Ellen Degeneres and George Bush Spotted at a Dallas Cowboys Game Together

A Larger Conversation on Letting Friendship Transcend Difference

Reem Abouchleih, Scarlet Staff

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On October 7, comedian Ellen Degeneres and former president George W. Bush were spotted at a Dallas Cowboys football game along with their spouses, Portia de Rossi and Laura Bush. The internet went into an uproar, asking how the two could even be friends. George W. Bush’s presidency was certainly a controversial one; many disagreed with his actions such as contributing to starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, his support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and his seemingly ingenuine response to Hurricane Katrina. Through online Twitter discourse, it was clear that many were angry at Ellen for going to a football game with the Bushes because of the unfavorable positions that Bush took.

Not long after that picture was taken and posted to Twitter, Ellen responded to the overwhelming backlash from critics on The Ellen Show in a three minute segment. Degeneres joked about the obvious identity politics between them, saying “Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?” Though told sarcastically, many of the tweets echoed this sentiment – why is Ellen friends with someone who opposes LGBTQ rights when she, herself has advocated for LGBTQ causes endlessly?

The simple answer: Bush’s current positions and former actions don’t matter in their friendship. Firstly, it is crucial to note that we are not in the two famous figures’ private lives, therefore, it is impossible to know their dynamic and conversations. Whether or not they talk about politics or related issues is unknown to us.

Degeneres continues to say “I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs I have. We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that it’s okay we’re all different.” This is a great sentiment to encourage. In the past several years, America has gone through many political changes, all of which have likely contributed to some important relationships falling apart. It is respectable that Ellen made this segment to encourage others to be friends with those different from them rather than hope this issue will go away on its own.

Now more than ever, social media plays a huge role in separating people who have different political opinions. I’m sure that everyone has seen two people fight over politics on Twitter or Youtube in a viral video. Seldomly do we see people sit down and have a civil conversation about their differing beliefs, or even talk to each other regardless of those beliefs. As Ellen said, “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way you do. I mean, be kind to everyone. It doesn’t matter.” And truly, it doesn’t matter.

Ellen ended the segment by thanking Laura and George Bush for a wonderful Sunday afternoon. As apparent in the Twitter video, Ellen and Bush are all smiles, enjoying the game. Seeing people get mad over a happy friendship is truly disheartening. If the two are happy in each other’s company, it shouldn’t be anyone else’s place to comment on whether they should be friends or not.