A Conversation with Dana Perino

And The Good News Is by Dana Perino combines a self-portrait of her early years, her journey culminating in becoming the first female Republican press secretary, and her ability to give very practical advice. Readers can draw from this book refreshing stories of loyalty, humility, friendship, and family. What stands out more than anything is the high esteem she holds for President George W. Bush.  It is obvious that she wants to set the record straight regarding Bush 43. American Thinker had the privilege of interviewing this number one best-selling author.

Perino portrays President Bush as being gracious, compassionate, and caring. She makes this point by showing how the former president, unlike the current one, never seeks the limelight or has criticized President Obama. While speaking at the Nixon Library she emphasized that President Bush always took the high road, even at times when it was hurtful. He was conspicuously absent at both the 2008 and 2012 Republican Conventions, and had asked her, “Do you think they know they are insulting?” Her answer: yes! She relayed a conversation she had with him about his legacy, when he noted to her that he recently read three books on George Washington, and stated, “If historians are still analyzing the first President then the 43rd does not have much to worry about.”

During the interview Perino told American Thinker, “One time I asked President Bush why is it that we always have to turn the other cheek and they don’t. He responded, ‘well it’s our burden to bear.’” On the other hand, she compares that to Senator Harry Reid who is “a destructive force in Washington D.C. Look at the incivility that is prevalent all over Washington and you will find it leading directly to Harry Reid’s doorstep. There are ways that we can deploy some gentler words to our debates that can make us more productive. There’s no sense in working against each other if we have the same goals in mind, hashing out differences doesn’t have to be a blood sport. We make a choice when we open our mouths. Are we going to be gracious or not?”

Being positive and optimistic is the key, according to Perino. While serving as press secretary she underwent a lot of stress, inwardly angry over the way President Bush was being portrayed. “I did not want to be that way and realized I should take a cue from President Bush. Even after 9/11 he was able to give a memorable and encouraging speech. I printed these words out and had them on my desk for seven and a half years, ‘we will not tire; we will not falter; we will not fail; peace and freedom will prevail.’”

In comparing the two presidents, Bush and Obama, she feels that her boss has received unfair criticism of his communication skills. “Perhaps President Bush’s language was not more eloquent.  But it is obvious that he was always interested in who he spoke to. He thought a lot about what he was saying and what people would hear from him. President Obama falls flat. He might be easy on the ears, but if you actually listen to the substance of the commentary I don’t think it is as good. He often takes the low road when it does not seem necessary.”

She also wants to remind Americans that G. W. Bush was very supportive of the military. As president he would send a personal note to all families who lost a loved one while serving their country. There is a heart-wrenching scene in the book where a mother whose son was on life support severely criticized President Bush. She writes, “He didn't leave. He stood there, almost as if he needed to absorb it and to understand it. Commanders in chief make really tough decisions, and we went on to the next rooms, and I remember those being experiences where the families were very happy to see him. But when we got on Marine One to fly back to the White House, the president was looking out the window, and then he looked at me and he said, "That mama sure was mad at me." And then he looked out the window and he said, "And I don't blame her a bit." And a tear rolled down his cheek, but he didn't wipe it away, and then we flew back to the White House.”

She is hoping that readers will gain a glimpse of President Bush’s character and personal side, as seen through her eyes. She writes in the book how he was not only her boss, but became a second father to her. The qualities she most admired about President Bush was that he is down to earth, one of the smartest people she knows, and a people person.

Perino noted “And The Good News Is,” that President Bush was able to instill in Americans a sense of confidence. She is probably correct because after eight years of President Obama’s divisiveness and partisanship more Americans might be displaying the bumper sticker that reads, “Miss Me Yet?” with a picture of George W. Bush. 

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.