Bush praises Obama during Facebook broadcast

Former president applauds current Afghan strategy, tells Mark Zuckerberg: "I'm shamelessly marketing"

By Jamie Stengle
Published November 30, 2010 1:44PM (EST)

Former President George W. Bush has pledged not to publicly criticize his successor, Barack Obama, but he did offer some praise Monday during a live broadcast on Facebook to promote his new book.

Bush participated in an hour-long discussion on Facebook Live with the site's founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and was asked what he thought the current administration was handling well. The former president responded that he liked Obama's policy on Afghanistan.

"I think the idea of putting more troops in was something that I can applaud," Bush said. "I also appreciate some of the education position. As I understand it they do believe strongly that accountability is necessary in order to achieve excellence in the classrooms."

As the discussion started, Zuckerberg asked Bush why he decided to appear on Facebook. Bush quipped: "Because you've got a lot of people paying attention to us, and I'm trying to sell books."

He then told Zuckerberg that he loves entrepreneurship and a country that could help make someone like Zuckerberg able to realize his dream and, in turn, create jobs for many people. "Yours is a really interesting company, and plus: I'm shamelessly marketing," he said.

Bush, whose book, "Decision Points," was released earlier this month, visited Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., fielding questions from Zuckerberg, Facebook employees and those watching online who submitted questions during the broadcast on the company's streaming video channel.

"I've written this book because I recognize there's no such thing as accurate short-term history. I want to give future historians a perspective: mine," he said, adding, "I've also written it for people who wonder what it's like to be president."

Zuckerberg told Bush that he admired him for sticking with what he thought was right.

Bush said that after moving from Washington to Dallas he became a "Blackberry person" but is now an "iPad person." When asked what songs he had on his iPod, Bush said he didn't use it anymore when riding his mountain bike: "I like to hear the birds."

Bush quickly revised the statement, joking: "That's not true. I've got 'Decision Points' on my iPod."

On more serious questions, Bush said he still believes Iraq has the ability to be a stable democracy. "It'll work. We just have to hang in there," he said.

After the conversation turned to the recent release of more than a quarter-million classified diplomatic files posted by WikiLeaks, Bush said, "Leaks are very damaging and people who leak ought to be prosecuted."

"When you have a conversation with a foreign leader and it ends up in the newspaper, they didn't like it. I didn't like it," Bush said.

Bush said that "one of the great moments" of his life came this fall when he and his father, former President H.W. Bush, took the mound during the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He added that he feels it's a blessing to be able to spend time with his parents as they are getting older.

"I was given a great gift by George H.W. Bush, and that's unconditional love," he said.

"If you are fortunate enough to be a father, my advice is love your child with all your heart and soul," he said.

A little over halfway through the chat, the screen indicated that about 6,500 people were watching online.

As he wrapped up the discussion, Bush said that he was blessed and content.

"If you see me in an airport, I hope you wave with all five fingers, but if you don't you won't be the first," Bush said. "I'm a comfortable guy."

Jamie Stengle

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