Painting A New Picture of George W. Bush: Some Are Hesitant to Forgive and Forget the Problems of the Former President’s Terms

By Amy Rudolph
Elm Staff Writer

Presidents remain in the public eye long after they leave the White House, but some are lucky enough to carve out enough privacy to get their private lives back on track. Former-President George W. Bush did a disappearing act of his own and resurfaced a happier, sunnier person than when he left office. In 2008 when he left, his approval ratings dipped as low as 25 precent at some points and with people making hateful jokes that he “did 9/11.”
When he emerged from his ranch in Texas and gave Americans a glimpse into what he had been doing for the last eight years, many were a bit shocked.
The former commander-in-chief’s latest project, a book of paintings, titled, “Portraits of Courage,” is Bush’s way of giving back to the men who he put into danger during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The proceeds from the book will go to benefit the George W. Bush Institute, a “policy think tank” that works to help veterans, according to CNN.
After the story broke about his love for painting, many on the internet talked about how cute the former president was and how he reminded them of a stereotypical grandpa. I see some grandpa qualities in Bush, but I’m surprised others do.

Portrait of Courage cover
George W. Bush’s book, “Portraits of Courage,” is a collection of paintings and portraits dedicated to Iraq War veterans.

Some of the people who are now admiring and praising Bush were the same ones that made jokes about Bush “doing 9/11.”
Others wonder if the former president they believed to be so polarizing and who hurt our country should be hailed as a sweet grandpa.
I’m a bit split on the debate. While I do not believe Bush “did 9/11,” I don’t necessarily agree with his policies or his past actions. I resolve most of my issues by remembering that I don’t know the whole story and I never will. The only one who knows why Bush made those decisions is Bush, so I can’t pass judgment because I don’t know what really happened. While I sometimes do blame him and his administration for what happened during his presidency, I don’t believe that he should still be crucified for his actions. However, part of me thinks we may be too quick to forgive and forget.
I am happy Bush using his time and resources to help veterans in ways that he would otherwise not be able to.
I can’t wrap my head around the fact that former Bush haters can see him a positive light as well. 9/11 was one of the worst things to happen in recent history, and for these people to point the blame for it at one man and then celebrate him as a grandpa years later blows my mind. You have to pick a side; either you hate him and he’s a murderer, or you are fine with him and he’s a grandpa. He can’t be a grandpa who you also think is a murderer.
I don’t believe that Bush could have purposefully engineered one of the biggest atrocities our countries has ever experienced, I  canembrace him being a grandpa, to a point. No matter what mistakes he may have made in the past, he is trying to make up for it by helping the former troops who are suffering from physical and emotional scarring left from a controversial war. Now that he is out of a position of power and can’t really harm anyone, we might as well let him embrace his “inner Rembrandt” as he called it.
CNN reported that he learned how to paint as a way to relieve stress during his presidency and continued with it after he left to keep himself off the couch. At this point, whatever makes Bush happy and doesn’t hurt anyone makes me happy too. I can’t imagine what it is like to have every move you make mercilessly criticized in the news by your citizens, but I imagine it isn’t the best feeling. If I’m being naïve and suspending my disbelief about Bush, then I take it back. But if I’m right and he is actually just a simple man in Texas trying to make something good come of his retirement, then by all means, paint away, Mr. President.

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