George W. Bush: ‘It was a fascinating experience to sit in this fabulous stadium watching a pro football game with John Madden providing insights.’September 23, 2009 – 11:30 am by Jimmy Shapiro
SRI continues to work in new writers. This post is courtesy of Tim Gunter of 790 the Zone in Atlanta. Former President George W. Bush is 8 months removed from office and is having the time of his life. He was recently spotted at the Giants vs. Cowboys game this past Sunday sitting next to John Madden and has been known to drop by the SMU football practice from time to time. As you might know, George is an avid sports fan and was the former owner of the Texas Rangers before he sold the team to run for political office.
As you could imagine, the transition must be hard to go from the President of the United States back to the every day life of a normal citizen. His life is less structured now that he lives back on his ranch in Texas and he enjoys doing things like: fishing, hunting, jogging, biking, watching sports, etc. In addition to enjoying every day life, President Bush is trying to contribute to the local community any way he can. In fact, President Bush has teamed up with Troy Aikman and Daryl Johnston to form a community service-learning project that they hope will leave North Texas a better place after Super Bowl XLV in Arlington. With all political ideologies aside, George W. is a caring man and a great ambassador to his home state of Texas.
He’s done few, if any, interviews about his presidency since he’s left office. His approval rating towards the end of his second term was below Shaq’s free throw percentage and he just sort of went quietly into the night. That’s why it was such a surprise to see George W. Bush partake in a two part interview with long time sports radio host Norm Hitzges on KTCK in Dallas. I kept listening expecting it to be Will Ferrell, Frank Caliendo or one of the many other Bush impersonators, but it was definitely Dubya. He talk about sitting next to John Madden at Cowboys game last Sunday night, the biggest adjustment for him and his wife to become a citizen again, how heavy the weight of everyday life as a President can become some days, the perks he misses the most as President, what he wants to focus on for the next years and decades, expands on the book that he is writing, whether he would be interested in being part of an ownership of a baseball team again, whether he is interested in being the Commissioner of Baseball, and whether he had a best day or one that he particularly remembers while President.
On sitting next to John Madden at Cowboys game last Sunday night:
“He was kindly advising me about some of the subtleties of the game. Seriously. Obviously he is a significant football person who understands the nuances of the game better than anybody. It was a fascinating experience to sit in this fabulous stadium watching a pro football game with John Madden providing insights.”
On the biggest adjustment for him and his wife to become a citizen again:
“Well I got more time on my hands than I used to. My day used to be very scheduled… Just from a daily perspective I’ve got a lot of flexibility but the major difference is a sense of responsibility that was ever present during the presidency no longer weighs on me.”
On how heavy the weight of everyday life as a President can become some days:
“Well, anytime you are at war you have made a decision to put young men and women at risk. That responsibility is a daily responsibility. There were some tough moments during the presidency when we were losing soldiers. I took those losses personally and I was very aware of what was taking place in the battlefield and was very aware that a mother or dad, brother or sister who had lost a loved one and… I took my responsibilities seriously the way you would want the commander-in-chief to do so.”
On the perks he misses the most as President:
“Well no traffic jams. That was good thing. It is true Norm. (Host: In 8 years, how many red lights did you stop for Mr. President?) Well we stopped for one and that was the day that Condee Rice and I got into the back of a secret service vehicle and snuck out of our ranch in Crawford to drive to the airport outside of Waco to fly to Baghdad. We went in an unmarked vehicle out of a lot of entourage in order to make sure that the trip was as secretive as possible. (Host: Did you stop at the one stop light in Crawford?) Well it’s a blinking light and we did. We actually found a traffic jam in I-35 Thanksgiving weekend and it was one of the most unusual experiences of the presidency by the way.”
On what he wants to focus on for the next years and decades:
“Well the focus is going to be to promote certain values and principles that will translate into policies such as… I am a big freedom guy. I believe freedom yields peace and I believe there is an Almighty and a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child is freedom. It is important to remind people that freedom is universal and that people long to be free. So this institute at SMU is going to be to promote freedom from ignorance, freedom from disease and freedom from tyranny. We will have a lot of great initiatives out of there. This will be the platform for which Laura and I will use our position to advance certain noble causes.”
Expand on the book that you are writing:
“It is the decisions that I had to deal with when I was President and the first decision was why run for President in the first place? (Host: Did you have a good answer to that?) I hope you buy the book and you could make that determination, but I am not in a selling mode yet because I haven’t finished it yet. A year from now, I will be out asking people to take a look at this book and be able to look at history from my perspective. I had to make a lot of tough calls as president and I want to put people in my position so that they could get a sense of the environment and a sense of the discussion that went on in the White House, the sense of different people’s opinions and how one comes to making decisions in a complex environment.”
On whether he would be interested in being part of an ownership of a baseball team again:
“No. (Host: have you been asked?) No, I am really not interested. I love the baseball team. I followed them when I was President. I think Tom Hicks has been a good steward of the club after he bought it from us. I am not interested in getting back into baseball. One reason why is that my checking account is a little empty. (Host: It appears that Mr. Hicks’ checking account maybe a little empty these days too.) He has been a good owner and they got a good nucleus. I am excited for the club’s future. They had a tough go during this homestand but they got some good young pitching. We had some pretty good pitching for us for a while you might remember. With Brown and Rogers combined with Huff and Ryan. The nucleus it looks like to me is a little stronger with this young group of pitching.”
On being interested in being the Commissioner of Baseball:
“No. No, I am interested in being an active citizen and trying to do my part. And like this that we are doing today, the people of the Metroplex have got to know that there is a group of citizens that we really want to make sure that the Super Bowl is more than just an economic event. They want the Super Bowl to have a lasting legacy. Today, Roger Staubach and I and Daryl Johnston and other people who really want to use the platform of the Super Bowl 45 to make it relevant for the future are going to announce a program that will encourage 15,000 students to give 45,000 hours of community service in a 100 communities in the Metroplex all aiming to enrich the students and leave behind a legacy of Super Bowl 45. Roger and Troy Aikman came in and pitched this idea to Laura and me along with Bill Lively. Laura and I are very excited. One that our friends are thinking just beyond a game and two that children will end up with the legacy of service as a part of their future because of the Super Bowl.”
On whether he had a best day or one that he particularly remembers:
“Well every day was joyful some way or another Norm…There were a lot of great moments. I would say that the 2nd inaugural was a great moment for me because I had taken 4 years of my presidency and laid it in front of the American people and said that I would like to have four more years based upon now you know me and have seen me make decisions, I‘d like 4 more years and here is what I want to do and the people decided to let me stay up there. Giving that inaugural speech was a great moment, but there is a lot of great moments. The most nerve-racking moment you will be interested in hearing, by far the most nerve-racking moment was standing on the mound at Yankee Stadium the October Worlds Series. I had agreed to go out and throw the pitch. I was thankful that George Steinbrenner gave me the opportunity to do so and I was warming up underneath the stadium there and Derek Jeter came in there and introduced himself: He said: ‘So are you going to throw from the mound?’ Do you know a person like me has the option of throwing in front of the mound or on the mound? So what do you think Derek? He said: ‘I would have thrown from the mound. I said you know I am going to.’ Just as he left the batting cage he turned around and said: ‘But don’t bounce it, they’ll boo you’. So I go walking out of the dugout and I am thinking don’t bounce it in front of 70,000 or whatever is there in Yankee Stadium. The place is electric and I got on the mound and I think Todd Greene was the catcher and he looked really small. 60 feet, 6 inches looked like 60 yards. I was fairly loose and you know I had a bullet proof vest on which is no excuse for anybody bouncing a ball…The adrenaline was coursing through my veins to the point where the baseball felt like a shotput. Anyway, I wound up…I got it across the plate and it was just a fantastic moment. It was a moment of relief and then a moment of high energy as the crowd was rallying around the great American spirit after the times of September the 11th.”