Obama to Bush 41: We are a ‘gentler nation’ because of you
July 15th, 2013
06:37 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama to Bush 41: We are a ‘gentler nation’ because of you

(CNN) - It was a homecoming for former President George H.W. and former first lady Barbara Bush at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Monday where they joined President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, in presenting the Points of Light honor for extraordinary work in community service.

The Points of Light Foundation, now the world's largest service organization coordinating volunteer projects, started during the Bush administration. The 41st president serves as the non-partisan, non-profit foundation's honorary chairman and his son, Neil Bush, is the president.

Obama thanked the former president for his long legacy of community service.

"In addition to this award, he created the first White House office dedicated to promoting volunteerism, and he championed and signed the National and Community Service Act,” Obama said.

The law helped jumpstart AmeriCorps, a federal program that places volunteers in a variety of nonprofit organizations around the country.

Obama credited Bush with setting off a sea change of volunteerism among Americans.

"Volunteerism has gone from something some people do some of the time to something lots of people do as a regular part of their lives," the president said.

"We are surer a kinder and gentler nation because of you," he added.

The two presidents welcomed the 5,000th award recipients Kathy Hamilton and Floyd Hammer, co-founders of a leading national charity called Outreach, and commended them for extraordinary volunteer work.

"Thank you for this incredible award," Ms. Hamilton said. "Not in our wildest dreams did we ever plan to be here or ever imagined receiving this award."

The Outreach organization works to provide safe water, food, medical care and education to children and those in need, both at home and abroad.

"We're from Union, Iowa, which is a town of only 394 people – and it's amazing that a handful of people from this small town can make such a big difference,” Hammer said.

According to one of the co-founders, they have donated 232 million meals so far.

"The more of us who are making a difference, the better this world will be,” Hammer added.

Obama continued Monday's charity theme with an announcement of his new task force that will “take a fresh look at how we can better support national service in schools; recovering from disasters and mentoring our kids."

The task force will be led by a team of representatives from his Cabinet agencies and led by Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

As for Bush, he said he will continue to be able to express his commitment to highlighting volunteerism and community service in America through his Points of Light Foundation.

The 89-year-old former president has battled health problems. He had been hospitalized this past winter suffering complications related to bronchitis.

Bush also has a form of Parkinson's disease that affects his legs and requires him to use a wheelchair.

His last public appearance was at the opening of his son President George W. Bush's presidential library in April.

Filed under: George H.W. Bush • President Obama • White House
soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. klg1956

    His socks are perfect...Dr. Seuss was a Stalin supporter wasn't he? But, he was anti-abortion.....A person's a person, no matter how small so I like him for that!

    July 16, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  2. Simon9

    When it comes down to it, promise breaking, power-hungry, empty-suit neoconservatives get along just fine even if they disagree about some details. We can't really afford the damage they do, but they make out just fine.

    July 16, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. MR Wheat

    At least Reagan stayed away from the camera's plus the spot lights when he started to really age and began losing it. Doesn't look like Bush 41 is going to do that, he looks like a senile old fool getting push around with a bug eared Marxist street agitator. You would have never seen President Reagan do a photo opt with Obama, Nixon and Johnson both would have avoided this fool like the plague.

    July 16, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. Fed UP

    Mr. Obama (I am only using Mr because of the office not the thing holding it) It was a gentler nation BEFORE you and your Chicago cronies came along and started insighting all kinds of race issues. YOU are the ones causing the problems. The sad thing is YOUR people and yes they are your people even though YOU hate being black and try to pretend you are not, have not figured out that you don't care when they kill each other only when it happens between races do you get involved because you want the tensions and the issues to avert peoples attention from the underhanded destruction you are reaping on our country.

    July 16, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. apetra

    Mr. Obama, we're a more divisive, poorer, more corrupt and weaker nation because of you.

    July 16, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. JC3

    Not sure if that's a comment Mr Obama you classless commie.

    July 16, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. Stephen

    Again President Obama is politicizing to gain votes. He really hates all Republicans – after all he has done to blame G W Bush for his mistakes. I can't believe that G H Bush would allow himself to be used in this way.

    July 16, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. Brian

    How nice, the gentleman meets the thug.

    July 16, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. 1689

    That 41 would grace 44 (Obama-the-race-and-class-divider) with his gentlemanly presence is a wonder. You just have to shake your head at people's egos, and the compromises it allows them to make–all to be in the limelight one last time

    July 16, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. bcrunner

    Shame on all of you who comment in such disrespectful way. I didn't think President Bush was a very effective president, but I never disrespected him. His son was another story. But, here is an opportunity to show some respect for an 89 year-old person and most of you either show disrespect to President Bush or President Obama. Shame on you!

    July 16, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    too bad God didn't take the opportunity when he had it.

    July 16, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. Pete D

    Obama is not fit to tie HW Bush's shoes or to kiss his behind! However if Obama had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin or the non-cursive Jeantel!

    July 16, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. Neo124

    Hey, Bush. I know where you can shove your "thousand points of light." Barry, George and Bill can share with you. That means you each can shove 250 points of globalist/Fabian socialist light up your a–es!

    July 16, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. kindergentler

    so much gentler. and more civil, too! just check out chicago.

    July 16, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. Frank

    Something about Obama standing next to a frail. old white president in a wheelchair that doesn't set quite right. Bush Sr. never was any great shakes, and hanging with the criminal charlatan only serves to further diminish his mediocre legacy.

    July 16, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. dmzrn

    How low can barry go? Using GHWBush as a diversion for the scandals beleaguering his administration, and to give himself a sheen of magnanimity is pitiful. When he said "the most transparent administration", I'm sure he didn't mean in this way. What a turd.

    July 16, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  17. Doug

    Don't like the Bushes.....Don't like obama zero even more.

    July 16, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Paul

    Well I for one support both President's Bush and Obama in this endeavor. I am certainly no supporter of Obama, but if we are ever going to get anything done in this country we must be able to acknowledge when someone does something right. It is a good thing for the country to see ex-presidents working with the current occupant. I am a Republican and Navy vet who wants his country to be great for my kids. Obama will be gone at some point, and we need to be positive if we are going to take back the office.

    July 16, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Pouncekitty

    Obama hiding behind a good man to deflect his own destructive policies and ideas. Obama is incompetent, uses an old man in a wheelchair to give himself credit for being sensitive. Obama is the enemy of every thinking and hard working person in America.

    July 16, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. jbw

    Ah, one amateur thug hanging with a real pro, the Zapata-CIA drug importer, JFK-conspirator, Bo-Grove young-man sodomizer himself....

    July 16, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |

    And how Obama is quickly trying to undue all of the gentleness. Snake.

    July 16, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  22. biffula

    Ah, Bush Sr. a president from back in the days when you didn't cringe waking up everyday worried about what new leftist government mandate was going to take away yet another of your freedoms.

    July 16, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. biffula

    Ah, Bush Sr. A president from back in the days when you didn't have to cringe everyday when you woke up worried about which one of your freedoms the leftist government was taking away from you that day.

    July 16, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. largejack

    It's a game, a bloody game and all these apparent differences on the outside or merely a facade to fool the foolish. I heard George HW Bush in 1991 call for a New World Order and I've heard the same from Obama. our head in the sand tactic isn't going to work much longer!

    July 16, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. Chado Flatwell

    SLRSEKAN: Bush 43 loves it when people underestimate him. Remember he got into Yale. He deliberately plays up aspects of his personality to seem folksy

    July 16, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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