© Tim Heitman/USA TODAY
Former US President George W. Bush
Former President George W Bush earned establishment praise by addressing the current turmoil with platitudes about institutional racism, oppression and empathy, but some weren't quite willing to absolve the invader of Iraq.

Saying he and his wife were "anguished" over the "suffocation" of African-American George Floyd in Minnesota last week, and the "injustice and fear that suffocate our country," Bush talked about "systemic racism" and "doctrine and habits of racial superiority."

"We can only see the reality of America's need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised," Bush wrote.

"There is a better way — the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice. I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way," the former president concluded.

Unsurprisingly, his letter was quickly interpreted as a thinly veiled condemnation of current President Donald Trump and his response to the unrest - which did start peacefully a week ago, but quickly saw rioters looting stores and burning buildings, first in Minneapolis and then in cities across the US.

The Lincoln Project - a collection of former Republicans banded together in opposition to Trump - praised the letter. So did MSNBC anchors and producers. Some liberals and progressives weren't so keen to embrace the former president, however.

Calling Bush "a war criminal responsible for untold killing, maiming, and torturing of Iraqis," former Hillary Clinton supporter Peter Daou lamented that "a bunch of liberals" will now praise him for the letter.

The people praising Bush is part of the reason the protesters are out on the streets, said rapper Immortal Technique.

Bush's letter comes a day after a number of media outlets dug up the comments of his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the chaos and looting in Iraq that followed the 2003 US invasion. Rumsfeld had said in April 2003:
"While no one condones can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people who have had members of their family killed by that regime. And I don't think there's anyone ... (who wouldn't) accept it as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom."
Bush's letter did contain a reference to the violence that has rocked cities across the US for almost a week now.

"Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress," the former president wrote, in what seemed like a direct repudiation of Rumsfeld's words...if one reads them just the right way.