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President Bush Endorsed Clinton Fees for Speeches

June 28, 2014

Back in the summer of 2008, National Review contributor Kathryn Jean Lopez had a "totally crazy thought" about President Bush's life after the White House. "Wouldn't George W. Bush make an awesome high-school government teacher?" she asked, adding "Wouldn't it be something if his post-presidential life would up being that kind of post-service service?"
Alas, it was not to be. Because by September 2007--long before he picked up a brush to paint himself in the shower--George W. Bush had already decided what he would do after ambling out of the Oval Office for the last time. He would make big bucks by giving speeches--just like Bill Clinton.
As Dubya explained to his biographer Robert Draper in a series of interviews for his book Dead Certain:

First, Mr. Bush said, "I'll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers." With assets that have been estimated as high as nearly $21 million, Mr. Bush added, "I don't know what my dad gets - it's more than 50-75" thousand dollars a speech, and "Clinton's making a lot of money."
Then he said, "We'll have a nice place in Dallas," where he will be running what he called "a fantastic Freedom Institute" promoting democracy around the world. But he added, "I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch."

Bush's first foray was to Canada, where he traveled not to meet with Prime Minister Jean Poutine but to pick up a six-figure paycheck for speaking at a private event in early 2009. That October and December, George W. Bush took the stage in Fort Worth and San Antonio respectively as part of the Get Motivated! seminar series featuring the likes of Colin Powell, Terry Bradshaw and Rudy Giuliani:

Our world-renowned speakers appear LIVE ON-STAGE to provide you a full day of hundreds of proven ideas, formulas and success keys. GET MOTIVATED! is guaranteed to help you and your organization reach new heights of success. You'll be inspired, enlightened, motivated, trained and entertained by America's foremost success experts!

As it turned out, President Bush and his fellow speakers must not have very motivational. As Bloomberg News reported in September 2012, the GetMotivated Seminars company that once drew 400,000 people to its events each year went bankrupt:

A Florida company that hired celebrities including Rudy Giuliani and Colin Powell for motivational events that filled arenas around the U.S. has closed, leaving lawsuits complaining of unpaid bills...The seminars were actually vehicles for investment firms to sell courses in stock options and other trading tactics from the same stage where luminaries held forth.

Judging from the current media feeding frenzy over Hillary Clinton's speaking fees, that is all forgotten history. So, too are former GOP presidential frontrunner Rudy Giuliani's millions and the $100,000 speaking Sarah Palin routinely demanded and received. (Even her daughter Bristol pocketed up to $30,000 for telling her audiences how not to use birth control.) Unlike Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bush and all of those Republicans didn't just want to "replenish the ol' coffers" by giving speeches; Dubya and his allies wanted to end the estate tax, cut the income tax and slash the capital gains tax.
And that, according to conservatives, makes Hillary Clinton out of touch. As Kathryn Jean Lopez might say, what a totally crazy thought.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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