Former President George W. Bush speaks at the Manufacturers & Business Association's 104th annual event in Erie, Pa. , Wednesday, June 17, 2009.
Bush takes swipes at Obama policies
By Joseph Curl
Thursday, June 18, 2009
ERIE, Pa. Former President George W. Bush fired a salvo at President Obama on Wednesday, asserting his administration's interrogation policies were within the law, declaring the private sector not government will fix the economy and rejecting the nationalization of health care.
"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said to applause from members of a local business group. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."
"Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States," he said to huge cheers.
Mr. Bush weighed in on some of the most pressing issues of the day: the election in Iran, the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, and his administration's interrogation policies of terrorists held there and elsewhere.
"The way I decided to address the problem was twofold: One, use every technique and tool within the law to bring terrorists to justice before they strike again," he said, adding that the country needs to stay on offense, not defense. On Guantanamo, which while in office Mr. Bush said he wanted to close, the former president was diplomatic.
"I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," he said. "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."
Mr. Bush did not directly address Mr. Obama's response to the election in Iran, which some critics have called tepid, but he did make clear that the outcome is very much in dispute.
But he was less than convinced about Mr. Obama's move to overhaul the health care system.
"There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," Mr. Bush said. "I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care."
Asked by the evening emcee at the 104th annual Manufacturer and Business Association meeting if he finds the new president's policies "socialist," Mr. Bush started then stopped.
"I hear a lot of those words, but it depends on..,"he said, breaking off. He later offered a more diplomatic assessment: "We'll see."
During a question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush recounted tough decisions he made in office. Still steely, the former president said he left Washington with the same moral resolve. "When I look in the mirror, I say, 'He did not sell his soul for short-term politics.'"
Speaking of those enhanced interrogations. We STILL haven't seen any sign that the Obama Administration intends to declassify the memos which show what we learned in the THREE cases were terrorist monsters like Khalid Sheik Mohammed were waterboarded. I wonder why?And when former President Bush spoke of an "ideological conflict," asserting that in the long term, the United States needs to press freedom and democracy the contrast with Obama's serial apologies couldn't be more clear.
Apologies won't help support the brave men and women in Iran.
Obama has been out there blaming President Bush for all the mistakes that Obama himself is making. It's good to see President Bush finally able to respond to some degree.