What happened to the president they once reviled?
Mainstream media journalists are all of a sudden anxious to give the words of former President George W. Bush a full airing, and to refer to them in the most complimentary way.
Bush, wrote The Washington Post, had offered a “blunt assessment” in his speech in New York on Thursday and “warned about threats to American democracy.”
NBC News said that Bush had spoken with a "sharper edge," delivering a "clear condemnation of the current president without mentioning him by name."
But the millions of Americans who thumbed their noses at Establishment Republicans and the media, rejected Bush's brother Jeb absolutely, and voted for outsider Donald J. Trump for president last November, might have heard Bush's words differently.
Bush had started by saying democracies "face new and serious threats" but "seem to be losing confidence in their own calling and competence."
He went on to mourn an earlier era, the post-World War II era, when America, he said, benefited from the "advance of free markets" and the "strength of democratic alliances."
"Free nations are less likely to threaten and fight each other," he told the audience. "We know, deep down, that repression is not the wave of the future. We know that the desire for freedom is not confined to, or owned by, any culture; it is the inborn hope of our humanity."
He went on to say that America is not "immune" from trends that include "resurgent ethno-nationalism" and "anger about immigration."
But the most-played clips on television on Thursday night and Friday were of Bush saying: "Bigotry seems emboldened" and "We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism" and have "forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America."
Another media favorite was this one: "Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication."
The former president, the most recent star player in a family with close ties to Saudi Arabia, the number-one sponsor of Sunni extremist terrorism in the world — also jumped on the bandwagon on Russia, called the formerly communist country a "hostile power" that is trying to turn Americans against one another.
Republicans were not amused.
"Wish I had never campaigned for this president. Have lost all respect for him and the family," wrote one woman on Facebook on Friday, above a news article about Bush's speech.
"George W. Bush gave us a phony war, crashed the economy and covered up the Saudi role in 9/11 — has no right to criticize," legendary politico Roger Stone tweeted on Friday morning.
Reporters who are working overtime to try to discredit Trump, however, strained to give the most credibility to Bush's remarks, with The Washington Post saying the fact that Trump has "unsettled allies abroad" and provoked a "backlash" at home has "injected [Bush's] remarks with greater urgency."
But the very day after Bush spoke these words, there was Trump meeting in the Oval Office with the secretary-general of the United Nations. And on Thursday, about the same time The Post's story was published, the president's motorcade was pulling up to the embassy of Kuwait. Where's the isolationism?
And who can forget Trump's first foreign trip, where he was treated like royalty in Saudi Arabia despite his tough talk on the need to defeat ISIS, and where he met in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom former President Barack Obama had a contentious relationship, as detailed in The Post's own story from 2015, "The Roots of Why Obama and Netanyahu Dislike Each Other So Much."
Trump, in comparison, seems to be shaping out to be the most statesman-like president the United States has had in at least a generation.
But context doesn't seem an important consideration.
"The liberal media treated President Bush as an enemy for 16 years (his term and Obama's) but now that they had a new enemy in Trump, they suddenly found something worth elevating him for," the Media Research Center said in a report on Friday.
The British media, however, were somewhat less willing to boost Bush, whose presidency was marked by two wars — one in Iraq, and the other in Afghanistan — that together have taken the lives of thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of civilians in both countries. They will end up costing more than $2 trillion and have failed, as far as anyone can see, to accomplish much.
"The blood on George W. Bush's hands will never dry. Don't glorify this man," a headline in the Guardian blared on Friday.
Last Modified: October 21, 2017, 9:23 am