I’m surprised this little nugget isn’t getting more attention:
Karl Rove may not think much of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chances of winning the White House, but it sounds like President Bush is less sanguine. At an off-the-record lunch a week ago, Bush expressed admiration for her tenacity in the campaign. And he left some in the room with the impression that he thinks she will win the election and has been thinking about how to turn over the country to her.
The topic came up when Bush invited a group of morning and evening news anchors and Sunday show hosts to join him in the executive mansion’s family dining room a few hours before he delivered his nationally televised address on Iraq last week. Bush made no explicit election predictions, according to some in the room, but clearly thought Clinton would win the Democratic nomination and talked in a way that seemed to suggest he expects her to succeed him – and will continue his Iraq policy if she does.
As Bush was describing his thinking about Iraq and the future, he indicated he wants to use his final 16 months to stabilize Iraq enough and redefine the U.S. mission there so that the next president, even a Democrat, would feel politically able to keep a smaller but long-term presence in the country. The broadcasters were not allowed to directly quote the president, but they were allowed to allude to his thinking and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News later cited the analogy of Dwight D. Eisenhower essentially adopting President Harry S. Truman’s foreign policy despite the Republican general’s 1952 campaign statements.
This is why people worry when Hillary proposes residual forces that could number as many as 75,000; when even Bush considers that a continuation of his foreign policy agenda, it’s pretty safe to, well, consider it a continuation of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy agenda. A basic requirement for the Democratic nominee should be substantial disagreement with Bush on Iraq; it seems from this interview that that isn’t a requirement Hillary meets.
Bush’s other comments are mildly interesting too:
Bush added that Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) was impressive in his own way but the president seemed dubious the freshman senator could win given his inexperience in high office and national campaigning.
On the Republican side, according to people in the room, Bush expressed surprise that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has managed to remain the frontrunner despite his liberal positions on social and cultural issues normally critical to the party base. That’s a sign of how important the terrorism issue is to Republican voters, Bush said. But he cautioned against ruling out Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), saying he had managed to get up off the mat after a campaign implosion earlier this year.
I find it amusing that the two-term president whose only experience prior to that was six years as the weakest governor in America thinks Obama is inexperienced. Also, I think it’s hilarious how clichéd these observations are. Saying Obama’s inexperienced, that it’s surprising Giuliani hasn’t been sunk by his social views, and that McCain is having a comeback isn’t exactly original.