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What's Next for George W. Bush?

His values are unshaken by a controversial presidency: "I take pride in being the same person."

George W. Bush portrait on his ranch in Crawford, Texas; 10/23/2010

— Dan Winters

ATM: Do you look forward to the role of grandpa?

President Bush: I do, and I'm a little disappointed that hasn't happened yet. But the more disappointment I show, the less likely it is things are going to happen on the timetable I want.

ATM: You were the only president to have both parents alive when you left office. Do you worry about them?

President Bush: I think I'm the only president other than John Kennedy who had both parents alive during the presidency. I'm not that worried about them right now because they are happy people. I'm pleased that in their later years, in spite of physical ailments, they're upbeat.


ATM: How do you feel about retirement?

President Bush: First of all, you never retire. At least I don't retire. I'm playing golf. I ride my mountain bike. A lot. I think it's very important for me and other people my age to continue to exercise. I'm going to baseball games. I'm also combining my love of outdoors with my desire to help others. I teamed up with the PGA of America to help promote a weekend of golf that raises scholarship money for kids who lost a parent or whose parent was severely wounded in combat.

My advice to seniors — and I consider myself one — is to first and foremost take care of your body. Secondly, find something where you could say, "I'm helping somebody else." And it may be just helping raise a grandkid. Or teaching a child to read — one child to read.

ATM: Having purpose.

President Bush: Yeah. Having purpose. I had purpose during my presidency, and I've got purpose after my presidency.

ATM: Do you view your parents as role models for you in retirement?

President Bush: Well, hopefully I'm not a grumpy old guy sitting in the corner, yelling at people and demanding things. I hope I'm as graceful and gracious as they are. It's hard for me to project how I'm gonna be if I make it to 86.

ATM: What else would you love to do?

President Bush: I'm just beginning to live the next chapter of my life. In other words, politics — being governor and president — is not the end of my life. It's a chapter. Check back with me after I've had a little more time to live out this chapter.

ATM: Any lessons for young people?

President Bush: People who plan their life when they're 18 years old and say, "This is my life plan," would generally be surprised and maybe disappointed. I think you ought to be open-minded as to where life takes you. One of the things I learned as president is that your life is just not going to unfold the way you want it to. There will be surprises, challenges, and therefore the question is how you deal with the unexpected.

ATM: Are you surprised by the way your life turned out?

President Bush: I am, yes. If I look back to when I was 20 and somebody said you'd be president, I would have said no way. And I ended up being the 43rd president of the United States. It was an awesome experience, and I'm glad I did it. And I've written a book that hopefully will give people a sense of what it was like. I hope my friends read it and say, "Now I understand." I hope my detractors read it and say, "Well, I better understand." In terms of how I am viewed, I'm comfortable with how I lived my life as the president.

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