Former presidents Bush, Clinton team up for civility

February 21, 2011

presidentsFormer presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush are joining forces again — this time for civil discourse.

Democrat Clinton and Republican Bush have agreed to serve as honorary chairmen of The National Institute for Civil Discourse which opens Monday in Tucson, The Washington Post reports.

The privately-funded, nonpartisan facility at the University of Arizona will be a center for debate, research, education and policy about civility in public discourse, the Post says.

The shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and constituents at  a political gathering in Tucson led to debate about the sometimes nasty tone of political discourse in the United States and calls for more civility.

Arizona University Provost Meredith Hay said that although the shootings were not linked to public discourse the incident “created a space for us to think about civil discourse.”

The Post says former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Senate majority leader Thomas Daschle will serve as honorary co-chairmen of the center created in the aftermath of the shootings.

Six bystanders were killed, and 13 others were wounded when a gunman opened fire on the gathering outside a supermarket in January. Authorities said Giffords, who’s recovering at a Houston rehabilitation center, was the principal target.

Bush and Clinton joined forces in 2005 to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina. They also led an international effort to help the recovery from the 2004 tsunami that swept South Asia.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Donna Carson (Clinton, Bush  after viewing damage from Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Texas, Oct  2008)

4 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I find it interesting that Bill Clinton is so interestered in civility. He is a master at spinning spinning lies to the public and calling what he said the truth. I assume he is counting on the short memory of the voters.

Posted by ohio | Report as abusive

[...] season Summary:  After clinching the world all-around title and gold buckles in tie-down and team roping at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Trevor Brazile became the first [...]

I don’t know whether we civil discourse or some other remedy would help, but we certainly need some improvement in the political situation.

Republicans apparently want to build an authoritarian society run by a small percentage of the country’s wealthiest citizens, with low taxation of that privileged segment, and correspondingly few services provided for the common good. At the same time, they would install theocratic rules about sexual behavior, eliminating all abortion and possibly restricting birth control as well.

Democrats are hoping to resurrect liberal democracy, with progressive taxation, social spending, sexual and reproductive autonomy.

Each side seems unalterably opposed to the ideas and plans of the other side. With such radically divergent concepts of good government, it is not clear how we can end up with a useful government of any kind.

Posted by Ralphooo | Report as abusive

Ralphooo above is a prime example of why discourse is so uncivil. In his and many other left-wing minds, the only possible way to have an alternative opinion is if you’re a racist, biggot, wanna-starve-children, wanna-evict-grandma, yada yada yada, we’ve heard it all before.
Republicans are attempting to do none of the crap he’s talking about, yet he can’t even discuss something without throwing out wild unfounded accusations.
You can have divergent concepts of good government, and you can come to agreement on how to proceed with things, but you’ll never make progress if the one side immediately turns to obviously false accusations and ad-hominem attacks before the conversation even gets underway.

Posted by DanP | Report as abusive

Great publicity stunt.

Posted by Shastokovic | Report as abusive

[...] remember when you live at the heart of Washington. After all, it’s a common known fact that civility in the political discourse is at an all-time low. Or is it? Is that just true in Washington? Is it true at all?I would argue it’s simply not [...]