April 15, 2013


Exclusive: As his presidential library debuts, George W. Bush prepares to return to public stage on his own terms (TOM BENNING, 13 April 2013, Dallas News)

Involvement in ongoing policy debates has on occasion brought him into conflict with the GOP. The party, particularly its presidential candidates, repudiated key parts of Bush's record in the 2012 campaigns.

Bush has championed foreign aid, which some Republican contenders pushed to curtail or eliminate. He defends federal accountability in education, a key provision of his No Child Left Behind law, even as some Republicans declared it failed federal overreach.

The former president has touted tax policy as the first step to economic recovery; other Republicans focused more on spending cuts. He called for a "benevolent spirit" in the immigration debate.

Asked what message he's sending to the GOP, Bush reverted to broad descriptions of freedom. He steered clear of giving his party specifics on how to rebuild, but he said that he stands by "the principles that guided me when I was president."

"These are principles that need to be articulated and defended as time goes on," he said.

For Bush, "compassionate conservatism," much derided by the party's harder-edged tea party adherents, is still a powerful draw.

He predicted a renewed interest in the philosophy, which he described as "the idea that articulating and implementing conservative ideas leads to a better life for all."
Bush touted in particular the Medicare overhaul he signed into law in 2003.

Some Republicans blasted the new prescription drug benefit as too costly and slammed Bush for expanding an entitlement. Bush bristled at that critique, saying the "entitlement was already in place" and that "we were modernizing an antiquated system."

And, he argued, the results have proved him right. [...]

Bush, an avid mountain biker, hits the trails often. He likes to play golf and attend Texas Rangers games. He's also taken up painting, an activity in which he takes "great delight in busting stereotypes."

"People are surprised," he said. "Of course, some people are surprised I can even read."

Asked why a semi-retired 66-year-old is spending his free time on frustrating and potentially humiliating activities like mountain biking, painting and golf, Bush laughed.
"I don't know," he said. "You'll have to call all the people who've written these books about me, who claim they know me, the psycho-babblers."

Posted by at April 15, 2013 6:41 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus