By some of the reporting from the legacy media, you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong when, in a three-minute video released to Twitter Saturday, former president George W. Bush called for unity and not partisan politics in the face of the COVID-19/ChiCom/Wuhan virus.
“In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God,” said Bush in the video. “We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”
That didn’t work on conservatives at all. Fox News host Pete Hegseth voiced what many were thinking. “Oh, by the way,” Hegseth said, “I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside?”
That statement was amplified when, Sunday, President Trump quoted it in a tweet.
And now Trump is the bad guy.
Well, so be it. Trump is always the bad guy no matter what he does.
And the fact of the matter is that George W. Bush has enjoyed his position over the past four years as the patron saint of the Never Trump movement, without much apparent consequence from Republicans, who are a lot more united behind Trump than they were behind W, particularly after his betrayals on things like amnesty for illegals and Medicare expansions authored by Ted Kennedy.
It was Bush père, after all, who stupidly gave China Most Favored Nation trade status in concert with Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
You don’t have to be Trump’s biggest fan to recognize that virtually any departure from Bush Republicanism (a political style that also encompassed Dole Republicanism, McCain Republicanism, and Romney Republicanism) was long overdue by the time 2016 had come around, and the bar for Trump’s popularity within his own party had been set so low that any attempt to actually win on given political issues rather than to minimize losses would be seen as revolutionary.
There is an admonition that I’ve offered in other contexts that applies to the Bush style of leadership, and it goes like this: if you’re walking down the street and an undersized punk crosses your path brandishing a steak knife and demands your wallet, and rather than hand it over in toto you take half of the $100 in cash it contains and offer the $50 to said punk in order for him to let you go, and he agrees, you did not win the exchange.
You received no consideration in return for your $50 — the agreement not to cut you is not consideration, because you have the right not to be cut by a punk half your size. And yet Republicans of the Bush variety are famous for forking over that $50 with a smile when it comes to dealings with Democrats. I’ve just described the entirely of the period between 1988 and 2016 in American presidential, and to a large extent legislative, politics.
This plays into the coronavirus controversy currently at hand. Sure, it’s a nice statement that we should be putting politics aside to fight the virus. But why is Bush making it now? At this point the “curve” of the virus’s spread is on its downside throughout virtually the entire country, and the politics of the response is what’s important — because the justification of that response was based on trying to avoid the health-care system from being overwhelmed, and now that it’s clear it won’t be there are mayors and governors, almost all of them Democrats, who are holding onto those emergency powers with a death-grip fervor.
And Bush is going to tell us not to be partisans now? When people are fighting to regain their liberties and livelihoods and engaging in civil disobedience and protests against ever-more-obnoxious snitching — which, as Anne Hendershott noted within these pages Monday, has a decided partisan tint to it, as well?
If Bush wanted to make big headlines decrying politics in the face of the Wuhan virus, he should have done so in mid-March as things were just heating up. If he had, he could actually have done some good by not only admonishing Trump to refrain from attacking Democrats but by setting the stage for the Democrats attacking Trump to behave themselves for the good of the country. But now? Six weeks later when this thing has long since become hyperpolitical for good reasons?
Particularly given that, as Hegseth noted, Bush had nothing to say about the most partisan, stupid impeachment process in American history.
I’ll behave myself and try not to say there’s anything suspicious or nefarious here, though I’ll allow that it isn’t a good look for W to have tossed that video out there on the heels of his brother Neil, as head of something called the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations, touting a donation of some 100,000 masks to the city of Houston from the ChiCom government with this statement:
“We share a common humanity, and the willingness to help support communities around the globe in times of need reflects the values that are consistent with my father’s life-long service to others, and consistent with the values that underpin the relationship between the US and China,” he said.
Bush pointed out that from March 1 through April 8, more than 525 million masks and 195 million gloves have been imported from China.
“China continues to be our reliable trading partner for our country during this time of need. Infectious diseases know no borders. To fight this pandemic, to get our city and our country going again, it is critical that people from across the globe find our common humanity that we lock ours and that we work together,” Bush said.
So when Bushes talk up how awesome China is — did you even know there was a Bush China Foundation? — and then talk up how we shouldn’t be having a big political fight over how state and local governments are increasingly clamping down on individual liberties in the name of “social distancing” and other forms of house arrest, very reasonable people will take W’s statement in a negative light.
It was Bush père, after all, who stupidly gave China Most Favored Nation trade status in concert with Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and thus set in motion the chain of events that has resulted in a Chinese virology lab releasing COVID-19 into the world. While most of the giveaway of the American manufacturing base can probably be laid at the feet of Bill Clinton, who served as president between Bush 41 and Bush 43, that family undoubtedly bears the bulk of the responsibility for creating this problem through atrocious trade and foreign policy.
And if anybody should shut up about partisan politics it’s the Bushes, whose utter failure to understand how they can and will be used to destroy a presidency caused both to leave office in defeat, 41 through losing reelection, and 43 through suffering microscopic approval ratings thanks to the Democrats’ use of “Bush Lied, People Died” anti-Iraq War propaganda that was never answered.
Trump’s style might have its own blemishes, but one thing he will consistently do is defend himself from all comers. That’s a form of Republican politics that was long overdue, even if it sows discord the legacy media doesn’t like. At least he’ll go down fighting — the Bushes, who’ll break bread with all kinds of nefarious types in pursuit of whatever it is they’re trying to achieve, just go down.
Trump’s approach is more effective. Let’s hear fewer “play nice” admonitions from the Bush China Foundation and its pals.
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