Without Ever Mentioning His Name, George W. Bush Slams Donald Trump

Trump claims he didn’t see the speech.

Seth Wenig/AP

At a speech on Thursday, former president George W. Bush condemned the bigotry and nativism that he says are currently underpinning modern American politics. While he didn’t mention the current president’s name, there was little doubt about who he was denouncing for threatening American values. 

“The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy. Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts,” Bush told an audience at a George W. Bush Institute event in New York. “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”  

Bush added that he saw a decline in support for democracy thanks to a “combination of weariness, frayed tempers, and forgetfulness.” “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” he said. “We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.”

Bush, who has largely stepped away from politics since the end of his term, also warned that the attacks on US democracy from foreign actors, alluding to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, requires securing and protecting “our electoral system from subversion”—another subtle rebuke of President Trump, who still openly questions the consensus that Russia meddled in the election. 

“[W]e know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed,” Bush said. “It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.” 

When asked for his thoughts on Bush’s speech, Trump claimed, “I didn’t see it,” according to a pool report.  

Watch the full speech below: 

 

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.