Sunday, March 30, 2014

G.W. in Lubbock, America

Picture taken through glass gives the appearance that the President has lost some hair. No, he still has a full head of hair.

"This ain't my first rodeo."

On Thursday, President George Bush spoke at the fundraiser for Trinity Christian School, where 4 of my grandchildren attend. Before a sellout crowd of 1500 seated in a tent the size of a football field, with Texas barbeque and a silent auction, the former President's presence made Spirit Ranch the best place to spend the evening in Lubbock, America.
Rt: grandson, Beck (one of the twins)
pictured here with friend, Ellie and the Trinity mascot

Seated in a comfy chair in front of a black backdrop, where a fireplace and other furnishings created a homey setting, George or G.W., spoke as he would in the living room of a friend. No cameras or recording devices were permitted once the event began, and perhaps that contributed to the relaxed atmosphere. 

The setting
At one point when the moderator asked if President Bush got to see his twin daughters much, he said, "No, they both live in New York. I hate New York. I'd rather come to Lubbock."

That says something considering the 30+mph winds that afternoon, and the dusty field where the tent was set up along with the parking lot across the highway where guests could catch a ride on a golf cart to avoid at least some of the dirt that clings to boots and jeans. Springtime in Lubbock includes a bit of dust and wind, but the people make up for what the geography lacks. 
At 4:00 p.m. it was as dusty as the tail end of a cattle drive. By 8:00 p.m. a glorious twilight.

Family Life

Speaking of his daughters, the President acknowledged that his girls had tested parental limits as teens. He stressed unconditional love as the most important aspect of parenting. 

G. W., the father, told Jenna and Barbara, "I love you. There's nothing you can do to make me not love you. So stop trying."

And speaking of his wife, Laura, when the moderator asked, "What's it like living in the White House?"

His answer, "What's it like living in a museum? It's cold and isolating. But Laura made it warm and comfortable." Promoting literacy and reading, among other things, Laura brought children to the White House to watch movies.

People who influenced the President

"We had a joyful White House," which President Bush attributed to the people who aided him. "I'm not afraid of making decisions. [But] no one person can know everything. I believe in the Socratic method––learn by asking questions. You surround yourself with people who know [things] you don't, people who know they are needed. Patriots, first and foremost. And secondly, those who have a sense of responsibility."

Politics is noble

The first thing President Bush said was that he would not criticize a sitting President or demean his administration. Later, when asked about the attacks made on him during his presidency, he said that he was disappointed, not hurt, because what hurt him was to hear his dad criticized during his term as President. 

"I understand the process; consequences for decisions, I understood." But he objects to elected leaders "sullying the process," which sends the signal that "politics is not noble." While admitting what he referred to as "truth––I should have been more circumspect in my language––I said 'mis-underestimate' in a press conference, generally I didn't pay attention" to critics.

Know what you believe. Listen carefully. Base decisions on principles. Give people access to inform  decisions were key values President Bush stressed. In fact, that's what distinguishes George W. Bush, in my estimate. Core values and principles guide his politics as well as his personal life.

The President's Legacy

"America is not a nation of revenge. We're a nation of justice." This President Bush said in response to questions about 9-11, the defining moment of his presidency, and now memorialized as the centerpiece of the Bush Library. He compared that event to the previous generation's experience of Pearl Harbor. 

He described the horror of 9-11, saying, "Evil exists. It is real … The human condition elsewhere matters to National Security. Where tyranny exists, there is hopelessness." He spoke of the danger of isolationism, "creating vacuums where evil then enters." He believes that the advance of freedom for all––"marginalize hate"––offers hope to oppressed peoples everywhere.

When the President walked among the ruins of the Twin Towers after 9-11, he compared walking into the hole at Ground Zero to hell. 

"I don't know what hell's going to be like. I don't intend to go." But, that pit felt like hell was his point.

He spoke about the 3 hours he spent there comforting those who hurt. "I didn't want to be the one to break the news," that their family member had not survived. Instead, he gave hugs. It seemed an anguished moment for him to even speak of that time.

"You're hermetically sealed as President. You don't see citizens … [but then] I saw the horror, the shock on parent's faces."

"I was in a classroom with children when I got the word on 9-11 … I overruled the Secret Service when 'Angel,' code for the White House," since no one knew if the White House would be attacked next. "But I didn't want the country to see me cowering in a bunker. I wanted to speak from the Oval Office. In a crisis, 2 things. Project calm. Do nothing. Secondly, say something. Fill the void with some kind of assurances."

And fill the void, President Bush did throughout his presidency and again on Thursday evening. 


Since leaving office, the president said "It's harder when you're comfortable, surrendering when you have an ego like mine. Prayer, with an uncluttered mind … Faith is very important to me. Comforted by prayer as President, [it] was an unbelievable experience."

"It's a precious freedom to worship as we see fit, if not all do. Public policy [also] protects the right NOT to worship; a sacred right, freedom of religion."

"My favorite verse is speck/log," a reference to Jesus saying in the Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 7), "Don't be judgmental. Be careful, those who think they're better. We're all sinners … Be guarded when you yourself have your own flaws."

Future Exploration

The former president shared that he has started painting. Inspired by an essay he read by Churchill, "I paint a lot. Unbelievable experience. Do it. Don't just lament. Pick something and do it."

"Explore to the last breath of your life."

Family matters

People waiting to use the "Royal Thrones"

Catered barbeque


Sheridan said...

Carol, thank you forsharing otherwise I would have been "left out"-smile. There are some real "nuggets" of wisdom that I appreciate from our former President. and from a Texas mindset, too. (i.e."as dusty as the tail end of a cattle drive")

Carol said...

Thank you for persevering to leave a comment. I hear from others it's not easy to do. Someone told me recently that even when it seems too late for me to post, it's news to them whenever they read. A writer writes, but a writer also likes to think someone, somewhere will read what they write:)