At a memorial service for John McCain, cameras caught George W. Bush, the former Republican president who waged a needless war on Iraq that cost 288,000 lives, take a piece of candy from his wife Laura and discreetly hand it over to former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Social media users were instantly smitten by the exchange. "This sweet moment between George W. Bush and Michelle Obama at John McCain's funeral is going viral," one headline announced. "I'd totally watch a travel show where George Bush and Michelle Obama go abroad and get up to wacky adventures," a Twitter user suggested. "The candy exchange between Laura Bush, George Bush and Michelle Obama is the highlight of 2018," another proclaimed. "I love George Bush and Michelle Obama’s friendship. Whether it’s friendly ribbing each other or sharing candy. It’s really nice to see," a third opined.
In light of the latest viral moment highlighting George W. Bush's unbearable cuteness, it's time for your biannual reminder that the former commander-in-chief shouldn't be reduced to an endearing celebrity grandpa because he is, in fact, one of the worst presidents in American history. As I wrote last October, "The war in Iraq, which destabilized the region, killed hundreds of thousands, and helped give rise to ISIS was predicated on intelligence that Bush's administration misrepresented to the American people." This alone should make even the most adorable moment of affection between Bush and literally anyone else significantly less delightful—and I haven't even reminded you of his successful scheme to wiretap Americans without warrants, or that recession he brought about, or the torture, or Katrina.
Despite the fact that when W left office he had a 34 percent approval rating, the overwhelming awfulness of Donald Trump has—perhaps understandably—made the American people feel wistful for the Bush era. Romanticizing Bush's supposedly charming moments is more than irksome ahistorical blather: It illustrates that in the Trump era, there's no figure so noxious they can't be turned into a Resistance hero and a symbol of a more civil era.
If we ever want to get out of our current Trumpian hell, we have to remember all the disastrous political eras that got us where we are today, including the era Bush is responsible for. The cutest thing George W. Bush could do in 2018 is apologize for the Iraq War and volunteer to be tried by the International Criminal Court.
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