Obama, the 44th U.S. president, praised the 43rd president’s administration for making his 2008 transition into the White House a painless process, according to CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who obtained an advance preview of the memoir, due for release on Nov. 17.
“Whether it was because of the respect for the institution, because of lessons learned from his father, bad memories of his own transition or just basic decency, President Bush would end up doing all he could to make the 11 weeks between my election and his departure go smoothly,” Obama wrote. “I promised myself that when the time came I would treat my successor the same way.”
In another passage, Obama wrote about riding in the presidential limousine with Bush during their time together and feeling sympathy when he saw protesters outside calling his predecessor a “war criminal.” He said it also gave him a sense of foreboding for the future.
“To protest a man in the final hour of his presidency seemed graceless and unnecessary,” Obama wrote. “More generally, I was troubled by what these last-minute protests said about the divisions that were churning across the country ― and the weakening of whatever boundaries of decorum had once regulated politics.”
Obama’s reflections on his smooth transition into the White House serve as a stark contrast to the final weeks of 2020, with 45th president Donald Trump refusing to concede the election, promoting conspiracy theories of voter fraud and blocking his administration’s cooperation with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team.
While Obama had pleasant words for Bush despite their political differences, the former president did not mince words describing other politicians he encountered during his presidency.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), he wrote, had “discipline, shrewdness and shamelessness — all of which he employed in the single-minded and dispassionate pursuit of power.” And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a onetime Trump critic who flip-flopped to become a strident apologist for the president, was like a spy movie character who “double-crosses everyone to save his own skin.”