Immediately upon leaving office and turning turn over the “bully pulpit” of the White House to Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush retreated from public life.
Unlike predecessor Bill Clinton, President Bush didn’t spend an hour or so reviewing the troops at Andrews Air Force Base while his successor was being whisked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, and his staff didn’t busy its last hours by swiping all the “O’s” off their office keyboards.
Neither did Bush grant interviews nor sign up with a speaker’s bureau nor hit the campaign trail for his party in either 2010 or 2012. “I owe my successor my silence” was all the outgoing president would say, and has.
In contrast to President Bush, former Massachusetts governor Willard “Mitt” Romney, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for president against Obama in 2008, marked his return to the public stage with an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News on Sunday, March 3, 2013.
In the face of sometimes skeptical questioning from Wallace in his home, Romney came across as an intelligent, warm-hearted, and capable leader, a man with genuine concern about the future of America and a genuine ability to help do something about it.
“I’ m not gonna disappear” because “I care about America,” Romney declared – convincingly. With 20 grandchildren at current count, Mr. Romney has a deeply personal stake in the future of our country as well as an ideological and philosophical one. “I care about America and my twenty grandkids and what kind of world we’re going to have,” he said.
In contrast to the current administration’s constant campaign, ex-Gov. Romney is perfectly poised to actually lead instead of serving as a partisan political figurehead. Not being the head of his party, the former governor can focus instead on practical solutions to some of the real problems continuing to confront America today: the deterioration of the family and the dumbing down of education, our incoherent immigration and foreign policies, and out of control federal spending.
On Monday, in the wake of sequestration, Mr. Romney promises to lay out his views on spending. Unlike a White House seemingly interested only in scoring political points no matter what the cost, the betting here is that he will talk more about ideas than about laying blame.
The solutions Mr. Romney may propose will be less important than the fact that he is proposing them. In contrast to current posturing, it may mark the start of a genuine civic conversation.
In any event, it is good to have him back.