George W. Bush hinted Thursday at his dissatisfaction with Donald Trump, complaining in a New York City speech that ‘bullying and prejudice’ has become a caustic norm in American public life.
At an event hosted by the George W. Bush Institute, the 43rd U.S. president rattled off a thinly veiled litany of complaints about the current commander-in-chief, focusing on both his tone and his isolationist policy choices.
‘Our young people need positive role models,’ he said. ‘Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.’
‘Bigotry seems emboldened’ in today’s America, Bush added. ‘Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.’
Trump’s tenure has been marked by a seemingly endless stream of outraged posts on his Twitter account and a dramatic political polarization among U.S. voters as the truthfulness of his public statements is questioned daily.
He told reporters in the Oval Office a few hours after Bush spoke that he wasn’t aware of what he said.
‘I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it,’ he said.
Bush also slapped in Trump’s direction with a reference to Trump’s controversial statements following an August race riot in Charlottesville, Virginia that left an anti-racist protester dead in the wake of a white supremacist march.
At the time, Trump claimed that there had been violence on ‘both sides,’ drawing howls of protest that he was legitimizing the Ku Klux Klan.
Bush never mentioned Trump’s name or the Charlottesville scandal, but drew his only mid-speech applause by saying that ‘people of every race, religion and ethnicity can be fully and equally American.
‘It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the american creed.’