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tv   George W. Bush Portraits of Courage  CSPAN  January 6, 2018 12:58am-1:49am EST

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>> i propose actually instead of words. i propose that for the sake of a better world. but i say again and again that i propose that for un-american self-interest. >> hendrik meyer with the man in the middle of the american century. >> vandenberg finds himself in opposition the early 1930s. he's in opposition for the next dozen years. that means to get anything done which often meant resisting some of franklin roosevelt's initiatives there needed to be a coalition.
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>> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. it's brought you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> president george w. bush has taken up painting creating a series of portraits of military veterans. they have been published in the book, portraits of courage. at the presidential library he talked about why he painted veterans of his time in office. this is one hour. >> good evening. i have the honor of being the president of the foundation. thank you. in honor of our men and women who defend our freedom around the world in uniform, please stand in germany for the pledge of allegiance. >> i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of
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america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. thank you, please be seated. . . pledges that are . . [applause]
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on that know there are a few other people i would like to recognize starting with the board of trustees b-17. [applause] and with the report over the years with mr. brad freeman. [applause] including our state assemblyman and our former
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congressman and his wife. all elected officials. [applause] president bush's secretary of treasury and lastly. [inaudible] [applause] i would be remiss if i didn't mention that gary was paralyzed from the waist down when a helicopter crashed
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while conducting operations 2008 bad things to the generosity of the foundation he can now walk through the assistance of the exoskeleton. [applause]is he will be at the reagan library tomorrow night to share his story and we invite all of you to come back tomorrow at the same time for a very inspirational event. thanks for coming 17. [applause] now to continue our conversationio another one of our trustees. he has served as the reagan
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foundation chairman for 22 years. prior to that he served in the reagan white house 82 through 8989 and after that he served as president reagan's first post white house chief of staff. i know of no other person who has spent more time andnd effort working on behalf of ronald and nancy reagan over the years than fred. he would never brag about the fact but it is so i will for him. please join me to welcome him to the stage. [applause] >> a very kind introduction. welcome our special guest tonight has been to the reagan presidential several times the first as the owner of a major-league baseball team
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then as governor of texas and back as a candidate for president of the united states and then back as president of the united states to dedicate air force one is a former president and as the author of a popular book now tonight as an accomplished painter. we wonder what he will be on his next visit. [laughter] we closely observe what our presidents do when they leave the whitey house after serving in the most powerful and demanding job on the planet they deserve to spend time doing things that they enjoy and want to do the most. some take on bold new challenges and exciting adventures like one of my favorite former president became a skydiving specialist and tell his wife put a stop to it. [laughter] there have been a few artist
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like eisenhower and grant and carter. but to our knowledge no president has ever attempted portraiture. our 43rd president ventured into that territory because he was so moved of our warriors to begin the challenge to capture their courage on canvas. i have to say i look at his collection of portraits in all. not only because of his talent and skill that subject matter and how he finds a way to take their strength and dignity and perseverance and patriotism lifting it all up for all of us to see. we feel the essence of the warrior spirit and it gives us a better understanding of these veterans. portraits of courage telling
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destroy of more than 60 brave souls he says the goal is to honor men and women in uniform and highlight family members and caregivers who bear the burden of their sacrifice to encourage those who are struggling to get the help they need and help americans to support veterans and empower them to succeed. no question the president has achieved those goals and i believe he has revealed a bit of himself as well. oscar wilde wrote every portrait painted with ceiling is a portrait of thet artist. the painter on the colored cabinets -- canvas reveals himself now to introduce a talented artist to reveal the depth of his compassion and character, the 43rd president of the united states , president george bush.
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[applause] [inaudible conversations] you are eating into the air time. thanks for your kind remarks and for inviting me back. also john and the trustees and michael it is good to see you again. and my buddy who we will talk about a little bit. i painted him. i asked his mother what she thought. i always thought he had a face only a mother could love. [laughter] that she liked it.
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which was a huge relief. it is good to see it again. >> mr. president we have a full house streaming online and on televisione there have been a number of questions submitted about your book and your painting we will get there as many as we canum but the book is now available. portraits of courage already a top seller on amazon or go to the bush enter directly it is available straight from the source and i saw a select edition personally signed by the president. all proceeds of the book go to the veterans fund. [applause] so the first thing everyone
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wants to know is when did you start painting? t >> i was an art agnostic for most of my life. [laughter] a terrible admission to make but i get back from washington and i wrote a book then another book and i'm trying to stay fit working a lot at the bush center in dallas but it wasn't enough. when you are president you go 100 miles per hour miles per hour than the next day it is zero. i have this anxiousness to keep moving into learn something. i read churchill's essay painting is a pastime. a great admirer of him and he took up painting. the essay is worthth reading. so i thought if he can paint i can paint. [laughter] i told that to laura and she
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said sure. and i hired an instructor she came to the house she said what is your objective? i said there is a s rembrandt trapped in his body so she came back realizing i was serious so first i painted a cube then a watermelon it was a liberating experience. also an unbelievable learning experience so i have been painting ever since for about five years. >> the first question, did you have a history of painting as a child or did your mom tape any of your paintings on the refrigerator? >> i'm sure it was a finger painter. no. i wasn't interested in art.
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but now i am so you can teach old dogs new tricks. when you get to be our age and there are only two topics of conversation what medicine are you taking and how are your grandkids rex my buddies that you have a passion for painting you should try it.. they say i campaigned and i said i said the same thing until five years ago but i am living proof to tell you you don't know what you can do until you try. so my call for the aging baby boomers is let it out. run to the finish line. painting has enabled me to do that. >> what medicines are you
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taking and how are your grandkids? [laughter] >> the grandkids are great. i didn't thank you had it in you. very good. [laughter] >> next question. you started farm animals and world leaders when did you decide to paint wounded warriors? who was the first and why? >> my mother who can be quite plainspoken heard i was painting and basically said you can't paint. this is a woman when i said i was .2 run against jan richards in 1993 said you can't win. i said i sure can. [laughter]
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so she said paint my dog so i was a portrait painter and i painted bob the cat and barney b-17 then the instructor in that list one of the greatest things they can a do is to set new horizons for a student. my instructor said paint the portraits of world leaders. i am thinking he thinks i can actually do that? and i did it. i have two instructors now one is at the house and said i understand you painted these world leaders in the said you should paint the portraits nobody knows. it dawned on me l to paint the warriors. i publish entered rehab bike rides and golf tournaments with the wounded vets.
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like brian. then i started to study their stories. with mr. chris turner is set with him at dinner and said why are you here? he said because i cannot get out of my mind to see a buddy of mine killed.ound i paid from photos i'm thinking what must that be like in his mind? he then writes me a later one -- a letter later after he is more comfortable to talk there is a huge stigma. they don't want to talk about it. they think people won't understand, i will get promoted or hired so they keep the inside leading to self medication.
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he said that enabled me to share my story. step number one to seeking help. i've only painted two people i mean to pay the same portrait again and how one can improve progress hoping to show people outside improved as aa. painter. [laughter] >> next question. what is the process for painting a portrait? do they sit in the studio do they get to approve it? any unhappy subjects? >> my wife. [laughter]s i painted laura one time. i thought it was pretty good at first it was to anguished door to this and then i said forget it. i did do my mother for her 90th
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birthday it was a painting of her walking her two dogs on the beach at kennebunkport but i painted her from the back not to deal with the same angst laura gavere me. [laughter] i do paint from photos the only person i painted live is myself. one of my instructors convinced me to paint myself looking in a mirror. that is a pretty grim expression it is hard to paint and smile looking in the mirror. [laughter] i didn't run it by them and i tell them i hope they like it. i wasas nervous about some of them. i wasn't nervous about brian's. there is a guy. named todd who wrote us a letter when i was painting todd he told us he
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had night sweats and i was thinking what it is like to have night wet. it is a pretty dark painting. i saw him in to have a two days ago. i said let me show you the painting. he said that's really good. place that i'm no longer the commander-in-chief. [laughter] you can tell me the truth. i think he liked it because i captured the anguish he felt but he doesn't feel that anymore. i wish i could repeat that. >> which of the wounded warrior portraits was the toughest? >> they are all tough in a way because everyone of the men and women some have very
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physical sand all of them have tst or traumatic brain injury but on the other hand i have suchma great pride. i am a baby boomer which means vietnam war. i know what it was like when there was a draft and when the vets came home they were treated despicably. i made it abundantly clear that we will defend the country after we were attacked in millions volunteer. a totallye different attitude to salute people was a high honor. i think about the integrity and courage of those who are willing to volunteer so painting them i had a lot of pride.
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i guess the toughest is me and melissa dancing. first woman to lose her leg in combat when the bronze medal this year in the triathlon in rio de janeiro. she said let's dance. i said i don't want to. [laughter] i'm not a veryo good dancer but she convinced me. the easy part was her because for most of the painting i look like alfred e newman. remember him? [laughter] >> when you usually do your painting and who cleans up after you and how long does it
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take you to dodo a portrait? >> upstairs at the house have a studio there and at the ranch and at kennebunkport. i have places where i can retreat. and i cleanup most of the time. laura likes it neat and her painting is not o neat. my pallet is to read into blues and a failer blue and white. that shows you how to mix colors but just a little nick on your finger not get it totally clean and lie down on a white bedspread. failer blue. [laughter] i am not a very good cleaner.
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it took me a year to paint the 98 portraits. a painting is never really done. i would say i wish i could put them back on the easel but at some point you have to call itut quits. so i live with the portraits for a year. some are more complete than others i would go upstairs and say i better touch brian up a little more it is a never ending process. i can't answer that question. >> have you ever been unhappy and tossed it aside? >> yes. sometimes a paint and get them bad and then go upstairs to scrape it all off that is great about oil painting. i tried acrylic's but it dries
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so fast there is no scraping. [laughter] the good thing about whales you can keep painting over it until you are comfortable. >> any time some call uncertainty what you tell the younger generation to renew their sense of optimism in america that reagan embodied? >> read history. somebody told me right after 911 they said you had the toughest and i said not even close. what about lincoln when we were at war with each other? or i just talked about. of time so vivid in my mind till 50 years later. it was a tough period. and our nation goes through tough times.
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but there is something unique we have a spirit that can't be extinguished and that is why i am so optimistic about the future of the country. millions where the uniform that have phd's in life at a young age. so the fundamental question can we help them transition because they are the leaders of the future. that is what this project is about helping people take the skills that they learned in the military to transition them into civilian life. there is a civilian divide vice president of human relations say what is your skill set? sniper. [laughter]
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i don't think we need one this year. but he says i'm disciplined, work hard, team player, i can take pressure now the civilian takes a different look. so we need to understand how military how civilians think. >> kids have to understand the history of the country. you will see there is a resiliency to this that should make people optimistic without rhetoric that people say i don't want to be involved with politics these to call abraham lincoln and eight. it isn't the first time there's name-calling in politics.
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it may have in some names called at me one time. [laughter] >> we were so glad to see your dad make it to the super bowl for the coin toss. [applause] how is your mom? >> they are great given their limitations. dad cannot walk. he is confined to a wheelchair but his spirit is joyful. i went to see dad in the ec -- icu unit in houston. i said my library is opening in three months. i sure want you there.
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his voice was incredibly weak and he said i'll be there and i left there tearful thinking probably not but surenk enough the most important thing for me it was great to have the friends and former presidents but dad was on the stage. flipping the coin reminded me of the library opening. he has a huge desire to live. it had to have started when he was 19 years old floating in a raft worried about the japanese capturing him and killing him if they did. mom is doing fine. she isca shrinking. [laughter] as she does her voice gets louder. [laughter]
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that she's a piece of work is what she is. [laughter] b-17 don't tell her i said that. >> why did you criticize tromp after not criticizing obama? >> here is what happens. psi i'm asked the question do i believe in free press? and the answer is absolutely. as should every other american. because the press holds people to account. power is very addictive. and corrosive is central to your life. so there needs to be an independent group of people holding you to account. so answer that question but of course the headline say bush
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criticizes tromp but it needs to be accurate b-17 i made the decision after my presidency not to criticize obama and i feel the same way about president tromp. first of all the office of the president is more important than the occupant and that undermines. [applause] that undermines the office of the presidency. secondly, i understand there is a lot of critics i don't want to make the president's job worse. no matter what political party. it is a hard job if former presidents are there second-guessing it makes it harder. i want anybody who is
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president to succeed. we are in thisre together. so i understand sometimes my remarks can be construed as criticism that they are not meant to be. i like privacy. the thing about the presidency is able say thank you for the sacrifice but it isn't a sacrifice. i can't go down madison avenue without drawing a lot of attention.
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it is a learning experience and scary how time the bush family always stands for civility in politics but when do things change and why? >> i don't think so. again if you read history. a lot of cases where campaigns have slander but i think what has changed is how people get their news. i am really the first blackberry orr e-mail president. the government issue was the
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blackberry right after clinton's time and i make that point because technology has changed so dramatically and so quickly as has the dispersal of news. it used to be abc and cbs and nbc but now they get it from all over the place. part of the issue with the new dispersal agents is you can be anonymous. there is no accountability. which lends itself to some angry messages. the danger is that people say i don't want to get involved and that is a huge problem. the system is only as good as the people willing to be involved.
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>> ronald reagan had the famous line to ask are we better off? is it a more dangerous place than it was? >> this could be taken as criticism to one of my successors and i don't mean that to be but there is a lesson when the united states decides not to take the lead in withdraw. that is what happens when the presence received in the vacuum isil filled if people don't share the same dignity or freedom that we do and there is that isolationist tendency and i would argue that is dangerous to national security. doesn't fit the character of the country. [applause]
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talking about social media the accounts of george w. bush was locked. do you tweet? [laughter] no. if theream is a twitter account somebody else is running it. this is an interesting question. the only way i make news as if i criticize my successor or party. so how can you get the good g news out so people can find out? and twitter and instagram they are useful ways for us to communicate with a group of
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people i do face time. that is high tech? cutting-edge? with my grandkids. it is like watching a home movie every day. it is awesome. by the way they are doing well. [laughter] >> and those medicines? >> too many to count. what advice couldea you give to those who are thinking of running in thee future? >> know what you don't know and listen to them. the job is different once you
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get in. it looks one way then you get into the oval office and it's different. trust me. my advice is if you think about it, go for it unless your whole life is wound up if you win or lose. my dad never won the state of texas until 1988. he loses and 64 and 70 and reagan in 80. i think because his priorities for his family and friends and
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then he wins in 1988 becoming president of the united states if you can't win your own state three times but then you become president which i think speaks volumes about taking risk to make sure you have that right foundation to take risk. >> would you have painted in the white house if you do you have the skills? >> no do overs. what i do mission accomplished on uss abraham lincoln? [laughter] that is a good question. i doubt it. it is an all-consuming job. think about the presidency and the problems that you deal
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with all the time. what is startling is mankind can adjust to their environment within the next day you have to go get the coffee yourself. [laughter] youea wake up realize you no longer have that sense of responsibility and it is pretty startling. so the reason you have that sense of responsibility is all-consuming. do you see the world differently now to the eyes of an artist? >> i do. i was on ellen degeneres today. i looked at her eyes and thought i can mix that color. [laughter]
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i do colors and shadows and a look at this guy differently. i do. it has made me a more censored or sensitive but it has changed my life for the better. >> does laura paint -- >> no. >> with you? [laughter] she isn't a painter she is a positive critic. [laughter] but she has a really good eye and loveve sarge. she has made some meaningful and positive a suggestions. and not some positive suggestions.
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all these paintings will be displayed starting today at our center to a huge crowd i heard by the way. so she went over to make sure the colors on the wall work well with the paintings and took a big interest in the project. she is my biggest fan. i guess encouraging me to keep doing it. >> you once said if you aim for big change you shouldn't be expected to be rewarded by short-termouha history. will pfister -- history be fair to t you? >> i think it is impossible to judge in the short term. there has to be time to analyze the decisions and consequences over time.
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i wrote decision points because i wanted people to have an understanding why i made the decisions i made. regardless if you agree you know why. also to be a data point for future historians. so they are sincere about trying to find out my place in history then they ought to read this book. so we l have the reagan mind -- the library very much like this one full of artifacts. people will come and research and there has to be more president i following so it enables to see perspective.
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i'm not worried. i gave it my all and that's all you can do is 17. >> what would people be surprised to learn about you since you left the oval office? >> that i may painter. [applause] ay[laughter] iamth thrilled to see people would be shocked that i can read much less right left mac and. [laughter] but i am not sure what else. and not talking the time about my successor.
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when president obama was president i would get calls from the heartland tuesdays peek out now i get calls from the coast to say speak out. [laughter] >> it is human nature to be private so had you get them to open up to reveal that aspect we may choose to hide? >> good question. are there trust is first. i think i was able to and their trust sub always. as president i would support him 100%. and i think they saw that. second there was a lot of camaraderie but it is a way to
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earn somebody's trust we set it up so we encourage the vets to be open but sitting there giving you confidence to speakur yourself. the challenge for society is to get rid of the stigma. if somebody comes out of combat from the doctor's office to say i have a problem and really they don't understand how to speak to that person. but if they are dealing with ptsd and say i have these issues can say i understand. and the other aspect is what works. so we have this wellness
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alliance that makes up the are to appear counseling groups : these are places who want help to begin with some more than others. look i'm sitting next to turner. i say why are you here? and he opens up. boom. it was part of his healing process it turns out. as a result of what he told me is now part of the peer-to-peerer counseling network.
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>> with these groups that serve veterans you say that 80% of the organizations raise less than $100,000 per year so. >> the first question is do 80% do good work x on our website it says the opportunity to look at the characteristics before they give money to an organization. but the response this time compared to vietnam is overwhelming. i think 35,000 ngos thousand ngos are set up to help our vets but the real challenges why it works and what does it we don't to be the jury that highlight the programs that we know are effective. here is a guy who takes the
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vets like where a hurricane has hit or an earthquake and they are part of the recovery team it is appear to. counseling group serving somebody else which is part of healing. in the book there are a number of people that are recovering nicely because they are now working to help somebody else's life improve. you don't have to be a vet to realize the benefits of serving your fellow man. >> you mentioned there is talk about the 1% but you point to those that defend the remaining 99%. >> don't talk about the remaining 1% that's not me. i am on a pension.
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[laughter] that is less my medicare premium. [laughter] >> is there something the government can be doing better for veterans? >> the virginia has some very good programs also some that get a frustrated so first to be sure they are responsive but do voice jens joint ventures that are effective. [applause] by the way the new head of the veterans administration is receptive to that idea.o we are gaining some credibility to know what we talkednd about


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