Parker: The Bush I knew

Apr 29, 2013

In a reprieve from the horror of the most recent terrorist attack, the nation’s attentions turned to the man who declared the war on terrorism, George W. Bush.

During Thursday’s dedication of his library at Southern Methodist University, nary a word was spoken about the most controversial aspect of his tenure, the Iraq invasion. All living presidents were in attendance and made only generic references to mistakes and regrets familiar to all. Of course Bush famously acknowledges no mistakes or regrets, but rather bequeaths judgment to history and self-doubt to those of lesser conviction.

This observation, though true, is not the whole story of Bush, however. Nearly everyone who has known Bush up closer than a video clip has a different impression of him than what is more popularly accepted. The arrogant, swaggering caricature of the 43rd president was mostly a shield. Bravado of the “bring ’em on” variety was more personal jab than foreign policy statement, though one suspects Bush enjoyed the sound of tiny feet scurrying to keyboards in search of deeper meaning.

Obviously, what a president says and does is fair game for criticism. The way Bush chose to express himself was the way he would be perceived and judged. To act arrogantly is to be arrogant in the public eye. To speak awkwardly is to be awkward.

But in private, Bush was a very different man.

In small groups, he was articulate and confident. When the cameras were off, he was relaxed and natural. Not everyone is made for TV, and this is no criticism. It can be a deficit for public figures, but people who are at one with lights and cameras are sometimes better actors than statesmen.

Everyone is familiar with Bush’s history and performance. What I offer is an anecdote or two that I think reveal what the cameras and critics could not. These recollections are simply recorded for the sake of biography in the interest of rounding out a more complete picture of a two-term, transformational president who changed our world in ways that won’t be fully understood or judged in our lifetimes.



Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama - all the same kind of criminal, imo.

S w Rand 2016

While I will probably always have reservations about the Patriot Act and may always have questions about the wars, coupled with the fact that Bush isn't fit to lick the ground that Senator Rand Paul walks on, it should still be noted in his defense:

Bush versus Obama, Bush wins
Fact check on his Iraq war expenses


Mark my words 2016 Hillary Clinton/Michelle Obama ticket for the Democratic party and Jeb Bush/don't know yet for the Republican party.

S w Rand 2016

Nonsense. Senator Rand Paul is already the front runner for the Republican nomination in 2016 and, aside from the fact that she will be 70 years old in 2016, Hillary has already fainted on the steps of Congress due to a blood clot.

I think I see what you mean, tho. If the "TV heads" (who don't pay attention to Congressional footage from C-Span, C-Span2, and archived footage online and, instead, base their judgment on media pundits and opinion bloggers) continue to spam enough nonsense across the Internet, the people probably could be sold a Bush versus Clinton choice. What a shame that would be.


American Military:

4488 deaths

32021 wounded

The biggest WMD turns out to be Bush

He retired to a life of luxury in Texas on a fat government pension.


All public officials retire with a fat government pension. As a matter of fact ALL government workers retire with a fat government pension.


@ Kimo:

Crawford and/or Dallas, TX would NEVER be mistaken for Pres. Obama's favorite vacation spot HI.

Can't imagine Pres. Obama will retire to Chi-town - too d*mn cold!

Speakin' of big fat govt. pension:

So how are your taxpayer provided public employee retirement and healthcare benefits?


The best I can say about Bush is that he at least had the decency to go quietly to his room to ponder the utter mess he had made of things while in office. It wasn't any surprise that, to the GOP, he was considered toxic and unmentionable during the 2008 and (still!) the 2012 elections.
I do find it amusing that one of our least literate presidents now has a library (wonder if it has a copy of "My Pet Goat"?).


@ coasterfan:

So how are yours and the misses' taxpayer provided public employee retirement and healthcare benefits?


Contango, I contributed to my own retirement through a sizeable payroll deduction for 30 years, and it is most decidedly NOT an extravagant pension by any stretch of the imagination. Otherwise, I wouldn't be working full time in my 2nd career, with plans to work until my late 60's. Also, my wife isn't retired yet. So, I'm not sure what you're getting at with your off topic comment.


coasterfan writes:

"I contributed to my own retirement through a sizeable payroll deduction for 30 years,"

So you have NO defined benefit retirement plan (with COLA) in addition to lifetime healthcare benefits that are GUARANTEED by taxpayers for you and wifey?

The Big Dog's back

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.


coaterfan-- in Bush circles it's pronounced "libary" :}


Pres. Obama at Correspondents' Dinner 2013:

"I'm not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be."

There's always some truth in a joke. :)


"There's always some truth in a joke"
No, that's not true - maybe to a paranoid that's true.


no doubt


2 words.... WAR CRIMINAL!


The U.S. was "technically" at war with Iraq over the patrolling of the No-Fly Zone. Iraqi forces were shooting at Coalition aircraft with SAMS and AA.

It was only a matter of time before one of our aircraft was hit - THEN WHAT?


The BIGGEST lie in modern History: The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

* 58,282 KIA or non-combat deaths (including the missing & deaths in captivity)

* 303,644 WIA (including 153,303 who required hospitalization and 150,341 who didn't)

* 1,652 MIA (originally 2,646)

* 725-779 POW (660 freed/escaped,[39] 65-119 died in captivity)

During the Vietnam War, 30% of wounded service members died of their wounds.

All of the above are "compliments" of DEMOCRAT Pres. Johnson and a DEMOCRAT controlled House and Senate.

May LBJ be burning in the furthest depths of Hades.

The Big Dog's back

Off topic again troll.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.


let me rephrase...they are ALL war criminals!!!

sandtown man

Bush. hahaha. WORST PRESIDENT OF ALL TIME. Just my opinion of course.

Darwin's choice

Sorry, but Jimmy Carters mail carriers hauling the loads of Thank You cards to Barack Obama, for getting him off the bottom of the list, refutes that!


Sorry to you but Jimmy Carter was probably one of the best statesmen/President's this country has ever seen. Maybe you should get off the Ronald Reagan fan club mailing list and research him. Try with Begin/Sadat peace accord.


meowmix writes:

"Jimmy Carter was probably one of the best statesmen/President's this country has ever seen."


Who can ever forget all the fun Americans had with the energy crisis, lack of gas, the Iranian embassy hostage situation and stagflation?

Is that why he lost 44 states in the 1980 Prez. election?

Pres. Carter also authorized U.S. involvement in Afghanistan:

Darwin's choice

Just an FYI......Obama rated 5th best president ever

FACTS are facts, accept them...

Of the total of 44 US Presidents: Obama rated 5th best president ever. I was
just reading a Democratic publicity release that said, "...after a little more
than 4 years, Obama has been rated the 5th best president ever." The details
according to White House Publicists:
* Reagan, Lincoln, and 8 others tied for first,
* 15 presidents tied for second,
* 17 other presidents tied for third,
*Jimmy Carter came in 4th, and
* Obama came in fifth


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.


The traitor should be in prison along with Hilly for all the crimes against the constitution and leaving the Benghazi people to die .Bozo should be impeached for supporting the overthrow of Egypt by a nut case that wants to destroy us and Israel.He is destroying this country and your freedom and most of you are as dumb as the Germans were.The Bush Family has more class than Bozo ever dreamed of.Those WMD's are presently still in the middle east.


Really? It's difficult to find anything notable and positive that Bush did in eight years in office. The list of deplorable things that he did, however, is both long and notable. And putting Reagan on the same level as Lincoln is just silly.


coasterfan writes:

"It's difficult to find anything notable and positive that Bush did in eight years in office"

Pres. Obama made 90 + % of the Bush era tax cuts for low and middle class taxpayers permanent

Pres. Obama re-authorized the Patriot Act.

Pres. Obama keeps Gitmo open.

Pres. Obama expands the "War on Terror" in Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Mali, et al.

How is Pres. Obama any DIFFERENT?