George W. Bush and John McCain aren't known for their warm relationship, but Bush "dumbfounded" then–British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his entourage in 2008 when, during the height of the presidential race, he said of McCain, "I probably won't even vote for the guy," recounts Financial Times reporter Alex Barker. Bush had just endorsed McCain, but reportedly added, "I'd have endorsed Obama if they'd asked me." Is that believable? (Watch Bush abstain from commenting on Obama)
No way this happened: Bush's dismissal of the anecdote as "ridiculous and untrue" is a good start, but "'absurd' is perhaps a bit better," says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. It's simply "laughable" to believe that Bush would have endorsed a Democrat, especially one who "routinely demonized him on the campaign trail." Besides, Barker overplays the "enmity" Bush has for McCain — it's mostly the other way around.
"Bush denies report of supposed 'endorsement' of Obama"
It sounds plausible to me: Bush's new memoir makes it "clear that McCain still very much irks" him, says Steve Kornacki in Salon. The book has nothing but nice things to say about Obama, but Bush "couldn't resist taking a few swipes at his old GOP foe." So even if Bush's Obama endorsement line was "an awkward and failed attempt at humor," it surprisingly puts him and Democrats on the same side for once: Team Anti-McCain.
"The one thing W and Democrats can now agree on"
Maybe something was lost in translation: The best explanation is that "the Brits, with their unique comedic sensibilities, just didn't grasp that Bush was joking," says Dan Amira in New York. Because while we buy that Bush gave only a "forced endorsement" of McCain, and maybe even that he didn't vote for him, "endorsing Obama? Come on. That never would have happened. Ever."
"Was George W. Bush willing to endorse Barack Obama?"