Two Former Presidents … Voices of Reason

When your ‘enemies’ say things about you, say that you are no good, a liar and a cheat, and call you names, you rather expect it and most of us simply laugh it off.  I have acquired many new monikers during the last 28 months, since that day in June 2015 when I fell off a stool laughing because Donald Trump actually had the gall to throw his hat into the ring of presidential contenders.  But those new names don’t phase me, for they are people who disagree with me and have declared me their enemy.  A few threats have set my teeth on edge, but those are few and far between.  But when your allies and friends start calling you names and saying things about you, then perhaps it is time to take a long, hard look at yourself and ask yourself some tough questions.

The GOP is not exactly a tight-knit, cohesive organization these days, and more and more we are hearing members of Congress and other party officials speak out against Donald Trump.  The latest in this series was former President George W. Bush who yesterday gave an unexpected and rather eloquent speech at a forum for the George W. Bush Institute in New York. If he had said no more than a handful of words, it would have spoken volumes, simply because he is a fellow republican and a former president.

Like Senator John McCain’s speech on Monday evening, Bush did not specifically mention Trump, but his meaning was obvious to all with half a mind.  I will not replicate the entire speech, but merely a few of the most relevant snippets.

  • And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.

  • Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

  • We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. (Think, “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Liddle” Bob Corker, “Crooked Hillary,” “Lock her up,” to name but a few)

  • We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade — forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.

  • Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy. And that begins with confronting a new era of cyber threats.

  • According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions — including cyberattacks, disinformation and financial influence — should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.

  • This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.

  • We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

The ones in bold are the ones I find the most relevant, especially the last two.  You can read the entire transcript if you wish.

And, though much lower keyed, President Obama also made some statements this week, while stumping for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia:

  • What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries. Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That has folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century. Come on!

  • You can’t take this election or any election for granted. I don’t know if you all noticed that.

For two former presidents to speak out against the policies, actions and behaviours of the sitting president is … unprecedented (pun intended – needed to lighten things up a bit).  That they are doing so speaks loudly that they are concerned for the fate of our democracy and the path that the nation is on.  I concur and I appreciate them using their large, yet elegant and respectful voices to make these points.

69 thoughts on “Two Former Presidents … Voices of Reason

    • Same here … as I said, it’s all relative. I actually think that Attila the Hun might look like a decent chap next to Trump! But don’t hold your breath about his fans … they are still, as of today, as die-hard as ever. Sigh. I dunno what it takes to wake them up, but I’m about ready to whack a couple of them upside the head with a bat!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was never a fan of Bush jr. (not of senior either), but this speech was remarkable. – And yes: nostalgia for Bush is definitely a sign things are going downhill fast! – And yes number two: let him just come to the Netherlands! I am sure we would find an interesting crowd welcoming him! If you want one word to describe the Dutch, “outspoken” would be a good one! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • I think he would simply explode from outrage … being treated like this … as the Dutch are not only outspoken, but also very anti-hierachy 😉 And they do not show respect if they don’t think someone earned it (just because this someone is occupying a high office would not entitle him to respect here … it just makes him a better target for criticism) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m intrigued by Hugh’s comment that “a failed education system” is part of the problem. If the voters act stupidly, how does that get blamed on the education system? How would you fix this “failed education system” so that no more Donald Trumps are elected going forward? How about fixing the stupid electoral system that put Trump in the Oval Office? Get rid of the arcane College of Electors – and Hilary would have won the election – because there were more smart voters in November 2016 than stupid voters.

    All that aside, stay on your soapbox, Jill!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my … much discussion to be had here! I shall give you my short (😁) answer, but shall also ask Hugh, the retired Professor, to respond, as his answer will no doubt be better than mine.

      In recent years (decades?) our education system has shifted its focus. The focus is now more on training for specific jobs than on a liberal arts education that teaches people to think for themselves. No longer is classic literature deemed important, even math skills are less important than they once were … just ask a clerk in a store to calculate your change without the aid of the machine. But most germane to this discussion is that history and civics classes have taken a backseat to such as computer programming. So now, we are turning out students who can get a job in silicone valley, but are at a loss to understand how government works. Add to that, the fact that many are eschewing a liberal arts education and turning instead to technical job training, and we now have a generation of people who couldn’t tell you the first thing about the U.S. Constitution, the three branches of government, name our allies or tell what the purpose of the United Nations is. Thus, as voters, they are pretty under-qualified. They do not understand how their own country works, let alone the broader picture. There are many in this country who could not pass the citizenship test if they had to take it. In fact, I was helping my neighbor, a Syrian refugee, study for her citizenship test a few nights ago, and I thought to myself … most of the people I know probably wouldn’t know the answer to some of these questions. I did a piece in May 2016 that I think you might find informative and at the same time humorous: https://jilldennison.com/2016/05/22/why-goats-cant-vote/

      And as for the electoral college … SIGH. It was actually designed to prevent the very thing that happened last year. Obviously it failed. My own opinion is that it is time to get rid of it, for as a safety net, it has a huge hole. It is a slap in the fact that the majority of people voted for one candidate, yet the other candidate “won”.

      Briefly, here are a few of the things on my “wish list”. 1) Make a college education a true education where young people are taught to think once again. Teach literature, civics, philosophy, history … the things that give us a broader world view. And make it affordable so that students do not come out after four years, owing so much that they will be 50 years old before their debt is paid! 2) Abolish the electoral college 3) Mandatory voting 4) Massive changes to campaign finance rules. There used to be limits to how much money corporations and lobbyists could contribute to a campaign. With the “Citizens United” ruling by the Supreme Court, those limits were removed. Thus, organizations like the NRA, big oil companies, etc., can contribute large amounts to campaigns of those running for Congress and president. Now, they don’t do that out of the goodness of their heart, so then those who benefited from the contributions are expected to vote a certain way, ie, against gun regulations, against environmental regulations. Annnnd … with such large contributions to some, the winner of the election may be decided to a large extent by the candidate with the most money to spend on rallies, fancy advertising, etc. 5) Changes to the process for independent or third-party candidates. Currently, anyone outside the two major parties stand almost zero chance of being elected. The rules are such that they must poll at a certain level to even be allowed to participate in the debates or get their name on the ballot in each state.

      And now, I’m sure you are saying to yourself “remind me not to ask her another question”,! But thanks for asking, for this is my forte and I am always happy to expound. So, allow me to step down off my soapbox before somebody starts throwing tomatoes! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Jill – that made things crystal clear. Education here in Canada is in similar straits – not producing well-rounded citizens. Our citizens are equally ignorant of our political system – but yours is way more complex with layers and layers of electoral run offs before the main event. Our contribution limits are in place and we have a multi- party system although only the Liberals and Conservatives have ever won federally. Lots of things to improve in our system too. Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Jill,

    It was a breath of fresh air to hear three leaders taking the high road. Even General Kelly got his jabs in but I don’t think the president caught on to the subtlety of his comments.
    For the 2 former presidents to decide to say something regarding the president tells us how seriously worried they are about the backward direction of our country.

    Hugs, Gronda.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, the British press caught Kelly’s remarks too…and they reported that Kelly chose his words carefully…not quite exonerating Trump, he chose to focus on the senator’s inappropriate ‘listening in on a private conversation between Lord Chaos and the grieving widow.’

      Liked by 2 people

    • The problem with keeping one’s enemies closer … at least in this case … is the stench they emit!!! When Trump came to my city, even though he was only as close as 20 miles away, I swear the air stunk and I felt I needed another shower!

      Yes, dear Jack, you are a good friend, always will be, and I love you dearly … but you already know that, I hope! Love and many, many hugs … ❤

      Like

  4. Tipping Point 1- Nostalgia for G W Bush jnr.
    Yep!
    Now don’t give this onerous creature in the Whitehouse the credit of having having influence and power, it is all a mirage, smoke n mirrors. The majority of the US population did not vote him in, nor do they support him. He is a fool with no international standing, which is vital for a nation of the USA’s position. He is going down. Keep up the pressure folk. Ignore his deluded or misguided following, he is going down.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, when we start feeling nostalgia for W, that alone speaks volumes! As I was telling … either Keith or Hugh, I disremember which … even people who spent 8 years hating Obama are now saying that maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. It’s all relative. However, I cannot imagine a time in the future that Trump will be looked back on with fondness … at least certainly not by people with brains.

      And yep, we must keep up the pressure … perhaps even increase it … for though the temptation to go dig a hole and crawl into it is sometimes strong, it isn’t an option. Sigh. I need a new soapbox, though … this one has a hole in it and I keep falling through it into the rabbit hole beneath. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Jill,
        Firstly sorry for the delay, family descended from all directions, which is nice, so not much laptop time.🙂
        Secondly to business.
        The current occupant of The Whitehouse will be simply viewed as a freak of the system, and in general mocked and derided in histories apart from some die-hards who in turn will suffer the same fate. Nor to I believe he has the twisted sort of wit, or character to leave a permanent scar on the USA. He is, in effect, that embarrassing person at the party who is a loud boor and as the evening wears on gets more and more intoxicated with alcohol and their own ego.
        If nothing else he will destroy himself.

        Liked by 1 person

        • No worries, dear Roger … I missed you, but frankly had concluded that maybe you were going through the post-euphoria-post-finally-published-my-book phase, and I knew you’d be bouncing back over on your pogo stick soon. Glad you had some well-deserved family time!

          Yes, that one uncle that everybody tries to ignore, for he is the shame of the family, but … whatchya gonna do … he’s family, y’know? But … this one is a loose cannon, and unlike the uncle who may be an embarrassment, this one holds that little box in his hands. Still, I do hope you are right.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Jill.
            A brief pause here so I get to me keyboard 😃…Yey!! (There’s two bundles of energy 4 & 7 years old grandsons….. They even had great fun taking turns with an electric carpet sweeper and had pocket money from ‘Gran’ for that)
            Somewhere, Jill, in the Pentagon, Langley, Capitol Hill, and other places of central authority are the great unseen protocols which have very neutral titles, but translate into ‘What To Do When The President Wants To Do Something Crazy’. Every democratic government is bound to have something similar.
            When it happens, as well it might with this bozo, it is possible the public will not know it has happened, unless some group of influence wish to make a very strong political point and destroy the Alt Right in the process.
            It is normally an application of the famous ‘Soft Power’, but we shall see.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ahhhh … your grandsons sound delightful! They will keep you young, my friend!

              Yes, I have concluded much the same … that there are forces behind the scenes that will not allow his ego to destroy the world, and you are right … we will never likely know, unless … leaks … 😉

              Liked by 1 person

                • Now Roger … I hate to, but I must admit that you lost me on this one. I have always said that you are a walking storehouse of knowledge, but usually I can keep up a bit, with the aid of Google. But here … I am 🤔 🤔 🤔 … an’ I got nothing. 😵 🙃 😵 🙃 Care to enlighten? 💡

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Argh! Heavens T’Betsy! I have become inadvertently cryptic 😳.
                    That remark was sort of flow of consciousness of the scenario we were discussing. So imagine, there are folks all working up to the target of spearing Big Chief Sitting Duck in the Whitehouse; and the signal or final inspiration is someone releasing Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’:
                    “I see my light come shining
                    From the west down to the east
                    Any day now, any day now
                    I shall be released”
                    And that would be the inspiration for action😉

                    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Roger,
      I love hearing this and I do believe it. What I worry about is the damage he can do in the meantime. We all need a beak over here on this side of the pond.

      The Queen should invite him. I am serious. If all the major leaders invited him, it would keep out of making trouble for the world.
      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 2 people

        • Folks, three comments. This may have been one of the better speeches I have seen Bush do. Trump said it was not about him since neither former President used his name. Finally, Trump opined on UK crime today using an erroneous quote. Someone in authority the needs to tell our President that he had enough problems here to comment on other countries’ domestic issues, but when he does he needs to get the quotes correct. Keith

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks Keith! I had not heard Trump’s comment that it wasn’t about him … guess he needs to have things explained to him in simpler terms, for subtlety evades him. HOWEVER … if Bush’s and Obama’s remarks had been favourable, you know he would have taken credit and assumed it was ALL about him. Sigh.

            And he is a fine one to be critiquing another nation when his is in total chaos! I would love to see Ms. May tell him to shut up and attend to his own house first.

            Like

      • Hello Gronda
        Oh I’d love to see him come over here.
        Even better throw in a tour of France, Germany, Holland, and Belgium just to see him subjected to the overall hostility and contempt.
        And then of course he would loose his temper and make stupid comments which would leave him open to more ridicule. Which in turn would impact on the USA and cause more antagonism to him at home.
        A bit like shooting fish in a barrel.
        Take care you folk.
        Roger

        Liked by 3 people

                • Methinks, dear Roger, that it is time for those few with the obnoxiously loud voices to sit down and shut up. I’ve been trying to awaken them, but since that isn’t working, I would next try bashing them over the heads so that they settle in for a nice long silent nap until the middle of November 2018! For they cannot be allowed anywhere near the voting booths next November! Good sense must be given a field in which to play. 🐺

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Well…..😼
                    Whereas I can see the satisfaction in knocking heads, personally I’d go for character assassination and humiliation of their leaders, get all the dirty laundry out, make ’em squirm a bit; laugh at their squawks of fake news. Hammer them down with leaks etc.
                    Dirty real politiks, you gotta love it at times………..
                    …….. or is that just me?????🙄 🤔

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Perhaps you are right … perhaps rather than sit next year out in a prison cell for bashing heads, a more subtle approach is in order. I like your ideas … character assassination … dirty laundry … YES … I can work with this! Thanks for turning me back in the right direction, not to mention keeping me out of prison! And yes, down-and-dirty politicks CAN be fun … until it isn’t any more … but for now, I shall have fun! 🤡🎈 🤡 🎈 🤡

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • WHEEEEE!!!! You know what’s funny about your “fun-fun-fun” as inspired by the Beach Boys song is that last week one night I was singing that very song … “and she’ll have fun fun fun ’til her daddy takes the T-bird away”! Funny how those things work, and even funnier that I can remember some of the words to that. But stay tuned for progress reports on my fun!!!

                      Liked by 1 person

  5. I just posted about this as well Jill, and used unprecedented! Unfortunately, I tend to agree with Tony. Trump and his followers will take this as further validation of him being “anti-establishment”. I’m hoping though that what the two former presidents said yesterday, coupled with McCain’s speech and statements by Republican Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, may inspire the more moderate Republicans to grow a backbone.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I have always said … great minds think alike!!! I shall have to read your post! Yes, I agree with Tony also. Those who blindly support Trump, the uber-conservatives, will naysay anybody who speaks with common sense and a calm voice. I don’t understand it, but I know it to be true. I am encouraged that at least some in Congress are beginning to see the light, but I also fear the damage Trump can do before steps are taken to remove him from office. And to me, that is the only possible solution … removal from office … and the sooner the better.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Strange to think of “W” as the voice of reason! But I take exception to this comment: “And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.” The failure of the leaders is evidence of the failure of the system itself, since the voters are supposed to be enlightened enough to recognize fools when they see and hear them, and clearly we are not. Democracy cannot function without leaders committed to the Common Good. Ours are not.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do see your point, but … isn’t it the responsibility of the people, the voters, to educate themselves? Ought not they be held accountable for doing some research about the candidates and for acquiring at least a basic knowledge of how our government works? No system is perfect, as they all rely on people … preferably people with good sense … and when people without good sense are voted into office, it stands to reason that the system will not work properly, but can one blame the system, or should one blame the people for being to lazy or greedy (perhaps both) to educate themselves and make wise choices?

      And yes, I had the same thought … it feels odd to see W as the voice of reason. It is all relative, I suppose. Even some who spent 8 years hating Obama are now saying, “maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy after all”.

      Like

      • I hate to sound pedantic, but it depends on how you define “system.” If you mean the Constitution, then it persists, more or less, no matter how stupid the electorate and its elected clowns happen to be. But if you mean the system of government that passes laws and enforces them as well, then the system depends on good leadership elected by, yes, informed voters. But if the education system fails and the voters show signs of increasing stupidity and the officials they elect are unable to do their jobs then I would say the system has broken down, it has failed. No?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I was considering the Constitution, the foundation, as the system. You make a valid point, though … there are other parts to the system and yes, they are failing. So, I suppose if there are multiple parts and only some are functioning, then it can be said that the system has failed. And the reasons? On the surface, they are many: as you point out, a failing education system. Also, technology must be said to play a role, as there is so much mis-information on the information highway, and people are busily playing with their tech toys and fall for anything, it seems. But behind all the reasons we could name, there is one overriding cause, I believe. Money. If one took the financial element completely out of the equation … no contributions from big business, lobbyists, etc., we might actually get back to not only fair elections, but governance based on the good of the whole, rather than the good of the rich at the expense of the rest of us. Stepping down now 😉

          Like

    • Hugh … would you take a look at the question asked by John Fioravanti, as it pertains to your comment. I did give him an answer, but thought that you might also wish to respond. John is a Canadian and has a pretty good grasp of our political system, but he asked some valid questions. Thanks, my friend!

      Like

  7. I love what Bush and McCain have said in recent days but they speak to the old guard of the GOP. Trump has a bunch of freaks who he has charmed into believing he can make this country “great” again. Somehow the Republicans are afraid of taking Orange Voldemort down.

    Liked by 3 people

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