One of the dangers of following book media tours is that several days in, the author slips into narrative cruise control, a storytelling routine that shares the same stories the same ways. This is especially true by the time they reach the West Coast because, given the Eastern location of major media outlets, most promotion tours start there.
Think Sean Hannity and the bald guy on the “Today Show” with former president George W Bush recently.
Promoting his best-selling memoir “Decision Points,” Bush made two stops in the L.A. area Thursday, including “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
He had fresh material for both. At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, with former First Lady Nancy Reagan on his arm, Bush answered a long series of written audience questions.
“I loved being president,” said No. 43, “and I love not being president.”
He said he’d still be out of the spotlight if it wasn’t for promoting the book. But he intended to return to relative anonymity soon because “I just don’t want to be out opining on everything” since it ends up being taken as critical of his successor. And the job’s hard enough.
He said he hoped “Decision Points” would be a reference point for future historians and a glimpse of life inside the pressures of the presidency for today’s readers. “I don’t settle scores,” said Bush. “I’m not an angry person. I’m a happy guy.” Bush did reveal that one of his greatest thrills was surprising U.S. troops on Thanksgiving in Baghdad.
An 8-year-old wanted to know what Bush wanted to be at age 8: “Willie Mays!”
And Bush recounted how excited he was years later as president to welcome his childhood hero and baseball great to the White House as “Commissioner” of Bush’s annual T-ball games for little people.
On Osama bin Laden: He knows President Obama is still trying to find the 9/11 villain and he wishes he’d been able “to bring him to justice.”
“But,” Bush added, “he’s not leading any victory parades.”
Any advice for parents of teens? “Look them in the eye and say, ‘I love you and there’s nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. (pause) So, stop trying!'”
At NBC, Bush got a standing O from the audience and appreciation from the stand-up comedian: “The last time you were here it was 2000. It was 10 years ago. And in the last 10 years, thank you for all the material.”
A notorious early-riser, Bush looked at the late-night host and said: “You know, I hate to tell you, I don’t want to hurt your feelings. But I was asleep.”
(Malcolm is the Top of the Ticket blogger at latimes.com/ticket )