Facebook > Email > More Pinterest Print Twitter Play

George W. Bush Denounces White Supremacy

Without naming Trump, Bush bashes nativism, protectionism, bigotry, and bullying.

By Comments

Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute in New York, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Without ever mentioning President Trump by name, former President George W. Bush engaged in the fight for the identity of the Republican Party on Thursday by denouncing ideological trends that have been the hallmarks of the Trump administration: isolationism, nativism, and white supremacy. Bush’s words likely will hearten the Republicans who represented the core mainstream during his presidency and that of his father, but they may fall on deaf ears for the tea party activists who long ago dismissed Bush as a big government politician.

During a speech at the Bush Institute’s national forum on freedom, free markets, and security at the Lincoln Center in New York, the former Texas governor appeared to repudiate Trump and his politics. Bush seemed to highlight Trump’s penchant for bullying those who disagree with him politically—including some of his cabinet members—through Twitter and his speeches. “Our young people need positive role models,” Bush said. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.”

When violence broke out earlier this year after white supremacists and counter-protesters clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump indicated that both sides were to blame, and that good people existed on either side. As they marched, white supremacists chanted “blood and soil,” a key slogan of racist Nazi ideology. Bush declared that intolerable:

Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.

Trump’s presidency has not only divided the nation into polarized groups of Republicans and Democrats, but also has, in many ways, created a rift within the Republican party. Tea party lawmakers still make up a minority of the membership of Congress, but they have driven such fear into the older mainstream Republicans that compromise with Democrats is impossible. The demand for party purity from tea party members is so strong that congressional Republicans have to decide between representing their districts and casting potentially harmful party-line votes.

Still, in the past two weeks, the old-line Republican silence started breaking. U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the foreign relations committee, referred to the Trump White House as an “adult day care” and told the New York Times he feared Trump was putting the nation on the path to World War III. Like Bush, U.S. Senator John McCain rebuked the president’s politics without naming him, saying the United States was moving toward “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.” (Trump has repeatedly said McCain was not a war hero, dismissing the senator because he was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese when he served as a Navy pilot. “I like people who weren’t captured, OK?” Trump said at one point.)

In the internecine Republican warfare, Bush, Corker, and McCain already are being labeled by the far right as Republicans in name only, or RINOs. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon referred to their split from the president as a “civil war within the Republican Party.” “They have total contempt for the forgotten man,” Bannon said. “They have total contempt for the base.” He called Corker an “absolutely disgrace.”

Bush’s speech was aimed at traditional Republicans. However, social conservatives have remained angry at Bush throughout the Obama presidency for what they saw as big government programs during his administration. Bush increased the deficit by $3.2 trillion dollars during his presidency, in part due to military spending after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and a $700 billion bailout he sponsored after the 2008 financial crisis. But the deficit also increased because of tax cuts that Bush promoted after a 2001 recession. On top of that, Bush pushed through the No Child Left Behind education program, with its common core instruction guidelines, which social conservatives saw as a nationalization of public education. On the other hand, many Democrats will remember the Bush administration as instigating the war in Iraq for political purposes, as well as using opposition to same-sex marriage to urge social conservatives to vote in his 2004 re-election campaign.

Overall, the former president’s speech is not likely to change anyone’s mind, but it may prompt others to have the courage to speak out.

Related Content

  • WUSRPH

    It was a good gesture by Bush….and much of what he said had merit and, in a more rational world, would be accepted and followed…..But, the combination of his actions as president and the changing nature of the GOP he once represented, makes that more than unlikely…..The day of “compassionate conservatism” espoused by he and his father is long over….Instead we have reverted to the worst days of the “Know Nothings” ……who prove that they really don’t more and more every day.

    • St. Anger

      Compassionate conservatism was just a slightly more savvy take on the same rapacious fear-filled narcissistic dystopia … in fact it was a necessary step in the path we now tread.

  • roadgeek

    “…Trump’s presidency has not only divided the nation into polarized groups of Republicans and Democrats, ….”

    Actually, no. The nation was divided long before Trump even declared his candidacy for president. C’mon, L G….you can do better.

    • dave in texas

      Yes, it’s been divided, but Trump has turbo-charged that division. I don’t really think N*zis marching in Charlottesville happens without Trump in the White House. Likewise, here in Texas when the African American monument on the Capitol grounds was dedicated, there was a pretty sizeable contingent of armed white supremacists protesting the event. Again, I don’t think that happens without Trump’s election.

  • John Bernard Books

    This is why Texans don’t elect democrats….
    “and it won’t matter if there are no crimes to be found. This team can make some.”
    http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/356253-judging-by-muellers-staffing-choices-he-may-not-be-very-interested-in

    That is what you read if there are no crimes they (Mueller’s hand picked team) will invent some……

    • jimmywitz

      You are accusing the Mueller team for conspiring to suborn perjury and other crimes. Do you have any evidence for this, or is this just fake news from out of Putin’s little troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia.

      • dave in texas

        He never has evidence for anything. No matter what any story says, he makes it about Democrats’ wrongdoing. No matter how damning a story is about Republican malfeasance, he blames it on Democrats. He’s a hateful, petty, small-minded troll. Just ignore him; everyone else does.

        • John Bernard Books

          STFU you stupid troll

      • John Bernard Books

        I can present the facts I just can’t understand them for you. The article stated that opinion…..you just don’t want to agree with the author. That is your prerogative to remain a low information voter….

  • John Bernard Books

    This is why Texans elect republicans….
    “Fewest Jobless Claims Since 1973 Show Firm U.S. Job Market”
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-19/fewest-jobless-claims-since-1973-show-firm-u-s-job-market

    • jimmywitz

      I would have thought that these numbers were a strong endorsement of the previous (Obama) administration policies.

      • John Bernard Books

        I can see you thinking that….yep

  • BCinBCS

    Liberals, progressives, Democrats and some conservative commentators have accused Comrade Trump and his Republican supporters of being racist. This has been consistently denied. Now, George W. Bush has added his name to the list of accusers. When will the right wake up to their unchristian and un-American beliefs?

    • St. Anger

      When will bush?

  • donuthin2

    Proud of Bush, more need to speak up. I am encouraged by Bush, Cain and Corker. Proves there are still some with a soul.

    • St. Anger

      Pretty low bar. He can’t actually name the problem, nor can he manage to see his own role in it.

      I guess once you’ve hit a new low, the previous low looks way up there.

      When one of them publicly calls for their supporters to stop voting republican I’ll take notice. Until then screw bush and the rest of em.

      • WUSRPH

        You seem to have forgotten the Bush family—absent George P.—made it quite clear last November that both the former presidents would not–and did not—vote for Trump.

        • St. Anger

          That’s not the same thing. Trump is symptom, not problem. Pick a random Texas state leger and tell me how they aren’t just as bad.

          • WUSRPH

            Most would clearly fail your test including Joe Straus……

          • St. Anger

            Indeed. My point was clear. There are only two types of republicans today: those causing the destruction of our values, way of life, and constitution, and those enabling them.

        • Kozmo

          Yes, because they were still sore that the anointed Jeb wasn’t the nominee. (If you even take them at their word — and for all we know, they may have written in votes for “Jeb!” just the same). Now they can all rally around the aptly named “P”. Whose claim to fame so far has been picking fights with the little old ladies who used to run the Alamo.

          • St. Anger

            Yeah it’s not like they all came out and encouraged their supporters to vote Clinton.

        • Jeronimo Dan

          None of the Bush’s voted for trump. The old man by no fault of his of own, due to age and illness didn’t vote, Dubya tried to vote, but couldn’t find the polling place and Jeb, didn’t have enough energy to get up and get out of his house.

  • warnerathey

    We need to ask George Bush what white supremacist he is talking about. If he wrote the speech he should know. If he didn’t write the speech we need to ask the person who wrote it. If he means Trump he should come right and say so. If he says, Oh no I didn’t mean Trump, then who did he mean.? If he is just saying he is against white supremacy in general, why say it now? He is just giving ammunition to the Democrats. That is a false charge that the Democrats like to throw out. Bush needs to tell us exactly what he is talking about.

  • Jeronimo Dan

    Dear old George “Dubya” Bush. If Dubya hadn’t been born to his old man, he’d still be in Midland, Texas working and selling Beer, Cigarettes’ and Gas for the “Circle-K” convenience store. The boy is an all around nice guy, but dumber than a rock, proving once again “it’s not what you know, it’s who’s your Daddy”?

  • John Bernard Books

    GW is right on….we all fondly remember WASSUP’s boss slapping our atty Gen and calling him a dirty little meskin…..

  • John Bernard Books
    • Tejasguitarman

      Indians! Lock,stock & barrel. I was born & raised in the Cradle of America. Massasoit & his Wampanoag people of the First Light should have let those Pilgrims & Puritans perish in the harsh winter. Instead, these so called savages showed true spiritual compassion for their fellow human beings. The mutual harmony between Native Americans & Europeans only last one generation before the insatiable whites wanted more & more land & Indians had suffered disease,death & decimation of their people. When meeting with Massasoit’s son King Phillip was told by the Massachusetts colonists to play ball because they were weak & few & the colonists are many & strong. King Philip replied that they should then treat them like the Native Americans did to those first whites when they were weak & few & the Indians were many & strong. These good christian folks killed him & displayed his head in town for 20 years. GFYS JBB

      • St. Anger

        My mom lives there now.

        • Tejasguitarman

          She’s most likely better off there than in Texas

  • SeeItMyWay

    “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” ….what GWB thinks, or has to say. Nice guy; bad President.

  • Kozmo

    Pretty rich, coming from an unindicted war criminal who by rights ought to be facing trial at The Hague, along with his cronies, for crimes against humanity.

  • WUSRPH

    Whether George Bush was a good, bad or mediocre president does not affect the truth of what he said.

  • WUSRPH

    I recently did a couple of pieces on guns as a result of the Las Vegas shooting……one of the responses was the typical “gun control won’t work”—which is likely true—but ended by recounting the events of 9-11 in which the terrorists used common every day box cutters, which were readily available in many stores both then and now, as an example of how you cannot stop a killer if he is really determined—again probably true–BUT it did raise the question of how many people could the Las Vegas shooter have killed if he had been 32 stores up above them and was throwing box cutters down at the crowd?

  • Jeronimo Dan

    While I’m just a little right of Attila the Hun, I have absolutely no use for a Bush. The Old man was a South American gun runner and a importer with Clinton, O. North, Don Lassiter, and Bobby Seals being guilty of bringing in Cocaine and cash, then laundering of million, upon millions of dollars.
    Little Dubya Bush was probably a good old boy you’d enjoy having a beer with, but the conversation would have to be kept on a Jr. High level. He was and still is, dumber than a rock (no he didn’t and never will write a speech). If it weren’t for the old man Dubya would still be working for a “Circle-K” convenience store, selling Gas, Beer/ice along with Cigarettes in Midland, Texas.
    His Brother (Jeb), trump nailed him…low energy. The whole family is not Conservative, not Republican they are “New World Order” they would like to be at the round table with a select few others, telling the world how it’s going to be.
    It’s a shame that any Library has the name of Bush imprinted on it, especially the one at SMU.