President Obama issued glowing praise for President George W. Bush at the opening of the Republican’s presidential library in Dallas, highlighting his predecessor’s push for immigration reform and overall character as commander in chief.
“He knows who he is. He doesn’t put on any pretenses,” Obama said of Bush, joined on stage by every living U.S. president. “He takes his job seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is a good man.”
Obama and Bush have never been close — the president campaigned as the anti-Bush — but Thursday’s remarks represented an affirmation of the most exclusive club in U.S. history.
“Our club is more like a support group,” Obama said of his fellow presidents. “The last time we all got together was just before I took office. And I needed that. Because as each of these leaders will tell you, no matter how much you may think you’re ready to assume the office of the presidency, it’s impossible to truly understand the nature of the job until it’s yours, until you’re sitting at that desk.”
Despite his past criticism of the Republican president, Obama has increasingly adopted Bush’s policies, particularly on national security issues. And Obama invoked Bush in his push to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
“Seven years ago, President Bush restarted an important conversation by speaking with the American people about our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” Obama said. “And even though comprehensive immigration reform has taken a little longer than any of us expected, I am hopeful that this year, with the help of Speaker Boehner and some of the senators and members of Congress who are here today, that we bring it home.”