Goodbye to sagging Putins and self-portraits in the shower. Bush has moved on to painting veterans and those in the active service, a series soon to be released in Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. While Bush’s diminished role in geopolitics would have the book cast aside as yet another amusing epilogue in the life of a retired politician, there’s something deeply ironic about Bush turning his brush to military servicemen and women, a group that has disproportionately carried the burden of the wars that he launched, and who continue to be deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan due to the wars’ disastrous legacies (hello ISIS!). It also makes this Onion spoof look oddly prescient.
So is the book a “thanks and sorry” gesture? According to the publisher, the book’s proceeds will be donated to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, a non-profit organization that partly “works to ensure that post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war.” So, kind of, yes.
The arc of Bush’s artistic aspirations has been something to behold, from the initial leak of self-portraits we cannot unsee by Romanian hacker “Guccifer,” to an exhibit of his world leader paintings in Dallas, and now a book of military portraits. Slowly but surely, the American public will be forced to confront everything that George W. Bush, civilian, is processing from his days as George W. Bush, president of the United States.