A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet George W. Bush. It was sort of a last-minute deal. My husband told me just a few days before that if we wanted to, we could go with my father-in-law, Gov. Gary Herbert, to meet the former president while he was in Utah at a signing for his new book, “Decision Points.”
At first, I wasn’t sure it was possible. My brand new baby was only about three and a half weeks old, and I rarely venture out of the house with a newborn in the winter – especially to public places. But I was fascinated with the idea of meeting President Bush – maybe because of all the negative press and publicity he’s received during his presidency. I guess I wanted to see if the man in real life was similar to the man that was portrayed in the press.
Not at all.
In the short amount of time we had to shake his hand and briefly chat with him, I found President Bush to be confident, real, relatable, personable, smart … pretty much the opposite of what the media has made him out to be. He looked me right in the eye and asked how I was doing. My father-in-law mentioned the fact that I was on “American Idol,” and if he ever watched TV he’d have seen me competing in the top 12 back in 2003.
Bush looked up at me and said, “Well, I could lie and tell you I saw you … but I honestly didn’t watch any TV!” I told him I was glad he didn’t.
He then told my sister-in-law that after this book tour we were going to see him “completely submerge.” He said he doesn’t like being in the public eye and wants to live as much of a quiet, normal life he can as a former U.S. president.
I was also privileged to meet his wife, Laura, during another visit to Utah back in 2009. She was a very warm, classy lady.
I’m now about halfway through President Bush’s book, and I have to say the man I’m reading about is definitely no dummy. Party lines aside, I’ve often wondered why people go to such extremes to beat someone down and warp their character. Whether or not you agree with his policies, there is no arguing that President Bush is one sharp guy – a leader.
It makes me think, once again, how wrong it is that people can take things and completely turn them around. An idea gets started, a misperception of someone is made, and then the media jumps on it, twists it, and suddenly a person is perceived as someone completely different from who they are. It takes a lot of courage to pull through something like that.
I know firsthand how difficult it is to put yourself out there to be completely ripped apart by the media and public. I’ve seen firsthand what negative press can do to someone – it makes them or breaks them. In the case of President Bush, I think anyone who reads his book will change their opinion on him – for the better. I feel very honored to have shook his hand.
Have any of you read George W. Bush’s autobiography? What did you think? Since his presidency, has your view on the person he is changed? Why or why not?