Barack Obama and Bill Clinton had a tough job today. Both took office with the difficult tasks of cleaning up messes left by a Bush. Today they had to speak at the dedication for the George W. Bush Presidential Center. As Peter Baker put it:
It has become an awkward ritual of the modern presidency that the current occupant of the Oval Office is called upon to deliver a generous historical judgment of the previous one. With the opening of each new presidential library, the members of the world’s most exclusive fraternity put aside partisan differences to honor the shared experience of running the nation in difficult times.
It is not an easy thing to say good things about one of the worst presidents in American history, a president who took the country into a war based upon lies, also waged a war on science, failed to respond adequately to a disaster the magnitude of Katrina, and who crashed the economy. If I was in their position, about the best things I could thing to say about George Bush is that he has ten fingers, breaths oxygen, and has a beating heart.
The Week listed eleven nice things which Clinton and Obama said about Bush today. My favorite was how Clinton turned Bush’s lack of knowledge into a positive comment for the purpose of today’s event:
“I like President Bush. And I like it when we have disagreements. He’s disarmingly direct. We were heaving an argument over health care… and I went on about the German health care system, and he said, ‘I don’t know a thing about the German health care system.’ He probably won the argument.”
There actually are some favorable things to say about George Bush, such as his support for treating AIDS in Africa and not showing the degree of racism and xenophobia which permeates the Republican Party. These are hardly enough considering that we are still struggling to reverse all the harm done by Bush.