It happened Saturday evening at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Â Former President George W. Bush spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group of Jewish donors, behind closed doors with a “no notes” rule, and as close to off the record as someone of that stature can get. Â That meant there were no recording devices in the room. Â No photographs. Â No selfies. Â No publicity. Â No efforts from the man to take advantage of the event and make himself look good….
Naturally, that did not stop one individual from transcribing what W had to say, nor did it stop the attendees from repeating what they heard. Â As always, agree with the decisions he made as president or not, just about every statement is laced with graciousness.
- He said that he was leary of reentering the political fray lest he be seen as a distraction for any candidate, particularly his brother, but moreso because it would be “unseemly.”
- He recognized that Americans do not like dynasties, and said that being a Bush was a challenge for his brother Jeb in his quest for the Oval Office.
- One attendee said that Mr. Bush offered that Hillary Clinton had to make a decision between distancing herself or embracing continuity with the Obama Administration after her stint as Secretary of State with the caveat that it was going to be difficult for her to defend Obama’s record.
- Mr. Bush said that the goal of a president or party should be to serve the national interest, not surrounding oneself with “sychophants.” Â Just what is in the national interest was not elaborated in the reports.
- As for Obama and Iran, the New York Times claims the criticism was veiled a bit, but Mr. Bush did say that letting go of the leverage sanctions give is a mistake, as is trusting any sort of “transparency” in Iran as there is none. Â Bloomberg View put it this way: …a detailed criticism of Obamaâ€™s policies in fighting the Islamic State and dealing with the chaos in Iraq. On Obamaâ€™s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of 2011, he quoted Senator Lindsey Graham calling it a â€œstrategic blunder.â€ Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government to withdraw those troops, but the idea had been to negotiate a new status of forces agreement to keepÂ U.S. forcesÂ there past 2011. The Obama administration tried and failed to negotiate such anÂ agreement.
- In a refreshingly blunt way, Mr. Bush also discussed using the military like the expert adults they are. â€œYou call in the military and say, â€˜Hereâ€™s my goal. Whatâ€™s your plan to help me achieve that goal?’â€
There were also humorous anecdotes regarding Vladimir Putin’s dog and his grandchild, but as always, George W. Bush was classy about how he went about discussing national politics and his successor’s foreign policy mistakes. Â The reality is Bush just does not want to get involved. Â However, he did say this about negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran:
â€œYou think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. Thatâ€™s how Americans should view the deal.â€
When it came to Al Qaeda and ISIS Mr. Bush said if you’re going to make threats you have to demonstrate that you mean it. Â He also said that ISIS is just Al Qaeda by another name or “the second act” and the only way to deal with terrorists is to take them out.
Those who attended the event at the Venetian in Las Vegas have done the reporting: President George W. Bush has little to no respect for his predecessor’s tactics or policies. Â However, being the class act he is, Bush won’t come right out and say it on the record.