Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Opinion

Bush flips the script in political conflict

Up is down, left is right. One week after Bill Clinton had some kind words to say about Mitt Romney's time in the private sector, Jeb Bush had something nice to say about President Barack Obama's time in office.

During a lengthy interview on CBS's This Morning last week, the former Florida governor credited the president for bringing Arne Duncan on as his secretary of eduction, and for redirecting the focus of the department to concentrate on students more than administrations. "Any time an elected official in the world we're in today that appears so dysfunctional challenges a core constituency not of their opponent but of their own political base, I think we should pause and give them credit," Bush said.

But before we all carried away with all this across-the-aisle bipartisan love, let's remember that it didn't take long for Clinton to make amends with Democrats for his "sterling" departure from the company line by calling a potential Romney presidency "calamitous." While Bush is unlikely to walk back his education-themed praise of Obama (he's made similar comments before), he was nonetheless quick to suggest that there is a "long list" of things the president's done wrong in office. An example: failing to give President George W. Bush credit for recent foreign policy successes.

"I would argue in some ways, by reality seeping kind of into his life as the commander in chief, that a lot of it is modeled after 43," the former governor said, suggesting Obama has followed his brother's lead when it comes to the use of drones and other efforts to fight terrorism. "It would be nice, a little tip of the hat might be a nice thing."

Still, the younger Bush seemed very much like a man who has taken himself out of the running to be Romney's running mate, something he reaffirmed during the interview. His current lack of political ambition, he said, means he doesn't have to be "100,000 percent against" Obama. "I got a long list of things that I think he's done wrong," Bush said. "And I, with civility and respect, I will point those out if I'm asked. But on the things that I think he's done a good job on, I'm not gonna just say, 'no, no.' "

© 2012 Slate

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