Relations between Obama and Bush `awkward`: Report


New York: Relation between US President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W Bush remains “awkward” and “non-existent”, according to a report.

The two leaders spoke yesterday as Obama announced the end of US operations in Iraq. The last conversation they had was in January when Obama asked Bush to raise money along with former president Bill Clinton for Haiti.

“There is, of course, no obligation for presidents to keep in touch with their predecessors, and there is no evidence that Mr Obama and Mr Bush bear any ill will toward each other,” the New York Times said. “But their relations do seem particularly awkward, or, more precisely, nonexistent.”

NYT pointed out that the persisting coolness is probably due to the political environment, especially as Obama blames the previous administration for saddling him with two wars and a bad economy. Although, he does not mention Bush by name.

“That can make for pretty short conversation,” The Times said, pointing out that the two men met at funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy in August 2009 but did not speak with each other then.

One “authentic conversation” did occur between Bush and Obama’s mother-in-law, who was sceptical about moving from Chicago to Washington, according to a Bush advisor who spoke to the newspaper on the conditions of anonymity.

“I think President Bush pulled her aside and said, ‘It’s very important for your granddaughters, I think you ought to do that, this is the kind of life you can have here,’ ” the aide said.

“And I understand President Obama was very appreciative of that. But besides that, it really has not been any relationship.”

Bush aides, however, aren’t particularly happy with the fact that Obama did not credit his predecessor with the 2007 troop surge in Iraq. Obama did, however, say “no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.”

“I’m curious why he mentioned President Bush at all if he wasn’t going to give him credit for the surge,” said Gordon Johndroe, who was spokesman for Bush’s National Security Council.

Bush’s mention “was at best pro forma; at worst, it was patronising,” according to Peter Wehner, a former top Bush speech writer and strategist, Peter Wehner.

NYT pointed out that relations between Clinton and Bush were pretty cool until after 9/11 when the two presidents grew close, and later spoke to each other every six weeks. Other US leaders have become chummy only after leaving the White House.

“It’s not like there’s a manual that says, ‘I have to call the former president every six months.’ But they grow into the job, and begin to understand that there is a mechanism for using someone who has been there, and can help them,” said Doug Band, a top aide to Clinton.
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