Former president George W. Bush, seen in Washington on Sept. 24, said on Monday, “we all need answers” on the extent of contact between President Trump's team and the Russian government, and he defended the media's role in keeping world leaders in check. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Former president George W. Bush described the current atmosphere in the country in dark terms, though he insisted that the current climate is not unprecedented in America's history.

“I don’t like the racism and I don’t like the name-calling and I don’t like the people feeling alienated,” Bush told People magazine in a recent interview. “Nobody likes that.”

Recently, the former president has been speaking out about the political climate in Washington, carefully lodging his objections to some of President Trump's key policy objectives and rhetoric. The latest installment comes in People this week, as Bush is on a media tour to promote his book of portraits highlighting wounded veterans.

He made a clear distinction between his objection to meddling in the affairs of his successors and speaking out on subjects that affect his post-presidential Bush Center.

“When President Obama got elected, friends would call: ‘You must speak out! You must do this, you must do that.’ Turns out, other people are doing the same thing this time,” Bush said. “I didn’t feel like speaking out before because I didn’t want to complicate the job and I’m not going to this time. However, at the Bush Center we are speaking up.”

That's because the Bush Center does work — naturalization ceremonies and Texas-based leadership training for Muslim women — that brushes up against some of Trump's most controversial proposals.

On Monday, in an interview with NBC's “Today” show, Bush was asked specifically about Trump's policies and offered a muted critique of the current president's approach to talking about terrorism, his plans to ban immigration from predominantly Muslim countries, and his denunciation of the press.

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” Bush said, when asked about Trump calling the media the “enemy of the people.” “We need an independent media to hold people like me to account.”

According to People, Bush called the current political climate “pretty nasty” but maintained that he is optimistic about the country's future.

“I’m optimistic about where we’ll end up,” Bush said. “We’ve been through these periods before and we’ve always had a way to come out of it. I’m more optimistic than some.”