With today’s opening of the George W Bush Presidential library many are taking a moment to look back at the President and the man. There are two exceptional pieces about George W Bush, the first is written by Keith Hennessey titled: George W Bush is smarter than you. Hennessey in his article not only proves his point but examines how the caricature of President Bush as “a good ol’ boy from Texas who is principled and tough, but just not that bright” developed.
My favorite part of his column regards President George W Bush’s speeches. As I have mentioned many times before, when it comes to major presidential speeches I both listen and read the speeches. I have often maintained a good orator can make a poorly written speech sound great and a mediocre orator can turn a great speech into mush. I have and still maintain some of the speeches by George W Bush were the best in our nation’s history.
Don’t believe me? Go read his address to the nation after the 9/11 attacks.
Regarding George W Bush’s speeches Hennessey tells his students:
We treat Presidential speeches as if they are written by speechwriters, then handed to the President for delivery. If I could show you one experience from my time working for President Bush, it would be an editing session in the Oval with him and his speechwriters. You think that me cold-calling you is nerve-wracking? Try defending a sentence you inserted into a draft speech, with President Bush pouncing on the slightest weakness in your argument or your word choice.
As for Bush 43’s analytical and memory skills Hennessey writes:
In addition to his analytical speed, what most impressed me were his memory and his substantive breadth. We would sometimes have to brief him on an issue that we had last discussed with him weeks or even months before. He would remember small facts and arguments from the prior briefing and get impatient with us when we were rehashing things we had told him long ago.
On one particularly thorny policy issue on which his advisors had strong and deep disagreements, over the course of two weeks we (his senior advisors) held a series of three 90-minute meetings with the President. Shortly after the third meeting we asked for his OK to do a fourth. He said, “How about rather than doing another meeting on this, I instead tell you now what each person will say.” He then ran through half a dozen of his advisors by name and precisely detailed each one’s arguments and pointed out their flaws. (Needless to say there was no fourth meeting.)
I strongly suggest you clink the link and read the entire column by Hennessy.
The second tribute is written by former special counsel to President Clinton, Lanny Davis. In his column, Revisiting a former president, while addressing some of Bush’s policies he also provides a poignant insight to George W Bush the man. Davis writes:
As I have written before, I remember sitting next to Bush when we were in the same residential college at Yale (Davenport — he graduated a year after me). I recall an evening when a group of us was sitting in the common room outside the college dining hall after dinner and a fellow Yale student walked by who was known to be gay, but in those days was not “out.” Someone said some ugly homophobic slurs. I didn’t like it, but sat silently. But Bush snapped, saying something like “Hey, knock it off. Why don’t you walk in his shoes awhile and feel what he feels?”
Finally, could any tribute to George W Bush be complete without mentioning Barney the dog?
My late mother always used to say you can judge people on how they love and treat animals — good if they do, bad if they don’t. When Bush’s beloved dog, Barney, died recently, the statement he issued exemplified for me the inner core of goodness on my mother’s scale of judgment.
“Barney never discussed politics,” he said in bidding Barney a sad farewell, “and he was always a faithful friend. Laura and I will miss our pal.”
I know my mom in heaven, who would never have voted for Bush for president, would have read that comment about Barney and insisted:
“He is a good man.”
Godspeed to you, George Bush, and blessings for your mom and dad and family on this great occasion.