tv Death Row Stories CNN December 1, 2018 7:00pm-8:01pm PST
their sleep. and snoring and whistling always got you extra points. and then the third criteria and perhaps the most important was the quality of recovery. did you just kind of come back up out of your snooze and open an eye and completely back in the meeting or were you one of these folks that awoke with a jerk and spilled the coffee? >> well, we lost the scowcroft award because it was classic george bush humor. and it was done in the same way as the ranking system that he made up for who got to play tennis with him. >> he'll sometimes talk about imaginary things. he'll talk about a ranking committee. this is a big bush family tradition that was actually started by his mother. she loved to talk to the kids about, well, we'll take that before the ranking committee. and it's lived on through the
president and on to the next generations as well. >> the bush family are very, very competitive athletically and they have ranking committee for every sport. golf, tennis. you name it. and you're not allowed to challenge someone unless you're next to them on the ranking chart. >> and the ranking system was mythological in the sense that only the president knew what the rules were because he made them up. and mainly he made them up so he didn't have to play with losers like me who wanted to play but weren't any good. >> the ranking committee is a misnomer because the committee implies there's more than one person on it. >> no one ever knew who the ranking committee was. so on mrs. bush's 75th birthday president bush said i'm going to reveal for the first time ever the members of the ranking committee. and of course he was the ranking committee. there was only one person on the ranking committee. but he'd arranged for this photo to be taken. it's five members of the ranking committee.
and of course they're all him. president bush as a biker. that was his favorite. president bush the golfer. then there's his secretary. then i think i'm -- i don't remember what i am. >> there is a side of president bush when it comes to competition that might surprise some people. there is a little bit of a pseudo trash talk side to george bush. >> now, you watch and learn, jamie. this is the prediction for the match. 7-6 in the second set. >> he never was insulting or belittling or bullying, all the characteristics i've seen in virtually all other presidents i've worked for. >> he didn't want people around that were sycophantic. he wanted people around that could give him good sound advice. >> he sat there behind his desk, occasionally chewing his lip, and listening to the presentation. then he opened it up to
questions. and this was the pattern i would see over and over again. he did not answer anything. he did not insert himself. he let us debate with each other so that all the issues got out on the table. he listened carefully. and then he might have asked a question or two but once he had satisfied himself that we had thought of all of the up sides and down sides he merely says, go, let's do it. in the summer of 1990 the iraqis invaded kuwait, and the president was faced with a choice of what to do. we briefed him on what our possible military options were right away. and he made it clear that we would use all the diplomatic effort that we could and all the options that we had politically to see if we could get saddam hussein to get out of kuwait but if he did not get out of kuwait we would do something about it. >> iraq will not be permitted to annex kuwait. and that's not a threat. it's not a boast. it's just the way it's going to be. >> the president met with the
national security council at the white house, then got on an airplane and flew to aspen, colorado to meet with margaret thatcher who was giving a speech at the aspen institute. i remember sitting in that session with the two of them and mrs. thatcher said, "i believe saddam hussein is going on into saudi arabia, that he is not going to stop at kuwait. he wants those oil fields, and it's going to be one country after another." and president bush says, "i agree, and i think he must be stopped." and he said, "let's go around the world and see who's with us and who's against us." >> one of the extraordinary things about george bush is when he became president he knew most of the other leaders in the world. >> it's only with friends that you can take off the gloves and talk from the heart. >> and he cultivated those friendships. they weren't just acquaintances for him. >> he was absolutely the pioneer of telephone diplomacy. his capacity more than anybody else i ever knew simply to pick up the phone and talk to people. there suddenly out of the blue was the leader of the free
world. >> he called when there was no purpose to the call. when he wasn't asking for anything. and well before the gulf war he built a web of relationships across the entire world with leaders that when it came time to put the coalition together you had people who were willing -- they were always going to do what was in their national interest, but they wanted to do this for george bush because george bush was their friend and they trusted him. >> he gathered together the most remarkable coalition of nations since the second world war. very, very doubtful that anybody else would have been in such a good position to do that. >> he came back from aspen, and i was at home watching on television as he landed on the south lawn of the white house and the reporters started shouting at him. and his simple answer was -- >> this will not stand. this will not stand, this aggression against kuwait. >> and that was my order,
whether i knew it or not. he made it clear. >> this will not stand. i remember when he said it it took my breath away. i thought to myself, how does he propose to effectuate that? >> when he was debating whether or not to go to war, i went in to see him. i said, i know you know that this matter has all of the elements that have brought down previous presidents. $40 oil, body bags, and the great dissatisfaction at home. and his answer to me was yes, i know all that, jimmy, but we're going to do this because this is what's right. >> it was the decision being made at a period of time where the u.s. was still suffering from what a lot of people have called the post-vietnam syndrome. where there was a reluctance in the country to use military power anymore after vietnam. in a way that made george bush's
decision to do so tougher. >> there were protesters out on lafayette square with signs, don't go to war, you're a warmonger, and he went over and pulled the curtain aside. he said, look at that. he said, "i hate war. i was in war. i was shot down and picked out of the sea. by luck. i could have been dead. and it just pains me terribly to look out there as if i were the war president." but he said, "this will not stand on kuwait. this man will not take over a country while the world looks on. it will not stand." >> saddam is making the mistake of his life. if he confuse an abundance of restraint and patience with a lack of resolve. >> there's a little office just next to the oval office, and there was a tv set in there.
the cnn characters were there in baghdad panning the city. the president and the vice president and scowcroft sitting there with me, watching this television screen, waiting for the war to begin. and you could see on the president's face when that happened, that he had what i think happens to every commander in chief. the realization that he had made a decision that was unfortunately going to cost lives but had to be done. >> i think george bush's attitude to war was intensely human and intensely personal. he knew that you couldn't talk of soldiers en masse, each one was an individual whose life was at risk, who had parents, perhaps a family, and certainly friends, and to george bush their lives were infinitely precious and ought not to be put at risk unnecessarily. >> he had the greatest respect
for the troops. he really loved them. it meant so much to him that they were putting themselves in danger to achieve a noble purpose. and that relationship he had with us was so meaningful to him. but not just to him. to each and every one of us in the armed forces, to know we had a commander in chief who believed in us, took care of us, and respected us. >> at the end of the gulf war it would have been easy for us to say okay, we've done that, now the road to baghdad is open, let's take over, throw out saddam, and create a new iraq. but we wanted to behave in a way which would set the rules for world behavior in a post-cold war world. and that is we had u.n. authorization to liberate kuwait. we did not have u.n.
authorization to go to baghdad. and it was the president putting into play once more the long-range thoughtfulness that builds on current circumstances to make the future better. >> the american people went kind of crazy for their soldiers. i'll never forget when we had the parade in washington but he wanted to make it clear. he said, this is for those who did it, not for me. >> america endures because we dared risk our most precious asset, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our husbands and wives, the finest troops any country has ever had. >> it wasn't the president who was out there taking the high fives. and the modesty that was engrained in him by his family, by his upbringing, that's who he
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[ whistle ] serving on a ship that bears the name "uss george h.w. bush," it is the only aircraft carrier with a living namesake. and that's significant because the presence of that living namesake is felt throughout the ship. >> one of the wonderful days in the life of the ship was the christening, and i had the opportunity as the sponsor to stand with my dad and with my brother to christen the ship. and i had been told that you can't just lightly tap the champagne against the ship because it's hard to break and
it's not good luck if the bottle doesn't shatter. so i literally mustered every ounce of strength i had to smash that bottle. >> may god bless all who sail her. >> i was not going to be standing between two presidents and not properly christen the ship. the commissioning took place january 2009. and it was one of the very last things that my brother george was able to do as president. >> laura and i are thrilled to be here to help commission an awesome ship and to honor an awesome man. >> one surprise that we had for president bush was there was a fly-by of an avenger, which is the airplane that he flew. it caught him by surprise and i think that just flooded the emotion gate for president bush.
after that he spent the night and i get a phone call at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning saying hey, captain, the president is up wandering around the halls shaking hands with sailors. of course he's supposed to be in bed. i'm trying to sleep. i just said fine, let him walk around. he's enjoying the heck out of it. and he did it. the next morning i said mr. president, i heard you had a little sleepless night. "i just -- i knew i hadn't met every single sailor." and he was doing his darnedest to try to do that. >> dad loves the carrier, loves the sailors on board. it's a culmination of everything in dad's life that's important to him. >> we try to emulate our namesake and we serve with integrity. so everything we did on that ship was a reflection of president george h.w. bush.
>> when he got into his 70s, he viewed his life as cavu, which stands for ceiling and visibility unlimited. >> it's what naval pilots would wish for, and that is blue skies, blue clear skies. and that's what dad's had in his life. and when he talks about that, he's talking about the blessings in his life. >> he realized he had so much to be grateful for and, you know, part of that was being surrounded by family in maine. he put this plaque on the back of the house. so i think when he thinks of cavu he thinks of sitting out there on the back porch at walker's point with, you know, my cousins surrounding him and that sense that this value system that he's been a huge part of will continue long past the time when he's gone. >> he's the kind of guy that likes an anchor to the windward, as he would say. and walker's point has provided an anchor for him throughout his life.
>> i mean, just in this room alone i think of so many things. his grandfather used to sit at the card table over here and play solitaire. and i think of his mother. we had her birthday party here. and she was really older then. and one of them said to her, well, mom, what's been your best birthday? and she leaned over and held his hand and said, "this is my best birthday. i'm holding the hand of my son, the president of the united states." >> my mother told me not to brag about myself and to bend my knees when i volleyed. >> i must say that crises never seemed quite as bad when we were in kennebunkport as they did when you were in washington. now, that's pure psychology. but it's that psychology that i think give the president the
kind of reaching to his roots and restoring his strength and self-confidence. >> president bush has a great love of the sea. he loves to fall asleep listening to the waves. walker's point has been the one constant in his life since the day he was born. >> i was with president bush when he returned to kennebunkport after the nor'easter storm in november 1991. and the whole first floor of the house was destroyed. >> the water came in one side and went out the other side and took everything with it. >> all of the personal mementos and photographs and autograph books were all strewn in the bushes. valuable personal treasures. scattered over the lawn.
there was a foot and a half of rock on the tennis court. >> and they were picking up pieces of photographs and keepsakes that they had. and he would say, hey bar, look at this. and she'd say, george, come over here and take a look at this. and you could see that it was just a terrible shock for them. but at the same time you saw strength in both of them. >> my first reaction was how sad it was for my parents. and of course both of them, being so optimistic, they were like don't worry about us, everything's going to be fine. >> he didn't even flinch. he looked at that devastation and the president of the united states put on a pair of rubber coat coveralls and immediately started shoveling sand out of his living room. >> he was pretty depressed. but he also said, we're going to put it back together, we're going to fix it.
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that i've ever known in or out of politics know that he was strong. he was herculean the way he handled things. >> strong. >> strong. >> strong. >> he left me this wonderful note in the desk in the oval office telling me not to get discouraged when times got tough and telling me that in the end the only thing i would remember when it was over is whether i did what i thought was best for the country. >> the 1990 budget deal was probably one of the most difficult moments in the presidency of george bush. >> the deficit was so high that the president was reminded of it every day because it was given as a reason why we weren't getting a recovery in the recession. and the recession was causing
greater and greater anguish. and the president, of course, wanted to get the recession resolved. >> it is my deeply held conviction that i must do all i can to get a $500 billion deficit reduction that can't be turned over next year or the year after. >> the conservative wing of the republican party was adamant that there would be no new taxes as the president had said at the convention. >> my opponent won't rule out raising taxes. but i will. and the congress will push me to raise taxes. and i'll say no. and they'll push and i'll say no. and they'll push again and i'll say to them read my lips. no new taxes. [ cheers and applause ] >> so when the budget negotiations began with the congress over this, they wanted taxes. he wanted spending restraint. and it became clear after a while that he wasn't going to get any spending restraint of any meaningful kind without agreeing to some tax increases. >> he said well, you know, if i
do that, that really shows that i'm a liar. i'm not being true when i said read my lips. >> president bush said a sour economy forced him to break his "read my lips" pledge. >> when the budget deal was finally announced in late september and it included a tax increase, all hell broke loose. >> the president felt really bad about breaking a promise he made. >> he did it out of good motives. he was trying to get something done. he was trying, as he said, to govern. >> the president said for the good of the country we have to do this. that was a profile in courage. and he did pay a high price for it. >> nbc news has projected bill clinton the new president of the united states. >> i just called governor clinton over in little rock and offered my congratulations. i wish him well in the white house. >> when we returned to washington the day that my dad lost the election to president
clinton, my dad and i were in a limousine, and i remember driving through the streets of washington with my dad. and he was uncharacteristically quiet. and at one point he began to choke up a little bit. and i was wondering what's going on. and he just uttered something to the effect of i feel like i let them down. and he was talking about all the people who had worked so hard to get him re-elected and all the people on the staff who'd worked so hard for four years to make america a better place. and he just felt like he had let them down. and it was a tough moment for me to watch him suffer like that. >> he was disappointed, but he was not bitter. he was a man of dignity and a person that was confident and wanted to move on. >> after president bush lost the
election, 15 days later, maybe less than that, his mother passed. and now the election was still devastating, but not near so much as losing his mother. almost like his guiding light. and it's a huge page in a man's book of life when their mother passes. and you could see that in him. and it almost took over from the loss of the election. >> it was a tough time because his mother was the greatest influence in his life. she instilled all of these qualities of family, faith and friends into dad. and he lived his life with that coming first always. >> i think his faith is very strong. very strong.
but he's very quiet about it. you don't really talk about your faith. you act your faith. there's no excuse for what they did to you. it's a hate crime. it's a miracle he survived. argh! i got your back. based on an inspirational true story. they knocked me down, but i've created a world where i can heal.
this -- "this is the white house operator number one, hold for the president." so i have to go back to jon lovitz. i go, jon, i have to go. he goes, what? you have a bigger name? i go, well, it's actually the president. i don't even know if he really believed me. president bush comes on the phone. he goes, how you doing, dane? wondering if maybe you'd like to come out and visit a little bit. people are a little down here. just maybe cheer up the troops. a few weeks later my wife and i are at the gate, we go in. it's gorgeous. dressed for christmas. all the red flowers and everything. meanwhile, my wife and i are kind of levitating. our heads are exploding that we're in the lincoln bedroom. and later on a lot of people wanted to know whether my wife and i made love in the lincoln bedroom. and i thought that was such a silly question. you know, i didn't want to answer. but my son's middle name is abe. so anyway, so the next day i had
a meeting with the president. everyone was there. and i'm going to go into the east wing. they play "hail to the chief." his whole staff was going to be assembled. ♪ >> actually, i was staying in the lincoln bedroom last night and i couldn't resist getting on the phone. i called up the secret service as the president. "feel like going jogging tonight. in the nude." my wife and i were looking out at the lawn around midnight, and these guys were -- "fully unclothed." the way to do the president is to start out with mr. rogers. ♪ it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood ♪ then you add a little john wayne. "here we go. let's go over the ridge." you put them together, you got george herbert walker bush. [ cheers and applause ] that's the thing there. >> to bring a comedian that sort of made fun of you all these years to your white house staff
after you've lost an election, that's classy. >> good luck. >> one of our enduring traditions in america is that after a presidential election, when the incumbent president is leaving office and a new president is coming in, the president-elect pays a courtesy call on the president at the white house. >> he brought president clinton and mrs. clinton in to introduce them to the butlers. he was telling them these are the guys that are going to take care of you upstairs and everything. they'll really be good to you. but it wasn't good for us because the first thing president clinton and mrs. clinton saw was a bunch of guys in there with tears in their eyes crying. and he told them, he said don't pay them no mind. he said they'll be the same way with you when you leave. >> i remember how gracious they were and brave and dignified. and, you know, i always really liked him. so i could just feel how hard it
must have been. and i really admired the way they did it. >> one of the great experiences that was given to our country was when a friendship was formed that ran against the norm. and that was a friendship between president clinton and president bush. >> they're an odd couple, but it's very sweet, the relationship that they developed. i think their work together on behalf of good causes is really one of the nicest chapters in the history of american presidents. >> i will be a friend to all. >> friendless. >> no one at 10 downing street can recall the last time a world leader shook hands with the doorman at the prime minister's home. >> george bush just has so much love for people. whether they agreed with his
politics, his point of view, it didn't matter. he didn't have a mean-spirited bone in his body. >> friend to all. >> friend to all. >> friendless. >> just knowing what i know, the kind of guy he is, if he wasn't your friend he would make you his friend. that's just the way he makes people feel. comfortable. >> so it was a totally different time period where people like me really thought our jobs were on the line if our bosses maybe knew that we were gay. at this point i was president bush's chief of staff, having worked for him for maybe ten years. a couple of months after i became chief of staff i told jean becker that i was gay. and she had asked me then if i was going to tell the bushes. and i said, you know, that's not something i feel that i could ever talk to them about. it was just too personal and they meant too much to me and i just didn't think i could ever have the conversation with them. and then i expressed to her i was worried that he would be embarrassed of me. that he -- you know, i didn't know if he'd want to fire me. or if he just would be ashamed.
several months later he told me he wanted to talk to me about something. so he says, "i asked jean if you were gay," at which point i was like shell-shocked. and i really couldn't look at him because i was totally caught off guard. it was not a conversation i ever thought i would have with george bush. and he began to tell me the fact that he loved me no matter what, he wanted me to be happy first and foremost. he would never be embarrassed of me or ashamed and he didn't care if anybody knew that i, his chief of staff, was gay. and he said, you know bar loves you and it really didn't matter to them, he just wanted me to be happy. and then he began to tear up and get emotional because he then said to me, "i hope i've never done anything to make you feel like less of a person in all our time together." having him show that kind of love towards me really showed
the kind of man that he is. it certainly made my life easier, because i thought if george bush knows and doesn't care, it doesn't matter to me if anybody else knows or cares. >> although i was a little girl when president bush was in office, as i'm now an adult and i'm studying and learning more and putting into context some of the memories i recall from his time in office, i see that one of the things you can really learn from his presidency is to be bold, is to really stand for something and go against the grain at times. and i would say for me that was one of the major things i learned at the bush school. millennials are a very distinct generation. we do have the strong desire to leave the world better than we found it. which i think directly relates to the president and not only his leadership in office but even his leadership after
office. >> my father had a great vision. points of light represents, you know, the greatest part of the american tradition of giving to others. and i'm proud of that, and i think it's his greatest legacy. >> i will keep america moving forward. always forward. for a better america, for an endless enduring dream and a thousand points of light. >> and he thought everybody could be a point of light. you could do something in volunteerism or some other form of service to your nation that makes you a point of light, somebody who shines out. >> 23 years later the thousand points of light foundation is the largest multifaceted volunteer organization on the whole planet. to appear. what started with one job spread all around. because each job in energy creates many more in this town.
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president bush. he is the ultimate camp counselor, just going 100 miles an hour. >> the president's idea of playing golf is the fastest one around the course is the one who wins. it's not the lowest score. >> and he would hit the ball and he would run and then he'd hit it again. and he would run. and by the time it got up on the green, he's [ breathing hard ] and he'd walk off of there and say to me or one of the others, i don't understand why i can't putt. >> he said, if you have any tips to give me that will help me play a little better, just give them to me. and of course i used to say, well, the first tip i'm going to give you is to slow down. >> my dad is somebody who lives life to the fullest. he's not a guy who's going to sit around and, you know, needlepoint. he asked for volunteers on his 85th birthday, for people who wanted to skydive. my wife did it. our daughter did it.
our son did it. and i was too chicken to do it. >> i clearly remember flying over the crowd and watching the 41st president waving at the crowd. >> there was all these boats on the water. and i think everyone on the boats had these little bells. and you could hear these bells ringing from 3,000 feet, which are all his friends. you know, and i'm like sir, you've got to get your legs up for the landing. but he was just so alive and just -- you can see that sense of freedom and enjoyment and feeling young. >> i sent to you sergeant first class michael elliott and the 41st president of the united states, george herbert walker bush. [ cheers and applause ] >> we landed right there at the boat landing area at st. anne's
church. he says, hey, you made an old man feel young again. >> oh, yeah. >> we were at church at the little episcopal church in kennebunkport very near walker's point. and the minister asked one of those rhetorical questions in his sermon. he said who here has a perfect family? and president bush actually raised his hand. he was the only person in the congregation that raised his hand and everybody sort of chuckled. >> people normally ask, did you constantly seek your father's advice? and my answer is no, i constantly sought my father's love. >> what's always struck me whenever i see him is the joy he takes in his family and how deeply his family loves him. and to have accomplished as much as he has while still investing the kind of attention and care in his family that shows in how they view him, you know, that's a sign of a life well lived.
>> of course, i want to thank my entire family with a special emphasis on a woman named barbara. >> every parent lives in mortal fear that when their kids grow up they won't want to hang around them anymore. and it's sort of like the ultimate validation in life when your adult children still want to hang around with you. and his adult children like hanging around with him. >> what happens in kennebunkport stays in kennebunkport. >> i'm going to get my cousins in trouble. there are probably some very older cousins who went to some pornography sites at walker's point. and they had done it on my grandmother's computer. >> so mrs. bush discovers some pictures of scantily clad women on her printer one day. and she was extremely upset about it. and you know, she couldn't quit talking about it. and all hell broke out. needless to say.
>> so gampy to find the culprit you know, drafted this scheme where he pretended to be the district attorney in portland, maine. and he wrote a letter to my >> it has come to our attention that you have been using your computer to go on porn websites. >> you know, we were going to have to come down to the portland office and answer to them. >> but it was very official and we did dummy stationary, and someone drove to portland and mailed the letter so it had a portland stamp date, and mrs. bush fell for it hook, line and sink sinker. it's a family tradition. the bushes are in bed, reading the paper, drinking coffee and the whole family goes in there, and mrs. bush a lot of times would go through her mail in the morning. he made sure her mail pouch was sitting right there and sure enough with a bunch of family in the bedroom, she opens that letter, and she is beside
herself. >> and he kind of pulled all of his grandkids, i think that was probably the younger age and he read the letter aloud and he was like you know, i don't know he cared to find out who did it. it was more the spirit, and joking was his way of handling that situation. >> we're going down life's highway together. >> it's hard to describe some humor, but we had such a good time. that devil. the new capital one savor card. earn 4% cash back on dining and 4% on entertainment. now when you go out, you cash in. what's in your wallet? missed out on this. don't worry, the biggest deal is happening right now at t-mobile.
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it's remarkable, and i think it's because they can laugh at themselves. they laugh together. >> okay. [ laughter [ laughter ] >> i would look up. >> look up. >> and laugh. >> and laugh. >> and love. >> and love. >> and lift. >> there's a lot of gampyisms in the funny little things he does. >> look up. >> and laugh. >> he's got such a great spirit. >> and love. >> you can't help but see what a romance and how much love he has for her. there's this fabulous camaraderie, and the fun, they had the best time teasing each other, but they're the most supportive. dare anybody say one negative word against either, and they will just kill you. you just better watch out. >> you look lovely. >> i think their long marriage is an expression of the kind of
people they are, and they've been through rough times, the loss of a child. what could be a heavier blow to any mother and father? >> i don't know how my parents got through it. robin was my older sister who died of leukemia at the age of 4. you never get over something like that, but they did a fantastic job of getting through it. mom would be having a difficult time, and dad would be her strength, and then when dad was feeling weak and having a difficult time, mom was strong, so they are very compatible that way. >> they're great together, and
even in their later years, they still find things to be grateful for with each new day. >> to me they're one of the great teams ever. you know, if you were a baseball team, you would want your double play combination to do that as well as they do. if you're a basketball team, you want a guard and a guy filling the lane to feel one another. they do that, and when they do it, it's absolutely beautiful. >> they've now officially been married longer than any other president and first lady. i remember a couple of years ago -- they're going to kill me for telling this. they both had complained to me separately about how much the other one snored so after, i don't know, a few months of hearing all the snoring stories, i suggested to president bush one day, i said maybe it's time that you all sleep in separate beds, and he was just appalled by this idea, and he said i have to be able to reach out in the middle of the night and grab her
hand and know that she's there. >> a little personal but we say we love each other every night, too, and then we fight over who loves the other one more. that's always a nice argument. i win that one. >> we are so honored we have been friends with george and barbara bush since 1982, and we're proud to sing amazing grace for our president. ♪ amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me ♪ ♪ i once was lost but now i'm