"Former president George W. Bush on Thursday delivered a rare political speech in which he warned of threats to American democracy and a decay of civic engagement, a message that was interpreted as a rebuke of President Trump’s divisive leadership style.
At a New York forum sponsored by his presidential center, Bush offered a blunt assessment of a political system corrupted by ‘conspiracy theories and outright fabrication’ in which nationalism has been ‘distorted into nativism.’
‘We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,’ Bush said during a 16-minute address at ‘The Spirit of Liberty’ event. ‘Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.’
Bush did not mention Trump by name and former aides emphasized that his message echoed words he has spoken before. But the fact that a former president was sounding the alarm about American values and the United States’ role in the world at a time when Trump has unsettled allies abroad and provoked intense political backlash at home injected his remarks with greater urgency."