But he added, “There is a community here with very few members that transcends political and policy differences. There is so much shared experience between [presidents] that there is much to talk about that they hold in common. So there’s not a lot of need to talk about where they differ.”
After Mr. Bush left office in 2009, he pledged, “I’m not going to criticize my successor.” And he largely has held to that promise, staying out of the spotlight for the most part in the past four years.
Mr. Bush did criticize Mr. Obama indirectly last month for promoting a tax increase on income of more than $1 million, known as the “Buffett rule,” saying it would hurt small businesses.
“If you raise taxes on the so-called rich, you’re really raising taxes on the job creators,” Mr. Bush said.
And the former president this month endorsed Mr. Romney, although the announcement was about as low-key as possible. He told an interviewer, “I’m for Mitt Romney,” just as the doors to his elevator closed as he was preparing to give a speech in Washington.
While Mr. Bush has been restrained in his public remarks about Mr. Obama, his old running mate has shown no such reticence. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has called the Obama administration “an unmitigated disaster.”
As Mr. Bush prepares to watch his portrait unveiled for posterity, the nation’s 43rd president is undoubtedly aware of how it feels to be in Mr. Obama’s shoes. In June 2004, Mr. Bush played host at the White House for the unveiling of portraits of former President Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. The event came four years after Mr. Bush had campaigned on the promise to restore “honor and dignity” to the Oval Office — a reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal that resulted in Mr. Clinton’s impeachment.
“The years have done a lot to clarify the strengths of this man,” Mr. Bush said at the time.
On that occasion, Mr. Clinton said the portrait would stand as a reminder of George H.W. Bush’s “basic integrity and decency and of his entire adult lifetime devoted to public service.”
• Researcher John Sopko contributed to this article.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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