tv Discussion on the Lives of George H.W. and Barbara Bush CSPAN October 3, 2019 10:32am-11:37am EDT
taking part of the discussion was george prescott bush, the grandson. this event took place last week at the "texas tribune" festival in austin. >> thank you. welcome and i feel like i probably don't need to introduce my fellow panelists here, because anybody knows who they are. but on my left we have texas land commissioner george p bush who is your speaking on behalf of the bush brand. [applause] susan page is washington bureau chief for "usa today" and author of the recent and currently i guess to best-selling biography of barbara bush called the matriarch that you will be signing copies of it after this. [applause] and michael beschloss, one of
our best well-known presidential historians who has written so many things and so many books, but i'm going to be asking you about some of the stuff i found in my old well-worn copy of character above all. the first thing i'd like to ask all of you is, we lost our bush and george bush just so close together. what kind of reassessment do you think this has brought for the country as to what the bush name stood for and what's the significantly was of all the work that they did in so many arenas of public service? >> looking back on it now, close to a year, i just think about life the public service. i think about world war ii generation. it really wasn't about them as individuals. i think it was actually a
turning of the page of our country's history in many respects. and i was privileged to be asked to give the eulogy for my grandfather when we came back to houston and really was a celebration of both of their lives. wasn't a celebration of one individual but also celebration of our heritage. when you think about as texans the art times in the patch in midland after his one or two service later rising to the political ranks in houston, texas, and really the story of just a couple seeking to achieve the american dream as it was defined.n those simple values and work ethic i think was celebrated that week. i will say this also come in texas with a different celebration but in d.c. it was refreshing after three days let's call it, a white noise washington d.c. just shut down and the country really came together and it was really special to be part of and
witness. i hope people will continue to recognize the contribution of that generation. >> i covered 1992 campaign where george bush lost his bid for a second term, and we know how discouraging that was for him. even in that election there was not animosity toward president bush and certainly not toward barbara bush. that was i think i feeling was time for a change after three terms of republican presidents but it do thinkse there's been a reassessment of both bushes since that election. i think one factor that has come i think there's a new appreciation for the skill and deafness that with which george bush head of the end of the cold war, which was not a lead pipe. imi also think the administratin of president trump has prompted some americans to appreciate the civility, the bipartisan tone, the willingness to talk across
partyre lines, the willingness o reach a compromise. some of the qualities that president bush brought to the white house iap think our newly appreciated today in a way they weren't appreciated previously. i do think also that barbara bush is reputation continues which was never bad, continues to get better as we understand more about just how influential she was. >> and i agree with everything that's been said so far. conflict,looking for think this is not the place to come for it because i think we are all great admirers of both. but interested in seasons point back, because if, you go back o 1992 -- susan -- 1992 figure george bush was defeated for reelection the argument that bill clinton was making was, he's out of touch, skills not needed and a post-cold war era, even though was george h.w. bush
who ended the cold war so you could concentrate on the domestic side of american life. but he, to me, showed something that's very profound about history and that is that i like to think anything other historians mostly feel the same way that as history goes on you begin to change your views of people. as time goes on and as you get access to letters and diaries and also hindsight. because things i can guarantee you do not look the same about a sitting president as they will ten or 20 or 30 or 40 years later, preferably a longer period of time. as time went on it allowed us to see and allows more americans who think about this to understand just as susan was saying, it was not at all the
cold war would end would in as. the cold war ended in 1991 on terms that harry truman andng al these other cold war presidents don't have dreamt of, and one of theea central reasons that that happened, every cold war president made a contribution. but i think we were protected by god when george h.w. bush was president during the last years of macau gorbachev, because if i went back through time and i was looking for qualities in a president that will turn outhe o be important, i would want somebody with the human qualities and the diplomatic skill to build a relationship with gorbachev so that gorbachev to do things like open the berlin wall and allow the eastern european satellites to go and later on to join nato in a in a way that he didoi not feel tht george h.w. bush would make fun of them or embarrassing in certain ways. and so that we now set think
much more clearly how lucky we were to have him as president. and everything i will say and want to add particularly susan and turn about this because both are and have been writing about first ladies. i have been doing this for almost 40 years, and i have written primaries about first light but i've been writing about a book about president with first ladies and i've met a number of them, including barbara bush and had the honor of and also of nancy reagan who kerry is -- how far along are you? >> i'm getting there. >> it's a terrible thing for offer to everr ask that questio. but in any case, one thing i would generally say about first ladies him and you'll tell me if this sounds right to you, george would have to comment on this, and that is that you ask the first lady about something that you know they did during the
presidency and he will always essentially say, it wasn't me. it was the president. i may have had some small influence but it was either his idea or he really carried the load on this, give him the credit. and the more time you spend studying first ladies, particularly after they and the president are gone, you find how vitally important these first ladies were, in their own right and also in these presidencies. maybe the best example of that would be best truman -- best truman. best truman at the time was spotted by the general public as someone who barely knew what her husband was doing professionally, spent a lot of time in the truman home in missouri and so was in washington to see these huge event harry truman was the presenter of, the end of world war ii, the korean war,
immigration of the military and so on. and then after they were both gone and you begin to get into the letters and diaries and so on, you saw how really essential she was, not only to an but to that presidency. so all i'm telling you is that if you hear a first lady in real-time or a first spouse as a man will be first spouse i hope soon, just give the credit to the president, be a little bit skeptical. does that sound right to you? >> let me say one thing a pose and are currently difficult question to george p bush that relates. i found. that's each the barbara bush, like aids was an issue, behind the scenes she was very influential in but more generally just as the partner to george h.w. bush to his old life. she was just indispensable to him. one of the questions i
interviewed about 130 people for the book and almost every person i interviewed i 1 would end the interview by saying, if george bush is not married barbara pierce, would he have everything he did? including becoming president. i asked barbara bush this and she said of course you would. i asked george h.w. bush this and he thought about and he said, yes, i think i would have. [laughing] by the way, if you are married, that is the wrong answer to give. >> it's in the husbands manual. >> but almost every other person any good, not quite as one but almost everyone said no, he wouldn't have done all he did without being married to barbara pierce. and the younger the person who responded, the more likely they were to say that she was crucial. in the generation of the grandchildren, somee of them did not see and understand the question. like, how could youw ask that
question? of course. so letba me ask you if george h. bush had not married barbara pierce would get done all he did including becoming president? >> absolutely not. i think that's an unequivocal no. the reason is she was the backbone. the enforcer as she was called and labeled, later labeled the silver fox s but i think she speedy the enforcer was later in life. silver fox i think them tell me if my memory is right, time magazine? >> first it was the gray fox which seemed a little insulting. then it morphed into the silver fox but the enforcer even as a label came later i think were clearly reflected it. >> and the entourage in the family sure, but here's my question for george. i would assume that was because she wanted to be thought of as the sword fox as long as she was, big side of her, family person, but at the same time later on as life went on people
realized that she also had a very tough side. does that sound right to you? >> absolutely on point. and you speedy i'm sure you never mentioned that. >> i was never the recipient of that. well, whether was sitting up straight, which i'm not doing now speedy she always loved her clothing. >> absolute. the required the skill set to raise george w. bush and when he was raise. but no, she clearly was the enforcer of the family and instill the code of service in all ofco us. she at times was the bad guy, if you will come in terms of executing discipline. that started in the days of midland all the way to the 18 grandkids up in maine. we all, respected my grandma. sat upe sure he straight, it with correct grammar, you know, to speak
correctly. we're going to miss her so much and that's the spiritca that she had. but i would say t politically se was an advisor to my grandfather. she wasn't just the one thatin ruled the roost in terms within the family. she was the first person that he would ask for advice on, particularly early on when he had two senate losses and other political challenges that faced him from watergate on. >> as we are here in austin, texas, so the bushes come to midland as newlyweds and they are two kinds of exotic species that you didn't see much of in texas. they were connecticut yankees and there was something that was even rarer at the time. they were republicans. later after the they moved to houston, your grandfather takes over the republican party in part becausese there's an messy
battle going on between the corporate republicans and the berkshires. i think the bush family is, when so crucial to implanting the kind of dna of the republican party into texas politics. the kind of republicanism is you today in texas in many ways doesn't really resemble that that much, or do you still sense that it's better? and if there could be a return to it,t, perhaps? >> i think there's a silent majority of republicans that building their lives, raising the family that don't have the time to go and be as active as they want to be and look for solutions and leadership,, whether it's in austin or washington, d.c. regretfully because of the conflicts that we have seen in texas with her own party, we've actually lost some of our super majority, particularly in the
statehouse. here i am on my soapbox saying i'm one of the few republicans trying to bring people together as weex head into redistricting year here in texas which is decided by the composition of the housese and senate. that's the stakes this cycle which are always hear from politicians, most important election in your lifetime, truly is the p p case. the state trends more blue. >> susan, one of the really interesting things that you came across in your research, you actually asked mrs. bush, do you still consider yourself a republican? what did she say? >> the first time i i interviewd her for the book which is october 2017 we were coming up one-year anniversary of president trump's election, and it will stun you all to know that she was not a huge fan of president trump. i said, so it's been about a year. are you still a republican? she said yes, of course. what turned out to be the last interview that it did with her in february 2018, although we
didn't know att that point would be thebe last interview, i said, the first am a talk to i asked you if you are still a republican. do you still feel that way? she said, no. no, i don't think i am. it doesn't mean she was a democrat. she didn't like democrats at all but i think she felt she no longer had a home in the republican party. it's interesting that inth the last presidential election they could vote in, george h.w. bush voted for hillary clinton. barbara bush didn't like hillary clinton much either, and so barbara bush wrote in jeb bush is named for president. but it says something about a thele that helped establish gop in the state, neither of them voted for the republican resident or candid in the last election of their lives. >> the other thing is, and we talked about probably the accomplishment of george herbert walker bush that he is going to get his biggest place in history
books forth guiding, not just ts country, but the whole world through the end of the cold war. he was so sure photoperiod he had these relationships. i mean, the president talks about america first, but george bush has relationships with a lot of the key players that went back decades, whether it was the envoyy to china or head of the cia. do you think that this kind of internationalist strength of the republican party still exists, or has donald trump taken it to a different place? >> well, he is the leader of the party so we does the fine foreign policy. republicans don't have to agree on every single issue there is. if you look back on the time of my grandfather, whether it was being the first liaison to china before he diplomatically recognize them, he feared that is one of his favorite posts of all time.
but in terms of his international relationships, used to joke when his vice president about the string of russian premiers that would die, soviet premiers, if you die, i fly. he really trying to insult on his frequent flyer miles in developing those relationships and making sure our national security objectives were being achieved. whenever you could get him to talk about politics, which is very difficult to do as a grandchild, he would be with excitement when it came to foreign policy. >> michael, again, the surefooted miss, the degree to which the base these relationships of trust with other foreign leaders. you also saw that in the international coalition, going into the first gulf war. >> for sure. it was just very much him him not only the fact that he had the personality that was
designed for diplomacy, but he had been ambassador to theve u.. since 1971. relatively early in life, that's what you do there. a lot of people he knew as a masters were leaders of government by the time he became president. can i ask one of the question that just, to follow and software talk about before? i had heard someone say and it sounds right to me, but the three of you, please tell me if this sounds right to you. and that is that barbara bush andan nancy reagan, your two subjects, didn't have -- susan, maybe the close relationship? >> yes. >> i didn't have a lot in common that both went to smith college. but one thing was that they were married to people who were optimistic, you know, like to make friends, like to see the best in people. in this case those two women if they walk into a room, i think i
would say this for both of them, if there were some in '18 respecter didac not have george h.w. bush is this interest at heart, you know, barbara bush just had a sensor for sensing the person in the room that that person was a danger or needed some work and i think nancy reagan did, , too. does that sound right to all of you? >> yes. i mean, i think barbara bush was more likely to remember an offense, and exact a price compares george h.w. bush was more likely due toh forget abot our just to forget. do you think that's true? >> absolutely. my grandmother doesn't had a long-term memory. i have the scars to show it. and that applies to politics where it would be a a discussin and she would say that's so-and-so did cross you back in texas. she was usually the first to jump in on prior political
conflicts. >> that's what was meant by the enforcer, right? >> exactly. kind of the e security -- >> do you think that was something that really was essential to his political career? what he had been able to succeed without it and go to far sometimes? what you think? >> he obviously has great advice along the way butke there's nothing like the spouse stepping in, had no other gender than to be -- >> i think people choose to forget. when you look at the reagan-bush partnership for eight years, they forget how brutal that 1980 republican primary really was. >> the debate in dallas. >> yeah, they really went at each other. >> you want to remind us what happened in dallas, just y in ce everyone voodoo blank? >> there were food economics. he was not -- nancy reagan didn't forget that.
you know, just beginning to end that primary was very, very difficult. several people i've talked to about all of this suggests that often it's easier for the husbands to let go of this than the wives. >> let me just say -- >> or the candidates. >> yes. >> ie don't want to identify ts person who were interviewed for the book, an elected official who is on stage now -- [laughing] >> you did know that karen had -- >> i don't even know if you remember you saying this, we're talking about this aspect of his grandparents relationship, and this unnamed elected official on stage said sometimes come he said it's either important -- not you but the person were talked about, the defeat important for necessary for the candidate or the official to have amnesia and so it's useful to someone else you trust by
your side. i g think that's right, i think you want to govern, sometimes you have to let bygones be bygones. maybe just let someone who is saying the person is not with you and you ran last time. >> even jackie kennedy was considered to be sort of to the end of being rather uninvolved in herol husbands career, she oe told jfk, why are you being so nice to ask? i forget you ask was. because i thought he did this terrible thing and jfk said but he's done nice things for me since that and you can't go to politics if your candidate or an office holder andnd you just hae that in your mind all the time. >> but is it important to have someone who does haveth that in mind? that's a question. can ask the office holder -- >> absolutely. especially in the twitter era, right? if you read your comments,
you'll usually receive incoming from all directions. it's important to have somebody that can keep an honest appraisal, that can remove yourself. because as summit in politics whether it my granddad, it's difficult to remove yourself, if that makes sense. that's a vital role my grandma played throughout. and honestly for that matter so did the kids. my dad and my uncle worked extraordinarily hard, all of us did come to make sure they were successful but to also give that honest appraisal whenever decisions will be made. one story i will share is a remember in 1988 when the time came wrapping up the nomination to select who the vice presidential nominee was going to be, andpi my grandfather in maine i think talk to his political team but my grandmother of course solicited conversation by saying who at
the table wants to vote for this individual or this individual? and we had our vote and we had our say. she created a venue by which the family would weigh in, including grandkids, and that's a role that i think most politicians, successful ones, seem to have. >> who won the family vote? >> i don't recall. duke, remember that name -- >> in other names that you remember that were raised? >> i think dick lugar. >> i thought you look at a senator from indiana but maybe not the one who finally got it. anyone else that you remember? >> i don't recall. >> just for history. >> you have sort of forged your own path, your own identity beyond your name, and often have
taken on the establishment. i mean, when the entire texas republican establishment was behind david dewhurst, you back ted cruz.. very famously you help donald trump in the state. earlier this year the president was here for an event and introduced you as truly, this is the only bush got it right. how was that? >> well, when it entered public servicepr in 2012, on the ship anybody film could've predicted what would happen in 2016. i had worked really hard for my dad when he ran, and as we talked about 1980, that inconsiderate and ugly campaign, well, 2016 was pretty bad. but if there's one of the lessons i've learned my family, it's politics can be a dirty sport, things are said that we all sometimes regret, but with all also have to move on if you want to move forward in
politics. so i paid my own way. i support the president. i intend to do so the cycle, but i also stepped away from the part on a variety of issues, including white nationalism after a student in el paso, which was written about in the atlantic. i stepped out on a variety of other issues, and it work on a pragmatic basis. a lot of lessons learned from my grandfathers time and my grandmother that a a tryed to n my formal public service after tropical storm that hit the coast going to we don't have an band-aid from the federal comed accompany my team when two neighborhoods that were flooded after hurricane harvey. when you think about community service, it was great to see church organizations, nonprofit groups out there leading the fight before the government did. so when we were mocking and debt income of us think about my
grandparents and what they would have done. >> in many ways so that the appreciation of the bush name is, you cannot divorce that from sort of a contrast of the current occupant of the white house.ge .. why don't you slam the president in your story when just to write about george herbert walker bush's life, he comes to office more experienced in public service than any other president. the breadth of his experience, the fact that as you pointed out not on issues or ideology
but character and experience. >> if i could interrupt the most popular bush commercial in 1988 the narrator saying, pretty close to getting it, the more you know about george bush the more you know this is close to the best prepared, no candidate has been better prepared to the president of the united states. with 88 on your back, does that sound right? >> do they make you play it over and over again? >> one take. >> do you remember the day that was done? >> it was in may i think. >> one reason it was so crushing for the print -- president bush he did believe in character above all and i
think although he became close to bill clinton later on in life, at the time, both bushes felt bill clinton did not have the character george hw did and they were surprised americans didn't agree with him on that. they elected bill clinton. barbara bush invited hillary clinton to take a tour soon after the election, this is a big point of grievance between her and nancy reagan pee in response after the election barbara bush invites -- when i interviewed hillary clinton for this book she said when she walked in barbara bush had not yet thoroughly processed that they had lost and she said to hillary clinton i can't believe you won, we are so surprised. are you? hillary clinton said no.
>> i would say it took my grandfather 18 months, close to that. i was going to school at rice and houston and one reason i applied was to be closer to my grandparents because they spend an eternity in public service, gave me a chance to go sunday afternoon between classes and it took a while. i am here to tell you he built a great relationship after and that speaks to his character that he was able to let it go and serve whether raising $100 million for the tsunami in indonesia and working after katrina. my uncle tapping both of them to raise money for the recovery effort in louisiana. the friendship reached such a point my dad and uncle called
bill clinton a son from another mother. >> i was on a trip with your father early in the 2016 campaign, where it appeared that if you had to bet smart money that this would be a race between jeb bush and hillary clinton i remember sitting with him in the beer garden in germany and somebody asked teasingly about a close relationship with the surrogate son bill clinton and your dad said i haven't gone soft like the rest of my family. >> he would say bill clinton comes over again, he's going to go on and on about himself. my grandfather was all about that. they knew together, probably a message for current politics, when you work in divided
government -- >> bill clinton, has been pop psychology about, after their presidency the george hw bush is the father bill clinton never had an bill clinton, on oral historys, i don't know what is in it but one of the people involved in that, in a really compelling way with george w. bush and isn't that extraordinary. and one is the seat and the other is reelection. could have been the father that one of them never had. >> what helps your grandfather to get out of his more rows state.
>> i would say it is houston. and then people stand up and give him a standing ovation, high fives and he would go to astros games and from that point forward, and that was important for him in terms of the recovery. and get rejected, politics is ultimately personal. >> like for your grandfather trying to figure out how to manage the relationship with
his son in the white house? here is somebody who understands the pressure he is under, the kinds of decisions he is making better than anybody but two other people in the world. how did he manage being there to help and advise him with backing off and let him be his own president? >> he led by saying i am a father first and the president second and that meant i love you unconditionally and if you have questions or advice, i am certain he did during tough times particularly is related to policy. we still would meet in dc during holidays and get together but a lot has been written in terms of him opining and he had some of his subordinates and others in his administration critiquing foreign-policy which i will leave historians to litigate,
but when it came to actual decisions in the fateful moment after he got sworn in after the parade, comes in the white house for the first time to the oval office, sits down, my grandfather is right there, that photo of tremendous pride, the pride of a father, not the pride of a former president. >> your generation has gone off in so many different directions. you and all your cousins, it seems everybody has found their own niche how they are going to serve. >> a generation focused on public service, with work abroad, creating something helpful focused on addressing
global healthcare needs and poor countries. lauren bush, with big brothers big sisters. when you talk to my grandparents about public service, you know it is not about actually running for office, it is about serving other people and that will take so many forms and impact the lives of so many people and particularly in this time people say the problems won't be solved by dc but at the community level. churches and synagogues and community groups at the local level. i am not sure it will happen in dc but that is the legacy from my perspective. >> the title of my book which
is available-for-sale later today, the matriarch, barbara bush and the making of an american dynasty, the title, she hated it, she didn't like the word matriarchal no denying she was a matriarch and she didn't like the were dynasty because it dripped with entitlement and she thought it had -- >> it reminded her of another family which was -- >> which was? >> it sounds like -- >> yes. she didn't like the title of the book. i asked about it and she said the fat lady sings again. i went in a different direction but when i talk to her about what i meant by dynasty i meant a broader view of what a dynasty comprises and the thing barbara bush was most proud of where her grandchildren. anybody who watched cable tv knows how much trouble that generation of the rich and famous and powerful have, how much trouble they can have and that is not characterized that generation of the bush family which has done some amazing
things including pierce is running -- >> you must have news i don't. >> pierce running for his grandfather's congressional seat. there are bush grandchildren running for office but as george p. bush was saying almost every one of them does something to get back and that reflects in an incredible way the legacy of both grandparents. >> that may be a great breaking off point to go to questions. we have a microphone here. if anyone has anything they would like to ask or comments or mostly ask. what is next for you? >> i am going to get some these and some good tacos. i love public service. i love politics. i learned in business, if you work hard the opportunities
will open up. being in the land office it has been a wild ride. we responded to 6 natural disasters in five years, we are restoring the alamo, the most visited site in the state of texas. we are addressing the needs of military veterans. the high rate of suicide and unemployment we are addressing in an initiative that we having texas. the work we are doing is meaningful and i want to continue it. >> can i ask a political question? texas, once it became a republican state thanks to george and barbara bush and others it became a pretty reliable republican state and democrats continue to hope that will not always be the case and they see a state that could become more of a swing state, demographics and other reasons. if you look ahead a little bit, look ahead a decade, where will texas be when it comes to the
landscape, the ground of politics? >> we are a majority minority state, we will be majority hispanic in five years, hitting into redistricting, probably gain another four seats, second behind california. that is changing texas politics. in austin there are 140 people moving here today, half from california. regardless of your politics if you are a demographer you know it is changing politics with our state house which is the most reflective of any government or state, we have 150 seats in our margin is nine seats. my good friend who is running the statehouse effort for the democrats says we will raise $20 million most of it nationally and most vulnerable districts the nine seats are in suburban texas where beto did a phenomenal job exploiting weaknesses, the gender gap among hispanics and millennials
so i am working to communicate better within those three groups. >> what does the party need to do? >> we need to get out of the ivory tower and talk to people. we have taken so for granted to have a republican state that we haven't engaged the general election or study the demographics, having looked at the changes in the suburbs. it was rural texas that saved republicans was i was the second-highest vote-getter behind governor abbott. part of the reason is we did a better job among hispanics and millennials, among suburban women. if you look at williamson county in central texas we had a better ground game reaching out to suburban texas. that is the battleground right now. we have to spend time and engage. >> here we go, several questions back that way.
>> i understand one of you is a partisan politician but karen tumulty and michael beschloss, how do you maintain objectivity when writing your stories and biographies? i am sure you have a political leaning but how do you make sure you are being as objective as possible as you cover what is happening or writing about history? >> about a year and a half ago i became a nest for the opinion section of the washington post. after decades of being paid to be objective i am not paid for my opinions which is a bit of an adjustment for me. in both cases i try to base what i'm writing on what i am seeing and talking to as many
people as possible. susan is in a different situation. >> i'm a reporter, not a commentator. i don't think my opinion of things matter. what matters is what i find out when talking to other people and offer context and analysis. if you have really strong opinions or a clear partisan tilt you shouldn't go into the field because you should go and do something else. you should be an activist or a commentator or work for an outlet that has that point of view. it is so important in our democracy to have outlets everyone believes is telling them the truth. that is something, faith in the mainstream media has eroded in this country. it is terrible for the mainstream media but bad for us
as a country. what reporters try to do, it is like working on a muscle. it is easier for me today to be as carefully objective and fair as i can be as a was with the first story i ever wrote. it is part of being a mainstream journalist who is trying to offer people not what i think but what i see and what sense i can make of what i see. >> in my case, history -- objective is not the word i would use. it seems easier when you are writing about dead people because they are not in politics. >> my name is nick and i'm a first year grad students. i am curious about h&w and
barbara's relationship with lbj and lady bird. >> my favorite story is when my grandfather was in congress in his third term and lbj was departing office. i think there was the floor vote at the time, lbj was boarding air force one at andrews air force base and ran over and joined the goodbye party and shook his hand. there was a photo you posted on twitter. if you are into political history particularly in texas there is a great photo of him reaching over three rose of people and shaking the president's hand. as a texan it spoke to how we govern at the state level. not sure how to talk about dc but that is how we work together. when i think about the lbj school and his legacy and a lot
of his students joining the general land office and helping us respond to natural disasters along with the bush school students, they -- would be smiling down from above. >> can i tell the story like your grandfather tells about his later dealings with lbj? >> the more colorful the better. >> george hw bush was considering a run for the senate in 1970 and that was a time he assumed -- how many remember the day -- what an audience. who was liberal but the state was going conservative, george w. bush wanted to rent is right, did not dream his opponents would be lloyd benson who was more conservative. >> he we used to be called a tory democrat. >> in any case george w. bush
went to the bj ranch, back to the senate days of his father, who was actually quite close to lbj, though he was a republican and lbj was a democrat and he says mister president, do you think i should run for the senate or stay in the house? lbj replied i can't quite tell the story given where we are. the difference between running for that senate or the house is the difference between chicken salad and chicken leg. >> your lbj accent is terrible. speaking of lady bird. >> i don't agree with you. >> barbara bush really liked lady bird. they had a good relationship and she credited lady bird with
giving her advice how to approach being first lady and having a big platform. but lady bird helped in another way. when did she die? >> 2006 i believe. >> barbara bush goes to her funeral and up to this point barbara bush has refused to engage on her own funeral plans in a big way. he goes to lady bird and says i love lady bird, it was too long, mine has to be shorter, we have to plan this now. she didn't want to have one of these things that went on and on and on and it was only at that point that she really focused on designing her own funeral which she very much designed. she put -- i interviewed jeb bush as he was working on her eulogy before she passed away but when it was clear she was in her final days, one of the things she was worried about
was the strict time limits his mother put on him for the eulogy, very determined to stick to for fear of what she might do if he went on too long. one thing, when they were planning the funeral, very large church, she asked her aides if they should plan it for the main sanctuary. for the challenge. every seat was taken at the sanctuary in her service. >> the image from barbara bush's funeral or the first few days that stick with me the most is when she was lying in state. george herbert walker bush was very frail at that point, shows up to sit there in his wheelchair and greet the
mourners. the courtesy, the politeness that seemed wired into bush family dna, he was not going to have all these people show up and not be there to acknowledge them. it was so touching and i thought it was such an act of love for your grandmother. >> and dora was there as well. similar to my grandmother, they didn't think people would camp out the night before. the casket was there and open or closed but the church was open for visitors and readers to come from houston writ large and it was 7:00 pm when they were in the house and said let's go and he immediately
signed up and rolled them out and i think he was there for a good hour shaking hands. of course i am trying to think of who said calm down, it will be a long weekend, we had other celebrations and family events scheduled but what a great moment. >> in the final -- an interview scheduled with barbara bush, in mind before she fell and broke her back and went to the hospital and never recovered and i never saw her again but when she came home from the hospital to hospice care, one of the final nights they had together they got to gather in the den of their house which was a small tv then off of the living room and one of the things i don't think barbara bush was worried about dying,
all the interviews i do with her she knew she was at the end of her life that she worried about dying, how he would get along after all those years together without her there. they had this amazing conversation in that final night where he said, she said i am not going to worry about you, george, and he said i'm not going to worry about you. she gave him permission to live and he gave her permission to die and then they had a drink. >> isn't that lovely? it gives you a sense of this book because i don't know many biographies written this quickly after the subject has passed with this kind of detail in a surprise on every page. really great job. >> we have time maybe for a couple more questions.
>> excluding yourself, going back in the history of the bush family to your great-grandfather is impossible to say who enjoyed campaigning the most? >> who enjoyed campaigning the most? i would say my uncle. he loved retail politics. even to this day democrats are big clinton supporters, i am a big clinton fan. i met your uncle. that guy, i love him. he absolutely amazing, lives reaching out to people, he doesn't know a stranger, it is in his blood in his early 30s, always engaged in it.
he knows the latest box score in every state house racer county commission race. and is a political animal so he loves the political side. >> goes all the way back to president bush. your grandfather was the second generation of bushes in politics. >> not a lot of people know prescott was dragged into politics. they had to pull him into that race several times and ultimately when he did serve, developed relationships with president johnson and president kennedy in the senate and now when things were more collegial in the senate perhaps before the filibuster rule when you can get things done, also different era for sure but prescott literally had to get dragged into it. he had a beautiful family. he was in connecticut, had a lucrative business career but
was service oriented through his church and father the opportunity to serve, had a relationship with general eisenhower and saw the opportunity to get it. >> any more? >> bush's funeral there was a photo of the bushes and obamas and clintons and milania trump. i was curious about your opinions about the significance of that photo given our political climate now. >> i love seeing photographs like that particularly at a time it is so divided. >> very special, and it was taken before the actual ceremony. what i enjoyed was it was
president clinton, we got to grab a photo. everybody is here. i believe president carter was unable to make it. it speaks to the greatest of the country when we have these types of reunions of former presidents. the bush school hopes to do that. we did that after hurricane harvey, all presidents came together but another story i will share in the current president. when my grandfather did pass in the dc ceremony, the night before, mullaney a invited the family to come to the white house to check out the christmas tree which i thought was an incredible gesture and my uncle invited the president to come to the oval office. i did not personally witness that.
i am looking at one of my grandfather's former aides and they exchanged a few jokes, you can share a few of those jokes. there is much made about the politics but behind the scenes it was a moment and a shame it requires that but to make that happen that is what i loved about the dc part, tune out the white noise. it is good for the country to have that for 72 hours and good for the soul. >> do we have any more? we are out of time. thank you so much for being with us today and not going to pieces. >> have a good time. >> susan will be signing books.
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"in depth" with journalist naomi klein. >> this is the hottest summer on record. we have never had so little arctic sea ice. we are losing huge swaths of the amazon. we have lost much of the great barrier reef. these are the major features of our planet, the arctic, the amazon, the great barrier reef and as my friend says -- >> miss klein talks about her book on science, the burning case for green new deal, no logo and the shock doctrine. join in the conversation live with your phone call, tweets and facebook messages. at 9:00 eastern on "after words" in his latest book defeating the sky, washington times national security columnist bill gertz talks about china's efforts to become a global, military and economic superpower.
he is interviewed by a former under secretary of state for global affairs. >> everyone is looking at the chinese economic threat. the white house was very successful in highlighting this threat. they issued a report with the stunning title china's economic regression. there was a huge policy fight with bureaucrats saying we can't say economic aggression but when you read the report you understand why. >> watch booktv every weekend on c-span2. >> during departure remarks donald trump was asked about his phone call to the president of ukraine. the president was on his way to florida to deliver remarks on a new medicare proposal. >> hello, everybody. we