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Is the Urban Land Institute Seriously Trotting Out George W. Bush to Talk About Economic Growth and Technology?

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Aug 26, 2016 9:09:06 PM

When Obama took office, "Dubya" quietly slinked off into the shadows, with disapproval ratings in the 64 percent range. Now ULI is bringing him back.

Reading the lineup for the next ULI conference, I had to do a major double take.

Here's what is says about ULI’s 2016 Fall Meeting, set for at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush is headlining a  thought-provoking group of keynote speakers including Roger Staubach, executive chairman of JLL Americas; Parag Khanna, author, Mapping the Future of Global Civilization, etc. etc.

That's right, they used the term thought-provoking in a sentence with George W. Bush Of course, it's not entirely untrue that this man is "thought provoking." But for many people the type of thoughts being provoked are uncomfortable at best:


He makes us think about the 2 trillion dollars we wasted in Iraq. He makes us think about the deep economic recession he left us with, about Alberto Gonzalez and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice and Guantanamo bay and sanctioned torture, about what it used to be like for Americans to travel the world, before GW created an atmosphere of distrust. And as some have noted, many of today's biggest challenges are part of the so called "shit sandwich" left behind by two terms of terrible governance. The impact of the Bush years have been a dark shadow over the Obama administration.

George W. Bush, like the creepy uncle we want to forget, should stay out of the public limelight, and does not deserve the endorsement of ULI.  He doesn't make us think about "the intersection of real estate and technology,"— unless the man famous for "The Internets," has morphed into a completely different person.

ULI usually throws a great conference, with smart, dedicated people. Why reach down to the bottom of the barrel and scrape up an anti-hero like Bush? Dubya may not be ducking shoes at this apperance, but he'll still be positioning ULI as a backward looking, right-leaning partisan organization. Can we expect former presidential nominee Donald Trump to headline next year? Or former candidate Hilary Clinton? How about Florida climate denier Rick Scott? The list of cringeworthy pseudo-celebrities is wide open.

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