My husband, Eric and I had the wonderful opportunity to see and hear George W. Bush at the Saddleback Civil Forum last night. (We regularly attend Saddleback Church, but that's not important right now.)
He was there, by his own admission, to "shamelessly peddle my book," Decision Points.
What was wonderful about the entire evening was that the format was very casual and Pastor Rick asked him some personal questions about what it takes to be a successful leader. He came off as smart, articulate and passionate. Words that are not often used to describe George W. Bush.
He was completely comfortable in his own skin and it showed. He spoke of his father's unconditional love for him and about his personal faith in God and how those things definitely affected his decision making during those 8 years of crisis and wartime when he was in the White House. He spoke candidly about how his alcohol abuse was destroying his life. He referred to himself as a sinner saved by grace. I loved that.
The evening was tarnished by a few Code Pinko types who attempted to disrupt the atmosphere by shouting at him from the audience. W deadpanned to the crowd about how these people needed to get a sense of humor. The shouting was drowned out by thunderous cheers and the disruptive attendees were quickly escorted out of the building.
There was lots of joking and fist-bumping between Pastor Rick and W. And there was lots of sustained applause and a couple of standing ovations. Say what you will about him, but there's no denying the man is a true patriot.
I loved his self-deprecating wit and that he began the evening by joking about people's reaction to the book, saying it has been "a slight shock.… A lot of people didn't think I could read, much less write."
He spoke of his wonderful parents. Of the uncertainty of leading this nation in grief after 9/11. Leading being the operative word.
My first takeaway, was that here was a man who was a True Leader. I didn't always agree with his decisions, but I never doubted his Character. He just wanted to do the right thing and made those tough decisions humbly and fearlessly.
My second takeaway, was an autographed copy of his book. ;-)
I'm not a professional journalist and this post is not about politics. It's about how I was personally impressed by a decent man doing his best to trust God and effectively do the most difficult job on the planet.
(cross-posted on Babalú Blog.)