As you know, the economy is in shambles. Job loss is everywhere and many of your constituents and friends (those not needing a pardon) are hitting the pavement, looking for a job. Since you do not want the embarrassment of applying for unemployment, you may want to work on your objectives for your resume. I know the accomplishments section is not impressive, but the reference list will probably help you get that great next job.
Now, I know we have not always gotten along swimmingly. I have been critical of your lapses in judgment and pugnacious attitude. I have been disappointed by your partisanship, thinking you have mandates when half of the nation voted against you and operating like you were leading only that half of the country.
I have questioned your choices of whom to surround yourself with, your judgment and your hubris. However, I do think you have made some humbler policy choices during the past few years, including picking a more moderate Secretary of Defense and listening to your Secretary of State when she comes with suggestions. In fact, your new found love of diplomacy is something I applaud. I just wish you would sit down with your potential predecessor and inform him of your mistakes and the benefits of this diplomacy thing.
Hopefully these new found passions will follow you into the private world. My advice to you is to follow the lead of another terribly unpopular president upon leaving the White House (and not Nixon). As you know, Jimmy Carter's approval ratings were hovering around the approval ratings of the new Knight Rider program. He was considered by many to be a failure. Now, I don't want to bring it up; but many look at you in the same way, even some Republicans.
We know your options are limited. You are not much of a public speaker and your penchant for nicknames is not considered kosher in most work environments.
Here's the thing: You have a chance to Accomplish a Mission upon leaving. You don't want to be the Commissioner of Baseball. You could get fired if you run the MLB like you ran the Rangers or the USA. You can do so much more than that.
So you need to look at the examples of others that left your line of work. You can follow the lead of another unpopular president, Nixon, and disappear from public life. No one would blame you. You can also follow the lead of your dad and Clinton, doing some very good foundation work while lining the inside of your coat pockets through outrageous speaking fees and sitting on corporate boards, peddling your influence for the almighty dollar. You can even ruin the rest of your legacy by being overtly political (eg. Bill).
Heck, this is America... and nothing is more American than trying to line your pockets based upon your position in life. No one would blame you. However, you have that 3rd option. Do something with the remainder of your life for someone else. Look at the example of your BFF, Tony Blair attempting to bring peace to the Middle East, or Jimmy Carter building homes and attempting to help the oppressed. You can do it. And I know where...
Africa. You love the continent and have done more for them than any president. You have partnered with nations, faith based groups, business leaders, Democrats and Republicans. People already know you care about solving serious issues on the continent, so focus. Say no to the speaking fees (unless you get to talk about Africa and can give the proceeds to that foundation you will create).
Spend less time with oil company execs when you leave office, unless they are handing money to your foundation. Spend more time with Bill Gates, Rick Warren and Bono. Get rid of malaria. Make AIDS a footnote in history. Cure disease. Bring peace. Think about your real legacy, not the WMDs, Habeas Corpus and Gitmo- but the people you were put here to help. You may have 20 years.
I am counting on you. And I will make you a deal. If you do this, I will never say a negative word about your presidency in the future.
*To other readers: yes, I know we can think about all the things Bush, like the rest of America, HAS NOT done for Africa and the Global South, including serious debt reduction and poverty relief. But, since this letter is to him, I am focusing on the positive. If I say, well you should have done more, I am that crappy parent that demands an A when my kid works hard and gives me a B. I am not that parent. Are you?