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George W. Bush: 'What Do You Do?'

6 years ago
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Since leaving office, former President Bush's approval rating has climbed 6 points in one recent poll, something many in the media have attributed to his low profile since leaving office. Of course, former Vice President Cheney's approval rating is up too, and he's been very vocal. It's more likely that Bush and Cheney's approval ratings are up because they really couldn't go down, and since they're not in power, the negative media coverage that comes with a failed presidency has abated.

Bush, who still has a 57% unfavorable rating, has decided to take a couple small steps back into the limelight. Last night, Bush and fellow former President Bill Clinton shared the stage at a forum in Toronto. The debate was not exactly fierce. In fact, Bush referred to Clinton as his "brother," citing Clinton's warm relationship with his family. The two defended each other more than they disagreed.

On Thursday, Bush spoke for an hour and a half in Benton Harbor, Michigan, his first speech in the United States since leaving office. According to Eartha Jane Melzer's report in The Michigan Messenger, Bush's primary subjects were his days in the White House and his family. Bush took previously submitted questions from the audience, and he did not make any comments about the current administration.

Bush did briefly address the controversy over enhanced interrogation techniques. He said:
You have to make tough decisions. They've captured a guy who murdered 3,000 citizens ... that affected me ... They come in and say he may have more information ...and we had an anthrax attack ... and they say he may have more information. What do you do? I will tell you that the information gained saved lives.
Bush's assertion is contradicted by Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Levin has read the classified CIA memos about enhanced interrogation techniques and he says that claims made by Cheney that those techniques worked are untrue.
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