How George W. Bush's Paintings Are Helping His Career

There are few career moves as polarizing as being president of the United States. Throughout his time in office, George W. Bush made and lost fans across party lines. His role in America's response to the 9/11 attacks did little to save face, with him ending his second term as president at an historical low. But in the years following his time in the White House, Bush has gone on to work what can only be described as a public relations miracle. Between his endearing hobby as a painter and his highly publicized friendship with the Obama family, Bush has gone on to become something of a national treasure. It could be argued that George Bush's paintings are saving his reputation.

It is no exaggeration to say that Bush's popularity took a nosedive following 9/11. According to poll results gathered by Pew Research Center, "Between the start of his second term and December 2008, Bush's approval rating dropped from 50% to 24%, a level that rivals the historic lows." But, in later years, this has all turned around. The former president has shown a lighter side to himself and brought the public around to his side in a big way.

In 2018, SSRS poll results gathered by CNN found that an impressive 61% of Americans reported a favorable view of Bush. That is nearly double the approval rating that CNN reported when he left the White House in 2009 — 33%. So what has changed?

George W. Bush's improved approval rating

Rather than lead a quiet life after two terms as president, George W. Bush went on to make a name for himself as a talented artist. He first began painting in 2012, per NBC, making use of a wide range of resources, from formal art education to collaborations with well-known artists like Sedrick Huckaby. Before he was exhibiting his works for the public eye, early paintings were leaked in 2013 by the infamous hacker Guccifer, per The Washington Post. He has since come a long way from simple works seemingly done for his own enjoyment.

These days, he is preparing for a politically charged painting exhibition at his library in Dallas titled, "Out of Many, One: Portraits of America's Immigrants," per The Bush Center. The exhibit honors America's immigrants and the contributions they have made the country he once led. The collection includes "43 powerful four-color portraits" painted by Bush and "their accompanying stories."

Bush's interesting career move after leaving politics has surely done much to win him bipartisan support. It is worth noting that many presidents' approval ratings increase after leaving office. For example, Bill Clinton's approval rating went from 51% when he left office to 64% in a 2015 poll, per NBC. Without the pressures of the presidency, including the economy and a war on terrorism hanging over his head, Bush is free to show a side of himself that the White House left little time for.