- The Washington Times - Monday, February 27, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

For eight long years, George W. Bush refused to criticize Barack Obama.

“I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president,” Mr. Bush explained to Fox News’s Sean Hannity in 2014, on why he refused to critique his successor’s policies. “I think it’s bad for the presidency, for that matter.”

Yet one month into President Donald Trump’s presidency, Mr. Bush decided it was OK to offer a critique of the former real estate mogul.

Mr. Bush, speaking with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” Monday, insisted “we all need answers” regarding possible connections between Russian officials and Mr. Trump’s campaign team. He (thankfully) dodged the question on whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the matter.

Mr. Bush also disagreed with Mr. Trump’s attacks on the press, saying the media was “indispensable to democracy.”

“We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive,” Mr. Bush explained.

The veiled swipes continued. On Mr. Trump’s immigration executive order?

“I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and upholds the law,” Mr. Bush said.

The left immediately used his remarks to vilify Mr. Trump and his supporters.

“When Liberals are citing George W Bush as a voice of moderation and sanity, you understand how extreme the right has become under Trump,” Huffington Post contributor Wajahat Ali tweeted.

“You know it’s bad when George W Bush is calling for an inquiry into a rigged election,” liberal commentator @shewhovotes wrote.

Mr. Bush’s interview was sliced and diced to serve the mainstream media’s anti-Trump narrative of choice, some running with the lead the press is needed to rein in a maniacal Trump, others using it to point out Mr. Trump’s discriminatory travel ban, and yet others using it to justify an investigation into his White House.

None of it was helpful to the Republican agenda — neither Mr. Trump’s or the #NeverTrumpers.

Mr. Bush agreed to be interviewed by The Today Show because he was promoting his new book. He should’ve stuck to that script, and when the discussion veered to Mr. Trump (which it was inevitably going to do), he should have given the same answer he did to Mr. Hannity three years ago.

He after-all admitted: “I think you have to take the man [Trump] for his word that he wants to unify the country, and we’ll see whether he’s able to do so. It’s hard to unify the country with the news media being so split up. When I was president, you know, you mattered a lot more because there was like three of you and now there’s all kinds of information being bombarded out and people can say things anonymously. It’s just a different world.”

Exactly. That’s why Mr. Bush’s previous comments were unhelpful.

It’s no secret Mr. Bush doesn’t like Mr. Trump, and that his brother Jeb was beat up pretty badly in the GOP primary by the now-president. A spokesman for Mr. Bush confirmed that on Election Day both he and his wife Laura voted for “none of the above for president.”

Mr. Bush is the definition of the establishment — the epitome of what Mr. Trump ran against.

His dislike for Mr. Trump is that simple. Mr. Trump is a bull in the China shop Mr. Bush helped build.

Yet, if tax reform, economic growth, the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, the elimination of ISIS is going to happen, Republicans are going to need to be unified. Not undercutting their own in an already highly partisan environment.

Mr. Bush wouldn’t do it to Mr. Obama — with whose politics he was diametrically opposed. He should extend the same courtesy to Mr. Trump, where some common ground can be found.

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