As only the second woman to serve as a U.S. president’s press secretary, Dana Perino has plenty of inside-Washington stories. Not that she’s telling all of them in her new memoir, And the Good News Is… Lessons and Advice From the Bright Side. It’s a friendly book, careful to stay loyal to George W. Bush and to show what a good boss he was behind the scenes. But the anecdotes she does share paint her own unique view of the former commander-in-chief.
1. Perino was injured in the kerfuffle after someone threw a shoe at Bush in Baghdad; he thought she was just crying on his behalf.
2. Bush stuck up for then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with gusto during 2008 peace talks. At a dinner at Olmert’s residence, where several Israelis were apparently against a deal, Bush stood up to make an announcement:
He then asked the Israeli cabinet members to talk about their backgrounds and what brought their families to Israel. When they were done, Perino says, “they kept saying that they’d never known this or that about one another.” Bush concluded, “I had a feeling you all may have forgotten why you were here in the first place. Thank you for having us. Good night.”
On the plane the next day, Perino brought up the exchange and Bush said, “Pretty cool, huh?”
3. Bush tried to prevent Putin from embarrassing himself by stating that he thought Bush had fired Dan Rather from CBS, which revealed how little the Russian leader understood about American media.
Putin said it anyway.
4. Bush was hurt about not being included the 2008 Republican convention. As Perino explains it, they sensed that the McCain-Palin campaign “was stalling to make a decision until it was too late for us to leave in time.” Bush stayed at the White House to give a statement on Hurricane Gustav.
5. Bush had his own moment advocating for female journalists at briefings. In a 2006 press conference, ABC reporter Jessica Yellin was supposed to be allowed to ask a question, but ABC swapped in a man, Jake Tapper, at the last minute. Perino was indignant that the opportunity had been taken away from Yellin, and said so to the president.
Tapper was “furious,” but Perino hopes he understands.
And the Good News Is… hits shelves this week.