Thingish Things

Elton John, Statesman

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Aug• 01•12

Sir Elton John did an extraordinary thing last week. He praised President George W. Bush in an interview with the ABC News/Yahoo! Power Players series, reminding us in the process that there are still statesmen in the world. Cross-ideological kindnesses are so rare these days that John’s remarks were downright jolting.

John is a political progressive. Bush is a social conservative. They aren’t supposed to like each other. John is an outspoken gay rights activist; Bush is the U.S. president who proposed a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. Yet when asked about the former American president’s commitment in the Oval Office to combating AIDS around the world, here’s what the legendary British pop star said:

“I didn’t like his policies, but I have to say when I met him, I found him charming. I found him well-informed and I found him determined to do something about the AIDS situation, so I changed my opinion of him. . . . I learned a lesson.”

The “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” singer, who once called Bush “the worst thing that ever happened to America,” could have said “W” wasn’t quite as awful as he first thought and still sounded magnanimous. But he went farther, volunteering that he had been wrong about the conservative Texan. He confessed to having forgotten “one of the old adages in life, [which] is never judge someone until you meet them.”

John’s words in no way make him a political ally of Bush’s. They come from radically different viewpoints and presumably will remain there. But the singer took pains in his interview to highlight something flattering about Bush, publicly challenging the well-worn negative narrative about the former American decider.

The rest of this column is available Newsday and Newsday Westchester. Thanks for reading.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.