George W. Bush Rebukes Donald Trump | On Point


President George W. Bush breaks a nine-year silence to deliver a powerful rebuke to a sitting President. President Obama’s talking too. We’ll think about their critiques and President Trump.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute in New York, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (Seth Wenig/AP)

October 22, 2017
He never named Donald Trump. But when former President George W. Bush took the stage last week in New York, he came armed with a blistering attack on the features of the Trump presidency that have become perceived hallmarks. The most recent Republican president tearing into the ways, the reputation, of the sitting Republican president. It was astonishing, especially for an ex-president – Bush – who has long held his tongue. This hour, On Point: Former president George W. Bush, and the ways of President Donald Trump. —Tom Ashbrook


Mary Frances Berry, professor of American social thought and history at the University of Pennsylvania. (@DrMFBerry)

Chris Buskirk, publisher and editor of the website “American Greatness.” (@thechrisbuskirk)

Robert Dallek, presidential historian.


Part of the interesting thing about President George W. Bush is that he was a member of the YALE CLASS of 1968. This was a distinguished class by any account, but it was particularly riven down the middle by the radically different understandings that different class members had of the Vietnam war. Bush was in favor of it. Many others were opposed to it and to the tendency it foretold of the tragic development of an imperial democracy.

The Trump “rebuke” — marking a seeming “road-to-Damascus” conversion experience by President G. W. Bush — needs to be kept in the context of the larger refusal of President Bush and  many of his Yale contemporaries to recognize the fundamental faults of the Republic and their role in expanding the Vietnam tradition of an imperial democracy with America’s more recent invasions of countries in the Middle East.  The YALE CLASS of ’68 held part of its 35th Reunion at the White House, but it was followed by a succeeding day of sober reflection in New Haven, featuring an address of the Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr.  At the time Coffin’s withering critique of US. policy under President Bush may never have been absorbed by President Bush himself since he chose not to attend the New Haven events. (

As it happens, this same YALE CLASS of 1968 is now preparing for its 50th Reunion in the Spring of 2018. It will be interesting — and perhaps quite revealing — to see if President G. W. Bush decides to join the Class Reunion events in 2018 in New Haven and whether his new-found voice of rebuke of President Donald Trump becomes a sustained theme that he continues through those festivities. (

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