Image: Another surprise Iraq visit sans press corps for the president last weekend.
Naturally, I was appalled to read about Bush’s plans to be bored and rich after his presidency is over. But Peter Bradshaw at theblogfilm nailed it in this post, snip:
President Bush has given a series of incautious interviews to a GQ magazine journalist, summarised in the New York Times. The 62-year-old soon-to-be-ex-statesman looks forward to his retirement: “I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch … I’ll give some speeches, to replenish the ol’ coffers.”
I suppose that’s what his dad called “the vision thing”. He doesn’t mention golf but I guess Mr Bush will be doing a fair bit of that, too. Goofing off and getting bored isn’t all that he will be getting up to. Mr Bush adds: “We’ll have a nice place in Dallas,” by which he means his “fantastic Freedom Institute” which will promote democracy all around the world. It is, reports the New York Times, to be based on Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and it will be where young democratic leaders from around the world will come and study.
Does the President envisage a multi-cultural classroom of eager-beaver young “democratic leaders” at his Freedom Institute? Will they get time off from their democratic duties to attend? It may be that Mr Bush hasn’t thought it through that closely, and it doesn’t sound as if it will be taking up 100% of his time. But ever since I heard about George’s Institute, I’ve been trying to remember what movie character he reminded me of. And then it hit me. Derek Zoolander.
This was the legendary male model with the commanding gaze and the sensuous pout, portrayed by Ben Stiller in the 2001 film. At the summit of his career, Zoolander yearned to give something back, somehow to put his achievement and his wealth at the service of the American public. He realised that his legacy would have to be solid, permanent.
So he founded the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. (“It’s just a fun group where people can chat and meet new friends — and of course, be ridiculously good-looking.”)
My feeling is that President Bush’s Freedom Institute has a lot in common with the Derek Zoolander Center. Both institutions are not there to meet an obvious need, but rather perpetuate their founder’s values in a more general way. (The President may also feel an affinity with Zoolander’s inability to turn left, capable only of turning 270 degrees right.)