Musings and thoughts from the managing principal of The MEK Group, based near Indianapolis, IN.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Bush on Obama: "Not going to be a critic"
Former President George W. Bush delivered what many would sum up as a remarkable speech tonight (Apri 15) at the Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Clearly relaxed before about 4,000 thousand supporters at the 27th annual "Celebration of Life" fund-raiser in Indy, the former President emphatically stated: "I am not going to be a critic of our [current] President. There are a lot of critics out there - I am not one."
An amazing statement, considering that he had the perfect opportunity to indulge in at least a little Obama-bashing, given the partisan nature of the crowd. He emphasized that the honor and position of the office of U.S. President was more important than the current occupant, as occupants will change numerous times over the years, "but the ship of state will sail on." Harsh criticism from a former administration, he noted, was not helpful. Perhaps a thought that many of us should consider?
While refraining from direct criticism from a self-professed cynic, he did reward the clearly conservative crowd by stating that the "people know how to spend their money better than the government does."
Attending with my 13-year-old son Winston, I was impressed that Bush worked from notes and no teleprompter, and the fact that former President took the opportunity to poke fun at himself numerous times, something experienced politicians are typically loathe to do.
The former President also made a number of memorable and serious points. While he touted President Abraham Lincoln for his "moral clarity," tell-tale signs of a traditional Bush political stump speech were clearly absent, as the former President reeled off stories about his administration and his life.
Citing his spiritual faith and paraphrasing the Bible, Bush declared that "to whom much is given, much is required," referencing his belief that the United States as a nation was singularly "blessed" and thus had a responsibility to care for others less-fortunate in the world.
He condemned what he called "the bigotry of low expectations," particularly when it is used to essentially deprive people of the possibility of advancement.
He spoke about his personal recollections of the 9-11 attack, and the lessons he learned in managing crises: "You must create a sense of calm and not over-react," he stated.
He announced to the audience that he was presently finishing up a book of quasi-memoirs, which framework is based on advice from a number of historians. Bush said that he doesn't believe that short-term history can provide a platform for adequate analysis, and that he was leaving the judgment of his Presidency to future generations of historians. He said that he asked a number of published historians for their opinions about which President wrote the best memoirs. To a person, he said, they named the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant as the best example. Since Grant used a series of many anecdotes to deliver his viewpoints, Bush said that he was doing the same.
Bush openly talked about and acknowledged that he had a serious drinking problem earlier in his life, particularly during his 30s. He noted that his new book will begin with a quote from his wife Laura: "Can you tell me one day when you haven't had a drink?" she asked him some 30 years ago.
Bush said that a new faith in God ended that drinking issue, as he began a life of abstaining from alcohol and openly began seeking a new spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. He said it was "not easy" to set aside his Ivy League intellectual experience to embrace a belief in Christ.
Clearly now comfortable with openly talking about his faith and making fun of himself (he said that some in Washington would be shocked that he was writing a book, as many there "didn't believe that I could read"), Bush added a serious point that it was unfortunate that many will not seek God until they experience a problem as serious as his was.
Again paraphrasing the teachings of Jesus, Bush advised his critics that if they "want to take out the speck in my eye, they should first take out the log in theirs."