Former President George W. Bush gave a speech yesterday implicitly slamming President Donald Trump for dragging down democracy. Bush told political cronies and other attendees: ‘We are gathered in the cause of liberty this is a unique moment.’ He assured listeners that freedom ‘should be the defining commitment of our country, and the hope of the world.’ Bush invoked the ‘high ideals’ of our nation, declaring, ‘We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U. S. Constitution.’
After the speech, much of the media exalted Bush as if he were the second coming of George Washington. Twitter showcased the spiel with an unusual summary in its ‘trending tweets’ lineup – “George W. Bush gve a powerful speech on democracy, freedom, and American values.”
If Bush had never been president, it would be easier to understand the adulation. But Bush was one of the most disastrous, authoritarian presidents in modern American history. Bush committed more abuses of power than could be recounted in anything less than a book. But there was one issue which should forever define Bush in Americans’ memory.
After the 9/11 attacks, Bush’s lawyers quickly assured him that the Constitution and federal law no longer constrained the president’s power. Bush proceeded to authorize the type of torture regime that civilized nations had formally abandoned hundreds of years earlier.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 10/20/2017.