George W. Bush Takes Veiled Shots At Trump: ‘Bigotry Seems Emboldened’

Seth Wenig/AP

After years of careful silence regarding his successors, former President George W. Bush took some veiled shots at President Donald Trump Thursday in comments condemning bigotry, white nationalism and nativism.

During his headlining speech at the Spirit of Liberty conference in New York, Bush outlined issues he’s seen emerge in America in the past decade, saying today “bigotry seems emboldened” and “our politics seem more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication” than ever before.

“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together,” he said.

Likely referencing Trump’s nationalist “America first” approach to global relations, Bush said “we’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism.” Bush touched on the importance of immigration and international trade, both ideals that Trump has taken shots at — his travel ban, limitation of refugees into the U.S. and criticism of NAFTA — since coming into office.

Bush also took a stronger stance on the Russia investigation than Trump ever has, claiming unequivocally that the Russians not only meddled in the 2016 election, but also utilized social media to deepen partisan divides in the U.S.

According to intelligence services the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systemic and stealthy. It is conducted across a range of social media platforms,” he said. “We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.”

Trump has repeatedly called the investigation into Russian meddling in the election a witch hunt, and even suggesting on Twitter Thursday that Russia, the FBI or Democrats paid for the unverified dossier about the Trump campaign and Russian collusion.

Bush also fully condemned white supremacy, something Trump refused to do after a woman was killed at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.

“Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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