Civilized political talk captures country’s imagination

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, left, and George W. Bush, laugh while participating in the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program Launch, Monday at The Newseum in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

On his TV show this morning, journalist Charlie Rose asked a good question. “Why can’t we have more of this?” he asked.

“This” is two politicians on other sides of most every issue, having a friendly conversation, as former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did last night.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post writes:

The event was to launch a joint leadership-development program by the presidential centers of Clinton, LBJ and both Bushes. Clinton said the “presidential leadership scholars” program would be, in part, about rebuilding “the skill that we are beginning to see atrophy in America, which is listening to people who disagree with us.”

Clinton said he would like to get people talking about the need to compromise. “If you read the Constitution, it ought to be subtitled ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ ” he said.

Restoring the role of compromise is a big task — but perhaps not impossible, if these old warriors have become as friendly as they claim. “I admire my pal’s ability to communicate and to lead,” affirmed Bush, playfully calling Clinton a “beautiful man — beautiful.”

“I will say one thing nice about my friend here,” Clinton returned, then amended his statement. “I will say more than one thing.”

And he did.

That it’s news when a couple of prominent politicians play nice says a lot about the state of politics.

  • But…Iraq! Lewinsky! 9/11! Whitewater!…


    *head explodes*

  • jon

    Goes to show, when you have reached the top of your field (politics for these two) and have nothing left to gain, being civilized begins to look like a good idea.

    Is civilization just the best option for those who have little left to gain.

  • Moffitt

    These guys are both retired. They can afford to play nice.

  • Dave

    “Why can’t we have more of this?”

    What an ignorant question.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Because they’re both out, that’s why.