September 23, 2013

George W. Bush left a lot to be desired, policy-wise, as a president. As a post-presidential statesman, however, the 43rd president of the United States has no peer. Unlike some people in his administration, (yeah, I’m talking about you, Dick Cheney), Bush strictly upholds the tradition that the outgoing POTUS keeps to himself any critical comments about the sitting one. But Bush has done something twice now that deserves praise.

President Obama heads to Marine One en route to New York. (Michael Reynolds/EPA)
President Obama heads to Marine One en route to New York. (Michael Reynolds/EPA)

Defending President Obama against those who begrudge him his weekly golf game, Bush told Jimmy Roberts of the Golf Channel, “I see our president criticized for playing golf. I don’t. I think he ought to play golf.” Not one Republican showed up for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington last month. But Bush, recovering from a surgical procedure on his heart, issued a pitch-perfect statement.  “Just to the East of the Lincoln Memorial, where President Obama will speak on Wednesday, stands the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial,” Bush said. “There on the National Mall our President, whose story reflects the promise of America, will help us honor the man who inspired millions to redeem that promise.”

“Our president.” To those of us tired of the disrespect shown the sitting president by people perpetually offended that he holds the office, those two words are music to our ears. Bush and Obama agree on very little. But when it comes to showing respect for the office and the man who must bear the burdens that go with it, Bush is a model statesman. Would that the current leaders of the Republican Party followed his example.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.