President Trump blatantly ignored a question from a reporter about his past attacks on members of the Bush family while speaking to the press at the G-20 summit meeting in Argentina today.
Trump has famously had a combative relationship with the Bush family, having called Jeb Bush, his rival for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, “low energy” and criticized George W. Bush for his blunders in launching the war in Iraq.
Naturally, upon the death of the Bush family patriarch, questions about his past statements about the Bushes were bound to come up, but Trump simply pretended that the shouted question wasn’t asked and immediately terminated his conversation with reporters upon hearing it.
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REPORTER: Mr President, do you regret any of your comments about George H.W. Bush's family?
TRUMP: "… Thank you very much, everybody." pic.twitter.com/9EYVGXMSsb
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 1, 2018
The president has issued an official statement of condolence the death of former President George H. W. Bush, as well as sending out a tweet that was brimming with praise for his predecessor, quite an anomaly by typical Trump standards.
President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life. Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2018
Trump also announced that he planned on attending the funeral for the 41st president, unlike the services for Bush’s wife Barbara or the late Senator John McCain, both of whom died earlier this year.
His presence at the funeral will likely be uncomfortable for the surviving Bush family, who likely remember Trump’s mocking of the late president’s signature volunteerism initiative during his term, “a thousand points of light,” a term he debuted in his acceptance speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention.
“For we are a nation of communities, of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique. This is America … a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky,” George H. W. Bush declared, celebrating a diversity that is a virtual anathema to Trump.
Trump ridiculed the idea at one of his campaign rallies in 2016, saying:
“The thousand points of light, what the hell was that by the way? Thousand points of light, what did that mean, does anyone know? I know one thing, Make America Great Again we understand. Putting America first, we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? And it was put out by a Republican, wasn’t it?”
Between the attack on his most famous rhetorical flourish and the disrespect show to his sons, George H. W. Bush’s distaste for his latest successor was cemented. He revealed to author Mark Updegrove that he voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and called Trump “a blowhard.”
“I don’t like him,” Bush is quoted as saying. “I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a blowhard. And I’m not too excited about him being a leader.”
“This guy doesn’t know what it means to be president,” he added.
At this point, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe tightening the circle around his administration’s misdeeds, Trump probably sees the upcoming days of news coverage of the late president’s funeral as a welcome respite from the constant coverage of new revelations of the latest breakthroughs in the investigations or the latest indictments of his close confidants and employees.
No wonder he’s acting like a normal president in his reactions to the death of a man for whom he obviously had no warm feelings. It helps himself to act this way right now, and himself is all he cares about.
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Original reporting by Dennis Romero at NBC News.