FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
While Former Vice President Dick Cheney hasn't been able to keep his mouth shut since leaving office, the former president has been largely silent. Until last night that is.[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/29/art.bushmarineone.gi.jpg caption="Former President Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush board Marine One following the inauguration of President Barack Obama."]
Speaking in Michigan, George W. Bush repeated Cheney's claim that the enhanced interrogation program - what some people call "torture" - was legal and helped get valuable information that prevented more terror attacks... and saved lives.
The former president told the crowd of 2,500 people that after 9-11, he vowed to take quote "whatever steps were necessary to protect you." Bush said after the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he wanted to determine what means were legal to get information from the terror suspect.
Although Bush's message might be similar to Cheney's, the tone is very different. Bush repeatedly insisted that he doesn't want to criticize Pres. Obama and he didn't specifically refer to the debate over the new president's decision to stop using harsh interrogation techniques.
In a departure from how these kind of events were handled before, Bush answered questions directly from the audience for almost an hour – instead of responding to questions that had been submitted ahead of time.
When asked what he wants his legacy to be, Bush said, "The man showed up with a set of principles, and he was unwilling to compromise his soul for the sake of popularity.”
Here’s my question to you: Have your feelings toward former President Bush softened any now that's he's been out of office for four months?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
While I do appreciate Mr. Bush keeping quiet and not criticizing President Obama, who is struggling to repair the nation after the 8 disastrous years of Bush-Cheney, my feelings about George W. Bush remain the same: He was an unmitigated disaster for the nation and the world, a total incompetent who did more damage to the U.S. than anything that al Qaeda could have possibly done.
I always thought George W. Bush was a fine man. However, he allowed his administration to be overrun by reckless ideologues who cost this country dearly. For that, he deserves all the blame he'll ever get.
My feelings towards the president haven't had to soften. I agreed with almost all of his policy decisions, and think he did a great job. If I could have voted for him a third time, I would have.
Patricia from Korea writes:
Just as he is unwilling to compromise for the sake of his popularity, I am also unwilling to compromise. No, my opinion has not changed. There are still thousands dead in an unneeded war, he deepened the hatred of the U.S. by allowing torture, and his actions and rhetoric towards North Korea gave them the incentive to build nuclear bombs. THAT is his main legacy and he will have to live with it.
No, he and Cheney continue to distort the truth. Bush said that his interrogation (torture) program was legal. It was "legal" only because he told his lawyers to say that it was legal. He and Cheney simply bent the law to fit their agenda.
I'm impressed with the way the former president handled himself in Michigan. This is exactly the tone Ed Rollins was advocating in his column yesterday. We've had enough of the politics of hatred, finger pointing and blame.
I think the only reason our feelings may have "softened" on former President Bush is because he's just that: former.