I Can’t Quite Bring Myself To Missing Him Yet
In honor of the recent opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, Keith Hennessey tells us something about Former US President George W. Bush I never would have read in The New York Times.* He teaches an MBA class at Stanford U and one of the aspiring, bright leading-lights in America’s next colossal mortgage meltdown asked him if George W. Bush was smart. Dumb question. Particularly if the student was a snide liberal hoping Mr. Hennessey would him, haw and duck. Hennessey, to his credit, answered below.
President Bush is extremely smart by any traditional standard. He’s highly analytical and was incredibly quick to be able to discern the core question he needed to answer. It was occasionally a little embarrassing when he would jump ahead of one of his Cabinet secretaries in a policy discussion and the advisor would struggle to catch up. He would sometimes force us to accelerate through policy presentations because he so quickly grasped what we were presenting. I use words like briefing and presentation to describe our policy meetings with him, but those are inaccurate. Every meeting was a dialogue, and you had to be ready at all times to be grilled by him and to defend both your analysis and your recommendation. That was scary.
So George W. Bush, like most sentient, literate human beings, is smarter than the “smart-set” that ridiculed him in the blogs and the newspapers. Does that mean he was good? Does that mean I miss him yet? I’d say he got a bum rap. Like any intelligent person called stupid by Maureen Dowd or Joe Biden, he was pilloried unfairly unless you believe the old saw that it takes one to know one. But no, I can’t say I quite miss George W. Bush. I explain below.Read More »