George W. Bush Whiles Away the Time Painting Pictures of Dogs

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Being a retired Leader of the Free World is a lot like being a retired anything else, at least for George W. Bush, who spends his days painting portraits of dogs. Okay, that's not all Bush does with his time off: according to New York's Joe Hagan, he also paints Texas landscapes, plays golf, and eats at restaurants like so many grandparents. But the dog painting is remarkable given his personality. "I find it stunning that he has the patience to sit and take instruction and paint," a former aide tells Hagan, in a story examining the Bush legacy and whether brother Jeb can overcome it. Still, Bush has bigger things to think about than that his grandchildren never call:

W. remains convinced history will vindicate him. But the Bush family is well aware of the damage to their future prospects. Perhaps none more than Jeb, the new custodian of the family brand. “Jeb is highly pained,” says a friend. “He is so loyal. Jeb knows some of the missteps, but Jeb is profoundly impacted by the kind of criticism he’s taken about his brother. It’s over the top.”

Bush is "ambivalent" about his brother's potential presidential run, Hagan reports. More than any other Republican candidate, Jeb would be asked to critique W.'s legacy. And Bush struggles with his father's legacy, too, giving an unemotional and perfunctory speech at George H. W. Bush's birthday party recently. A party attendee explained:

“He’s become increasingly agoraphobic,” this person adds of the former president. “He looked startled by the whole thing. But he doesn’t like people, he never did, he doesn’t now.”

It makes sense Bush would retreat to painting portraits of the most loyal member of the family.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.