There’s little doubt that George Bush looks like a broken man at this point. But the larger question remains: what will become of him when his term is over? Bush talked about making “ridiculous money” on the lecture circuit but his biographer, Richard Draper, deems that unlikely in the short term:
“My feeling is that for the first year there probably will be minimal interest in him,” said one agent who works in the public speaking business. “There have been other former presidents who’ve been unpopular leaving office, but nobody’s ever been this unpopular. After a year, though, people forget and then he’ll have a very lucrative career.”
I’m not sure people will forget within a year. And then there’s this from Stanley Fish:
How will he occupy his time? Roving ambassador? Baseball commissioner? University president? (Don’t groan; he’d probably be good at it.) I don’t know, but I do expect that one night in the not-too-distant future, some TV host will be calling for the drum roll and announcing, with pleasure and pride, “Heeeere’s Georgie.”
And the fact is that he’s likable. I don’t mean on the superficial level of being someone you’d want to have a beer with. It’s deeper than that. He comes across as a basically decent man who is at peace with himself. Despite the fun poked at his verbal maladroitness, he is actually quite skillful (certainly more skillful than either Al Gore or John Kerry) in conveying his positions succinctly and persuasively. (He didn’t win two national elections — well, maybe one — by accident.) He may not be an intellectual, but he isn’t dumb and he is shrewd enough to play his “aw shucks” personality for all it’s worth. And he has a really good sense of humor (something Barack Obama seems to lack) and a comedian’s ability to make capital out of his own malapropisms. Putting aside the agendas for which he will no longer be held responsible, what’s not to like?