George W. Bush talks up new memoir at Facebook

Former president stops in Palo Alto to talk about key decisions of presidency, promote his book

George W. Bush defended his legacy, discussed the rise of China, gave props to Bono and urged the audience to buy his new book during a talk at Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto Monday afternoon.

The 43rd president of the United States stopped at the office of the social-networking giant on Cyber Monday to field questions and promote his memoir, "Decision Points," which looks back at the key decisions of his presidency. Though he jocularly characterized his visit to Palo Alto as "shameless self-promotion," he strayed from book talk every now and then to share anecdotes from his presidency and answer questions from Facebook employees and users.

Over the course of the hour-long discussion, which was live-streamed on Facebook Live, the man with more than 622,000 Facebook friends defended his controversial decisions to invade Iraq in 2003 and to authorize a surge of troops in 2007. He said his decision to escalate troop levels in Iraq was motivated in large parts by soldiers' families, who asked him whether he will leave their loved ones on the battlefield because of politics.

When asked whether he still believes that Iraq could be a democratic nation, Bush said he does and added that democracy in Iraq will spread to other Middle-East nations.

"Democracy in the heart of the Middle East will be transformative," Bush said. "I think it will have a palliative effect on the different countries around Iraq."

Bush expressed a similar view when it comes to China. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked Bush whether he still believes democracy helps promote economic growth, and pointed to China, where he said the opposite appears to be occurring. Bush said he believes there is "enormous freedom in the market place" and said increased trade with China will help make the nation more democratic.

He also applauded the Obama administration for working with China.

"There are plenty of areas for agreement," Bush said. "It's essential we don't become isolationists and protectionists and shove China out."

Bush was less analytical about America's relationship with Russia, though he did share an anecdote about the time he introduced Russia's then-President Vladimir Putin to Barney, Bush's plucky little Scottish terrier. Putin appeared unimpressed and essentially "dissed" Barney, hurting Bush's feelings. Later, when he visited Putin, the Russian president unveiled his own dog and pointed out to Bush that the Russian dog is "bigger, faster and stronger than Barney."

"It explains a lot about the U.S.-Russia relations, at least at the moment," Bush said.

Bush also praised U2 front man Bono, whom he called a friend and a "really good guy." He lauded Bono for his work in promoting affordable treatment for AIDS victims in impoverished nations and for supporting Bush's criteria for distributing foreign aid, which includes assurance that the recipient nation isn't corrupt.

"I thought he was a self-promoting rock star," Bush said. "It turns out Bono was a genuine article."

Bush was less impressed with this week's leak of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables by Wikileaks -- documents that disclose (among many other things) America's backdoor dealings with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran.

Bush called leaks "very damaging" and said people who leak secret documents should be prosecuted.

"I think it's going to be hard in some cases to keep the trust of foreign leaders," Bush said.

Bush portrayed himself throughout the discussion as a man who is perfectly at ease with his legacy and who has no ambition to return to politics or disparage the policies of the Obama administration. His new book, Bush said, is a "way of letting you in on my life as a president and that's it." The moderators, Zuckerberg and Facebook General Counsel Ted Ullyot, touched on some of the most contentious subjects of Bush's presidency but did not press him when Bush's answers strayed off topic.

Despite Bush's general unpopularity in the liberal bastion of Silicon Valley, the audience inside Facebook was polite and receptive to Bush's jokes. The only visible sign of dissent was the small group of protesters marching outside the company's headquarters.

Bush did not seem to mind the political climate and acknowledged that he chose Facebook as his latest venue for book promotion because the site has a large following and he is, after all, trying to sell a book. This decision had at least one immediate payoff -- the number of Bush's Facebook "friends" went up from just over 611,000 to more than 622,000 between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

He described himself as "a happy guy" who loves living in Texas and who is thrilled to be able to spend more time with his parents in the twilight years of their lives.

"If you see me at the airport, I hope you wave with all five fingers, but if you don't you won't be the first," Bush told the audience. "I'm a comfortable guy."

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Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 30, 2010 at 11:36 am

Hey George - have you found the WMDs yet?

Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm

@ George:

Actually, we won't have to worry about that any more George. Contrary to spin, the war wasn't just about the existence of WMDs. It was what would happen if Saddam Hussein had acquired or developed them. He had already met with Al Qaeda twice in regard to possibly doing "business" with them.

Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat. That madman and serial killer met his fate at the end of an Iraqi hangman's noose.

Like this comment
Posted by P.A. Native
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 1, 2010 at 9:59 am

"He had already met with Al Qaeda twice in regard to possibly doing "business" with them."

Wow, that's a slam dunk right there. Can't have WMDs in the hands of a mad man. Oh wait, there already are. Either way, have fun defending George Bush for the rest of your life. Mostly from behind your keyboard I imagine.

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2010 at 12:08 pm

"That madman and serial killer met his fate at the end of an Iraqi hangman's noose."

And what was basically a secular government (Osama bib Laden hated Saddam for that,) has become a Shite pawn for Iran, driving out most of the Sunii's after the ethnic cleansing of the last half dozen years.

Way to go Dubya, purple fingers for democracy and women's rights!! And losing the natural balance of power against Iran. Way to waste trillions of our tax dollars (borrowed from China) and kill thousands of America kids.

And did it lower oil prices? Look up the cost of oil in the 90's....

Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

@ anonymous/P.A. Native:

Spew propaganda much?

No matter how much you try and negatively spin what really happened -- or constantly parrot the words Bush, failure, Halliburton, WMDs, lies, distortion, coverup, inside job, etc... -- you can't change the facts.

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2010 at 2:43 pm


"Spew propaganda much?"

No, thank you, and you?

Facts? Take it from the "man" himself:

Bush says Iraq had no WMDs
Web Link
And don't give that usual "but we found empty shells" whining (they were obsolete from the Iran/Iraq war.)

Bush admits that Iraq Had Nothing To Do With 9/11
Web Link
Having Saddam's lieutenants meet with an alleged bin Laden representative in Europe, once, is NOT evidence. After all, we have a picture of Rummy meeting with him!
Web Link

Afraid to watch him say it himself?

Bush and Dick Cheney wasted trillions of our tax dollars (borrowed from China) and killed thousands of America kids.

A REAL CONSERVATIVE would want them ON TRIAL, not make excuses for them. Talk about partisanship!

A REAL PATRIOT would also NEVER support a war on a chinese credit card. A REAL CONSERVATIVE would never support tax cuts in time of WAR.

Like this comment
Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 2, 2010 at 5:04 am

Mr Bush should be ashamed to appear in public, though hyping his mindless book is constructive in a way. But he is not some minor pundit nor meaningless celebrity, he was the President of the US.

Bush pawned his country in China to fund history making visions in war, politics, and social change. The first two failed from bad history, bad concepts, incompetenĀ­t execution, and a crash. The last did promote US economic class structure as a program. The US has had few Presidents whose reach so far exceeded their grasp as Bush.

More significant is that one of his White House advisors, Karl Rove, is still very much active. Rove was called The Architect of Bush's electoral campaigns. He was also The Architect of the 2008 crash and is today's foremost practitioner of Confederate divide and conquer, mob-raising politics. Google [Karl Rove McKinley] without the brackets. He proudly discussed the $440+ billion subprime mortgage program designed to gain an Hispanic Republican constituency in interviews until the wheels came off. Then he quietly left, later turning up with a column at Murdoch's WSJ. Now he's running an anonymous donor campaign fund, American Crossroads. Increasingly the funding for these funds is from nominally US multinationals whose interests are now largely offshore. Their donations should be considered foreign money.

Bush, Rove, and many others primarily on the right show that same combination of malice and banality that historians have so often described. George Bush will achieve the historic significance he wanted but through notoriety - the US itself requires salvage and rescue after his administration and the present government has been playing a very high stakes game to do that. The most important task is to force China to sever the yuan/dollar peg though now it will be the dollar that will fall. The present deficit battle is being played as a distraction to thwart our government even if the consequences are fatal.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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