Bush Mum on Obama as 'Socialist'

By Dan Froomkin
11:51 AM ET, 06/18/2009

Breaking his earlier pledge, former president George W. Bush criticized several of his successor's policy choices yesterday -- and didn't distance himself from the extremist critique that Obama is pursuing a socialist agenda.

Joseph Curl writes in the Washington Times that Bush spoke yesterday to a gathering of business executives in Erie. Pa.

Taking questions after his remarks, Bush was asked if he finds Obama's policies "socialist."

"I hear a lot of those words, but it depends on --" Bush said, before cutting himself off.

Curl reports that Bush "later offered a more diplomatic assessment: 'We'll see.'" More from Curl's story:

Former President George W. Bush fired a salvo at President Obama on Wednesday, asserting his administration's interrogation policies were within the law, declaring the private sector not government will fix the economy and rejecting the nationalization of health care...

Repeatedly in his hourlong speech and question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush said he would not directly criticize the new president, who has moved to take over financial institutions and several large corporations. Several times, however, he took direct aim at Obama policies as he defended his own during eight years in office....

"There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," Mr. Bush said. "I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care."

On the issue of detainees, he reprised one of his former political adviser Karl Rove's most outrageous straw-man arguments:

"I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," he said. "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."

In his first speech as a former president in March, Bush said Obama "deserves my silence....There's plenty of critics in the arena... I think it's time for the ex-president to tap dance off the stage and let the current president have a go at solving the world's problems. If he wants my help and I agree with him, I'll give it."

Up until now, Bush's abstention contrasted sharply with the extraordinarily loquaciousness of his former vice president, Dick Cheney, who has emerged as the leading critic of the Obama administration.

Interestingly, Cheney last month came even closer to calling Obama's policies socialist than Bush did. "Well, I agree with the criticism without using the labels," he said in one interview.

And in other Bush news, Nick Turse writes for TomDispatch.com that despite the grim economy,

one group is doing remarkably well. I'm talking about former members of the Bush administration who are taking up prestigious academic posts, inking lucrative book deals, signing up with speakers bureaus, joining big-time law firms and top public relations agencies, and grabbing spots on corporate boards of directors. While their high-priced wars, ruinous economic policies, and shredding of economic safety nets have proved disastrous for so many, for them the economic outlook remains bright and jobs are seemingly plentiful. In fact, many of them have performed the eye-opening feat of securing two or more potentially lucrative revenue streams at once during these tough financial times.

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