Speaking in New York City on Thursday, former President George W. Bush made sharply pointed comments about the state of America without referencing President Trump by name, Politico reports. "We've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty," Bush told attendees of a Bush Institute forum entitled "The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In the World."
"At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together," Bush said. "Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization."
"Bigotry seems emboldened," Bush went on. "Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication."
Bush "has said very little publicly about the current president, or about American politics at all," Politico observed. "Thursday's speech, in which he detailed what he sees as the causes for democratic collapse, the path forward, and what were obvious references to Trump … was a major departure in a speech that called on a renewal of American spirit and institutions."
A spokesman for Bush told The Hill the speech was "long-planned" and not a critique of Trump. "This was a long-planned speech on liberty and democracy as a part of the Bush Institute's Human Freedom Initiative. The themes President Bush spoke about today are really the same themes he has spoken about for the last two decades," the spokesman said.
Watch more of Bush's remarks below. Jeva Lange