Jimmy Carter’s constant attempts to influence foreign affairs made George W Bush’s life as President difficult, says one of his key advisors and it was something he vowed never to do to the Obama administration or anyone else.
And his non-involvement in such matters has lead to an increase in his popularity, according to former foreign affairs policy advisor to Bush and Ronald Reagan, Elliott Abrams.
Mr Abrams spoke to LawFuel about his role with the presidents. He said the constant involvement of Jimmy Carter was something the former President vowed he would never do when he left office.
“Jimmy carter as a defeated president tried to be involved in foreign affairs constantly and Bush said, when we were leaving, ‘I am not going to do that. Jimmy Carter made my life as president harder – I am not going to do that to my successor’.”
He kept his word on that, Elliott Abrams said and his reputation is rising as a result. “He was, in essence, a wartime president.”
“Bush has said nothing. His reputation is rising in part because of that and Americans like that. He knows people
will say ‘you had your chance, you had 8 years – give the other guy a chance.’
None of which to say that others from the Bush administration have not spoken out, including Elliott Abrams who freely and frankly acknowledges the fact. “I’ve criticised Obama, Cheney has, Condy Rice has, Pres Bush has stayed out though.”
In an interview with law news site LawFuel, Mr Abrams commented on how President Bush had become a highly effective ‘wartime president’.
Under extraordinarily difficult pressures resulting from the 9/11 attacks, he was not permitted “the luxury” of being down for one day.
“If you go into a National Security Council meeting, if you go into an Oval Office meeting
“He bore that burden very well, I think.”
The effect on the nation of a ‘down’ president would have been ‘electrifying’. There are things that people forget about George W Bush and the burden he carried for eight years.
“Two of the things he did after 9/11: He visited the (9/11 site) and he went to the Yankee Stadium and threw out the first ball at a game. The message to the country was ‘now we go back to living our lives’.
“In that first week he visited the Islamic Center in Washington – again the message was: ‘We’re not at war with Islam – we’re not going to take this out on Muslim Americans. It’s about terrorism.
“I think people forget all these things, these gestures he made, these symbolic things he did.” His behavior has accordingly seen his reputation rising, he said.
Elliott Abrams stays in contact with the President and serves on some of his advisory boards with the Bush Foundation.
He said that he believed the dire international situation, particularly in the Middle East, can be turned around much more quickly than pessimists fear, particularly with a strengthened military and greater leadership from America.
In terms of rallying Americans, he referred to Ronald Reagan’s presidency, where he served in various capacities, and Reagan’s abilities to pull things together – even as a President who was largely ‘hands off’ – but who asserted leadership and turned around a lot of extremely difficult occurrences internationally in the 1979, when “everything fell apart”. There was the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the Sandinistas took over in Nicaragua and the Cubans were in Angola. Reagan’s campaign slogan: ‘It’s Morning in America’ “sold very well,” he said.
“I believe we can do that again.”