The best word to describe last night's event is that it was AMAZING!! Rainy Day Books sponsored an interview with President George W. Bush at Unity Temple on the Plaza about his memoirs, Decision Points. Tickets for the event sold out last Monday, and the extra autographed copies sold out last Tuesday. Unity Temple was filled to capacity with over 1200 people. My friends and I arrived at 4:00 and were in the doors by 5:00. So, I missed the lame protesters, according to news media outlets, there were 18 of them.
As I was listening to Bush talk, and taking notes, I was struck by how he was even more real, down to earth, likable, charming and funny in person. He also exuded confidence, but was not arrogant, and the way he described his faith was inspiring! It was a very memorable experience. It is hard to imagine why anyone would hate him.
Below is a summary of my notes and observations of the event:
He was interviewed by Vivien Jennings, Founder & President of Rainy Day Books. He started off with some self-deprecating humor, by saying that most people didn't think he could read a book, let alone write one. He also said that Laura and Jenna had been invited by Rainy Day Books first, and now he finally got invited.
Jennings asked him what question would he liked to have been asked, that had not been asked so far. He joked that it would be, "Why did you trade Sammy Sosa?" He then went on to say, "Why did you spend tax money to help the people of Africa?" His answer was:1) The enemy can only recruit when it has hopeless people
2) It is in the moral interests of a nation. He quoted the old adage, of whom much is given, much is required.
He talked about how important it is to have genuine friends. Harry Truman said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." According to Bush, a friend in Washington is one that you had, before, you came to Washington.
He gave a passionate monologue on how life is full of risks. He took a big risk to run for president. He risked either being called "a pathetic candidate" or if he got elected, "a pathetic president." Yet, he didn't want to be sitting in a corner as an old man drooling, saying he could've been a great president, but he never ran. He got huge applause after this, as he did after many of his lines.
He described himself as a "half-glass full guy" and someone who has a passion for history. As someone who would describe myself exactly the same way, it was music to my ears. He said it was fascinating to be making history and reading it, at the same time.
He talked about a time that he bragged about how Laura was the greatest first lady ever, and then realized he was mentioning this in front of his mother. That would be a unique problem no one has had to deal with, since John Quincy Adams. He also mentioned Laura being the first, first lady to give the Radio Address, where she spoke to the women of Afghanistan. I would have to imagine that meant something to quite a few women in Afghanistan, who had virtually no rights before the war.
He mentioned that he was upset with Jenna and her husband, because there are no grandchildren yet. She says she is young, but Bush says he isn't. There was another nice round of applause after this too.
He defended his pick of Dick Cheney as Vice-President. He said he wanted someone who was capable of becoming president and who had Washington and Foreign policy experience. He also didn't want someone who wanted to be his successor. I remember when I first heard that Cheney was his pick for VP, I was like who is Dick Cheney? Yet, I couldn't have been happier with Cheney as VP. I'm with Bush in that I think he was the perfect choice.
One thing Bush didn't understand was the endless, childish name calling, and he refused to engage in it. Many of us wished he would've defended himself more against those attacks, but he didn't want to lower the office of the presidency. He reminded us of the names that Lincoln was called. I remember being struck by that when I visited the Lincoln Museum. He was called a tyrant, a hick and a stupid baboon and yet, today he is regarded by most as our greatest president.
When asked about his faith, I was struck by how genuine and humble Bush was as he responded. He said prayer is key and success in your Christian walk is accepting your place with the risen Lord by surrendering, which is a continual process. The White House was joyous because of his relationship with the Lord. One of his favorite verses is Matthew 7:5-"...first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." He said its a good verse for all politicians.
Yet, he was quick to reiterate that what makes the United States great is the fact that we have freedom of religion. The contrast is that we face an enemy that kills you, if you don't believe in the right religion.
As I mentioned, it was so much more amazing to see him in person than on TV. I came away with even more admiration for him.
The media was only allowed to stay for a short amount of time. Below are links to their short coverage: