On Thursday night, the George W. Bush Presidential library hosted a throwback to a kinder, gentler, political universe, where two ex-presidents from opposing parties got along like old friends. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton spoke to the graduating class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program about the need for bipartisanship, what it's like living in the White House and their famous family members. They avoided contemporary politics entirely, steering completely clear of President Donald Trump, but remained interesting throughout.
Here are their five best moments.
1. George W. Bush shows that he gets the joke.
Responding to question about his success in politics, Clinton told moderator David Rubenstein that "[t]he best thing that can happen to you when you are in politics is to be consistently underestimated."
Bush, often maligned during his presidency for his lack of intellect quickly interrupted. "I was pretty good at that," he said, drawing one of the biggest laughs of the night from the crowd.
2. Bill Clinton thinks he has the answer to America's political rancor.
“One of the things that is wrong with America today, that bothers me more than anything else about our future, is we have separated ourselves into like-minded communities,” Clinton said. “Diverse groups make better decisions than homogeneous ones. Everyone knows that, but they almost can’t help themselves. They vote for the gridlock they hate."
3. Bush explains how Clinton helped him win the presidency.
"I don't think I would've ever run for governor had he not defeated dad in 1992," Bush said. "It would've been very difficult for me to have beaten Ann Richards in 1994 because I would've spent my time defending George H.W. Bush, who would've been in the last two years of his presidency. By losing, it enable[d] brother Jeb and I to kinda of run on our own for governor in our respective states."
4. Clinton explains why we live in interesting times.
"It's not going to be boring. It's not boring figuring out how to deal with all these climate change issues, to do it in time and do it in a way that helps the economy and doesn't hurt it. It's not boring figuring out whether we can have a more broadly shared prosperity and still have growth. These are very significant questions," Clinton said. "It's also not boring figuring out how to navigate a political world in which the nation-state's borders are porous, not just in terms of vulnerability to terrorist attacks be in terms of cybersecurity. It's a fascinating, sobering but exhilarating time to be alive."
5. W reveals what his grandchildren call him.
Asked by Rubenstein about his grandkids' preferred name for him, Bush, in his classic can't-quite-tell-if-he's-joking deadpan, responded "jefe," Spanish for boss.
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