The book does highlight, however, a fundamental difference between George Bush and Barack Obama. Bush never complains. He never blames others. He takes full responsibility for his campaigns, his administration, his life. He accepts the cards he’s dealt. That’s the George Bush I know.
When we were up to our knees in the snows of New Hampshire and got whipped by John McCain by 19 points, my advertising colleague Stuart Stevens started packing his bags. I asked what he was doing. “We’re going to be fired,” he said speaking from the experience of someone who had been in previous presidential campaigns when things went south. But Bush called us all into his room, looked us all in the eye and said, “When we walk out of here and the defeat we’ve just been dealt, I want all your heads high. This is not your fault. Is my mine alone. I let you down and I apologize.” And then he went out and gave a speech that Reagan’s speechwriter Peggy Noonan told me looked like a victory speech if you turned the sound off. In contrast, when I saw John Kerry after the 2008 campaign (ironically in Paris), he said to me, “You guys did a really good job, and my team really $%&#$ it up.” Amazing he would think that. Incredible he would say it. Astonishing he would say it to me…
President Bush relays what it’s like coming to earth after being in the Oval Office when he takes Barney on his first walk around a civilian neighborhood. After Barney does his business, Bush relates how humbling it was to grab a plastic bag to pick up what everyone had been throwing at him the last eight years.
That’s the Bush I know.