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Great article from Lanny Davis – a “Mensch”

Purple Nation

April 24, 2013

George Bush — the President and the Man…Revisited

By Lanny J. Davis

http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/lanny-davis/295699-revisiting-a-former-president

http://dailycaller.com/2013/04/24/george-bush-is-a-good-man/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lanny-davis/george-bush-the-president_b_3149314.html

Tomorrow, April 25, on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, Texas, four living presidents — Jimmy Carter, No. 39; George H.W. Bush, No. 41; Bill Clinton, No. 42, and Barack Obama, No. 44 — will honor one of their colleagues, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, at the dedication of his presidential library.

So I take this occasion to remind my fellow liberal Democrats, many of whom continue to attack Bush in harsh and personal terms, of three things about him that I don’t think they understand or appreciate.

First, while there were many polices under Bush with which liberal Democrats (myself included) disagreed — such as tax cuts, the Iraq War and not paying for either (as well as the Afghan war) with current revenues rather than borrowed money — there must be a distinction between disagreement and personal attack. For example, many Democrats still use the “lie” word in describing Bush’s rationale for the Iraq War — that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. This turned out to be wrong. But Democrats in the Clinton administration also believed Saddam had WMDs, as did most experts in the U.S. intelligence community. Our politics have become so poisoned and our government so dysfunctional precisely because too many people — on both sides — can’t make a distinction between lies and being sincerely wrong.

Second, Bush is known for his brilliant slogan when he first ran in 2000, describing himself as a “compassionate conservative.” But let’s not forget that on many issues, Bush was more “compassionate” than “conservative” — indeed, he was sometimes closer to Republican Theodore Roosevelt’s free-market progressivism than William Howard Taft’s laissez-faire conservatism. Examples include “No Child Left Behind” education reform, presented together at the White House by Bush and the liberal icon Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in the early days of the Bush presidency; support for broad immigration reform, very similar to the bipartisan legislation recently proposed in the Senate; and an extension of Medicare to include prescription drug benefits — the most far-reaching and generous Medicare reform since Lyndon Johnson.

Third, it is important to remember what a good man with a good heart George W. Bush is.

I know from personal experience.

As I have written before, I remember sitting next to Bush when we were in the same residential college at Yale (Davenport — he graduated a year after me). I recall an evening when a group of us was sitting in the common room outside the college dining hall after dinner and a fellow Yale student walked by who was known to be gay, but in those days was not “out.” Someone said some ugly homophobic slurs. I didn’t like it, but sat silently. But Bush snapped, saying something like “Hey, knock it off. Why don’t you walk in his shoes awhile and feel what he feels?”

I remember thinking, “Whoa. This guy is much different inside than the fun-loving frat brother partying with me at Delta Kappa Epsilon.” As I watched him grow and evolve over the years, overcoming times of great personal pain and challenge to become a two-time governor of Texas and a two-term president of the United States, I only came to admire and like him even more than that evening at Yale.

My late mother always used to say you can judge people on how they love and treat animals — good if they do, bad if they don’t. When Bush’s beloved dog, Barney, died recently, the statement he issued exemplified for me the inner core of goodness on my mother’s scale of judgment.

“Barney never discussed politics,” he said in bidding Barney a sad farewell, “and he was always a faithful friend. Laura and I will miss our pal.”

I know my mom in heaven, who would never have voted for George W. Bush for president, would have read that comment about Barney and insisted:

“He is a good man.”

I agree.

Godspeed to you, George Bush, and blessings for your mom and dad and family on this great occasion.

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Davis, a Washington attorney and principal in the firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, specializing in legal crisis management and dispute resolution, served as former President Clinton’s special counsel from 1996-98 and as a member of former President Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board from 2006-07. He currently serves as special counsel to Dilworth Paxson, and is the author of Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping With Crises in Business, Politics, and Life, recently published by Threshold/ Simon & Schuster. He can be followed on Twitter @LannyDavis. This article appeared in The Hill today.

www.lannyjdavis.com

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Purple Nation

January 8, 2013

Hagel Must Address ‘Jewish Lobby’ Comment

By Lanny J. Davis

http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/lanny-davis/275895-hagel-must-address-jewish-lobby-comment

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/08/hagel-owes-it-to-all-americans-to-address-jewish-lobby-comment/

http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/08/hagel-must-address-jewish-lobby-comment/

http://www.newsmax.com/LannyDavis/Hagel-Jewish-Lobby-Defense/2013/01/08/id/470522

I believe a president — Republican or Democrat — almost always deserves to have the Cabinet that he wishes, with the bar very, very high to oppose his choice. Thus, there should be heavy presumption that President Obama’s reported nominee for secretary of Defense, former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, should be confirmed by the Senate.

Whether senators agree or disagree with Hagel’s past positions — on the Iraq war (for the authorizing resolution, then turned against the war), declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist organization” (against), engaging with Iran in negotiations more aggressively (for), engaging with Hamas in seeking a peace agreement in the Middle East (for) — these positions are known to the president, and he still has decided to nominate Hagel for the post.

In any event, President Obama’s policies will be carried out by the new Secretary Hagel, not former Sen. Hagel.

But: Hagel owes it to all Americans, not just to American Jews, to do more than apologize for use of the expression “Jewish lobby” in communicating his concern about its power.

He must understand, first, that there is a difference between Jews who support Israel and the “Israel lobby.”

To suggest that there is a “Jewish lobby” is not only inaccurate, it is highly offensive to the American Jewish community.

First, as to the inaccuracy of the expression, here are a few indisputable facts:

Fact: There are many, many non-Jews who support Israel.

Fact: Most Americans, Jews and non-Jews (polls consistently show over 70 percent nationwide) support Israel because they see it as being in the U.S.’s national-security interests to do so — and because Israel is a democracy like ours, committed to the legal protection of civil rights, gay rights and human rights, including the rights of the more than 1 million Palestinian Israeli citizens.

Fact: Some of the strongest supporters of Israel are among evangelical and conservative Christians.

Fact: There are many Jewish Americans, including this writer, who are sometimes critical of the Israeli government’s policies and who strongly support a two-state solution, consistent with Israeli security interests.

As to why so many American Jews are highly offended by Hagel’s use of the expression “Jewish lobby,” if he doesn’t understand its historical association with virulent anti-Semitism and the scurrilous libel of “dual loyalty” used by anti-Semites against Jews, then I would ask him the following question:

Have you ever used the expression the “Catholic lobby” when describing pro-life lobbyists? If you did, would you understand why Catholics would be offended by that expression — because many Catholics are pro-choice and would be offended for you to invoke an expression describing their religion rather than their views on the abortion issue? Do you recall how offended John F. Kennedy was at the notion that he would have dual loyalty as president — to America and to the pope — a charge JFK vigorously denied and considered to be emblematic of anti-Catholic bigotry?

So if Hagel is confirmed as Defense secretary — and as of now, I believe he should be — I hope he does more than make an apology on the use of the “Jewish lobby” expression (as he already has regarding his anti-gays-in-the-military comments in past years). He needs to show that he understands, first, why he is factually wrong to describe a “Jewish lobby”; second, he needs to show greater sensitivity to the American Jewish community because he understands that expression evokes anti-Semitism through the ages.

On policy, he should explain why he opposed describing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization even though it is a matter of record that they have financed terrorist operations against civilians in Israel; and why he favors Israel’s negotiating with Hamas, despite Hamas’s refusal to renounce terrorism and the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.

I believe Hagel is a decent man, with an outstanding record of integrity as U.S. senator and military service as a patriot. He should address his use of the “Jewish lobby” expression directly and candidly — not only to reassure American Jews but also to clear up doubts that could hinder his effectiveness as secretary of Defense.

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Davis, the principal in the Washington law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, which specializes in legal crisis management, served as President Clinton’s special counsel (1996-98) and as a member of President George W. Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (2006-07). He currently serves as special counsel to Dilworth Paxson and is a partner with former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in Purple Nation Solutions, a public affairs-strategic communications company. He is the author of the forthcoming book Crisis Tales – Five Rules for Handling Scandal in Business, Politics and Life, to be published by Simon & Schuster. He can be followed on Twitter @LannyDavis.

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