The creepiest promo for Monday night’s Decision Points: A Conversation with George W. Bush was the snippet that played all last week during NBC’s entertainment programming, in which former president George W. Bush said to Matt Lauer, “Let’s talk about water-boarding” in an enthusiastic tone that suggested the subject was as fun and exciting as a trip to Disneyworld.
NBC’s promo department should be sent to the same woodshed where Keith Olbermann is being kept until Tuesday evening. It turned out that the water-boarding comment came in the context of Lauer’s careful parsing of Bush’s justification for using the technique many describe as torture, which boiled down to: “It’s legal — the lawyers told me [that].” Bush showed a flash of testiness, saying to Lauer, “I’m not gonna debate the issue, Matt.”
man. ” Okay, dude.
Bush was fascinating on the subject of his drinking. He was full of stories, including one about “drinking no hands at a bar, yeah.” Lauer clarified: “Reaching down with your mouth, grabbing the glass.” Yes, Bush says — got a DUI for that one, he said. Claiming he quit “cold turkey,” that it was “the most important decision of his life,” and that he hasn’t had a drink since 1986, Bush also took care to say he’s not a recovering alcoholic. Lauer and Bush shared a rueful laugh over what Bush calls his “worst” behavior during his drinking days: Loaded at the dinner table at his parents’ house in Maine, Bush asked a female dinner companion, “What is sex like after 50?” Still, he notes with ill-disguised disdain, “I wasn’t a knee-walkin’ drunk.” Spoken like a white-knuckling child of privilege.
Bush’s remarks about Kanye West’s criticism of him have already been reported: “I resent it… It was a disgusting moment, pure and simple.”
Bush also had a hard time dealing with ire from someone closer to him, Vice President Dick Cheney, who, Bush said, was “angry” with him for not granting a full pardon to Cheney’s pal “Scooter” Libby, convicted of perjury in the Valerie Plame case. The former president does not seem to be the sort of fellow who takes criticism well.
Bush says these days he reads two things: “The Bible and The Wall Street Journal.” The latter on his iPad.
The Bush book tour is just getting started. Tomorrow, he’ll be on Oprah. In the next few days, he’ll do a tour of duty on the Fox News Channel, hitting The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, Fox and Friends, and Greta Van Susteren’s show. On Nov. 18, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. (The Daily Show? Not on Bush’s list as I write.)
If Bush’s interview with Matt Lauer on Monday night — an interview conducted by Lauer with a systematic thoroughness — is any indication, we’ll see more than Bush probably intends. Bush came across this evening as a cheerful, un-self-conscious man, speaking cautious words even as his tone and body language suggest a prickly defensiveness. “I gave it my all and I’m a content man,” he concluded flatly.
What do you think of the interview?