Bush Visits Facebook for Book Promo Webcast
During his eight-year-long presidency, President George W. Bush paid not a single visit to the San Francisco Peninsula.
But he did manage to find a reason to visit Palo Alto on Nov. 29, 2010, nearly two years after he left office. That would be for an Webcast appearance with CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters to promote his new autobiography, "Decision Points."
Bush had an hourlong informal discussion with Zuckerberg and a Facebook colleague in a talk show-type setting for the Webcast for about 6,500 viewers on Facebook Live and for a live audience of several hundred employees.
In starting the discussion, Zuckerberg asked Bush why he decided to appear on Facebook.
"Because you've got a lot of people paying attention to us, and I'm trying to sell books," the former president said with a laugh.
Zuckerberg then asked the 43rd president why he wrote his book.
"Because I recognize there's no such thing as accurate short-term history. I want to give future historians a perspective: mine," Bush said. "I've also written it for people who wonder what it's like to be president, to make some of the decisions I had to make."
Bush said that he admired Facebook and the entrepreneurial job Zuckerberg has done in building the company and creating thousands of new jobs.
Facebook an 'interesting company'
"Yours is a really interesting company; I'm shamelessly marketing, aren't I?" he said with a laugh. "But seriously, you have a vision and you're willing to invest ... I think that's really, really great.
"Facebook works because you measure what people are doing. That's what we need to do in education -- measure," Bush said. "In Texas, when I first ran for governor, I put education at the top of my priority list because then education was a process thing: When you're 10, you're supposed to be here; when you're 14, you're supposed to be there, and so on.
"But what we weren't doing was asking if the kids knew how to read."
Asked what he thought the Obama administration was doing well in the midst of escalating criticism, Bush replied that he is in favor of the current president's policies in Afghanistan and for improving the quality of public education.
"I think the idea of putting more troops in was something that I can applaud," Bush said. "I also appreciate some of the education position. As I understand it, they do believe strongly that accountability is necessary in order to achieve excellence in the classrooms."
Bush made reference to his former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who is now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, also located in Palo Alto.
"You, as CEO of Facebook, have to take advice from your top staff people to make decisions, and so did I -- every day," Bush said. "You are the decider for Facebook. I was the decider. I had to rely heavily on the advice my staff gave me every day. Condi was one of my key foreign policy advisors for eight years.
"If you're listening, Condi, how come you're not in the audience? Or have you bought the book?" he joked.
Bush said that after leaving office in 2009 and moving back to Texas from Washington, he became a "Blackberry person, but now I'm an iPad person."
Bush currently has a bit more than 622,000 "likes" on his "Decision Points" Facebook page.