“The bedrock of our freedom … is the right to worship freely”
Image via NBC/TODAY
In an interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer on Monday, former President George W. Bush weighed in on Donald Trump’s first month in office, covering his immigration ban, Trump’s assault on the media, and Russian involvement in the election. Spoiler alert: It was not a glowing review, to say the least.
Right off the bat, Bush criticized Trump’s attack on highly respected news outlets, saying media is "indispensable to democracy." He added, "We need an independent media to hold people like me to account," additionally telling Lauer, "Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power."
From there, they moved on to Russia’s involvement with the 2016 presidential election after Bush mentioned he spent much of his presidency trying to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to support his citizens’ right to free press. In a clear dig at Trump, Bush said, "It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves."
As a segue into Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Lauer pulled up a quote in which Bush made a clear distinction between extremists and Muslims simply trying to practice their faith. When asked what he thinks about Trump’s divisive tactics, Bush said,
“I think it’s very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship they way they want to or not worship at all. The bedrock of our freedom—a bedrock of our freedom—is the right to worship freely. I understood right off the bat, Matt, that this is an ideological conflict and people who murder the innocent are not religious people. They want to advance an ideology.”
When Lauer asked if banning people made it easier or harder to fight the war on terrorism, Bush said, “I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law.”
It’s worth noting that Bush came on the morning news show to promote his new book, Portraits of Courage, featuring portraits of veterans painted by Bush himself. To see George W. Bush, the man whose legacy is defined by two disastrous wars, become a likable, sympathetic character just goes to show how skewed our perception of political figures has become. We’re looking to “W” to provide reason – clearly, the political sphere has reached a new level of abnormality.
To watch the full interview head over to TODAY.