Former President George W. Bush, who has mostly remained out of the public eye since leaving Washington in January 2009, was thrust back into the national spotlight on Thursday for the opening ceremony of his presidential library in Dallas, Texas. Every other living president, including Barack Obama was there.
Bush—who remains the most unpopular living former president (although public opposition has softened as time passed)—has gone on a media blitz ahead of the opening, talking about his tarnished image, his love for painting, his frosty relationship with Dick Cheney, the recent bombing attack in Boston, and more.
Here’s a roundup of what he has said:
History will vindicate me: Bush told “CBS This Morning” that he has “no desire to spend my post-presidency trying to enhance my standing.” He added, “Historians will eventually sort out the good and the bad” of every commander-in-chief. “I have got this great faith in history.”
“Some people are surprised I can even read”: Bush told the Dallas Morning News earlier this month that he has very few regrets. “I’m comfortable with what I did. I’m comfortable with who I am.” He also opened up about his paintings, which surfaced online, including one of him showering. He’s taken up art as a hobby since leaving the presidency. “People are surprised,” said Bush. “Of course, some people are surprised I can even read.” He told CBS he spends up to three hours a day painting, which helps him relax.
I barely talk to Dick Cheney: The former president told C-SPAN that he doesn’t see the man who served on his ticket for eight years. “It’s been cordial…I don’t see him much. And I don’t see many of the people I worked with much and it’s kind of sad.” Bush said he doesn’t miss his time in D.C. “You know, I really don’t miss Washington. So while we’ve got friends in Washington, I’m not all that friendly to Washington.”
Boston bombings showed me evil is still out there: Bush, who notoriously declared a “War on Terror,” weighed in on the Boston blasts, telling CNN that “I was reminded that evil exists. And that there are people in the world who are willing to kill innocent people to advance a cause.”
My brother, Jeb, should run for president: When asked if he thinks his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should run for president in 2016, the 43rd president told ABC News “he’d be a marvelous candidate if he chooses to do so. He doesn’t need my counsel because he knows what it is, which is run.” Their mother, however, thinks otherwise. Barbara Bush told NBC’s “Today” that “we’ve had enough Bushes.”
I’m happy with how I handled the Iraq War: Bush told the Dallas Morning News that he’s comfortable with how he handled the unpopular Iraq War. “I’m confident the decisions were made the right way,” he said. “it’s easy to forget what life was like when the decision was made.” Of course, the Iraq War proved particularly controversial, sold as a relatively easy mission that would prevent Saddam Hussein from using weapons of mass destruction. The cakewalk became a quagmire. The WMD’s did not exist and U.S. war planners underestimated the Iraqi insurgency. It also produced the Patriot act, Guantanamo, extraordinary renditions, torture, Abu Ghraib, and the modern surveillance system.
For more, read: Bush’s library refuels debate about his legacy.