By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
Call it the benefit concert’s most unlikely collaboration.
The five living former U.S. presidents put aside political differences and made a cameo appearance onstage at the “Deep From the Heart” concert in College Station, Texas, on Saturday to help raise money for victims of a recent spate of natural disasters.
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter waved to the crowd as the image of an American flag was displayed behind them and people snapped photos.
The U.S. mainland and its territories have been walloped by one natural disaster after another. In all, hurricanes and wildfires have killed more than 100 people and left residents with billions of dollars in damage that they have only begun to clean up.
Massive donation drives have been started, and on Saturday, they got a boost from five men who are used to being fundraiser in chief.
The retired presidents got praise from the current occupant of the White House.
“The American people have done what we do best,” President Donald Trump said in a recorded video message. “We came together. We helped one another, and through it all we became resilient.
“All five living presidents are playing a tremendous role in helping our fellow citizens recover ... This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and our devotion to one another.”
It was a brief moment of detente. Obama and Bush, who’ve kept relatively low profiles since leaving office, have recently criticized Trump.
As The Washington Post’s David Nakamura reported, Obama has called on Democrats to “send a message to the world that we are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear.”
And the younger Bush gave a rare political speech at the “The Spirit of Liberty” event last week, telling attendees: “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”