When former president Bill Clinton posed for a whimsical photo between two statues of former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, the internet went wild. But accompanying the expected puns and jokes about the placement of the statues was a deeper conversation comparing the policies of these presidents, especially that of Clinton and the younger Bush, who seem to be the best of friends these days.
Clinton Hides Between Two Bushes
According to Time, the viral photo was taken on Thursday after the Presidential Leadership Scholars graduation ceremony in Dallas, Texas. At the ceremony, Clinton shared the stage with former president George W. Bush, who was elected directly following Clinton’s presidency, in the contentious and controversial 2000 race against Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore.
In the photo, Bill is seen peeking behind a giant statue of George W. Bush while a statue of Bush’s father, who served as U.S. president from 1989 to 1993, stands behind him. The statues dwarf Clinton, who does not even appear to reach the younger Bush’s shoulder. The statues are surrounded by a circle with stars along its perimeter, which was likely inspired by the logo for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, which is a circle made of gold stars.
The strange photo, shared by Twitter user and New York Magazine writer Yasher Ali, went viral almost immediately, garnering 9,000 retweets and 40,000 likes in under 24 hours, reports Time.
President Clinton at the George W. Bush Library tonight. pic.twitter.com/YcgCBoN3Ys
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) July 14, 2017
Who would have thought two wealthy, establishment neo-conservative, white men would get along. ????https://t.co/TDk1i35FHW
— Michael Froid (@MichaelFroid) July 16, 2017
To some, this lighthearted pose was surprising, considering that Bill Clinton ran against and beat George H.W. Bush in the 1992 presidential election. However, Bill Clinton is currently quite close with the Bush family, with the younger Bush calling Clinton “a brother with a different mother,” according to Time. A story published in the Washington Post entitled “How Bill Clinton and George W. Bush got over their politics and became BFFs” suggests that the mutual affection between the 42nd and 43rd presidents is a recent phenomenon that occurred only after a period of political conflict. But could their similarities run deeper? Some Twitter users think so.
Twitter Users Compare Clinton And Bush
According to some Twitter commentators, Clinton and Bush have “no significant ideological differences.” According to the Inside Gov political comparisons website, Bill Clinton is “moderately liberal” on most issues, while George W. Bush is “moderately conservative.” Their biggest differences seem to be on social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and gun ownership.
Turns out when you have no significant ideological differences, it’s easy to be friends: https://t.co/ZC1lL83joI
— Pinboard (@Pinboard) July 15, 2017
— FondoOfTheMondo (@FondoOfTheMondo) July 12, 2017
For some Twitter users, these differences were not important enough to render the two presidents to be different ideologically, with some pointing to “globalism” as a main similarity between Bush and Clinton. According to the Federalist, “globalism” is a nebulous term that can mean anything from support for multilateral trade deals, to advocating open borders and increased immigration. According to Inside Gov, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both support free trade, like the NAFTA deal signed by Clinton, and both support a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. However, Bill Clinton is listed as being in agreement with “avoiding foreign entanglements,” while Bush is listed as having the opposite view.
bush and clinton being good friends is everything that is wrong w/ the democratic party
— marxist at large (@GuyFoxNews) July 16, 2017
We have US & allies bombing the shit out of the Middle East to thank.That is why we have a refugee crisis. Bush, Obama, Clinton.
— Christian II (@CanisMinoris8) July 5, 2017
Interestingly, the criticism seems to come from both the right and the left, with some leftists expressing disappointment in Democrats for supporting Bush, while conservative voices raise the point that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both supported U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, which some argue has led to the current refugee crisis.
Although the comparison between Clinton and Bush is a contentious issue, it is clear that the strange photo of Clinton posing between two Bush statues has sparked an important discussion on so-called partisan politics. What do you think? Are there important ideological differences between Bush and Clinton?
[Featured Image by Tony Gutierrez/AP Images]