Despite his presidency’s many failures, George W. Bush has seen his public standing improve to a surprising degree in recent years. Whereas Republicans used to be reluctant to even utter the 43rd president’s name out loud in the wake of his two terms, Bush is becoming a welcome figure in GOP politics again.
Politico reports that the former president is “hitting the fundraising circuit” in the hopes of helping the Republican Party keep control of Congress.
Bush’s tour will begin Wednesday morning, when he holds a closed-door event in Fort Worth, Texas, for GOP Rep. Will Hurd, a second-term congressman who faces the hurdle of seeking reelection in a West Texas district that President Donald Trump lost in 2016.
Then, on Friday, Bush will travel to Florida to hold a pair of events for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is in a pitched battle for a Senate seat. One of the fundraisers will benefit New Republican, a pro-Scott super PAC.
Bush will return to the circuit next week, when he headlines a Sept. 19 fundraiser in Fort Worth for North Dakota Senate hopeful Kevin Cramer. The following day, Bush will hold a Dallas fundraiser for Texas Rep. Pete Sessions…. Then, next month, Bush will host fundraisers for two Senate hopefuls – Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Braun of Indiana.
And why is it that the former president will maintain such an ambitious and peripatetic schedule? A Bush spokesperson told Politico, “While he prefers to consider himself retired from politics, President Bush recognizes how important it is to keep the Senate and decided to help a few key candidates.”
What I’m eager to hear, however, is the sentence that comes next in that quote. Why, exactly, does Bush believe it’s “important” for the GOP to maintain control?
Partisan loyalties notwithstanding, Bush has made no secret of his distaste for Donald Trump. The former president refused to endorse the current president in 2016, despite their shared party affiliation, and Bush later confirmed that he did not vote for the GOP ticket in the last election cycle.
At Trump’s inauguration, the former president was reportedly heard responding to Trump’s speech by saying, “That was some weird s**t.”
Nine months into Trump’s presidency, Bush delivered remarks that sounded an awful lot like an indictment of the man currently in the White House. Lamenting contemporary politics, Bush said, “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” Bush went on to criticize “the return of isolationist sentiments” and “nationalism distorted into nativism.”
That was nearly a full year ago. The former president is nevertheless now taking steps to help bolster his party, which would necessarily have the effect of strengthening Trump’s hand if Bush’s efforts succeed.
Jon Chait made the argument this morning that Bush, for all intents and purposes, is “raising money for candidates who are committed to maintaining the cover-ups.”
“To be sure, Bush doesn’t put it that way, and almost certainly doesn’t think of it that way,” Chait added, “But it is syllogistically true. The Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress have followed a course of non-oversight, blocking disclosure of Trump’s tax returns, allowing him to be paid by figures at home and abroad known only to him, and preventing investigations of multiple cases of misconduct. Working to maintain Republican control of Congress is ipso facto working to maintain the cover-ups.”
Bush may not like, respect, or even understand Trump, but by “hitting the fundraising circuit,” the last Republican president is indirectly lending his support to the current Republican president.