The George W. Bush-Michelle Obama Friendship Is a Ray of Nonpartisan Hope

The George W. Bush-Michelle Obama Friendship Is a Ray of Nonpartisan Hope October 11, 2018

Had you approached me with this idea 3 or 4 years ago, suggesting that I would be writing something positive about the now-former First Lady Michelle Obama, I probably would have laughed myself silly.

Then I probably would have questioned your sanity.

I have said it on so many occasions that the Obamas were an arrogant, self-absorbed, entitlement-minded pox on the nation’s history.

Let’s not kid ourselves about who Michelle Obama was. Early on in the Obama phenomena, she came across as strident, harsh, and uncomfortable.

At some point, advisers and stylists did their thing, taming her speech, giving her a regal makeover, and allowing her the red carpet, celebrity treatment in pop culture formats.

In my own partisan bubble, I wasn’t buying it. Many of us remembered some of the more obnoxious things she and her husband had said about conservatives, and Republicans, in general. They were indelibly etched into our brains.

We would not forget. We would not forgive.

And then Donald Trump happened, and he was as gross, if not more gross, in his incivility towards others.

In fact, the man was (and is) more hateful to members of his own party than he is the Democrats.

Having a man like Donald Trump become the nominee of the Republican party forced me to examine my own partisanship. I didn’t like what I saw, so I gave it up.

I’m not part of a tribe. I’m an individual, and we’re better off by judging others for their merits or flaws, rather than defending anyone, based on their political party affiliation, or attacking someone, based on theirs.

So with that said, today I want to give kudos to Michelle Obama, for her words in an interview aired earlier Thursday, as she appeared on “The Today Show.”

While speaking with the hosts, Mrs. Obama discussed with them the importance of returning civility to public discourse.

She’s right. We’ve become an unruly, hateful society, allowing political tribalism to cause us to resort to the nastiest, most unhelpful rhetoric.

But Susan, the Obamas…

Yes. I know. I loathed what I saw as the arrogance of the Obama brood. And I use the word “brood” because of a conversation I once had with an Obama supporter, who said the word was “racist.” It is not, so I’m using it in defiance of that misguided soul.

All that aside, every day we wake up is a new day to try to do better. Everyone who is still above ground has that opportunity, and I’m going to extend that grace to Michelle Obama.

Mrs. Obama was asked about that viral moment from the funeral service of Senator John McCain, where we see former President George W. Bush hand her a piece of candy.

(It turns out, it was cough drops.)

Something about that moment captured the feel of civility, in spite of political differences.

There have been, in fact, many such moments between Mrs. Obama and the former president. The two seem to genuinely like each other.

How bizarre does that sound, given our current state of Republican vs. Democrat harshness?

Speaking of that moment, the former First Lady said:

“I didn’t realize at the time that anybody noticed what we were doing,” the former first lady told NBC’s “Today” show.

“President Bush and I are forever seat mates because of protocol, that’s how we sit at all the official functions,” Obama said. “So he is my partner in crime at every major thing where all the formers gather.”

“I love him to death,” she said of the former president. “He’s a wonderful man. He’s a funny man.”

Those are kind words, and words you wouldn’t really have expected to hear, given the vast chasm that separates their political beliefs.

Former President Bush has also expressed genuine affection for Mrs. Obama, as well, saying she “gets” his sense of humor, and anyone who gets his sense of humor, he automatically likes.

To be honest, this isn’t even the first or only show of bipartisan camaraderie between recent, former presidential players.

George W. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush formed a bond with the man who beat him out of a second presidential term, former President Bill Clinton.

The two found common ground in charitable efforts for Haiti, working together with a nonprofit group to raise rescue funds after the 2010 earthquake devastated the island.

Ok. We could say a lot about what actually happened to the money from the Clinton Haiti Fund, but that’s for another article. For today, I want to point out that the relationship between Bill Clinton and the first President Bush grew to the point that it was almost like a father-son relationship. Bush 41 became like a surrogate father to Clinton, whose own father died before he was born.

Nonpartisan, unpolluted, respect and friendship. It’s possible.

Mrs. Obama went on to point out the simple things, like that viral moment between she and Bush 43.

“He was getting a cough drop from [his wife] Laura and I looked over and said, ‘Hand me a cough drop,'” Obama explained. “And he was like, ‘Oh, ok.'”

“And I will add that they were old cough drops,” she said, noting that they were still in a White House box.

“And I was like, ‘How long have you had these?'” Obama said. “They said, ‘A long time. We got a lot of these.'”

“Party doesn’t separate us, color, gender, those sort of things don’t separate us.”

It doesn’t appear so.

If the divide was so deep, so uncrossable, so treacherous, we wouldn’t be having these moments to talk about.

So am I a fan of the Obamas, now? Has my awakening to the realities of society-killing partisanship made me forget the policies and mistakes of the Obama presidency?

Not at all.

It has simply freed me to separate the policies from the humanity of those involved.

The Obamas are not my enemies. Democrats are not my enemies, any more than Republicans are either enemies or friends.

There are policies I disagree with. There are issues I feel strongly about, and I will speak up, regardless of which side I’m perceived to fall on.

Maybe if we reach a point where we don’t have to consider political parties as tribal markers, the climate will settle enough for us to work through these issues with mutual respect for the people across the table.

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  • Polarbearpapa

    “It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions.”

    Thomas Jefferson

  • IllinoisPatriot

    For me, it’s less tribalism than an inability to trust the judgement or motives of the Obamas. They have betrayed both on too many occasions.

    I have since found that I cannot trust the judgement or motives of Trump or his “close advisors”.

    The GOP “leadership” (McConnell, Ryan, McCarthy) have also shown unacceptably poor judgement, ethics, and motives since taking control of Government and by doing so have lost my support and my willingness to defend them.

    I prefer not to socialize with those whose judgement, ethics and motives I cannot trust.

    I will also not support them for any leadership position as doing so gives their questionable motives too much power to use against the innocent and hard-working. I don’t know the Obamas personally and as I’ve indicated above, I will neither socialize with them nor make any effort to “understand” them as doing so is a waste of time having already seen their unethical actions and motives demonstrated by their betrayals of Barack’s Oath of Office and by Michelle’s attempt to dictate school lunch menus – an attempt that should NEVER be dictated by a non-elected individual in a city thousands of miles away from my local school.

    It’s simple human nature really – not to mention just common sense.

    I think what we are really seeing is the fallout from the Obama years of division and partisanship where Democrats forced their ideology upon an unwilling nation. No one has forgotten Pelosi with her out-sized gavel and the Democrat Triumpal March through the TEA Party crowd to the Capital Steps after the Obmaacare vote. No one has forgotten the admission AFTER Obamacare was passed that it was specifically designed to destroy the healthcare market in the US and intentially worded in obtuse language to hide what was really in the bill so no one could decipher the bill until AFTER it was voted on. No one has forgotten that Obamacare was sold behind the scenes as the first step toward socialized medicine because it was designed to fail.

    The fact that Trump is ramping up the incivility and the revenge on Democrats that the Democrat IRS took on TEA Party groups to limit their fundraising and effectiveness and the fact that that revenge is now tearing the country apart as the Democrat weaponization of various government agencies was originally designed to do seems to finally be sinking in. The ideological backlash against the homosexual agenda and the professional liberal protest groups amplified by Trump’s petulant vindictiveness and his use of government power against liberal priorities and liberal groups seems to have (temporarily) cause the Obamas to backpedal so as to avoid any responsibility for the cultural division they were so anxious to initiate during Obamas days in the WH.

    Now that the Obamas are out of power, they are “playing nice” in public. Remember – we are talking about the unibrow party here. There is actually no real ideological difference between the parties – that’s why Trump could successfully masquerade as a Republican. The reality is that both parties are still working together for the destruction of the traditional American values of independence, self-reliance, Christian tolerance of others, family values, and the idea of honor, decency and leadership in a government based on rule of law rather than the whims of an individual and run by representatives of We The People instead of special-interest groups.

  • JASmius

    I think it’s more a case of Bush, always having been a good, kind, generously-spirited man, reaching out to the Obamas, just as his father reached out to the Clintons and established that bond. And then there’s the fact that the Obamas, their White House tenure being past, no longer have a need to be reflexively vicious partisan trolls, and are more open to being actual human beings. Much like how Democrats always seem to be belatedly complimentary of past Republican presidents but maniacally condemn the current one as worse than the devil they don’t believe in. Cynical, hindsighted changes of heart. The ever-present irony being that that dynamic will never be applied to Donald Trump, because while he’s not worse than the devil, or even as bad as same, nobody will ever mistake him for a good, kind, generously-spirited man, either.

  • chemical

    Maybe if we reach a point where we don’t have to consider political parties as tribal markers, the climate will settle enough for us to work through these issues with mutual respect for the people across the table.

    THANK YOU. Us liberals are NOT your enemies. I just disagree with you on government policy, and at the end of the day you’re still an American.

  • chemical

    …Democrats always seem to be belatedly complimentary of past Republican presidents but maniacally condemn the current one as worse than the devil they don’t believe in.

    A few things about this:
    1. Compared to Trump, every Republican president looks like a genius.
    2. Don’t confuse opposition to policy as labelling the president a bad person.
    3. Once a president leaves office, he’s free to do whatever he wants. His hands are no longer tied by the rest of the government. It seems like our ex-presidents mostly pick some pet humanitarian project. Carter’s crusade against guinea worms has been a huge boon for Africa, even though he wasn’t a great president. Bush-43 has an AIDS relief program called PEPFAR that does a lot of good work, too. This gets them some bonus points with the other party — that, and the fact that they’re no longer setting government policy.

    …nobody will ever mistake [Trump] for a good, kind, generously-spirited man, either.

    This may be the greatest understatement I’ve ever seen posted on the internet.

  • Marcion

    The fact that Michelle Obama is willing to be friends with George W. Bush shows just how depraved America’s ruling class is. Bush ran a worldwide campaign of torture and lied America into a war of aggression that killed half a million people. He committed what the judges at the Nuremberg Trials called “…the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” He shouldn’t be a guest at events, he should be in the Hague. But instead of being punished, Barack Obama let him walk free and liberal leaders like Michelle Obama help to rehabilitate his image. No crime is too great if you’re part of the club.

    To be frank, George W. Bush a useful way to tell if someone’s objection’s to Trump are worth listening to. As bad as he is, Trump hasn’t done anything as horrific as the Iraq War. If someone is willing to tolerate Bush but not Trump, they don’t have any principled objections to Trump. Their problem with him is that he’s rude and his tweets are bad.

  • Stephen

    I no longer know what I am politically. I thought I was a conservative until Obama won and I saw the incivility and hostile partisanship of the GOP opposing anything he was trying to do to help our country while it crashed and burned during the Great Recession. And I voted for McCain. I am using Jesus as my template and trying to see things and do things as He did during His walk upon the earth. So often I am not welcome in either of our major political parties. I get you Ms Wright. In the end the only opinion that will matter is Jesus’s one. He is our judge. I really want to hear from Him ” Well done my good and faithful servant” .