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Bush Mum on Obama as 'Socialist'

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 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.

By Dan Froomkin  |  June 18, 2009; 11:51 AM ET
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More wisdom from the old cokehead poser.

These Republicans and their vicious screams of socialism and fascism. Bush couldn't define socialism if you gave him a dictionary, and his administration was trying to establish a dictatorship.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 18, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather be called a socialist than an idiot or a war criminal.

Posted by: dbitt | June 18, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I suppose that moron w is not any longer afraid of being prosecuted for all his crimes. Most of us know he has no shame and no intelligence.

Posted by: davidsawh | June 18, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Bush sure fooled those Dems in Congress to vote for the war, didn't he? And I guess he fooled Obama into pursuing the war in Afgan. Darn him.

Posted by: mmourges | June 18, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

That he did, mmourges. But he was only the front man. Bush was on a need-to-know basis with Cheney, especially in the selling-of-the-war period.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 18, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Another day, another clueless Republican spouting rhetoric about topics he can't hope to understand.

Nationalizing health care means government owned and operated hospitals, and doctors employed by the federal government. Is anyone proposing that in any of the numerous possibilities currently being floated? No. Not that that's a terrible thing anyway, since that's what the VA is and they offer some of the best medical care available.

The GOP would already be consigned to history books were it not for the existence of Frank Luntz. More than Rush Limbaugh, more than Michael Steele, the fate of the Irrelevant Elephants rests on Luntz and his efforts to waterboard the English language into submission.

( if you want to impress your friends by predicting the exact words that will come out of GOP politicians' lying pieholes, see )

Posted by: BigTunaTim | June 18, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I see what you're getting at, bigtunatim, but even in your speech, don't underestimate the opponent. The Republicans talking about nationalized or socialized health care, as well as socialism and fascism, aren't ignorant. Most of them (certainly the senators and reps) have an idea of what they're saying. They're intentionally misrepresenting things and stirring the pot.

It's pretty funny when Newt comes across as the most circumspect as the group, limiting his rhetoric to "democratic socialism"--which is actually not a bad description of Obama's aims. The others are omitting the "democratic" bit.

Though Gingrich is as bad as the rest, using the foulest language he can find, regardless of its inaccuracy (and he's a very sharp guy. He knows the differences) to castigate public health care. This is politics, my friend, not philosophical dialogue. (And even philosophy has its cheap flourishes.)

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 18, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully this is not your last entry, Mr. Froomkin. I've enjoyed your take on Washington thoroughly and hate to see you be fired like it appears they have done. The transformation from the Post into the Times is nearly complete. The Washington Times that is.

Posted by: Rasputin1 | June 18, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I cannot believe the WaPo would fire you, Dan. Just as the Los Angeles Times fired Robert Sheer as soon as the Republican owner took over, whoever's in charge at the WaPo clearly doesn't want any strays from his male/white/Republican agenda. But you might take instruction from what happened in Los Angeles. Ever since they got rid of all their liberal voices and began slanting stories toward the conservative agenda, the Los Angeles Times has steadily lost readers, and is now a shadow of its former self. Newspapers are dying because people are beginning to recognize wholesale propaganda, and don't want to hear it anymore. Try investigating and telling the truth. Then see what happens.

Posted by: shaman7214 | June 18, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

It is all so very typical of lawmakers(?) to rant and accuse this executive administration of socialism. It sounds like McCartheyism at it's best. It seems only THEY can act like morons when it comes to performing their job. And why are these smuchs(all of them) getting paid if they can't actually pass laws that benefit the people and NOT the corporations? After all, wasn't that practice outlawed? Oh, I guess not.

Posted by: sailorflat | June 19, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

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