Former President George W. Bush called for an end to partisanship in the nation’s continued battle against the coronavirus pandemic, a message that was swiftly rejected by President Donald Trump, who attacked the 43rd president for not coming to his defense during the impeachment trial.
The episode starkly underlines how Trump views his role as the head of state differently from his predecessors. Whereas previous presidents, including Bush, sought to heal divisions in the country following crises, Trump has instead repeatedly blamed Democrats and the news media as his administration’s handling of the crisis has been scrutinized, and he has frequently cast the nation’s recovery from the pandemic in the context of his reelection.
“We are not partisan combatants,” Bush said in a video message posted by the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Twitter Saturday. “We’re human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together. And we’re determined to rise.”
“Medical professionals are risking their own health for the health of others, and we’re deeply grateful. Officials at every level are setting out the requirements of public health that protect us all. And we all need to do our part,” Bush added.
“We cannot allow physical separation to become emotional isolation,” he continued, adding: “This requires us to be not only compassionate but creative in our outreach and people across the nation are using the tools of technology and the cause of solidarity.”
Bush, who has remained largely silent during the pandemic, said that following 9/11, he “saw a great nation rises as one to honor the brave to grieve with the grieving and to embrace unavoidable new duties.”
“And I have no doubt, none at all, that this spirit of service and sacrifice is alive and well in America,” he said.
Despite restrictions like social distancing measures, Bush said Americans “can find ways to be present in the lives of others to ease their anxiety, and share their burdens.” And the former president asked that the country “remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat.”
Bush’s message was originally shared during “The Call to Unite” 24-hour event.
Trump, however, said Bush missed an opportunity to call for an end to partisanship during the Democratic-led impeachment trial earlier this year, tweeting Sunday that Bush “was nowhere to be found” during Trump’s impeachment trial.
There are more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the US, and more than 67,000 people have died as a result, according to figures kept by Johns Hopkins University as of mid-Monday morning.