At today’s White House Press Briefing, Robert Gibbs was asked about former President Bush’s remarks at a speech last night. Bush said:
I told you I’m not going to criticize my successor,” he said. “I’ll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don’t believe that persuasion isn’t going to work. Therapy isn’t going to cause terrorists to change their mind.
I was as surprised as anyone to learn that the former President believes that persuasion will work on terrorists. As for the therapy part? Here’s Gibbs’ exchange on the subject:
Q Robert, former President George Bush gave a speech yesterday where he talked about Guantanamo Bay and the President’s policy, and he said, “Therapy is not going to cause terrorists to change their minds.” What is the President’s reaction to that?
MR. GIBBS: Is he talking — I don’t — I’m not sure what he’s discussing.
Q I think he’s trying to suggest that the President’s policy on Guantanamo Bay is not the right policy and saying — comparing it to therapy, that we’re treating the prisoners —
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know what he’s discussing. I know that — I know the previous administration moved or transferred hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo to a program in Saudi Arabia. I don’t know if that’s what he’s — maybe that’s not what he’s referring to, since it appears to be contrary to the actions that he took. So I’m happy if he can clarify what it is he was talking about.
I think we’ve had a debate about individual policies. We had that debate in particular — we kept score last November and we won.
Q And he also talked about — saying that the private sector is better handled to help the economy more than the government. And do you just have any response to him taking a swipe at President Obama after remaining kind of on the sidelines for so long?
MR. GIBBS: Look, again, I think the President — President Obama inherited an economic catastrophe: massive unemployment, a huge deficit, insolvent banks, car companies that were being handed billions of dollars to perpetuate a plan that had them coming back every three months to ask for more. The President — President Obama took action to pass a recovery plan and to take steps to put some regulation back in our economy.
President Obama believes that the free market is what governs our economic principles and looks forward to getting out of the business of being involved in banks or in auto companies.
Q Has he talked to President Bush?
MR. GIBBS: I think they’ve spoken. I don’t know how recently.
Former President Bush has been pretty much under wraps thus far since leaving office. That he pops up to take a shot at Obama on releasing Gitmo detainees, an activity for which he is the current record-holder, is pure W.
Does this mean George W. Bush is back? I never thought I’d say this, but it could be worse. At least he’s not this guy.