Washington (CNN) – Former President George W. Bush appeared relaxed as he talk about his post-presidency life, according to one participant at Friday's kickoff breakfast for the Bush Cheney Alumni Association at a Washington hotel.
In his speech to several hundred people who served in his administration, he also talked about writing his book, due out later this year, and in the process poked fun at himself.
"This is going to come as quite a shock to people up here that I can write a book, much less read one," Bush joked, the one participant told CNN, confirming a quote first reported by Politico. The participant refused to discuss his comments in any more depth since it was a closed press event, and Mr. Bush asked for his remarks not to be leaked.
Bush's spokesman refused to comment on the event.
The former president previously told the Los Angeles Times his aim for the book was to help "people to understand the environment in which I was making decisions ... I want people to get a sense of how decisions were made, and I want people to see the options that were placed before me."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former President George W. Bush "seemed to feel considerable unease" with John McCain as the Republican presidential nominee, according to ex-speechwriter Matt Latimer in his tell-all memoir on his days in the White House.
In Latimer's new book, "Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor," set to hit bookstores on September 22, he reveals Bush's reactions to the economic collapse, the presidential campaign, and other memorable events. GQ published an excerpt from the memoir in its October issue.
Latimer said Bush liked Mitt Romney best and that he was "clearly not impressed with the McCain operation." Latimer said the former president wanted to appear with McCain at a campaign event in Phoenix, but after he was told the then-Republican nominee couldn't get enough people to show up, he called it a "cruel hoax."
"'He couldn't get 500 people? I could get that many people to turn out in Crawford.' He shook his head. 'This is a five-spiral crash, boys.'"
Bush presumed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee, according to Latimer, and was extremely critical of Barack Obama. Latimer said Bush was "ticked off" after one of Obama's speeches and he said the future president wasn't "remotely qualified" for the challenges of the job.
(CNN) - For some families, like the Kennedys, the Bushes and the Roosevelts, politics runs in the blood. But as history shows, coming from a powerful political family doesn't mean a free ride to the top.
"It does help, and it hurts. It's a two-edged sword," said Doug Wead, a presidential historian and former adviser to President George H.W. Bush. "It initially helps the candidate with name recognition and more importantly with fundraising ... but many vote against the child as well."
The children of political families inherit a treasure chest of contacts, campaign workers and often endorsements, but the benefits have their limits.
Only two presidential sons have followed their fathers to the White House (John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush), and just one presidential family - the Bushes - has sent sons to the governor's mansion (Jeb Bush in Florida and George Bush in Texas).
"I conclude that a brand name - a famous family name - is typically worth one step up on the political ladder," said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow emeritus in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, who has researched and written about political dynasties dating back to colonial times. "They get one step up - and they are on their own."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A day after former President George W. Bush seemed to criticize the Obama administration for departing from a number of his anti-terrorism policies, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs fired back.
Asked about Bush's remarks during Thursday's press briefing Gibbs had a simple response. "We won," Gibbs told reporters.
In a vigorous defense of his own national security policies during a speech in Pennsylvania Wednesday, Bush appeared to take issue with the new administration's early decision to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay and ban the use of aggressive interrogation techniques.
"I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," Bush said, according to a report by the Washington Times. "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."
Gibbs said Thursday that the American people had made their own decision about battling terror.
"I think we've had a debate about individual policies. We had that debate in particular – we kept score last November and we won," Gibbs said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An independent commission is needed to determine who authorized the use of abusive interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists, a leading advocate of such a panel said Sunday.
"I want to know who was it who made the decisions that we will violate our own laws; we'll violate our own treaties; we will even violate our own Constitution," Sen. Patrick Leahy told CBS' "Face the Nation."
"That we don't know," said Leahy, D-Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We don't know what that chain of command was."
Former President George Bush repeatedly denied that his administration authorized the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. But a set of legal opinions released earlier in this month documented the Bush administration's justification for coercive interrogation techniques including waterboarding, which has been considered torture since the Spanish Inquisition.
A Senate Armed Services Committee report released last week showed that top Bush administration officials gave the CIA approval to use waterboarding as early as 2002. And in 2003, a meeting that included then-Vice President Dick Cheney, CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General John Ashcroft and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed the use of coercive tactics, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The releases have fueled calls for investigations of former administration and led to arguments from Bush's defenders - including Cheney - that the tactics produced information that saved American lives.
Leahy first proposed the idea of a nonpartisan "commission of inquiry" in March. He said Sunday that he was not "out for some kind of vengeance," but added, "I'd like to read the page before we turn it."
(CNN) - Former President George W. Bush will make his first domestic post-presidency speech on May 28 in Benton Harbor, Michigan, his spokesman, Rob Saliterman, said Wednesday.
Bush will be speaking to members of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan. The event will be closed to the media.
Separately, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also will address the economic club on April 30.
Bush delivered remarks in Calgary, Canada, on Tuesday. His spokesman declined to comment on how much Bush was paid, but said the speech was not a fundraiser for the former president's foundation.
(CNN) - They've sung his praises on social networking pages, calling him a "hero," "the greatest man of our time," "a legend." They've said he deserves to be knighted and should be decorated with medals. They've cried out for his amnesty and have even proposed serving time for him.
The man many hundreds of thousands of Facebook users honor is no other than Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for hurling his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush.
The double-whammy size 10 shoe toss, neither of which hit Bush, took place in December at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq. In many traditional Middle East circles, throwing shoes at someone is considered a grave insult.
To do this to an American president surrounded by Secret Service agents, no less, was as shocking to riveted viewers who watched the footage later as it was to the president himself.
"First of all, it's got to be one of the most weird moments of my presidency," Bush said later. "Here I am getting ready to answer questions from the free press in a democratic Iraq, and a guy stands up and throws his shoe. ... I'm not angry with the system. I believe that a free society is emerging, and a free society is necessary for our own security and peace."
Expressing their own freedom on Facebook, a worldwide fan base rose up to laud al-Zaidi's actions. They formed hundreds of fan pages and groups, big and small, serious and light. One is even called the "Shoe-Throwing Appreciation Society."
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - Muntadher al-Zaidi, the man seen as a hero in some circles for throwing his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush, was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday by an Iraqi court.
Al-Zaidi threw his shoes at Bush during a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in December in Baghdad.
Neither shoe hit the president, and other people in the room quickly knocked al-Zaidi to the ground before security officials arrested him.
Family members and journalists were cleared from the courtroom before Thursday's verdict.
After news of the verdict reached family members, al-Zaidi's brother appeared close to fainting. Other family members were seen crying and shouting curses about al-Maliki and Bush.
Al-Zaidi was a journalist who worked for the television network al-Baghdadia. The network also called for his release shortly after the incident.
He explained his actions during an hourlong appearance last month in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. Asked whether anyone pushed or motivated him, al-Zaidi said he was spurred by the "violations that are committed against the Iraqi people."
In the Middle East, throwing shoes at someone is traditionally a sign of contempt.
Al-Zaidi's angry gesture touched a defiant nerve throughout the Arab and Muslim world. He is regarded by many people as a hero, and demonstrators took to the streets in the Arab world and called for his release shortly after the incident.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – In the latest of a series of moves intended to limit or reverse the policies of his predecessor, President Obama quietly issued a memorandum Monday that will likely limit the impact of the many legislative signing statements that became a bit of a trademark during former President George W. Bush’s tenure.
In the two-page memo, Obama makes the case both for and against presidential signing statements, the presidential practice of laying out constitutional and other legal concerns about a piece of legislation at the time the chief executive signs a bill into law.
“Constitutional signing statements should not be used to suggest that the President will disregard statutory requirements on the basis of policy disagreements,” Obama wrote in the memo.
“At the same time, such signing statements serve a legitimate function in our system, at least when based on well-founded constitutional objections. In appropriately limited circumstances, they represent an exercise of the President’s constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and they promote a healthy dialogue between the executive branch and the Congress.”