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Beating The Bushes In Desperation

This morning, the Boston Globe has a rather interesting op-ed column. "Interesting," as in "far funnier than the author intended."

In that piece, the aptly-named Joshua Green proposes a way former president George W. Bush can help serve his nation: by becoming a leading proponent of "green energy."

This comes on the heels of recent calls for him to speak out in defense of the Ground Zero Mosque.

This is so foolish on so many ways, I don't think I can do it justice.

The first is the motivations for these calls. It's based on several presumptions, all of which laughably wrong.

The first is that President Bush has some bank of credibility and good will and blind support that continues to this day. That a lot of his former supporters (myself included) still respect and appreciate the guy, that's strictly limited to the man himself. It's not something he can transfer to others or causes.

The second is that Bush needs "redeeming." Think about that -- for about ten years, he's been utterly demonized by those now beseeching him for help. "Yes, we know we've called you all sorts of names and blamed you for everything under the sun, but now it's time you accepted all that blame and listened to us and helped us out achieve our goals."

The third is that Bush has any interest in being "redeemed" by his enemies. He seems to embrace the philosophy that "living well is the best revenge," and seems content to live out his life quietly.

But the most entertaining part of Green's piece is his opening paragraph, where he spells out his rationale for his following thesis:

MODERN PRESIDENTS don't retire -- instead, they embark on their post-presidency. Society demands that they take up some cause greater than themselves, as Jimmy Carter has done by building houses for Habitat for Humanity and Bill Clinton by working to stop the global spread of AIDS. The idea is to devote their time and celebrity to a worthier purpose than simply buffing their image for the history books, but a post-presidency properly pursued has exactly that effect.

President Obama is the 43rd man to serve as president. Of the prior 42, six died in office. And of the remaining 36, only five have had prominent post-presidencies. Besides the two most recent Democrats, John Quincy Adams returned to the House of Representatives (where he was a fierce enemy of slavery). Andrew Johnson spent four months in the Senate before dying. And Howard Taft served as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

For the vast majority of our history, though, former presidents were content to quietly retire, maybe write their memoirs. They were supposed to absent themselves from public life. In fact, that was why we established presidential pensions -- to keep former presidents from having to worry about their own future and security while in office.

I'm just old enough to remember how, right after leaving office, President Reagan gave a speech in Japan for which he was quite handsomely compensated -- and it was considered a scandal.

Up until then, ex-presidents were fairly quickly forgotten. Jimmy Carter had yet to, as P. J. O'Rourke put it, take up pounding on poor people's houses with a hammer until they came out and told him to knock it off. Gerald Ford was happy on the links. Richard Nixon was writing books and serving as a quiet counsel to those in power who sought his advice.

Prior to then, Lyndon Johnson went home to his ranch. Eisenhower and Truman also went home.

No, it's only since Jimmy Carter decided to set down his hammer (to the relief of poor people everywhere, who finally got some peace and quiet) and engage in his own "freelance diplomacy" -- in complete disregard with tradition, law, and common sense.

Once the floodgates were broken (with Carter's trips to North Korea and the Middle East, causing problems and headaches for the professionals, it suddenly became easier for Bill Clinton to step back into the limelight and get back into the political fray.

On the other hand, the first President Bush has stayed happily retired -- except when called upon to once more serve his country by helping with Haitian relief and other humanitarian, non-partisan causes. Otherwise, he's happy jumping out of airplanes and hanging around his house on the Maine coast.

President George W. Bush has the pretty-much obligatory post-presidential book coming out soon. He'll probably do a few carefully-chosen interviews to push it, but other than that he'll likely go back to living quietly -- occasionally showing up to greet returning troops and other low-key, unannounced actions like that.

He almost certainly will not stick his nose into the fray regarding the Ground Zero Mosque, and would have almost no interest in becoming Al Gore's acolyte and pushing the bogus "green energy" program. He's got better things to do.

Which, by definition, would be pretty much anything else.


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Comments (14)

Why would he want to stick ... (Below threshold)
mpw280:

Why would he want to stick his nose out there again, it would just become another reason for the pr organ of the Dems to pound on him. The more he does the quiet unannounced stuff, that is in keeping with his personality, the more it annoys the hell out of the flunkies in the press. It would be nice to see him defend himself and his actions in the White House, but since he didn't do it when he was pres I don't expect him to do it now, which is a shame as the press keeps spinning their story without refutation. mpw

The Dems know their credibi... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

The Dems know their credibility is shot. It's gotten pretty bad when you have to ask for help from the guy you demonized for 8 years. Bush has too much class to say it; me, I'd tell them to put it where the sun don't shine.

Jay, you may want to delete... (Below threshold)
engineer:

Jay, you may want to delete the 'H.' in paragraph two.

CURSE those Bushes for thei... (Below threshold)

CURSE those Bushes for their unoriginal names!

Sigh... thanks, engineer. It's going now.

J.

After all the crap the pres... (Below threshold)
sarahconnor2:

After all the crap the press gave him for 8 years, who the heck do they think they are making suggestions as to what he should do with his retirement? I agree with GarandFan, Bush has too much class to give the libs the response they deserve.

W is already a strong propo... (Below threshold)
Hank:

W is already a strong proponent for green energy as witnessed by his home in Crawford. Instead of telling others how to live their lives, he leads by example.

As for the Globe, which I stopped reading and thereby improved the quality of my life, they're fishing for a way to get W in the public eye again so they can resume the demonization.

Dubya is quite happy relaxi... (Below threshold)
Roy:

Dubya is quite happy relaxing and sipping on a large delicious glass of Schadenfreud.

W does a public service whe... (Below threshold)
914:

W does a public service when he greets returning troops. Barry does a public service when he plays golf and stays away.

The bedwetters want W to lend authority to thier sick cause. Too funny.

um Jay, might want to check... (Below threshold)
Stan:

um Jay, might want to check the line that Obama is the 43 President. "Walks on Water" is the 44th man to serve as POTUS and in my opinion the worst one in history. The way it looks now, he is going to beat out James Buchanan as the worst in the list.

Jay was right--Obama is the... (Below threshold)
fritz:

Jay was right--Obama is the 43rd man to serve in the office--He's the 44th President because Cleveland is counted twice (22nd & 24th) though that would suggest that the 22nd President had a fairly prominent post-presidency since it involved going on to become the 24th President. (And 8 presidents died in office not 6.)

"Society demands that they ... (Below threshold)
alanstorm:

"Society demands that they take up some cause greater than themselves..."

Who is this Society person, and why won't he stop whining? I hear a lot about Society demanding this, that or the other thing (usually paid for with tax dollars)and I wish he would just sit down and shut up.

Seriously, who is Joshua Green to speak for society? Does anyone actually gives a damn about whether ex-presidents remain in the spotlight? If so, why aren't these people persuaded to find something useful to obsess about?

Why are you wasting your ti... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Why are you wasting your time with a Sulzberger paper? They are to news as Cheez Whiz is to cheese. "Pasteurized, processed, cheese-colored food-like product."

"Environmentalists" are either the stupidest people on earth, or the most dishonest (the Watermelon Theory - they are green on the outside, red through and through).

You want a clean environment? You want clean energy and "green" jobs? Well, there is no magic wand to wave and create these things, but there IS an established path to them.

Look at the countries and societies which have the best environmental protections, and those which have the worst. There is almost a direct correlation - not with the number of "green" idiots meandering through the streets, either. It is to per capita GDP. The nations who take best care of the environment and create the innovations are the ones which can afford it. Hence the cleanliness of Western Europe, the USA, and Japan, or the filth of Bangladesh, Russia, and Egypt.

Want a cleaner environment? Promote economic growth in the world! Of course, the best ways to do this are also the things "environmentalists" lately oppose, and to avoid the disastrous policies they propose.

As to President Bush, they used to call him dumb (before they had the Obama moron for comparison), but I'm pretty sure he's smart enough to avoid the Boston Globe unless he has a birdcage to line.

He's lucky if Bush doesn't ... (Below threshold)
Don L:

He's lucky if Bush doesn't send a hurricane into Manhatten to destroy it.

(And 8 presidents died i... (Below threshold)

(And 8 presidents died in office not 6.)

Dammit. I typed six, but should have said seven -- because I was going by the "zero-year curse" that claimed the life of every president elected in a year ending in zero, from 1840 to 1960, and miscounted. And even that was mistaken, as it doesn't include Taylor.

Thanks for the correction, fritz.




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