Flattered That Anyone Is Listening

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

It was inevitable: ex-president George W. Bush was never going to do the decent thing and just stay home and keep quiet, you have to know that he would eventually start looking around to see if anyone was willing to offer a healthy chunk of change to hear him speak. As Denmark’s Politiken now reports (Bush makes an appearance to pay for a new house), the first venue to do so turned out to be in Calgary, Canada. Let me give you journalist Flemming Ytzen’s lede:

A jocular American ex-president gives a talk for the first time since the transition-of-power in January: his new house needs to be paid for.

Note that this “gotta pay for the house” schtick is not Ytzen trying to be snarky; rather, Bush himself brought up that particular meme at the event, trying to be jolly for the audience, and added “I just bought a house in the fall. I might be the only American who dared to buy a house in the fall of 2008.” Hyuk-hyuk.

He also let slip that “I am flattered that there are people at all who want to listen to me,” and whether or not this was another attempt at humor, it rather hits the Truth nail straight on the head. But as Ytzen notes in his piece, it’s probably not so surprising that the Canadian state of Alberta would offer the venue for Bush’s first public-speaking engagement: it’s supposedly known as the “Northern Texas” for its oil industry and is Canada’s most conservative state. But that did not stop a group of protestors from gathering outside the event itself anyway, holding banners with slogans such as “Canada is no Bush-land!” and “Throw a shoe at him, make him go away!”

The event’s organizers did not care to disclose how much the ex-president was paid for the appearance, although admission for what was billed as “Conversation with George W. Bush” did cost a cool C$3,100 (= $2,441 or €1,857) per person. For anyone who cares, it seems Bush’s inevitable book will be shaped around his “12 hardest decisions.” Despite what people were paying, he declined while in Calgary to go into any further detail about which decisions those were.

UPDATE: And what would any George W. Bush public appearance be without at least one accompanying malapropism? Scott Horton from Harpers has the details here. The Politiken article did not mention this (the English vocabulary at issue was maybe too advanced); I had read of Bush’s “authoritarian” comment elsewhere, but not from the European press.

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