NPR reports: It started out a simple, human interest story featuring a former president and his post-White House hobby — painting watercolors of world leaders, and now, portraits of American soldiers, wounded during military service.
But before it was over, that president, George W. Bush, made real news by doing something he had never before done in a public forum since leaving office: discussing at length the current occupant of the Oval Office.
All through the Obama years, Bush avoided questions about the policies of his successor. Even as Obama reversed Bush’s executive orders. Even when Obama likened his predecessor’s policies to driving the car “into the ditch.” Bush avoided such debate, once telling CNN, “It’s a hard job. It’s difficult. … A former president doesn’t need to make it any harder.” In a speech in Canada just weeks into the Obama presidency, Bush told his audience he wouldn’t spend his time criticizing Obama, “and if he wants my help, he can pick up the phone and call me.”