I really respect George W. Bush. He is a man of his convictions, whether or not I agree with all of them, and this story shows that his beliefs transcend his politics. For all the ballyhoo you hear about partisanship and "reaching across the aisle" I think this story is probably the best example out there of the way things ought to be (tm) in politics.
President Bush is quietly providing back-channel advice to Hillary Rodham Clinton, urging her to modulate her rhetoric so she can effectively prosecute the war in Iraq if elected president.This ups his stock in my book so much. Not only does he understand what's at stake here, he also is willing to say forget the politics, here's what matters.
In an interview for the new book “The Evangelical President,” White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten said Bush has “been urging candidates: ‘Don’t get yourself too locked in where you stand right now. If you end up sitting where I sit, things could change dramatically.’ ”
Bolten said Bush wants enough continuity in his Iraq policy that “even a Democratic president would be in a position to sustain a legitimate presence there.”
“Especially if it’s a Democrat,” the chief of staff told The Examiner in his West Wing office. “He wants to create the conditions where a Democrat not only will have the leeway, but the obligation to see it out.”
“Look, I’d like to make as many hard decisions as I can make, and do a lot of the heavy lifting prior to whoever my successor is,” Bush said. “And then that person is going to have to come and look at the same data I’ve been looking at, and come to their own conclusion.”These aren't the words of a rabid anti-Democrat. They're the words of a man who believes in our political system, and a man who is preparing for the future. That's prudence speaking.
“I specifically talked about it so that a candidate and/or president wouldn’t have to deal with the issue,” he said. “The next person has got the opportunity to analyze the utility of the program and make his or her decision about whether or not it is necessary to protect the homeland. I suspect they’ll find that it is necessary. But my only point to you is that it was important for me to lay it out there, so that the politics wouldn’t enter into whether or not the program ought to survive beyond my period.”
I sincerely hope that he isn't overestimating the ability of the democratic candidates to put aside party politics - or aspirations to power - in order to secure this country.