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Bush breaks silence, says economy won't need Obama intervention

June 18, 2009 |  9:17 am

President Bush speaking in Erie, Pa. June 17, 2009

For 150 days, he was a model citizen, and certainly an admirable former president, a member of the Golden Rule of the elite Ex-Presidents' Club.

Unlike his vice president, the chatty Dick Cheney (or, to be fair, the Democrats' oft-quoted former President Carter), former President George W. Bush promised not to throw spitballs at the new administration. "I'm not going to criticize my successor," he said.

But last night, speaking in Erie, Pa., at the Manufacturer & Business Assn.'s annual meeting, Bush allowed as how Barack Obama might be a socialist.

According to the Washington Times, Bush told a cheering crowd, "I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in. You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money." As for the president's healthcare reform ideas, Bush said he didn't like them. "I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for healthcare," he said.

And asked whether he considered Obama a socialist, Bush said, "We'll see."

The former president also defended his administration's handling of terrorism suspects, like waterboarding, a torture technique that Obama has banned, and the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which Obama is working to close.

"There are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that -- persuasion isn't going to work," Bush said. "Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."

So much for silence.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo credit: Associated Press