In an interview with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning, Former President George W. Bush, aka “The Decider,” appeared relaxed, jovial, and proud. With the dedication of his presidential library and museum on Thursday in Dallas, the former president seems content with the results of his presidency, or at the very least, has come to terms with his decision making (as he lays out in his memoir Decision Points), resigning himself to the fact that what happened is too late to undo. The former president even displayed a surprising show of humility, stating, “I want to be productive. I want to make a difference in the world ... and I want to do so without undermining our current president and/or engaging in political debate.”
While protesters will be standing outside to remind those attending the dedication of the former president’s most controversial acts, inside the library family and friends will have a glimpse at a presidency that most-including myself-have seen as a failure. It also seems that even the museum curators are having a go at the former president, placing a Florida voting booth from the 2000 election in the museum. There are also several interactive components throughout the museum, including a “gaming experience” where museum goers can consider for themselves four major decisions President Bush faced during his time in office: the Iraq invasion, the troop surge, response to Hurricane Katrina, and the financial collapse. The visitors will receive advice from top advisers and after four minutes, the former president will explain in a video what lead him to make the decisions that he made.
The former president seems to have taken on the old adage, “You attract more bees with honey than vinegar,” even breaking from the ranks of his party to talk about immigration reform, saying, “I hope they get something done. And I’m impressed by the efforts thus far to get something done.”
He even admits to a new hobby — painting. Painting for two to three hours a day, he gushes, “It’s a joy. It really is a joy ... and it’s a good lesson. You know, what I learned from my dad is, you know, my dad never stopped living. He jumped out of airplanes at a ripe old age of 85. You can teach an old dog tricks and I’m learning.”
While this is a respectable outlook on life, especially after a tumultuous eight years in the most powerful office in the world, those who remember the disastrous “help” from FEMA during the aftermath of Katrina, or the interrogation tactics used on prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, may not appreciate the late realization, especially as we still face the consequences of many of his past decisions. Perhaps the president is much more relaxed now that there isn’t a country for him to run, but I wouldn’t recommend that he sit too comfortably too soon, and especially not when there are over 7,000 American lives that were taken too soon because of a decision he made. The families of those Americans will not forget, and I hope that he does not either.