Note: In my haste to post, I forgot to note that it wasn’t a speech. It was a Q&A, with Condi Rice asking questions.

I’ve just returned from the Hoover Institution retreat that started Sunday night and went to noon today.

I’ll post later on other aspects of the conference, hitting mainly the points I liked, but here I simply want to focus on the kickoff speech by former President George W. Bush. I got to sit in the cheap seats, the seats in another room where we watched a live feed. As a result, I had zero chance to ask a question.

These are highlights, with only occasional comments:
1. GWB: “The two biggest dangers in the Middle East are (i) ISIS and (ii) Iran.”
DRH: I don’t see the Iran part. Bush pointed out that Saudi Arabia and Israel are agreed on their opposition to Iran, and he’s right, but that hardly makes the case.
2. GWB: “Houston’s not going to get rebuilt without Mexican labor.”
3. GWB: Advocated scholarships for North Korean refugees.
DRH: I like the idea of letting in North Korean refugees. Let a million of them in. But don’t burden taxpayers. Go out there with Clinton, Obama, Carter, and your dad and raise $100 million. It wouldn’t be hard. And a million North Koreans won’t come. If 5,000 get across the North Korean border and get here, that’s $20K each. And don’t tie the scholarships to school. Give them money so they can get a start.
4. GWB: “Libertarianism undermines the notion [nation?–I wasn’t sure–I was writing on a tiny piece of paper] of democracy.”
DRH: Huh?
5. GWB (talking about economies, not military): “How can the U.S. compete with China?”
DRH: Here’s where Krugman had a lot of valuable things to say. Read his Pop Internationalism and see if you’re still worried. But here’s the short version: nations don’t compete economically in the sense that businesses compete. If China’s productivity rises faster than ours–and it’s likely to–then as long as our productivity per person rises by, say, 1.5% or higher per year, we will do great.
6. GWB: “The first principle of being commander in chief is to be in awe of the people who volunteer.”
Words to the effect: “I remember when I was 22 and Lyndon Johnson was conducting the Vietnam war and we had the draft.”
DRH: I loved the way he said “the draft.” He said it as if he thought it was just a horrible thing, which it was.
7. GWB: He decried the “nativism” that has become so prominent in the American culture. Words to the effect: This is not who we are or should be.
He also compared nativism to attacks on free speech on campus.
8. GWB: NAFTA has big benefits on both sides of the border.
9. GWB: “Protectionism is zero sum.”
DRH: It’s worse; it’s negative sum.