President George W. Bush was back in Washington today, to mark the opening at his Bush Institute in Dallas of the "Freedom Collection."
It was of course a gathering of many officials of his administration, but was far more: a reminder of how far support for what Bush used to call the "Freedom Agenda" had slipped in today's Washington. The Bush event included a speech by the former president, but also remarks by dissidents from Syria, China, and Cuba and a live interview via Skype of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma. Present also was Viktor Yushchenko, former president of the Ukraine and leader of its "Orange Revolution." During his eight years Bush met personally with 180 key dissidents from 35 countries, the people whom the Bush Institute's director James Glassman today called "the non-violent shock troops of democracy." The support that Bush and his wife Laura, who spoke as well and who took a special interest in ending the dictatorship in Burma, gave to such dissident leaders is notably absent today.