Veterans touring the George W. Bush Presidential Museum in Dallas received a surprise visit from the museum’s namesake.
The 43rd president popped in to a replica of the Oval Office to thank student veterans at Southern Methodist University (SMU), where the museum, part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, is located.
Bush took photos with the veterans and thanked them for their service.
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The Bush Museum is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. An exhibit called “Freedom Matters” features rare versions of the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.
Bush’s deeply controversial presidency is defined by the War on Terror, especially the war in Iraq.
The Republican left office with historically low approval ratings but has since rehabilitated his image as a critic of Donald Trump, who has often disparaged the Bush family and its political legacy. Bush has also made his disdain for Trump known on several occasions.
On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Bush controversially compared the Al-Qaeda hijackers behind the worst terrorist attack in American history to Trump supporters involved in the January 6th Capitol unrest.
“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols — they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them,” he said.
Since leaving office, Bush has become known as an amateur painter and Republican defender of an establishment energized by the rise of Trump.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Bush praised Dr. Anthony Fauci even as the polarizing scientist became a villain to many conservatives.
The 43rd president continues to cast a shadow over Republican politics as a foil to Trump, who has attacked Bush, his brother Jeb, and Bush adviser Karl Rove as leaders of a "RINO" establishment.
“We are never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove and Jeb Bush,” Trump declared at CPAC in March.
Bush grabbed attention last year when he condemned the "unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq." He quickly clarified that he meant to say "Ukraine."