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Ex-President HW Bush Eulogies Highlight Stark Divides Between Presidents 41 And 45

Former President George W. Bush with the former US Presidents.


The men who came to eulogize former President George H.W. Bush spoke of the 41st president and the American presidency on Wednesday in broad and magisterial terms.

He was “the last great soldier statesman” in the words of his biographer. A former Canadian prime minister recalled Bush as the leader of the “greatest democratic republic that God has ever placed on this earth.”

But the words of praise for Bush seemed to contrast with a jarring reality: A generation after he left office,the presidency has become all-consuming in American life, yet it has also never seemed smaller and more prone to failure.

“The public interest in the presidency is sky high,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “But the institution of the president has shrunk. It’s becoming a tawdry kind of thing.”

The smallness (and meanness) was evident the moment President Donald Trump entered Washington National Cathedral for Bush’s state funeral, shed his overcoat and took a seat with his fellow commanders in chief.

Trump briefly shook hands with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Beyond that exchange, the four presidents in the front row seemed incapable of even fleeting contact. Former President Bill Clinton glanced quickly in Trump’s direction and then looked away. Rather than shake Trump’s hand, former President Jimmy Carter checked his watch.

Trump, arms folded across his chest, stared stoically throughout, as traits of his predecessor, so different from his own, were praised.

Some of the contrast between then and now is a product of Trump and his divide and conquer kind of politics. In the cathedral, Bush eulogized his father as an “imperfect man” who left America as “a more perfect union.”

More than most recent presidents, Bush’s instincts at home drove him toward bipartisan compromise on issues as disparate as the budget and the environment. Overseas, he labored to build broad-based alliances. “He often said, ‘When the really tough choices come, it’s the country, not me . . . (the) country that I fought for,’ ” recalled former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., a Bush friend for decades.

Today, American presidents have largely given up on such bipartisan sentiments, and cross-party compromises on anything of substance have become rare. Obama passed health care reform without any support from Republicans. Trump’s tax bill passed without the benefit of a single Democrat’s backing.

In speeches near the end of his term, Obama talked of trying to reach across America’s growing divide – even if his efforts were sometimes disparaged by critics as halfhearted or insincere. “I have no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide,” he said in his final State of the Union address. “(But) I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.”

Trump, in his rallies and speeches, has largely dispensed with even the appearance of trying, opting for a posture closer to all-out war with his political opponents. That has made it far easier for his opponents to dismiss him as not their president, and for the presidency itself to diminish in breadth.

But not all of the blame for the increasing smallness of the office sits with its current occupant. To many historians, the Trump presidency is a reflection of the larger problems with the country and the office.

“The modern presidency has gotten out of control,” Leon Panetta, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff and Obama’s defense secretary, told the Atlantic magazine earlier this year. Presidents, he argued, are confronted by too many crises. Instead of solving big problems in the country, they are focused on dozens, if not hundreds, of disasters of the moment.

Others blame the seeming smallness of the office on the relative magnitude of the problems facing recent presidents. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has spanned an unheard-of three presidencies, with no end in sight. And then there’s global warming, which some Democratic presidents have described as an existential threat, only to be dismissed by Republicans who call it a hoax or junk science.

“How does a president appear magisterial on a topic like global warming?” said Jeremi Suri, author of “The Impossible Presidency” and a historian at the University of Texas at Austin. “The problem is so big, and the president has so little control.”

On Wednesday, Bush’s eulogy described him as a man ennobled by sacrifice on behalf of his country – a man who campaigned fiercely at times but sought to be a president for all Americans.

“George Herbert Walker Bush, who survived that fiery fall into the waters of the Pacific three-quarters of a century ago, made our lives and the lives of nations freer, better, warmer and nobler,” historian Jon Meacham said in his eulogy. “That was his mission. That was his heartbeat.”

Today, presidents face a far more divided landscape than Bush would’ve ever conceived possible. Today, Clinton’s tough-on-crime stance and embrace of free trade have made him increasingly unpopular within his party, which has shifted to the left. Bush’s focus on environmental protection, global alliances and extending protections to Americans with disabilities would get him disowned in today’s Republican Party.

The absence of voters in the middle have made it almost impossible for presidents to break through the gridlock on any issue of substance. “Presidents are playing a game of speaking to empowered groups and not to the public interest,” Suri said.

On Wednesday, though, mourners came to celebrate a different vision of the presidency, reflecting a different era in American politics. The Bush they lauded was not just a leader but a model for the entire country.

Meacham described Bush as a “20th century founding father” in the mold of America’s greatest presidents who “believed in causes larger than themselves.”

The Rev. Russell Jones Levenson Jr., who had been Bush’s pastor at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, acknowledged that some were describing Bush’s death as the “end of an era.”

In his homily, Levenson argued against that formulation. “Perhaps it’s an invitation to fill the hole that has been left behind,” he suggested.

And with that, the former presidents walked out of the cathedral and back into a bitterly divided country.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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French Police Hit With Poo Bombs At “Yellow Vest” Protests

Saturday marked the 16th straight weekend of “yellow vest” demonstrations in France since November.


French police are facing a new form of weapon during “yellow vest” protests — bags of fecal matter thrown bomb-like by demonstrators.

On Saturday “bags filled with faeces were thrown at police and exploded. Three policemen were soaked through with it,” Rudy Manna from the Alliance police trade union in the southern port city of Marseille told AFP.

One policeman also suffered an elbow injury when hit by “a poop-filled projectile”, Marseille police headquarters said.

Similar incidents took place in the southern city of Montpellier, police trade union representatives said.

Police said there had been calls on social media ahead of Saturday’s demonstrations for demonstrators to arm themselves with ‘Caca-tovs’ — after Molotov cocktails but filled with “caca”, the French term for poo.

“The policemen were deeply humiliated,” Manna said, adding that none of the perpetrators, hidden in a crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators in Marseille, had been identified.

Saturday marked the 16th straight weekend of “yellow vest” demonstrations in France since November, which have often seen security forces targeted with stones and other projectiles. 

Authorities said nearly 40,000 people took part.

A total of 11 people have died during the demonstrations which began over fuel taxes but mushroomed into a revolt by people in rural and small-town France against French President Emmanuel Macron.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Weeks After Ban Announcement, Hafiz Saeed’s Outfits Still Operate In Pakistan

Hafiz Saeed’s Jaamat-ud-Dawa had been kept on watchlist of the Pakistan’s interior ministry. (Reuters)

New Delhi: 


Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation have not been banned by Pakistan despite its announcement about 14 days ago. The two terror outfits continue to be only in the list of groups under watch, according to Pakistan government’s National Counter Terrorism Authority (NCTA).

On February 21, Pakistan government had announced that it had banned the JuD and FIF, amid intense global pressure to rein in the terror groups following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF soldiers lost their lives.

“This implies that Pakistan has lied on the ban on Jud and FIF. In fact, it has just altered the date of the watch list placement to fool the world,” a senior security official said.

A spokesperson of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry had said on February 21 that the decision to ban these two groups was taken during a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“It was decided during the meeting to accelerate action against proscribed organisations,” the spokesperson had said in a statement.

“It was further decided that Jamat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation be notified as proscribed organizations by the Ministry of Interior,” he added.

According to officials, JuD’s network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance service.

The US Department of the Treasury has designated its chief Hafiz Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a $10 million reward for any information.

The NCTA has so far banned 69 terror groups. A sizeable number of these groups are based in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

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British PM Theresa May’s Lawyer Seeks Legal Fix To The Brexit Riddle

Ms May promised to seek “legally binding changes” to the Withdrawal Agreement.


Prime Minister Theresa May’s top lawyer will try to clinch a Brexit compromise with the European Union this week in a last ditch bid to win over rebellious British lawmakers before crunch votes that could delay the divorce for three months.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29 but Ms May is hoping to win over at least 115 more British lawmakers by agreeing a legal addendum with the EU on the most controversial part of the deal – the so called Irish border backstop.

Concerns about the backstop, an insurance policy aimed at preventing a return to hard border controls between EU member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland, helped prompt lawmakers to reject Ms May’s deal on Jan. 15 by 432 to 230 votes.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, Britain’s top government lawyer, is due back in Brussels on Tuesday and will seek legally binding changes to the Irish border backstop.

“The attorney general continues with his work to ensure we get legally-binding changes to ensure that we are not locked in the backstop,” Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said. “The negotiations are at a critical and sensitive point.”

Brokenshire said the aim was to address lawmakers’ main concern: that Britain could be trapped in the backstop – and thus EU rules – indefinitely.

As Brexit goes down to the line, investors are watching to see if Ms May can win over enough lawmakers to her deal: if she cannot, then the exit date is almost certain to be delayed by lawmakers eager to avoid a potentially disorderly no-deal exit.

Ms May promised to seek “legally binding changes” to the Withdrawal Agreement, though the EU has refused to reopen the draft treaty. Parliament will vote on her tweaked deal by March 12.

If it rejects the deal, lawmakers will have a vote on whether to leave without a deal and then on whether to delay Brexit, probably by a few months until the end of June.


In a bid to win over opposition Labour Party lawmakers, Ms May will on Monday set out plans for a 1.6 billion pound ($2.11 billion) fund to help to boost economic growth in Brexit-supporting communities.

The Labour Party’s finance spokesman, John McDonnell, said the fund was “Brexit bribery”.

“This towns fund smacks of desperation from a government reduced to bribing Members of Parliament to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation,” he said.

As Ms May seeks to win over lawmakers, a group of prominent Brexit rebels set out the changes they want to see to her agreement in return for their support: it must be legally binding, clear and set out an exit route.

But the Daily Telegraph newspaper said Cox had abandoned attempts to secure a hard time-limit or unilateral exit mechanism for the backstop.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday that the bloc was ready to give Britain more guarantees that the backstop was only intended to be temporary and used for a “worst-case scenario”.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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