Jewish World Review June 21, 2004 / 2 Tamuz, 5764

Neil Cavuto

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Too nice for his own good? | I've discovered something in the Bush family genes that could, again, be their undoing. They're too nice.

Now I know how angry liberals will no doubt respond to my summation, but I stand by it. And here's why. Find me a public moment, any moment, when either George Bush I or George Bush II has really lit into his critics. About the most worked up I saw the old man get was on broccoli and how he hated it. I remember thinking then, "This boy's got some Italian in him!"

But alas, the anger was short-lived. Decency returned. Calmness prevailed. And a doomed election ensued. My point here is not to take sides in this electoral contest but to illustrate how well-intentioned people can end up getting the shorter end of the stick.

The other day it caught me again, when President Bush was hosting Bill and Hillary Clinton at the White House for the official unveiling of their portraits. The president heaped it on, and I mean really heaped it on. He said the years had proven how good Bill Clinton was for this country, how much he had done for this country, how both Bill and Hillary were great parents to a teenager growing up in the White House, all but saying he could have used some of those same parenting skills for his own rebellious daughters. And he wasn't done. He went on to commend Hillary as the "only U.S. senator whose portrait hangs in the White House." He complimented her style, her commitment and her devotion. He joked with Bill about bravely campaigning for George McGovern in, of all places, Texas. He got a laugh. He never got much else.

Not once did he bring up items like Whitewater, or Monica, or Vince Foster, or that inconvenient issue of Osama and what this prior president could have done or should have done. No, there was none of that. And to be sure, this decorous scene was not the occasion for that. I thought I'd leave well enough alone with this whole issue until Bill Clinton himself got up to speak.

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He wasn't nearly so kind, and he wasn't nearly so generous. While he acknowledged the president's graciousness, he didn't pass along one compliment, not one kind tit-for-tat. I wasn't looking for him to praise George Bush . . . after all, they are political opposites. But, please! Couldn't you throw the guy a bone, Bill? Maybe acknowledge he responded well to terror after Sept. 11, or that he's kept us safe in this country since that day? Maybe mention something goofy, like commending the president for the nicknames he gives those pesky White House reporters? Anything?

No. Nada. Zippo. Zilch-a-rino. Perhaps the contempt for this president from this former president is so acute, so intense, that he can't find the words — apparently any words — to say anything nice. Frankly, I find it classless. But who am I to judge? This guy was elected to two terms as president, gets 10 million smackers to write his memoirs as president, and gets a pile of change to do speeches precisely because he was president.

Maybe Bill had his reasons to hold tight on the compliments. Maybe he's planning to unload on this present White House occupant in that book, or in this upcoming campaign or in all those speeches. I know that's the game, but if things are that tacky, that political and that shallow, I just wish everybody played the game.

It seems to me President Bush is not, or cannot. Believe me, he's no softie. He's tough on terror abroad, but he seems to go light on opponents here. After all, it's not as if Bill Clinton wants him re-elected (actually, maybe he does, to save room for his wife's candidacy in 2008, but that's another issue), so why not be a little more digging, and provide a little more ribbing?

I'd have loved to hear the president say something like, "When you weren't chasing interns, you were looking out for all of us!" I bet that would have gotten a laugh.

I'm being silly, of course. I just wish President Bush would have been silly, because he was way too serious, and way too fawning in commending a guy who has said horrible things about him. That's politics, of course. This president had better realize it, because his dad never did. His dad stuck with people who torpedoed his administration, and the son's picking up where he left off.

There's such a thing as being too gracious. And I fear the Bush family is discovering — again — the all-too-real results.

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Neil Cavuto is managing editor of Business News at FOX News Channel. He is also the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" and "Cavuto on Business." He's the author of "More Than Money : True Stories of People Who Learned Life's Ultimate Lesson". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.


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06/04/04: The power of 'thank you'
05/28/04: Why do we tolerate awful people?
05/24/04: Good golly, Ms. Gandhi! Lessons for President Bush
05/17/04: Yes, it's cool . . . to be nice!
05/10/04: Bill and me: The story of the former president who took on the current business anchor!
05/03/04: Cleaning up in life
04/26/04: Ignore that man behind the curtain!
04/19/04: Sorry for not being sorry
04/11/04: Dying . . . to live
04/02/04: The rude CEO
03/30/04: Shut up, move on, watch out!
03/22/04: LET HIM LOOSE!
03/15/04: FREE MARTHA! (Kinda)
03/08/04: Al, how do we love thee?
03/01/04: ISN'T THAT RICH?!
02/23/04: The real issue on tax cuts
02/17/04: Let Atkins rest in peace!
02/15/04: The smallest slight, the biggest headache
02/09/04: Sign it, send it, be done with it!
02/02/04: What a pain in the class!
01/26/04: Pundits punt it
01/19/04: What's wrong with having a temper?
01/12/04: When the applause stops
01/05/04: 2003 — The year of the optimist
12/22/03: Nothing succeeds . . . like success
12/15/03: When the boss takes your call
12/08/03: The day I realized my daughter had grown up
12/01/03: Let's give thank$
11/24/03: Camelot . . . not
11/17/03: Cordially speaking, I hate you!
11/03/03: I can't "wait" to get back at you!
10/27/03: What would we die to know?
10/20/03: Smile while you work
10/13/03: Dull man walking: Why Gray was too gray
10/05/03: Who says we're so depressed?
09/29/03: Thanks, but no thanks
09/22/03: Big Companies vs. Big Government
09/15/03: Terrorists and idiots: Financial lessons learned
09/08/03: Watch out, Mr. President
09/03/03: Tips for Empty Nesters
08/25/03: Friends and hypocrites
08/18/03: When good news goes bad
08/04/03: PHONY BALONEY!
07/28/03: The meaning of a pin
07/21/03: We are what we eat
07/14/03: Don't like it, don't keep it!
07/07/03: The check, and the recovery, is in the mail!
06/29/03: Who says Al's our pal?
06/23/03: The big pitch for the "big get," no big deal!

© 2003, Neil Cavuto