Are you ready for the George W. Bush portrait exhibition?

The showstopper is the one of Putin, which nails those dead, beady eyes. He looks even more like a Bond villain here than he does in real life.

The Times wonders why the public is so intrigued by Dubya’s second career:

Many have wondered whether Mr. Bush is working through some unresolved issues through his art, but friends say it is a way of channeling a restless spirit now that he has left politics behind. “Fundamentally, he’s a guy with a lot of energy,” said Mark McKinnon, his former political consultant. “And he needs a pursuit to help burn it off. And it may seem counterintuitive, but it’s also how he relaxes.”

Mr. Bush is not the first presidential painter. Ulysses S. Grant studied painting while at West Point and produced landscapes and western scenes. Dwight D. Eisenhower picked up the hobby later in life, after World War II, but still produced scores of known paintings. Jimmy Carter has painted nature scenes and one of his works was even sold at auction for $250,000 in 2012 for charity.

Somehow, though, Mr. Bush’s dabbling seems to have captured more attention, if for no other reason than it seemed surprising that the “war president,” as he liked to call himself, had an artistic side – one that even he apparently did not know about. Just as surprising was that his early work drew generous reviews from some art critics not known for conservative politics.

Right. The caricature of Bush as an incurious brute is so entrenched in some quarters that this can’t help but seem revelatory. To liberals, it must be like watching a chimp play piano. Beyond that, though, it confounds the public suspicion that politicians have no hobbies except politics. I remember a comedian, maybe Dennis Miller, noting years ago that people were bowled over when candidate Bill Clinton played saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show because it suggested that he had interests apart from accumulating power. (Little did we know.) Not too many “soulful” pols running around D.C. lately, or so it often seems. It’s amusing that the left’s least favorite one is among them.

Can’t wait until former President Obama starts writing poetry or whatever. What rhymes with “stinkburger”?

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David Strom 11:39 AM on September 24, 2022