The Washington Post

Bush, Cheney and the ‘unmitigated disaster’ to statesmanship

We all know — or at least we should — that one of the many roles thrust upon a president and vice president is “good cop bad cop.” The former is the good cop. He gets to look presidential while talking about high-minded ideals. Meanwhile, the dirty work of roughing up the opposition is left to the latter. And just because you leave office doesn’t mean that you relinquish the role. Case in point: President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Bush emerged last week from his self-imposed exile to speak at a conference in New York for the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s conference on “Tax Policies For 4% Growth.” Of all the things he said there, his comment on President Obama and views on his policies was surprising. “I don’t think it’s good for our country to undermine our president and I don’t intend to do so,” Bush said.

Well, I’m not all that surprised by what 43 said. Bush has been the epitome of grace since the transition between the administrations. Being a former president, Bush is all too familiar with the intricacies and complexities involved in being the leader of the free world. Unfortunately, he is in a party that doesn’t seem to like or value statesmen much.

Enter Cheney, who, emerging for the first time after heart transplant surgery last month, reprised his role as the Bush administration attack dog at the Wyoming Republican state convention on Saturday.

I can’t think of a time when I felt it was more important for us to defeat an incumbent president today with respect to Barack Obama. I think he has been an unmitigated disaster to the country. I think to be in a position where he gets four more years in the White House to continue the policies he has, both with respect to the economy, and tax policy, and defense and some other areas would be a huge, huge disappointment.

Quite a statement from a man who helped lead this country into a second war (Iraq) while taking the eye off the ball of the first war (Afghanistan). And don’t get me started on the administration’s seeming indifference to capturing or killing Osama bin Laden.  

What is “an unmitigated disaster to the country” is the poisonous political rhetoric that has overtaken the Republican Party. What would be “a huge, huge disappointment” is if the GOP were not able to wrest itself away from the negative and poisonous ethos espoused by Cheney and others. Everyone need not agree on everything. But everyone need not be portrayed as evil for having a different point of view.  

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


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