Maybe this was the job that George W. Bush should have had all along: Motivational speaker. The former president took the stage yesterday in Fort Worth, Texas, where he tried to inspire thousands of screaming people, many of whom paid $4.95 to hear his words of uplift.
“Whoooooooh!,” the crowd said en masse as Bush was introduced and began walking into the spotlights of the Fort Worth Convention Center. “Whoooooooh!,” they continued, standing and applauding for the ex-prez, who smiled and smirked as he took the stage, which – surrounded on all sides by seats – resembled a boxing ring. In fact, the spectacle was reminiscent of a heavyweight prize fight. You can see the first minutes here:
Every time Bush spoke – every sentence he uttered – the crowd roared with approval. “Thank you all,” Bush said in his first words. “Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. Thanks for the warm Texas welcome. I’m glad to be home. I don’t know if you’ve heard but I’ve retired.”
Yes, he has. Bush made an estimated $100,000 for the speech he gave yesterday in the friendly environs of Texas. As I said in May, Bush – the man whose presidency begat the country’s economic crisis – should return his government pension. He doesn’t need the $200,000 in retirement money that taxpayers are footing every year. By giving back his pension, Bush would show a cash-strapped America that he’s a magnanimous former president. For now, Bush seems more motivated to reminisce – and reflect – before large, paying audiences. Yesterday, he told the minions at Fort Worth Convention Center that, “It’s so simple in life to chase popularity, but popularity is fleeting.”
Bush used a variation of that line during his White House tenure, to help justify his unpopular decision to invade Iraq. For Bush, the line is still useful as he travels the U.S. to motivate people he’s never met before.