In all the different ways the news media and people across the country are dealing with the country’s new president, there’s also a lot of interest in the plans of the outgoing president.
It might be too soon to compare Obama’s approach to his post presidency to that of his predecessor, but already there is lots of buzz leading to the conclusion that it could be very different.
With less than a month before his successor was to be sworn into office, I attended a gathering with those who served in the Bush administration to hear the president thank us for our service and speak persuasively of looking forward to his return to Texas.
Both at the podium and in informal discussion, he was a man of inner peace who had done his best and at all times what he believed was right.
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The Miller Center of the University of Virginia is a nonpartisan organization that specializes in the study of the institution of the presidency. Here’s how they describe what Bush has been doing following his two terms in the White House:
“The former President quickly became a part of the Dallas community, attending local events and hosting barbecues at his home. He supplemented his income with paid speeches and was very involved with the George W. Bush Institute that he established at SMU. In his free time, he enjoyed biking, attending Texas Rangers baseball games, reading American history, and golfing.
“Inspired by a similar hobby of his hero Winston Churchill, Bush also began painting; primarily producing portraits of his pets and of world leaders that he came into contact with while serving as President. His paintings attracted national attention and were displayed in his presidential library.”
Notably missing from that description is any mention of his engagement in any effort to directly or indirectly involve himself publicly in matters of political partisanship or any concern about his legacy or how history would regard his presidency.
Even though Obama and other leaders in their party would spend years blaming Bush for almost any and everything that would qualify as a problem in the country, he staunchly resisted opportunities to criticize his successor.
Now for the first time in 96 years, the outgoing president will remain in Washington. While saying he’s doing so to let his daughter complete high school there, others see a different purpose.
A USA Today story concluded that he would be helping to rebuild the Democratic Party by finding new generational leaders who can carry the banner in future elections and defending his administration’s legacy.
Understandable perhaps, but reports are growing of a shadow government emerging to create chaos across the country following the relaunch of the Obama-aligned group he formed in his first presidential campaign known as Organizing for Action.
The New York Post reported last week that “the organization is distributing a training manual to anti-Trump activists that advises them to bully GOP lawmakers into backing off support for repealing ObamaCare, curbing immigration from high-risk Islamic nations and building a border wall.”
It appears to me we saw the result of that kind of training Feb. 18 on the streets of downtown Fort Worth as demonstrators gathered outside Republicans’ annual Lincoln Day Dinner.
If that is the beginning of Obama’s post presidency plans, then any notion of bringing the country together under a new president will be lost.
Obama should, instead, be grateful for how Bush handled himself and try and emulate him. It’s the higher calling and begs the question: Is anyone listening?
It would appear the answer is no and, if so, we should all brace ourselves for the divide that separates us to widen.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.