Those who know me well might want to sit down lest you fall over from faint — as this post will be about my seeing, voluntarily and in person, ex-President George W. Bush.
I had the opportunity to attend a 90 minute Q&A with Mr. Bush this weekend, and I wanted to hear what he had to say: his view of his presidency, what he’s doing now to fill the time, his thoughts on Donald Rumsfeld (as Rummy was on his own book tour last week), etc… I vehemently disagreed (and still do) with everything he stood for as President, when his lackadaisical cowboy manner infuriated me. If he popped up on the TV screen during those 8 years in office, I raced to hit the “mute” button. Yet there I was in that ballroom, scrambling for a good seat, waiting to hear what he had to say.
Basic Impression? He was far more charming than I would have imagined. A trained politician, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, but there you go. As for what makes him really tick, I still couldn’t say.
What did I learn? I learned that it’s good for me to get out of my box. I still disagree with Mr. Bush’s management of this country, and I could list all of my many grievances here, but that’s not the point of this post. I was reminded how much more interesting a subject (a person) can be when I bother to suspend judgment long enough to listen, when I take off the blinders and let my natural curiosities take the lead.
And as this is a reading and writing blog, there is a book involved. I came away with an autographed copy of DECISION POINTS, and it will be placed alongside all the other presidential books here in Carter Library.
The question is, will I read it? Doubtful. Would you?
Probably not word for word, but I’d read it.
You know, this makes me think about how we go about the governance of this nation. Like Sarah Palin, another person I would not want to be in the Oval Office, I’ve always found George W. Bush to be interesting. He’s got personality, a certain je ne sais quois that draws people to him which is how he won elections despite his dismal record in other avenues of his life. He would have been fine as some kind of celebrity, a Donald Trump kind of character. Same with Palin. She’s entertaining on some level and shrewd. But it’s the inability to feel compassion, to truly think beyond one’s own narrow experience and a lack of intellectual curiosity about the wider world that made W. and would make Mrs. Palin terrible Presidents of the United States.
You make a great point about celebrity, Lisa. And just the sniff of Sarah P. gaining any kind of power scares the hell out of me.
I can’t read it. I have no doubt that a southern man can be charming, and as with Palin that goes far enough to get you to the White House. But things that have been done, rights that have been violated, the constitution disregarded, I can’t bear it. I can’t bear people who have the charm to make us forget, and I know me, I’d be swayed. I’d like to bear a grudge on this one, but I appreciate that you can be open-minded enough to listen to him as a man.
As I’ve said to friends, you don’t get to the White House as an innocent, republican or democrat.
I’m with you, Lyra. I too have my limits. It’s a tragedy how we choose our gov’t officials, and then we are left with the messes they leave behind.
I tried to read Laura Bush’s memoir and didn’t make it very far. I couldn’t get past how perfect her West Texas life was, how perfect her father and husband, etc… The more I read, the more my mind shrugged and shut down. Revisionist history and all.
There is only one aspect of W. that intrigues me and Lisa touched upon it with her reply. I really don’t understand the sort of person who has the ability to shut out the rest of the world. To be so narrow in your vision, in your desires, that other people vanish from your periphery. It can only mean that something substantial is missing from your framework. Unfortunately he is not alone. I know plenty of people like him. In fact, I’m closely related to some.
I don’t believe people are born like this. So what happened to them? What turned them against humanity? If this book was sitting on my coffee table, I would thumb through it but only to try to answer this question.
His lack of curiosity about the outside world (even outside his front door) made me nuts. In this interview (and in his book) he talks about wanting to write his presidential memoirs and it’s suggested that he read Ulysses S. Grant. My first thoughts were: “You couldn’t think of that on your own?” and “You would have been reading all along, as in ALL YOUR LIFE, if you gave a rip about learning.”
i’d go straight to the photos cause that’s what i do when i’m more interested in image of the person rather than what they want us to believe about their lives.
i do think that with W, he’s someone whose company i would appreciate, even enjoy; but the machine he was part of was bigger than him and not the machine i wanted pushing things along. i disliked/distrusted cheney even more. i don’t like people who govern by fear and prey on people’s insecurities.
i’d like to think that i am of a higher-consciousness when i step into that voting booth, but there’s that part of me that knows i voted for obama because i’m kinda in love with him. and i’m not so sure that’s any better than the people who voted for for mccain because they hated him. does that make sense?
I fell in love with Obama when he spoke at his first Democratic Convention. I remain smitten — and I’m a bit in love with Michelle, too.
In our defense, AmyG, I’m guessing we love his smarts as much as (or even more than) his smile and manner. I know I feel better knowing he’s meeting with foreign dignitaries, being thoughtful about what he says and how he says it.
Okay, the coolest thing about seeing the ex-President in person: watching his Secret Service detail. I’ve never seen a guy stand so still for so long, yet his eyes darted about the room like flashing daggers. And every time they lifted their fist and talked into it, I felt all squishy, like an amped up little kid.
I’m sure I won’t read the book, but I totally agree with you about suspending judgement. I think if we could all do that a bit more we’d have more compassion and understanding for people whom we may not agree with on most things.