Former President George W. Bush rarely criticized his successor Barack Obama, but it took less than six weeks for him to call out Donald Trump.
Bush often maintained that he had too much respect for the job to criticize a sitting president, but that didn’t hold him back from attacking Trump during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Monday morning.
Bush said “we all need answers” on the extent of contact between Trump’s team and the Russian government, and also disagreed with Trump’s on-going theory that the media is the “opposition party.”
“We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power,” Bush told Matt Lauer. “I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy.”
Bush only spoke out about Obama a handful of times over eight years, mostly regarding leaked off-the-record comments made about Obama’s strategy to deal with ISIS back in 2015 — six years into Obama’s presidency. Bush’s former spokesman Ari Fleischer even tried to back peddle the comments at the time, telling CNN that, “He never mentioned Obama.”
Bush did tell Lauer the presidency a “tough job” and pointed out that Trump has only been on then job for a month. He added that there are a lot more media organizations now than he had to deal with in the Oval Office. However, he essentially left Obama alone for two terms in the White House and it took less than two months to speak out against a fellow Republican.
Bush is currently making the media rounds, promoting a book of his paintings of wounded veterans. It will be interesting to see if he continues to mention elements of the Trump administration that he disagrees with going forward. For now, it appears that Bush either respected Obama more than he respects Trump, or he simply didn’t have a book to sell during Obama’s presidency.