Monday, June 15, 2009


I don't know where we got the idea that it was unheard of for ex-presidents to criticize their sitting successors -- here's George H.W. Bush doing it in an interview with The Washington Times, which explains to us that he only kinda-sorta did it, so it probably doesn't count:

...In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Times a day after his 85th birthday -- which he celebrated by skydiving from 10,000 feet to a perfect landing -- the 41st president ... took a mild swipe at President Obama for intervening in General Motors Corp.'s bankruptcy....

Mr. Bush and his son, former President George W. Bush, have followed the custom adopted by other former chief executives not to criticize the day-to-day operations of the sitting president. But the elder Mr. Bush slipped across that line a bit as he talked about the current state of the economy, with the White House taking over car companies and financial institutions.

"I think people are alarmed now. There's too much government intervention into everything -- putting people on the boards of directors. Too much. And too much spending," Mr. Bush said. "I think people are, you know, understandably concerned about some of the things that are going on now."

Yeah, he's no vitriol-spewing Cheney, but I seem to recall hearing that this kind of thing is just Not Done. Except it was also done by Poppy the last time there was a Democratic president:

* In an appearance at a San Antonio grade school on October 13, 1993, Bush expressed concern that the humanitarian mission to Somalia that he had launched nearly a year earlier was being "messed up" by the Clinton administration.... Several news reports noted that Bush's comments appeared to violate his earlier pledge not to publicly criticize Clinton during his first year in office. [The New York Times, 10/14/93; The Boston Globe, 10/23/93]

* In an interview published in the February 1994 issue of
Washingtonian magazine, Bush criticized the Clinton administration's purported lack of a "general strategy" in the foreign policy arena and the "start-and-stop" failures it had exhibited. Bush pointed to the Clinton administration's handling of the situation in Haiti as an example and also criticized Clinton for his policy toward Bosnia....

* In a March 8, 1994, speech in Indian Wells, California, Bush repeated his criticism of Clinton's actions toward Haiti....

At the list, that list contains longer quotes, and goes on for a while.

But the next time a Republican is president, this rule will be in effect again, and the Democrat who violates it will be pilloried.

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