Since his eight years in office came to a close, President Bush has chosen not to speak out about current politics or his successor, President Barack Obama. "When you're famous, people criticize you," he says. "I do believe you ought to treat people the way you want to be treated yourself, and so you're not going to see me out there chirping away. I want our president to succeed."
President Bush is no stranger to criticism—in Decision Points, he recounts the harsh words used to describe him during his presidency. "Partisan opponents and commentators questioned my legitimacy, my intelligence, my sincerity," he writes. "They mocked my appearance, my accent and my religious beliefs. I was labeled a Nazi, a war criminal and Satan himself."
President Bush says he didn't let the critics get to him. "First of all, I read a lot of history when I was president," he says. "My view was if they were criticizing Abraham Lincoln in harsh tones, certainly I could take that."
Watching his father, the 41st President of the United States, in the hot seat was much harder for President Bush. "I love George H.W. Bush; he's an awesome guy," he says. "To watch him go through the '92 campaign, or his presidency being mischaracterized, or people saying ugly things about him really hurt. So when I became president, it was nothing."
When it comes to his own critics, President Bush says their words are more painful to his wife, Laura, his twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, and his parents than they are to him. "I'm sure it hurt my daughters and my wife, but it didn't hurt me, because I knew what I was doing," he says. "I felt so strongly about some of the decisions I was making, and I felt that history would understand them ultimately. If I had allowed the critics to affect me during the presidency, all this name calling and stuff, I don't think I'd have done my job as a leader."