Motivational speaking advice for George W. Bush.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Oct. 21 2009 8:53 PM

Talk Good Now

Motivational speaking advice for George W. Bush.

(Continued from Page 1)

Of course, there's another theory: It doesn't even matter if he's a good speaker, says Greenberg. He's a celebrity. "There's an inverse relationship between how famous you are and how good you need to be." Plus, he's got the best material in the world. "Even if he doesn't tell his stories that well," says Greenberg, "they're gonna be great stories."

Not everyone thinks motivational speaking is Bush's calling. "I think it's both a poor choice for him and a poor fit," says John Di Frances, who calls himself a "content speaker." (Content as in substance, not as in happy.) "They're looking for people who are super rah-rah cheerleader people. George W. Bush is not that." Indeed, motivational speaking conventions are usually more rock concert than fireside chat, with a heavy dose of infomercial. Bush could risk coming off not just un-presidential, but foolish. "It's a performance-based thing," says Di Frances. "If you don't have great stage skills, that's not the place for you. They're Barnum & Bailey stuff."

Advertisement

Whatever he says, agreement is near unanimous that he should not discuss current events. "He should stay away from politics," says Brown. "I think he has to elevate the conversation to who we should be as a people." Greenberg agrees: "He should stay out of the policy debate, given that we're still dealing with issues that were part of his presidency," like terrorism and a sagging economy. Save that stuff for 2020.

There was also consensus that Bush has the potential to be a great presenter. The question is whether arena-based motivational speaking—as opposed to, say, one-on-one discussions followed by a Q&A—is really his calling.

Speakers were split, however, on whether Bush should acknowledge his unpopularity. (His approval rating, which sank to 28 percent when he left office, has since risen to 33 percent.) "I think he needs to speak to that coming out," says Brown. Luckily for Bush, it should be a supportive audience. Fort Worth is Bush country, and business owners are Bush people. A friendly audience, a nonthreatening agenda, and a cast of luminaries to back him up: It sounds a lot like a presidential town hall, circa 2004. Maybe this is the perfect venue for Bush after all.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

TODAY IN SLATE

The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.