Kicking off his European tour in Brussels, President Bush took Russian President Vladimir Putin to task for his steps away from democratic reform.
Bush bluntly asserted that in order to take its place among the trans-Atlantic community, Russia "must renew a commitment to democracy and the rule of law." Clearly, Bush sent his friend a clear warning regarding his centralization of power, crackdown on independent media and crony capitalism.
As the saying goes, though, it takes one to know one. Once again, President Bush's past poses a credibility problem when it comes to rebuking the former KGB chief:
"I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul. I knew that President Putin was a man with whom I could work."
- President George W. Bush, November 15, 2001
"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."
- President George W. Bush, July 26, 2001.
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
- President-elect George W. Bush, December 18, 2000.
"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."
- Texas Governor George W. Bush, July 1998.
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