April 29, 2013

George W. Bush…The Real Deal

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My father and I had the honor of attending the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library last week. The night before the dedication, there was a good ol’ fashioned Texas style political barbecue for world leaders, former administration officials, and the major donors that funded the new museum and library. I could have sold everything I own and still not have afforded one of those tickets, but one of the major donors was gracious enough to let dad and I tag along.


photo[3]When President Bush and Laura came out to speak for a few minutes at the dinner, it only took about thirty seconds of his genuine, no-nonsense but joyful delivery for me to realize how much I miss him being my president and how much I truly detest the pompous, scripted, fake personality that occupies the office currently (but I digress).

As President Bush spoke I was reminded of my encounters with him and how genuine he was each time.

Baseball Dreams

As a twenty-year old law student, I wanted to be a sports-agent long before Jerry MaGuire was a box office hit. Bush was president of the Rangers and speaking at an event in San Antonio, so I drove down with a resume and letter tucked away in my coat pocket. Surely I could convince him to give me a job working for the Rangers! It was not to be, but I loved his response: “You drove all the way down here just to hear my speech? Boy, you need to get a life.”

rgbushGet Over Here Ugly

Six years after my failed efforts to join the Rangers back office, Bush was running for re-election as Governor and I was running for the legislature. Kara and I stood in line at a fundraiser to get a picture with he and Laura. When it was our turn, he told Kara she looked beautiful and told me “hey ugly, get over here and let’s get this done!” He put his arms around us like we were old buddies and chit chatted with us even though he knew we could do nothing to help his campaign and were in fact asking for his help with our campaign.


“I’m a conservative too, Rick,” said then Governor George W. Bush from across his desk to this way too young at the time freshman legislator. “And I’m also practical about what we can get done this legislative session.”

It was my first, one on one meeting with the Governor during the time we served together at the Texas Capitol and I was there in all my youthful brashness to let the man know I wanted school choice and a complete abolition of property taxes.
staff photo with bushlaserfineI came away from the meeting knowing two things about the man. First, he was far more intelligent than people gave him credit for and his “strategery” was well thought out and extremely effective. Second, this was not a politician seeking his name in lights; this was a man who genuinely wanted to make a difference and move the agenda forward.

Even though “conservatives” like myself often complained when then Governor Bush did not take on our pet projects, his disciplined ability to stay focused on the limited agenda he chose each session is a large part of the reason he was so successful as Governor. He passed the largest tax cuts in history, concealed carry of a firearm, pro-life legislation, tort reform, and a host of other great victories.

That same focus and determination is why he was able to resolutely keep our nation safe after 911 and finally take the war to the terrorists rather than only play defense.

He did help champion my bill to stop cities from suing gun manufacturers, blaming them for crime (as if spoon manufacturers are responsible for making us fat). When he signed my bill, he also signed a baseball for my kids…a nice touch!

What a Contrast: The Cowboy With Class Compared to the Egomaniacs

The official dedication of the library on Thursday morning included all five living American Presidents on stage and speaking. Presidents Carter and Clinton were as self-absorbed as ever and could only bring themselves to compliment the Bushes through thinly veiled attempts to sing their own personal praises and warped sense of accomplishment.
xpresidents.jpg.pagespeed.ic.qP2dyZ5XChPresident Obama was as arrogant and “above it all” as ever and even had the audacity (of hope?) to campaign for his legislative agenda since Speaker Boehner and several Members of Congress were in attendance. It was embarrassingly classless.

Then the cowboy from Midland took to the podium as we gave him a standing ovation. His words are going to become standard operating teaching material for me at Patriot Academy when I’m training future leaders.

“The purpose of public office is not to fulfill personal ambition. Elected officials must serve a cause greater than themselves. The political winds blow left and right. Polls rise and fall. Supporters come and go. But in the end, leaders are defined by the convictions they hold.”

What a contrast to the previous speakers (other than the 26 seconds from his Father). It reminded me of how President Bush always bragged on the military men and women on the ground and never once took personal credit for their success, while Obama starts every statement about military action or crisis response with “I ordered” or “I decided” or “Because I have determined.”

130421144557-george-w-bush-story-topAt the end of President Bush’s speech, his genuine gratitude for the opportunity to serve his fellow man was revealed, not through his words as much as through the emotion he could not contain. This was not the fake humility of Clinton or Obama’s dramatic wiping of a tear that did not even exist. Joseph Curl covered the White House for ten years and his take on those closing moments is a hint at what a special day it was:

But it was the end that gave us the truest glimpse of the man. Like so many other times, the power of America got to him. With tears in his eyes, his voice breaking, he said: “It’s the honor of a lifetime to lead a country as brave and as noble as the United States. Whatever challenges come before us, I will always believe our nation’s best day lie ahead.” By the end he was in tears, barely able to creak out: “God bless.”
628x471Then with a wink and a wave, he turned and went back to his chair. Leaning in to Laura, he said with a shrug, “Sorry.” Then he sat down, looking shell shocked. The 10,000-plus crowd was on its feet, cheering. That made him even more sheepish. He pawed at an escaping tear. Then he noticed the other presidents on their feet. So he stood back up, and held up three fingers — W.

But there was one last classy move not many saw. The program nearly over, Sgt. 1st Class Alvy R. Powell Jr. came to the side of the stage to perform the “Star Spangled Banner.” A big, powerful black man, Mr. Powell belted out the anthem. With the crowd applauding, the sergeant moved along the line of people, shaking hands with all. After greeting W, he turned to go. But the 43rd president put his hand on the sergeant’s arm and said, “Stay,” just as a chaplain stepped forward to give a benediction.
So the final tableau of the day: Five presidents, five first ladies, heads bowed in prayer. And Sgt. 1st Class Alvy R. Powell Jr. No one, really, just the man a president asked to “stay.”
(You can read Mr. Curl’s full piece here)

original (1)Have you seen the “Miss me yet?” billboards of President Bush waiving and smiling? THANK YOU to whatever organization thought of that.

Yes, Mr. President, we do miss you and the library dedication was a good reminder of why.

We miss the honor and dignity with which you

Bush Jacket

represented our nation. We miss the moral clarity with which you spoke…I even miss the broken syntax with which you spoke it!

I would strongly encourage all my friends to visit the George W. Bush Library. You will be reminded of what happened on 911 and the evil we still face in the world. You will be reminded of the genuineness of George and Laura. And perhaps my favorite part… you’ll be reminded of what a real man looks like when he throws out the first pitch at a MLB game as president of the United States!

They even have the jacket he wore that night and the baseball he threw. Watch the video below for a great moment in American history!

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  • Sam

    I don’t believe liberty will prevail when so-called preservers of liberty like yourself continue to praise George Bush. Wake up and smell the Patriot Act, or No Child Left Behind, or his 2008 bailouts…not to mention attacking a sovereign country on a whim.
    You sound like the snotty neoconservative junkie I used to be.

  • Claire

    You really look silly praising the family that has been gradually overthrowing our government for 3 generations now. How about you do a nice story about Prescott Bush and how his treason was exposed by Major General Smedley Butler?

  • Chris

    Doesn’t it bother you, Rick, that George W. has been wanted
    internationally for the war crime of torture? Or didn’t you realize that was happening? Doesn’t it bother you that
    on the day after the Boston marathon bombing, there was a NY Times
    article reporting that Obama, W. and Slick Willie were all found to have
    committed crimes against humanity by a bi-partisan congressional
    committee – RIGHT HERE IN THE USA?!?! (It was a 600 page finding –
    listing 3 of our last presidents, NSA, CIA higher-ups and many staff and
    military big-wigs.) I mean, really, even if this very serious
    allegation is only half right, are you willing to stake your reputation
    on someone as snake-like as George W. Bush (Would Jesus condone torture and then lie about it? Would Jesus join a secret society called “Skull & Bones”? Would Jesus support pre-emptive acts of war, based on a myth-of-mass-destruction? Would Jesus be a neo-con – I mean Trotsky-ite?)

    Rick, I love your
    constitutional teaching at FED and your collection of great documents. All of
    this to say, I’M SHOCKED to hear you bowing and kissing ANY Bush’s feet.
    Utterly shocking.

    You have a right to an opinion about your
    friend. But you really need to be careful. Your audience is waking up
    and you need to also.

  • Jeff

    He insults you, calls you ugly, and then tells you your conservative agenda is too conservative? Wow, what a guy!

  • Philip

    Excellent write-up. Refreshingly based on personal encounters rather than the media’s historic bashing.

  • Ryan

    Get a room. Sheesh.

  • MW

    I don’t agree with your opinion, but that’s beside the point. You writing style is, toput it kindly, terrible; some of the grammar in there almost makes me cringe. This article makes Thomas Kinkade’s material sound like Steinbeck. Here’s what you do. Get yourself a copy of Strunk & White (far more concise than the Chicago Manual) and try again.

  • http://twitter.com/freedom247 freedom247

    I’ll take W over our current POTUS anytime, any day, anywhere.