Elder Bush sees ‘ugliness’ in attacks on Obama

Former President George H.W. Bush doesn’t like the “ugliness” President Barack Obama has faced since taking office, but he thinks it’s no worse than his son experienced and is not about Obama being black.

Bush, who was hosting Obama at a volunteerism forum here Friday, said the tone of the criticism “crosses the line of civility.”

“To the degree it turns off one student or young person from serving, that’s bad,” Bush said in an interview with CBS News Radio at his presidential library. “It should not happen.”

But Bush stressed that conservatives aren’t the only ones to blame. Liberal pundits heaped similar scorn on his son, former President George W. Bush.

“They just hammered him mercilessly ? and I think obscenely ? a lot of the time,” he said.

Former President Jimmy Carter recently asserted that much of the bitterness aimed at Obama stemmed from his being the nation’s first black president.

Obama disagreed.

The elder Bush said, “You might find some racists out there but I don’t think the attacks per se have to do that he’s an African-American.”

Bush, who turned 85 in June, said presidents throughout history have suffered at the hands of critics.

“I’m reluctant to say it’s a whole new thing in politics ? this ugliness,” he said. “I mean you go back to Grover Cleveland … It was terrible the things that people said.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.