Says that he wants to do good work but from a private- not public- role
Former President George W. Bush said that he doesn’t let the comments about his job performance get him down as he focuses more now on his memorial library that is opening in less than two weeks.
In a wide-ranging interview where he defended both his controversial presidential decisions- like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan- and his activities since leaving the White House, President Bush said that he takes ‘great delight in busting stereotypes’.
'People are surprised,’ he told The Dallas Morning News about the discovery of his passion for painting animals. ‘Of course, some people are surprised I can even read.'
Relaxed: Bush has spent time relaxing by taking in baseball games (seen here at a Rangers game in July 2012), going mountain biking, and painting
The typically press-shy former President sat down for the interview with his local paper in the lead up to the dedication of his memorial library, saying that he does not regret any of the choices he made while in office.
'I’m comfortable with what I did. I’m comfortable with who I am,' he said.
What does bother him is the decisions that were not made, particularly the facts that social security and immigration reform were not dealt with during his terms in office, as he feels those are important parts for the Republican party to incorporate when trying to return to the 'compassionate conservative' path.
The two-term President has led a significantly quieter life since leaving office in 2008- spending much of his time painting and going on mountain bike rides with groups of veterans like Wounded Warriors.
Looking back: Bush defended his decisions in a recent interview, saying specifically that his economic policy was misjudged by critics as he is seen signing the Wall Street bailout in 2008
‘One of the real challenges of life is that when you complete a chapter, you don’t atrophy, that you continue to find ways to contribute,’ he told the paper.
The clearest way he has seen is to develop his own policy institute called The Bush Center with a think-tank approach to solving public issues. While it is intended to be nonpartisan, it does maintain a conservative view in keeping with Bush’s ideals.
President Bush’s post-presidential actions have often been compared to that of former President Bill Clinton, whose departure from office was followed immediately by a policy-oriented public presence through his Clinton Global Initiative program.
In the interview, President Bush revealed that Mr Clinton has grown close with the Bush family since they both left office, but that didn’t persuade Mr Bush from following his predecessor’s lead.
Next step: The George W. Bush Presidential Center will be dedicated on April 25th on the grounds of Southern Methodist University, where former First Lady Laura Bush attended college
Ceremony: All of the living Presidents- including his father former President George H.W. Bush, will be in attendance at the April 25 dedication in Dallas
With the upcoming dedication of his presidential library on the grounds of Southern Methodist University where his wife Laura attended college, President Bush said that time has not changed his stance on many of the decisions he made while in office.
He sees the attacks of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina are two of the lowest points of his eight years in office, as he said that ‘much of my presidency was defined by things that you didn’t necessarily want to have happen.’
When asked about the decision to start the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said that he was 'confident the decisions were made the right way.'
He was similarly supportive of his economic policy.
‘People ask me, "What about the economy?" My answer is, Why don’t you go hire an economist? Or hire five economists and get 15 different opinions?’ he told The Dallas Morning News.
‘My only point is that when there’s an objective analysis of our fiscal record, people will say, "Well, that’s different than I thought."’
Newest addition: Jenna Bush holds her healthy daughter Mila, who was born on Saturday evening, alongside her parents, former president George Bush and his wife Laura Bush, and her husband Henry
Proud: Bush and his wife grin as they hold their first grandchild, who was born weighing 6lbs and 15oz
The former head of the Republican party noted that he has no plans or desires to become an active leader in the GOP anytime soon, but that may not stay the case forever.
His brother Jeb, the former governor of Florida, is widely considered a frontrunner for the party’s nomination in 2016. In the interview, George said that he would be a ‘strong defender’ of his little brother and ‘do what he wants me to do’ should the time come.
The more pressing political campaign, however, comes on a more local level as his nephew George P. Bush is running for Texas land commissioner and the former President already agreed to help with the bid.
The interview marks the beginning of a busy few weeks for the relatively press-shy former first couple as the dedication of the presidential library on the 25th will draw all of the living Presidents on to their home turf of Texas.
This weekend George and Barbara were in New York City welcoming their first grandchild as their daughter Jenna Bush Hager gave birth to Margaret Laura ‘Mila’ Hager on Saturday.
‘Laura and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our grandchild. We met our beautiful granddaughter today. Jenna and Mila are healthy. And our family is elated,’ he said in a statement following the birth.