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Jul 10 2013

Bush Declines to Weigh In on Marriage Equality

Former President George W. Bush has, to his credit, stayed pretty much completely out of politics since leaving office. He’s repeatedly refused to comment on Obama on issue after issue, saying that the president deserves the chance to do his job without sniping from former presidents. I like that about him. He was in Africa last week and was asked about his view on same-sex marriage:

President George W. Bush (R) was asked about marriage equality by a reporter in Zambia last week and replied, “I shouldn’t be taking a speck out of someone else’s eye when I have a log in my own.”

In an interview that aired on Sunday, Jonathan Karl of ABC News asked the former president to explain the remark.

“I meant that I wasn’t going to answer the question then, and I’m not going to answer it now in terms of the political question,” Bush insisted. “I just don’t want to wade back in the debate. I’m out of politics.”

“But I meant it’s very important for people not to be overly critical of someone else until you’ve examined your own heart.”…

“Jonathan, you didn’t hear my answer,” Bush laughed. “I’m not gonna wade back into those kinds of issues. I’m out of politics.”

“The only way I can really make news is either criticize the President, which I don’t want to do, criticize my own party, or wade in on a controversial issue,” he pointed out.

I give him great credit for that. He’s been a much better ex-president than he was a president. But the truth is, I don’t think he ever was against same-sex marriage to begin with. He cynically exploited the issue in 2004 but I don’t think he has any problem with gay marriage at all. This has long been an unspoken secret in the GOP, that the mainstream Republicans really aren’t anti-gay but they know they have to pander to their base, which really is, in order to win elections.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    doublereed

    I think you’re giving him too much credit there. A lot of Americans have changed their minds about this. He probably did too.

  2. 2
    tynk

    This has long been an unspoken secret in the GOP, that the mainstream Republicans really aren’t anti-gay but they know they have to pander to their base, which really is, in order to win elections.

    And I still have not decided who I despise more, the people who wish to see me executed/imprisoned/deported/beaten/tortured, or the people who dangle me like chum in front of the former people for their own profit…

  3. 3
    Kevin

    He doesn’t want to comment because he might actually have to read a newspaper or something. I think it’s beyond his capabilities.

    Personally, I think he was and is genuinely concerned about equality. I think he did not have a racist bone in his body. I think he probably knowingly had gay people on his staff and did not care one whit. I think he genuinely cared about immigrants and wanted to do “right” by them.

    More’s the pity, then, that he was nothing more than a figurehead behind Cheney and the other venal assholes who ran the country in his absence (while sitting in the Oval Office).

    The term “empty suit” could not be more aptly applied. He did not have a clue as to what was going on around him. I know we’re not famous for electing the smartest guy in the country to be President, but I think the race to the bottom was won by him. Probably for all time, he’ll be known as our dumbest President.

  4. 4
    slc1

    Actually, Bush’s view was similar to Obama’s and Clinton’s in that he, at least verbally opposed same sex marriage but was OK with civil unions. It should be noted that it is my information both his wife and his mother support same sex marriage.

  5. 5
    Abby Normal

    He’s been a much better ex-president than he was a president.

    He’d almost have to be. But I agree, his decision to stay out of the spotlight and avoid controversy has been praiseworthy. If only his old VP would follow his fine example.

  6. 6
    democommie

    His decision to stay out of the spotlight is probably driven more by his knowing that any sniping he does from the sidelines will be paid back in spades.

    OT, but something to think about. Now that the ReiKKKwing has successfully disowned all things Bushco in favor lf all things Reagan, who’s to say what will happen when they get back in power? There have been a lot of comments at this blog over the last five years about Mr. Obama’s being complicit in the abuses of power and as much a war criminal as Shrub and the Dorklord Cheney. Of course if the next administration was run by the GOP they’d have to indict Bush as well as Obama in order to get Obama. I’m thinking that they wouldn’t have a problem with doing that.

    I’m not so sure that Bush is a better ex-president than he was a president. I hold out hope that he will be a dead president while I’m still able to walk and piss on my own.

  7. 7
    Modusoperandi

    He’s been a much better ex-president than he was a president.”

    Whew. Talk about a low bar. I am also much better at not doing things I was awful at.

  8. 8
    Raging Bee

    You’re giving Bush Jr. way too much credit here. He’s not talking about issues now for the same reason he didn’t talk about issues then: he just doesn’t care, and he never did. He’s no better than any of the college frat-boys who never talked about policy issues because they never cared enough to find anything to say or listen to what anyone else said.

    Uncaring laziness does not magically become discretion when you retire from a job you never tried to do.

  9. 9
    gshelley

    I think you’re giving him too much credit there. A lot of Americans have changed their minds about this. He probably did too.

    Perhaps he went from thinking it probably was a bad thing, but not particularly caring, to thinking it probably isn’t a bad thing but not particularly caring.

  10. 10
    dogmeat

    Bush talking would draw attention to Bush existing. It’s in the Republican party’s best interests to pretend that Bush doesn’t exist, never existed, and … look, a scary Kenyan, Muslim, Atheist, Fascist, Communist, Lizardman!!!

    I think the reason Bush has been rather quiet is because of a combination of the reasons given here. First, I don’t think he really gives a damn about much of anything that requires thinking. Second, I think at some level he realizes that if he slams the president it is going to come back on him and I think he does realize (somewhat) that he seriously failed at almost everything a competent presidency would have accomplished. Finally, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the GOP leadership had a little chat with him about him adopting a serious case of STFU.

  11. 11
    shripathikamath

    But the truth is, I don’t think he ever was against same-sex marriage to begin with</blockquote?

    Er, no. Let's not carried away and start treating "No comment" as him not being against same-sex marriage. His reticence is basically self-serving, he was such a bad President that he does not want to remind people how bad he was, it has little to do with being nice. People who are not against same-sex marriage do not endorse a constitutional amendment for banning it.

  12. 12
    doublereed

    Perhaps he went from thinking it probably was a bad thing, but not particularly caring, to thinking it probably isn’t a bad thing but not particularly caring.

    I know you’re joking, but what you describe is a significant change in someone’s attitude. It’s nontrivial.

  13. 13
    Raging Bee

    This has long been an unspoken secret in the GOP, that the mainstream Republicans really aren’t anti-gay but they know they have to pander to their base, which really is, in order to win elections.

    A distinction without a difference.

  14. 14
    cptdoom

    I totally agree with Raging Bee @13 – assuming Bush cynically used the marriage equality issue to bring out evangelical voters to support him in the ’04 election only makes him more odious and offensive. Of course, we all knew when he endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment (which would have eliminated recognition for DP and CU status as well) that he wasn’t really anti-gay. After all, the head of the RNC, Ken Mehlman, the finance chair of the RNC and the head of Vice Presidential Operations for the Bush/Cheney campaign (Mary Cheney) were all openly gay (at least to fellow Republicans) at the time and Bush worked with them without a problem.

  15. 15
    dogmeat

    The question one has to ask with Dubya, I’m sure he has lots of gay friends, but would he let them use his bathroom?

  16. 16
    Michael Heath

    George W. Bush writes:

    “I shouldn’t be taking a speck out of someone else’s eye when I have a log in my own.”

    Whoosh Ed, a giant whoosh. This is little better than Rick Warren comparing gay people to groups who behave badly. It’s a popular fundie saying in reference to gays demanding the same rights; this rhetoric has these Christians “humbly” posing as tolerant as if they’re as sinful as anyone, while still standing firm that they remain committed to institutionalized bigotry against those with the, “speck”. The “speck” is still a sin after all; so here Mr. Bush is claiming that being gay is a sin.

    These Christian bigots will claim they repent and are forgiven for their own “log” while expecting, nay demanding equal rights and special privileges, in their church but also in the public square and elsewhere. Gays who demand equal rights aren’t going to repent for the sin of being gay, that’s correctly incoherent to them. So they have no avenue to repent in order to be accepted by the in group and therefore remain “outside the fold”. This rhetorical device allows bigoted Christians like Mr. Bush to continue to demand gays and their families don’t gain church membership or equal rights in other venues while claiming we’re all sinners; where they falsely pose as worse than gays while expecting treatment they’re committed to denying gays and their families.

    Fuck them and fuck George W. Bush for continuing to be a bigot who winks. As Raging Bee stated, a distinction without a difference. Actually I disagree with him on that; the suffering Bush has caused gays and their families is far more evil and harmful than what we encounter from individual delusional idiotic conservative Christians; tens of millions of whom actually believe God wants them to discriminate against gays – or are motivated by their bigotry to claim this what God wants.

  17. 17
    d.c.wilson

    I have to agree with Raging Bee here. Bush never took any policy issues seriously. His one and only goal was to surpass his father. Every thing he did was aimed at that goal and he was willing to adopt whatever position helped him along.

    When he says he’s out of politics, he means it. As far as he’s concerned, being a two-termer who killed Saddam Hussein puts him ahead of Daddy in the history books. He literally doesn’t care about anything else.

  18. 18
    Rip Steakface

    #16

    I took that as, “I realized I totally fucked up an entire generation [mine, by the way] and believe that taking a position would result in that position receiving a shellacking because I’m so widely reviled.”

    It’s like that South Park episode where the KKK pick the opposite side of what they support for an issue (I believe it was regarding the town’s extremely racist flag) so that people will pick the side they want to win because those people don’t want to be associated with the KKK.

  19. 19
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    I… Jesus, I never thought I’d say this, but… fucking hell, well done Bush. *slow clap* Well fucking done.

  20. 20
    kermit.

    d.c.wilson I have to agree with Raging Bee here. Bush never took any policy issues seriously. His one and only goal was to surpass his father. Every thing he did was aimed at that goal and he was willing to adopt whatever position helped him along.
    .
    Well, I think we can all agree he accomplished something the elder Bush couldn’t do. He made his dad look good.

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