Life is a bit strange when you're looking at former President George W. Bush for wisdom about the ineptitude and questionable policies of your current president, but that's where the US is right now.
Bush appeared on NBC's "Today" show on Monday, February 27 to discuss his new book, "Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors," which features his paintings of several veterans, along with their stories.
The former president has not done many sit-down interviews since he left the White House, but he spoke with Matt Lauer about an array of topics, including Trump's troubled relationship with the media.
People seemed to really appreciate what the former president had to say.
Perhaps they even missed him a little.
At the same time, given Bush is widely considered one of the worst presidents in US history, some noted the US must be in pretty bad shape if people are looking to him for guidance.
Are they actually feeling nostalgic for his presidency?
Bush did make some decent points.
I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere. One of the things I spent a lot time doing was trying to convince a person like Vladimir Putin, for example, to accept the notion of an independent press. And it's kind of hard to, you know, tell others to have an independent, free press when we're not willing to have one ourselves.
Indeed, it's hard to defend democratic principles abroad when you won't fully uphold them at home.
Bush's statements represent a sharp break from Trump's rhetoric on the media.
President Trump had a contentious relationship with the media throughout the US presidential campaign, which has escalated dramatically since he became president.
The president recently generate controversy, for example, when his administration barred several prominent news outlets from attending a closed-door briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
This came not long after Trump referred to the media as the "enemy of the American people" in a tweet.
Trump is also not attending the White House Correspondents Dinner, an annual event that usually features a lot of jokes and allows the president to both poke fun at and pay tribute to the press.
So, it's refreshing to hear former President Bush stand up for an institution that is both protected by the Constitution and exists to hold the powerful accountable.
Bush also commented on Trump's controversial travel ban, stating,
I'm for an immigration policy that's welcoming and upholds the law.
In speaking about the travel ban, Bush also called for a tough stance on counterterrorism,
It's very hard to fight the war on terrorism if we're in retreat. If the United States decides to pull out before a free society emerges, it's going to be hard to defeat them. The enemy is very good about exploiting weakness.
This statement, which might be interpreted as a jab at Obama for pulling out of Iraq in 2011 and is emblematic of the Bush administration's belief in nation building, is a strong reminder of why some feel it's strange to look to Bush for guidance.
The Bush administration did things many would consider un-American, leaving the country in complete disarray — and this shouldn't be forgotten.
Under Bush, the US tortured people and illegally invaded Iraq under the false pretense it had an active WMDs program.
When Bush left the White House, America was bogged down in two very costly and unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Great Recession — the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression — had just begun.
If some are reluctant to take advice from Bush, you can hardly blame them.
With that said, the fact so many have short memories about him is arguably a testament to how bad things already are under Trump — less than two months into his presidency.