Bush as motivational speaker: He's no Terry Bradshaw

Former President George W. Bush got high marks as a Get Motivated! speaker from a Dallas audience. But they said Terry Bradshaw was funnier.

President George W. Bush, who left office with 22 percent approval ratings, launched the next stage of his career Monday night in Dallas: motivational speaker.

Mr. Bush has made very few public appearances in the nearly 10 months since he left the White House. But he has now signed on to give two speeches this year for Get Motivated! – a lecture series that, according to its website, “packs more inspirational firepower than a stick of dynamite!”

Bush’s light-hearted speech covered a wide swath of topics:

Popularity: “It’s so simple in life to chase popularity, but popularity is fleeting."

Faith: "I don't see how you can be president without relying on the Almighty. Now when I was 21, I wouldn't have told you that, but at age 63, I can tell you that one of the most amazing surprises of the presidency was the fact that people's prayers affected me. I can't prove it to you. But I can tell you some days were great, some days not so great. But every day was joyous."

Government: “Another principle I believe in is that you can spend your money better than the government can.”

Financial Markets: “The marketplace works. It is fair. It is equitable. It is a fair form of democracy.

Life after the presidency: Of cleaning up after his dog on a neighborhood walk, Bush said, "Man, my life has changed!"

So how did the former president do?

Most interviewed outside the venue by MSNBC correspondent Kent Jones gave Bush high marks, but thought that former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw – who spoke directly after Bush – was funnier.

Those interviewed by the Washington Post concurred that the president was good, but not the best speaker.

"He is just a normal guy! He wasn't the best speaker. But I was happy to see him!" Patrick Kruger, a salesman, told the Post.

While the type of speech might have been unusual, speaking engagements are quite common for past presidents. From 2001-2005, former president Bill Clinton earned more than $30 million from the podium.

In his other appearance for Get Motivated!, Bush will share a San Antonio stage with Mr. Bradshaw, former secretary general Colin Powell (who was also at Monday’s event), and all-star basketball player Tony Parker, among others.


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