White House: Bush Never Resentful
The visit of Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore to the Bush White House Monday constituted one of the more surreal moments in recent Washington memory. While Gore was quick to praise his campaign 2000 opponent ("He was very gracious in setting up the meeting and it was a very good and substantive conversation"), Bush press secretary Dana Perino made it clear the President harbored no ill-will towards the Oscar and Nobel-winning Vice President.
"I know that this president does not harbor any resentments. Never has."
Of course not. That would be out of character for George W. Bush.
Dating back to his days on the campaign trail, then Governor Bush showed nothing but admiration and grudging respect for political foes, American enemies abroad and the media alike. During the 2000 election campaign, Bush fondly referred to New York Times reporter Adam Clymer as a "major league a**hole." In 1999, Governor Bush asked family friend Saudi Prince Bandar, "Why should I care about North Korea?", a prelude to the warm feelings he expressed for its leader in 2002, "I loathe Kim Jong Il." Even his father's old tormenter Saddam Hussein brought a twinkle to President Bush's eye, "We need to get Saddam Hussein...that motherf**ker tried to take out my dad." And as the Israeli paper Ha'aretz recalled, President Bush confided to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that he would even treat Osama Bin Laden, a lethal enemy of the United States, with dignity and respect, "I will screw him in the ass."
To fully judge the largeness of the man, the extent of his humility and the generosity of his spirit, one must the tenderness and compassion George W. Bush shows for the weakest and most needy among us. The elderly and the infirm, the down-trodden and the criminal, friend and foe alike have all witnessed President Bush's fulfillment of his campaign 2000 promise:
"I want to change the tone of Washington to one of civility and respect."
Bush, for example, made a plea to John Kerry during their 2004 race to maintain the fairness in the tax code. "The really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway." And when former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill betrayed him in a tell all book released in 2004, President Bush didn't speak out against his friend. Bush just wanted to make sure O'Neill hadn't inadvertently leaked any sensitive material to the press.
The President also extended his compassionate conservatism to young and old alike. In January 2005, Bush showed his concern for the well-being a reporter who questioned him regarding his Social Security plan. "Yes," he said, "Because you're not a senior citizen yet. Acting like one, however...Faulty memory." Two years later, he comforted a 13 year old girl who began crying for some reason during a Cleveland town hall meeting.
President Bush's caring for those Americans with disabilities is legendary. In June 2006, Bush asked legally blind reporter Paul Wallsten, "Are you going to ask that question with shades on?" adding, " I'm interested in the shade look, seriously." Just weeks earlier in May, the President at a Medicare event warmly greeted a man in a wheelchair, "You look mighty comfortable."
George W. Bush always has an open heart and open mind for those wrestling with the demons of substance abuse. A reformed drinker himself now "right with God," Bush sees his faith-based programs helping everyone:
"What that means is if you're the Methodist church and you sponsor an alcohol treatment center, they can't say only Methodists, only Methodists who drink too much can come to our program. All drunks are welcome, is what the sign ought to say."
President Bush even stood by his friend and Texas Rangers baseball star Rafael Palmeiro after his denial to Congress that he had used performance enhancing drugs. Despite Palmeiro's later suspension for steroid use, Bush said:
"Rafael Palmeiro is a friend. He testified in public and I believe him. He's the kind of person that's going to stand up in front of the klieg lights and say he didn't use steroids, and I believe him. Still do."
And when Vice President Cheney's chief-of-staff Scooter Libby disgraced his President by outing (and concealing his role) covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, Bush showed his infinite capacity for forgiveness. He commuted Libby's sentence and emotionally declared, "The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged," also noting, "His wife and young children have also suffered immensely."
Dana Perino knows her history. George W. Bush is truly a man who would never "harbor any resentments."