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George W. Bush Reluctantly Re-Enters the Spotlight

Former President George W. Bush at the 2010 MLB Playoffs between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers on Oct. 15, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn

Former President George W. Bush is back in the limelight thanks to a memoir entitled "Decision Points" and a new exhibit at his presidential library.

In the trailer for the book, out November 9th, Mr. Bush describes his "untraditional approach" to the memoir.

"Rather than provide an exhaustive chronological account of my life and years in office, I wanted to give readers a glimpse of the Presidency from my perspective," Mr. Bush says in the clip. "That meant focusing on the most demanding and important part of the job: making decisions."

The book begins with Mr. Bush's decision to quit drinking at the age of 40, then briefly discusses his formative years before leading to his decision to run for the presidency. The former president also touches on his tough decisions surrounding education, stem cell research, and the decision to go to war following the Sept. 11 attacks, which he refers to as "the hardest decision any president can make."

"I reflect on what I got right, what I got wrong, and what I'd do differently if I had the chance," he says.

Bush expanded on the messages in the book when speaking at the Commercial Finance Association convention in Chicago earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune reports. He said the book means a reluctant return to public life.

"I have zero desire, just so you know, to be in the limelight," he said. "I don't think it's good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor. You're not going to see me giving my opinions in the public arena, until I start selling my book. I'm going to emerge then submerge."

At the appearance Mr. Bush answered a series of questions from the audience. Topics included the financial bailout ("I did not want to be a president overseeing a depression greater than the Great Depression," he said) and how he pictured his presidential legacy.

"I would like to be remembered as a guy who had a set of priorities, and was willing to live by those priorities" he said. "In terms of accomplishments, my biggest accomplishment is that I kept the country safe amidst a real danger."

When asked what he viewed as his biggest failure, he pointed to his inability to reform Social Security.

Mr. Bush also took a lighthearted shot at his critics.

"I have written a book. This will come as quite a shock to some," he said. "They didn't think I could read, much less write."

The book launch coincides with the unveiling of a special exhibit called "Breaking New Ground: Presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Center." It offers a preview of center, which breaks ground on Nov. 16.

The exhibit opens tomorrow at Southern Methodist University, and runs through February 6. It will feature artifacts from the Bush administration, including the gun taken from Saddam Hussein when he was captured and the bullhorn Bush used to address rescue workers at Ground Zero following the attacks.

The items picked for display reflect many of the controversial issues of Bush's time in office. According to the New York Times, antiwar war groups are making plans to stage protests on groundbreaking day.

Students of SMU, however, defend the exhibit. Student body vice president Austin Prentice dubbed the former president's choice for location of the center "an incredible honor."

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