George W. Bush has undergone a well-noted image rehabilitation in the Trump era, and now, one of the most consistent political critics of his presidency is saying he misses him.
“In hindsight, I wish every day for a George Bush again,” former Senate minority leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview posted online Monday. “He and I had our differences, but no one ever questioned his patriotism. Our battles were strictly political battles.”
As Bash pointed out, Reid once called Bush the “worst president we’ve ever had."
Reid had also described Bush as a “loser” and even called Bush’s dog “fat” to the president’s face, in the Oval Office. (He apologized for the “loser” comment, the New York Times reported, because he had said it in front of a group of high-schoolers in a civics class.)
But now, Reid said, “there’s no question in my mind that George Bush would be Babe Ruth in this league that he’s in with Donald Trump in the league.”
“Donald Trump wouldn’t make the team,” Reid said.
The president was quick to hit back on Twitter, calling Reid’s remarks “spin on his failed career" and falsely claiming he got “thrown out” of the Senate. Rather, Reid chose not to run for re-election in 2016 due to health reasons.
Like many others, Reid is viewing Bush’s presidency through the lens of the current administration.
The Obamas have maintained a long, well-documented friendship with their White House predecessors, but their interactions of late have been gif-ed, and memed by online commentators looking for artifacts of a more bipartisan past.
In October, Bush made a speech many took as a not-so-subtle critique of President Trump.
“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” he said. The remarks won praise on both sides of the aisle.
Bush’s favorability ratings have climbed steadily the longer he has been out of office, Gallup polling from June 2017 found.
Some critics have questioned the “rehabilitation” of Bush’s image since Trump took office, noting Bush’s policies, including the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, continue to have serious repercussions.
Despite his antipathy toward Trump, Reid told CNN a congressional battle to impeach Trump would be a “waste of time."
“Republicans in the Senate are so afraid of Trump that they’re not going to get involved in this,” he said. But he said Democrats would not face political backlash for attempting it.
A January New York Times Magazine feature reported that the 79-year-old former senator did not have long to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. “As soon as you discover you have something on your pancreas, you’re dead,” he told Mark Leibovich.
But in Monday’s interview, he told Bash he is in remission, and though the cancer treatment took its toll, he is continuing to throw political punches.