George W. Bush And Bill Clinton Talk Leadership In Dallas

Jul 14, 2017
Originally published on July 14, 2017 11:37 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So two former U.S. presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, shared the stage last night in Dallas, Texas. They did not talk about the current president. They did talk about finding future leaders to bridge the political divide. Here's NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: The 42nd and 43rd presidents, a Democrat and a Republican, have bonded since leaving office. This event was a graduation ceremony at the George W. Bush Presidential Center for the latest group of presidential leadership scholars, people from nonprofits, public and private sectors and the military. It's a joint project of four presidential libraries. Here's George W. Bush.

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GEORGE W BUSH: One of the real problems with these presidential centers is that they become irrelevant pretty quickly unless there's something that captures people's attention.

GONYEA: Bush added...

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BUSH: It just - it fit right into our view of how to be useful.

GONYEA: Bill Clinton noted the different political, religious and ethnic backgrounds of the program's scholars, then offered this.

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BILL CLINTON: One of the things that's wrong with America today that bothers me more than anything else about our future is that we have separated ourselves into like-minded communities. We may be less racist, homophobic and sexist and everything, but we don't want to be around very many people who disagree with us normally.

GONYEA: He lamented that too many Americans get their news from places that only reinforce their beliefs.

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CLINTON: And the truth is in an interdependent, complex world, diverse groups make better decisions than homogenous ones.

GONYEA: There was no mention of any hot political topic or of the current White House, just a low-key endorsement from two former presidents of less rancor and gridlock. Don Gonyea, NPR News.

[POST BROADCAST CORRECTION: In an earlier introduction to this report, we mistakenly said it was former President Obama who was onstage with former President George W. Bush. As the report makes clear, it was former President Clinton who was there.]

(SOUNDBITE OF EVIL NEEDLE'S "VIBIN'") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.