(The media blitz) was part of a carefully choreographed effort surrounding the opening of the Bush library at Southern Methodist University. The rollout includes a series of TV interviews with Bush and his wife, Laura, on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN. Fox News, whose conservative viewers represent the Bush library's biggest target audience, will get two interviews.
The resemblance to the start of a national campaign is no accident. For a former president seeking to turn around public opinion about his tenure, "the presidential library is their key to getting a better place in American history," said Benjamin Hufbauer of the University of Louisville, who is a specialist on presidential libraries.
Bush's reemergence comes after several low-profile years. He did not attend last year's Republican convention and played no role in the 2012 campaign. More recently, he became a grandfather for the first time and attracted unexpected attention for his newest hobby: painting.
"People are surprised," he told the Dallas Morning News. "Of course, some people are surprised I can even read."
Count me out on the rehab tour.
A few things are clear: This campaign is as much about cleaning up the mess he made for his brother Jeb, who clearly wants to claim his rightful place in the White House, as it is about refurbishing his legacy. Last week Bush told Parade magazine he hopes his brother runs. “I would hope that people would judge [him], if Jeb were to run, on his merits and his track record.…So I hope he will run.”
He is the worst president in modern history, by any measure. Americans don’t like disliking their presidents, so his (polling) recovery was predictable, but Bush’s media tour is likely to provoke a backlash, or at least closer media scrutiny to his record. Or at least it should.
Obama, along with all of the ex-presidents, will be there today. After raising money for Texas Democrats last night, the president will also speak at a memorial for West blast victims in addition to the library dedication.
A partial listing of library exhibits I would like to see, if I ever go...
• The 'Mission Accomplished' banner and the codpiece he wore ten years ago when he declared that major combat operations had ended in Iraq even though they continued for the rest of his presidency.
• The chair in which he sat, frozen, at Booker Elementary School on 9/11 after he was told "America is under attack." Also his dog-eared copy of "The Pet Goat."
• A bag of pretzels, of course.
• On a continuous loop in the lobby: a recording of the push-poll question his campaign used to destroy John McCain in 2000…
"Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?"...just to show visiting school kids what a classy guy Bush is.
• A piece of the birthday cake he shared with John McCain in Phoenix as the levees were busting open in New Orleans.
• The golf club he swung immediately after vowing to "stop these terrorist killers."
• The 2005 "Can I go pee?" note he scribbled to Condi Rice at the United Nations.
• The Segway he fell off of in 2003.
• A credit card bill forwarded from the White House to "The People of the United States of America" with a balance of $10 trillion.
• The August 6, 2001 PDB: Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside US.
• Some aluminum tubes.
• The vial of baby powder Colin Powell used to scare us to death at the United Nations.
• The best of FEMA Director Michael Brown's Katrina emails, including "I am a fashion god" and "Can I quit now? Can I go home?"
• A photo collage of the U.S. soldiers who died during the Iraq war underneath a sign that says, "Oops!"
• The shoes that were thrown at him by a journalist during his last visit to Iraq.
• The shirt Bill Clinton was wearing in Haiti when Bush used it as a rag to wipe a commoner's cooties off his hand in 2010.