McAfee Focus: A Visit From George W. Bush5:39 PM EST Wed. Oct. 24, 2012
During his presidency, it was speculated that George W. Bush won the 2004 election partly because he was the candidate that people most wanted to have a beer with. Channel partners and customers attending the McAfee Focus 12 conference on Wednesday came about as close to that side of "W" as they ever will.
With the election less than a week away, the event was closed to members of the news media, but CRN obtained information, gleaning a few of the high points, from channel partners present for the event.
At the very beginning, according to partners, Bush explained that he would not critique the Obama presidency, saying that he enjoyed being out of the limelight, and that it was not in anyone's best interest for him to do so. Thus, he volunteered no commentary on President Obama, nor did he openly endorse Governor Romney.
When asked if he missed being president, Bush reportedly answered, "Not much. But, I do miss being pampered. We even had to stop for a few red lights on our way here from the airport." Presidential motorcades are famous for delaying traffic as an added security precaution.
"The speech was kind of halting," said one channel partner. "He would begin telling a story and then end abruptly when it seemed he would have had more to say. He'd suddenly stop and say something like, 'That's it.' He also plugged his book and joked that some people doubted he would know how to read a book, let alone write one. That got a pretty good laugh from the crowd."
Bush reportedly became more animated as he discussed leadership qualities. According to one source, Bush said, "The danger in running an organization is the assumption that you know everything. Power can undermine vision, and you need vision to lead. You have to know where you're leading, and you have to build an organizational culture around something greater than the individual."
Bush added that a leader has to share the blame for failure and share the credit for success. He also is quoted by partners to have said that even the most controversial decisions that he made were decided with the desire to do the right thing and were not choices based on polls.
As an example, he discussed the financial crisis at the end of his term and an exchange he had with Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernake, who was at that time the chairman on Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Bush told the audience, "Bernanke said, 'If you don't do this, you will very likely oversee a great depression.' I didn't want the history books to say I chose to do nothing."
According to partners, Bush also talked about the famous video of him in the classroom when he received news of the 9/11 attack.
"It changed my presidency from economics and education to war," he was quoted as saying. "The first decision I made was to do nothing; to avoid rattling the children, or to signal to the nation that I was panicked."
Bush added that in his retirement, he spends his time golfing, riding his mountain bike and creating oil paintings of dogs and landscapes, partners said.
The McAfee conference continues this week in Las Vegas.
PUBLISHED OCT. 24, 2012