrate the President.. Image @IndependentUK

Fascinating that a hard-right partisan offers praise at a time when other conservatives are exhausting themselves to dismiss and denigrate the President.. Image @IndependentUK

In what will either fascinate liberals or grind their teeth, a unique individual has come forward in praise of President Obama for his policies on both counterterrorism and immigration reform: Former President George W. Bush.

The fascination would be at the notion of a hard-right partisan stepping up with praise for his successor at a time when other conservatives appear hell-bent on denigrating the current administration. The teeth-grinders would be the contingent of liberals who are deeply critical of Obama’s actions regarding the NSA and Edward Snowden, and will take this as further evidence of a President on the wrong side of the political divide… at least on these issues.

But, for a moment, let’s just look at the Bush comments on their sheer face value:

At a wreath-laying ceremony for victims of the 1998 embassy bombing at the Bombing Memorial at the U.S. Embassy in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Bush took the opportunity to offer some positive feedback on the efforts of the current President. From The New York Daily News:

“I think the President got into the Oval Office and realized the dangers to the United States, and he’s acted in a way that he thinks is necessary to protect the country,” Bush said during a taped interview that aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Protecting the country is the most important job of the presidency,” Bush added, in response to a question about whether he felt surprised that Obama had kept many of the counterterrorism programs put in place during his own administration.

We can presume there’s some authentic acknowledgment in the statement, but there’s likely also a bit of face-saving as well, as it’s impossible not to hear a sort of “see, I told you so!” in terms of his own decisions while in office. After all, if the current president discovered a continued need for the policies Bush put into place, might that make them more valid and acceptable? Some might say, “yes.”

Others, who believe Obama has overreached in terms of surveillance and civil liberties, will find little to applaud in Bush’s compliments, which would likely exacerbate the distrust they’re currently feeling on the programs implemented by both administrations.

But for those who can imagine the complexities involved in the responsibilities of a president, complexities the average citizen cannot possibly know or be privy to – any more than an incoming president can before he takes office – it’s not hard to extrapolate that less expected decisions might be made after stepping into the Oval Office and getting the full lay of the land. That seems to be the point Bush is making. And take him or leave him; he was the President and it is feasible he’d have perspective one can only gain from actually holding that office.

As for immigration reform, another hot-button issue between Republicans and Democrats, Bush’s support of Obama there seems less self-serving:

“It looks like immigration, you know, has a chance to pass,” Bush said about the bill’s prospects in the House. “The reason to pass immigration reform is not to bolster a Republican Party — it’s to fix a system that’s broken.”

“It’s very important to fix a broken system, to treat people with respect and have confidence in our capacity to assimilate people,” Bush said. “It’s a very difficult bill to pass because there’s a lot of moving parts. The legislative process can be ugly. But it looks like they’re making some progress,” he said. [Source]

Not sure how passing immigration could possibly “bolster a Republican party” that has a very sketchy attitude about reasonable and compassionate immigration reform, but if the encouragement of a former president helps push the needle in the right direction, immigrants and concerned Americans welcome the comment.

While the magnanimity of the former President is not necessarily big news – despite the many and serious controversies of his administration, he was always considered a likable guy – it is a story that suggests the possibility that he’s signaling fellow Republicans to… settle down. Get off the “gate-wagon,” the relentless scandal-mongering, and the time-wasting deflections of partisanship to start “making some progress.” Whatever lies between his lines, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He got it right that “the legislative process can be ugly”; perhaps he can carry that logic over to the teeth-grinders in his own party and help keep the focus on fixing the broken system.