mkaphotoNow that he’s left the oval office — and our nation with $1.3 trillion in debt — I just read that our former president, George W. Bush is going to hit the speaking circuit, to, as he puts it “replenish the old coffers,” and “make a ridiculous amount of money.”

Dubya has signed up with an outfit called the Washington Speaker’s Bureau, and “unnamed sources” have said that he’ll be charging $150,000 a pop to step up to the podium. Oh yeah, and if there’s travel involved, those hiring the former prez will be expected to provide “first class airfare or private jet transportation for four.”

Schnikeys! That’s a lot of replenishing, and yes, I’d have to say, a “ridiculous” amount of money for a speech — especially in what we’re euphemistically calling “these challenging economic times” — which means, monetarily speaking, things suck big time. And who do we thank for such challenging times? And the aforesaid federal deficit?

$150 thou? For real? I myself have been on the speaking circuit for about 17 years now, and I can tell you, I don’t charge nearly that much for an appearance. And nobody ever flew me anywhere in a private jet. I did get to go up in an Army helicopter one time 27 years ago, back when I was a newspaper reporter. But I was with a bunch of other media types, and it was an Army press conference, and they made me tell the Army public relations guy how much I weighed for the official flight manifest. It was a month after I’d had my first child, so I thought about modesty vs. safety, and of course I lied, because at that time, I would rather have brought down a whole helicopter-load of reporters (especially the twig-like TV chicks) in a fiery inferno than tell anybody my true post-baby weight. It all worked out for the best. There was no crash, and nobody since then has ever had the nerve to ask how much I weigh. And they better not start, either.

But back to my own public speaking career. I’d thought things were rolling along pretty nicely. I wowed ’em in Hoover, Alabama in February, and later in March, I gave the keynote speech for the Georgia Women of Achievement ceremony down in Macon, Georgia where I met up with the radiant Neva Jane Fickling, Georgia’s only Miss America — circa 1953. Or was that 1955? And let’s not forget my show-stopping performance at the Savannah Book Festival, or Baxley, Georgia, where I absolutely killed. Seriously. They brought me cake. And I was invited to both the Methodist and the Baptist church. And we’re not even going to talk about my triumphant appearance in Charleston, South Carolina last summer before the Women’s Dermatological Society. (P.S. I am not making this stuff up. Check my Web site.)

Despite numerous accolades and glowing recommendations from various Friends of the Library organizations and Junior League volunteers, the sad fact is that I haven’t earned even a tiny fraction of the kind of change Dubya is looking at raking in for one measly stand-up appearance, over the entire length of my public speaking career.

The former president’s bio for the Washington Speaker’s Bureau points out that Mr. Bush is totally worth his $150,000 price tag, because he was, and I’m quoting here, “President for eight of the most consequential years in American history.” Consequential? Seriously? Whoa. If you want consequences, Dubya’s your man.

Me, I never invaded anything bigger than a teenage beer party. I’ve made some enemies, sure, but I never alienated entire continents. And sure, I’ll admit I’ve overdrawn the family checking account on occasion, but never by as much as, say, a billion, let alone a trillion. Suddenly, I find myself, um, speechless.

Read Mary Kay Andrews’ blog.

Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is the pseudonym of former Atlanta Journal and Constitution reporter Kathy Hogan Trocheck. Since leaving the Journal-Constitution in 1991, she has found gainful employment by authoring 17 novels, including the Callahan Garrity mysteries written under her own name, and seven novels as Mary Kay Andrews, including The New York Times best-selling HISSY FIT, SAVANNAH BREEZE, BLUE CHRISTMAS and DEEP DISH, all published by HarperCollins. A native Floridian, she is a diplomate of the Maas Brothers Department Store School of Charm and The University of Georgia.

  1. Chrys B. Graham

    I have heard you speak and thank goodness you are no Dubya. You talk in complete sentences. You make people laugh because you are a very funny person and not an idiot.

  2. I heard you speak at the Savannah Book Festival and I’m sure your listeners had more fun than those who might go out to hear George W. Bush.

  3. Sounds like you speak to the kinds of groups I’d like — much like my dad did. He always told his audience, “I feel sorry for the preacher of your church. He has to keep the same crowd and change sermons. I keep the same sevmon and change crowds.” The most he ever got paid for a speech was $500, but in the late 50s or early 60s, that was a lot of money.

  4. Mmmmm, no complaints about Clinton getting paid $400K per speech? I guess it all depends on how much people are willing to pay to hear anyone speak.

  5. Elaine–I wouldn’t pay five bucks to hear Bill Clinton speak–and I voted for him–but hey, he didn’t start any wars, and as I recall, when he left office we had a budget SURPLUS….I’m just sayin’…

  6. mary kay andrews, Maybe Slick Willy should have started some wars! When some one tries to blow up the world trade center or drives a boat full of explosives into one of your naval vessels, maybe you would investigate it or god forbid retaliate!


  8. Hey,check the history of all past Pres speaking at events. Also you might want to keep up with what has been spent this year alone and how much the Debt has increased.

  9. I wrote an answer but canot retreive it nd since I don’t understand the P/C well, who’s surprised. Maybe it’ll show up later. I’lljust try again and keep it short. Bill Clinton did start a war with Yugoslavia over Kosovo…it was called “wage the dog” type of diversion after the Moica Lewsinsky blue stained dres in the Oval Office, all stemming of course from some “vast right wing experience.” The bombing of Belgrade went on for many weeks and no one ever asked about the collateral damage done there. It was an airwar, directed under Gen. Wesley Clark, a NATO political general, and how many unnecessary deaths we caused will never be known. Bill may have pointed his finger at the AMerican people nd declared that he never had sexual relations with that woman, but then we learned whether he did or didn’t depended upon what the meaning of the word is “is.” Actually he got into more troublefrom is using his state police as pimps for “trailer park trah” such as Paula Jones. He did lose his law license and was found guilty of lying in the Jones case. And is balanced budget and surplus was due to the big tech bubble of the 90’s whiich burst just as he was leaving office. He was not a big spender, tho’, compared to Dubya, RWR, or President Obama who has spent more than all the other presidents combined, and who even admits his budgets aren’t sustainable.Two tarps,bail outs or is it bale oouts of AIG, GM, passage of Cap and Trade, trillians on annujal budget deficits,, and now we hear that Medicare, SS and Medicaid are on life support and he wnts a single pay fgovernment run health care system as anotehr entitlement that will realy bust the budget. No one argues against health care reform. But it can e done cheaper, cover everyone, offer better care, and still be revenue neutral IF it were done the right way. Oh, if only I could be named American Tsar Benign Despot assistant to President Obama. Then we’d get somewhere. But Bill Clinton did indeed start and wage a war. I would be glad to ay you a lot to hear you speak, as I have (for free) seveal times. You were witty, infromative, fun, and so modest, that I had to ask you an nplanted Q to get you to admit that your book had mamde the NY Times Best Seller list. Love, Mac

  10. Excuse all the typos above, but I have the heaviest keyboard touch in the world. I can hit three or four keys at one stroke. Why is it that a typo results in a real word, but an inappropriate one that changes the meaning of a sentence? I meant ofcourse above that an unplanted Q I asked. Well, if I went to correct every typo, I wouldn’t get to bed to 2 a.m. so read it as best you can or just delete it. Best to Tom, Katy, new baby and Andrew. Mac

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