The Ticket

Bush: My painting is fun for ‘busting stereotypes’

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

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Screenshot of one of Bush's self-portraits (via The Smoking Gun)

Former president George W. Bush surprised many by taking up painting after leaving the White House. Now, in an exclusive interview with the Dallas Morning News, Bush says he takes “great delight in busting stereotypes.”

He told the daily, “People are surprised. Of course, some people are surprised I can even read.”

That's an unmistakable reference to liberals who took great delight in mocking the 43rd president’s habit of mangling the English language and saw it as a sign of intellectual limitations.

Bush, who has largely kept out of sight since leaving the White House in January 2009, told the paper he has “no burning desire to re-enter the political scene.” That’s not to say he’s completely avoiding potential policy fights. Quite the opposite: His George W. Bush Presidential Center, due to open soon, promotes his brand of “compassionate conservatism,” including funding to battle deadly illnesses in Africa.

But his hobbies—notably his painting—have drawn at least as much media attention. So, golf, painting, what’s up with those pastimes?

“I don’t know,” he told the daily with a laugh. “You’ll have to call all the people who’ve written these books about me, who claim they know me, the psycho-babblers.”

The paintings saw the light of day in large part because Bush family emails were hacked. But at least one art critic enjoys the former president's work.

Bush sometimes gave as good as he got when it came to stereotypes—at least when it came to the reporters covering him. He delighted in portraying them as elitists more at home at his father’s compound in Kennebunkport, Me., than in tiny Crawford, Texas.

"I know a lot of you wish you were on the East Coast, lounging on the beaches, sucking in the salt air," he told the media during one sweltering August trip there. "But when you're from Texas—and love Texas—this is where you come home. This is my home."

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