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tv   Washington Journal Clarence Page Peter Wehner  CSPAN  December 5, 2018 11:16pm-12:14am EST

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warning to the rest of us that this is going in the wrong direction. the population elected trump as they breaa break glass in case f emergency. maybe that will get your attention. >> watch this weekend on the booktv c-span2. >> on the life and legacy of the late president george h. . we turned the panel. clarence page is a long-time columnist witlongtimecolumnist o tribune" and from the ethics and public policy center we are joined by pete wehner. i want to start with you as america says goodbye to its president this week how should we take the measure of a presidency? >> you do it by what happened and by what didn'tan happen andi think that's the things that are. was the country better because of the stewardship or was it
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more together orr more decent, did the person uphold the constitution and embody the qualities as amb human being tht we look for and prized so there were a lot of different factors that you look for in terms of judging a presidency it depends on time in which the time in wt deserves because quality is needed ins some situations if yu are asked war and peace in this crisis is it a foreign-policy crisis, but i think if you took george h. w. bush, the time he served i think she looks awfully good in light of his record into perspective. the perspective. >> host: same question what matters when we judge a presidency?
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>> guest: i quoted my friend patrick buchanan who ran against george bush and 1992 and rattled the establishment and i would say that it is the beginnin wasf a love what we have seen since then it house etc.. but i would add what his thoughts were. he said he was an american closer. someone you called him at the con kluge debate the conclusion worthy inning of a baseball game. he happened to be president of thatthe time the wall came downd the cold war was ending and he may be around the longest for
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having bring that to a conclusion at the time we were worried about the civil war breaking out. his brilliance and temperament worked at that time. and we saw in him someone who was good at bringing people together and he said he was lacking the visual thing. now i understand better than ever when he said new world order at the time, the quote w that backfired but she was talking about an order that we now see under attack byer the current president and other multilateral alliances that were built for a peaceful pro-democracy world getting back in a lot of different ways write-downs of this is the time we can appreciate george bush at
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the time some of this good work is really under attack and a deteriorating. >> host: we will be talking for this the next hour and 15 minutes this morning. we are going to end today at 9:30 and take you up as preparations get under way than for the departure ceremony that's going to be taking place from the president lying in state. the casket expected to leave at about 10:00. the state funeral today at 11:00 this morning the president will aren go to andrews air force base and an arrival and departure ceremony expected to take place aboute 1:15 and then the presidents casket was at houston and arrive at 5:30 eastern time time, where the president will lie in repose at the saint martin's episcopal church in houston. that's the schedule for today, and we will be covering it on c-span but we want to hear from you on the life and legacy of
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the late president george h. w. bush. for minds as usual this morning on the screen for you to start calling. as i take the panel to c-span's presidential historians survey. last year c-span asked 91 different presidential historians to rank the 43 former occupants of the white house on attributes of leadership. george h. w. bush came in 20th on that list, the head of u.s. s. grant and john quincy adams and the kind andrew jackson and john adams. he earned his highest marks on crisis management and international relations. as that's where he was at his best? >> guest: is where he was at his best and most comfortable. his history prepared him for affairs. the director of the cia that is the area he had most interesting. domestic policy didn't really captured his imagination that foreign policy was and he was very good at it.
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i think he was known to be good and able and competent at the time i think as the years have unfolded as we have seen just how impressive he was. from the period in the late 1940s if you had said o that the soviet unionvi would disappear from the face of the earth and that would have shocked people and the way that he helped manage that and not just that but there was the reunification of germany. they are very skittish about whether they were going to be unified and george h. w. bush felt like it should and he had the ability to pull that off. there was the gulf war which was one of the great successes in getting iraq out of kuwait in
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the coalition he was able to bring together. nafta which he expanded to include canada and the acid rain agreement which was a precursor of global warming, but i think if he was really in international affairs i will say the team he had which was jim baker and dick cheney and colin powell that was one of the most impressive teams ever assembled in history. >> host: where did he receive the lowest marks coming in 27th when it comes to setting an agenda and 23rd on public persuasion. >> there's that vision thing again. both of those elements are important. i think about the most destructive issue he made that
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promise read my lips no new taxes. i would love to hear what you think. as you said that the public if c convention he's reading the lines because he knows you can't just make a flat promise of no new taxes while you keep spending and all of a sudden ronald reagan raised taxes depending on your count during his administrations but called the revenue enhancement or something else expressed by the democrats, tip o'neill and all but the fact is he knew how to sell a tax increase and bush did not. when the time came, and newt gingrich was furious that bush allowed that to happen and it backfired as far as getting reelected. >> host: i want you to weigh in on method here is the moment
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from 1998. >> i opponent ruledul old rule t raising taxes but i will, they will push me anday i will say no and they will push and i will say no and they will push again and i will say to them now, read my lips. [cheering] >> guest: pete wehner the cheering after the pledge. >> guest: it was a good political moment. it was a nice line and it worked as a campaign speech. but i think it's right it wasn't true to him. george w. bush wasn't a great national or talented competiti competition. he was a great public servant and there was a difference. he knew the pros of governing. he didn't know the public treats
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the well. apropos of what mclaren said, that's quite right. he suffered tremendously because of the tax increase, particularly because of the republican party led by newt gingrich. that reagan did raise taxes, the increase in 82 was the largest in history. he could get away with it for a couple of reasons, one was that was a bond ronald reagan had in the conservative movement that nobody else have so he could do that but it was not a revolt. there was a lot of hesitancy and in trepidation with george h. w. bush that felt like he was not one of them so it was a lot shorter. he didunderscore the quality of george w. bush which was a threat and that was courageous enough he would pay a price to
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it. >> host: remind the viewers of what you're role was in the administration. >> guest: i worked for william bennett even secretary of education to ronald reagan so the administration and then the policy and then i was the deputy director for a couple of years for d his son george w. bush and then the director of the office of strategic initiatives so i was in theus white house for sen years and so a lot of my understanding of george h. w. bush came through sort of the hreyes of his father. just on that for a moment, it was an incredible relationship not only one of the extraordinary families in history, but certainly one of the closest and it's been said a lot since george bush the elder died how much he loved his
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family. but it was also not simply that his family and his kids loved him they been near him. it was said he was the greatest man they ever knew. his son could hardly talk about him without tears welling up. when he did the 2,000 convention speech, the reverend wrote a column in the post from a speechwriter for george w. bush and wrote about this, i remember they have to cut back a section at the convention speech and speaking of his father because it was just too emotional for him which will make the eulogy today very interesting to watch. >> host: p. at and clarence with us tonight. johnny is in charleston south carolina first. go ahead. >> caller: i would like to let america know that george h. bush wasn't perfect. he ran on the premise of
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people's fear [inaudible] thank you. >> host: the headline today from the front page of usa today bush civil rights record next. >> guest: it was mixed. one always felt so that his heart was in the right place and one that was always on the progressive side of the civil rights, but he also there were political considerations whenever he ran for office he would stick his elbows and sometimes. ithi was something his own campaign didn't run the ads.
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he was a convict who walked away from massachusetts furlough program and it was the program michael dukakis appointed as governor and said he was linked to it first by democrats in the primary stage of the aspirations and leader people who supported the bush campaign they put ads on tv with this picture a frightful looking fellow who became this iconic bad guy that he wanted to byou ought to be ad therefore should be afraidid of michael dukakis and people wouldn't hesitate to attack the furlough program. something that helped george bush to win and he didn't help
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himself very much by being emotional over the debate. and then by theim time the camp came along it was a different set of people supporting him including conservatives are angry over the tax increase so this time he lost. >> guest: he voted for the civil rights legislation when he was a member in congress which went against his interests and on the legislative side heated as well. i know he was controversial because of his judicial philosophy. he went through the history of it and i will say people interpreted the ad largely on whether you're liberal or
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conservative or republican or democrat. the people who defend george h. w. bush makes the following argument that it was real and he did go on the furlough program seeded rape people afterwards. what's needed effective was the crime that was done. if he had been a white person it still would havepe been a legitimate issue to go after. i understand that the counter argument, the campaign director, lee atwater admitted to the party in the 60s the so-called southersouthern strategies theyd racial code words to do that, roger ailes was involved in the campaign and i understand if you watch the ad how you could interpret it in a different way. i don't know because i don't know the motivations of the people that ran. sometimes i don't even know my own privation.
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even if you thought george h. w. bush was wrong, of course he wasn't perfect. he never would have saidsa he w. none of us are. you havewa to take individuals after totality. i think if you take george h. w. bush as a human being, as a man of integrity and strength and honor and courage he ranks very high. it doesn't mean he was perfect or didn't makeoe mistakes as dot he was a person with integrity. >> host: justin is next. good morning. >> caller: you did a good job of discussing the willie horton issue, and i'm also troubled by the lack of discussion on president bush legacy across his time as the cia director and vice presidentim a as well in ts of his support of school and the iran contra scandal and all that
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means for the instability on south america and how he contributed. i'm interested to see how you all will discuss that troubling aspect. >> guest: it is a long story. a lot of arguments i've been involved in in the larger cia policy and the role in the policy of thehe united states. a lot of it is i false history surrounding with the ci what tha lot of it is also factual and inaccurate they were involved in the overthrowing and assassination plots that are good for the, but i think if i'm not mistaken george h. w. bush is more remembered for his
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reform efforts and making the cia more transparent if you will which is a paradoxical word to use foror the cia but my sister-in-law over the years i know makes me sound like rush limbaugh by comparison on the political scale. but as i said you know, we do have a good reason to have intelligence in this country. i'm a vietnam era veteran and look at these on the war and see how from the beginning intelligence was our biggest problem. a lot of war and i want to see a more effective and intelligent service and so did george h. w. bush. >> guest: i agree the worst thing to happen didn't happen on e his watch. he was actually a figure that came in after what was called the church committee stinvestigations have revealed e
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darker side of history and he was very good at that job. he was revered by the cia and in fact it is named after him. he worked very well with democrats and he did make it more transparent and open and helped bring back the prestige and confident in the agency. he appreciated what they did and the integrity of the people and the difficulty. it's not an easy job but it has to be done and it worked well under him. >> host: i want to talk about the former h. w. bush legacy with the media relationship in the news media. this is from an interview in 1999 with brian lamb. the former president talking about that relationship and his
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interactions in the news media. here's what he ha he had to say. >> . >> i didn't write the editors of the publishers. i wrote one letter to sulzberger when i thought i was smeared by an ugly story about being disconnected because of the scanner. i never knew what a scanner was and what we had done in this brand-new technology and most of the other media people reported that way. it was in a convention unveiling new machinery could take it crushed package for the first time in history and show the price tag. i said this is amazing so some little reporter for "the new york times" that was not even there wrote there he is coming out of touch he doesn't know you can scan groceries and the story lived on even though a cbs guy said that this is unfair. most everybody else jumped on the guy that wrote t the story. but it's still they are caught up in one of the computers
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somewhere. i saw a favorable story about me in "the wall street journal" this year and it referred to it's too bad he wasn't connected in december showed that. so that's kind of thin thing tht gets me angrier than maybe it should but i did writesh a lettr that the rest of my presidency i don't think i ever, someone is going to watch this and say here's the letter. i don't think i ever directly or personally appealed to a publisher and said here's the lousy story you guys are doing. >> guest: george h. w. bush should have gotten together with al gore or bill clinton who didn't hold up traffic at the lax airport getting a 500-dollar haircut on air force one. every president has these stories that get out,
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inaccurately reported that corrected later. but it doesn't matter because the false story sounds more true than the true story because it fits the stereotype and that is what happened. he was at the grocery scanner [inaudible] and i sympathize with him frankly. but he never had the impression that this was a purposeful thing was a conspiracy out in the media toir get him but he did te light at the rallies showing off a bumper sticker that said i annoy the media, vote for bush. i heard you juxtapose the relationship in the media against the current president. >> guest: yes the way the president comes out much better. referred to the press as the enemy of the people.
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that clip that you played was sweet it did capture him and his humanness and there's a touching side to him. i will say in comparing him to donald trump they are in so many ways the antithesis of each other and so many ways in the policy the view of america and america's role in the world, free trade, temperament. george h. w. bush was a man of tremendous experience and wise judgment and cautious and donald trump was a person who has no experience in the presidency and very bad judgment and his e latile in his temperament.
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beyond that is the core decency of the two people. i think one of the things about george h. w. bush as he was a person of empathy and sympathy and it's like he cried easily and there were more human moved him.t he never wrote an autobiography partly because he was a person who [inaudible] about humility and modesty. he never did an autobiography but all the best was a book of his letters and he was one of the greatest letter writers in american history. the point here is they weren't letterwereletters of people he t to and felt an attachment to. donald trump has no empathy. he has no sympathy. i think he's missing the gene.
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so the contrast between george h. w. bush and donald trump couldn't be sharper. that is what is happening inpi this capital and in the country now because sometimes there are virtues for steak and individuals and in the life of the country you don't appreciate them and when they aree stripped away you realize why they matter and i think george w. bush is helping us realize by president bush's matter. >> host: in south carolina, good morning. >> caller: how are you doing. can i please have a couple of minutes because there's a lot to unpack. not just mr. bush that the bush family. if you really want to know a lot about an individual you have to do the research. i believe this gentle man's name was peter wehner.
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he stated the fact fact of how s family did influence so many. people need to look at history of the familthehistory of the fg with prescott bush. understand that a the cia toctor of become the second most powerful man in the world. just the things that you have no. we need to understand part of the cia policy, whether it's what they were doing in the golden triangle during the 70s or how patrice came to be tied and shot at shoved a tree. this gentle man has his hands on the strings of many global event. i just find it really disturbing it's no disrespect to him that we need to be more objective
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when we try to describe individuals, former graduate of yale, member of a secret society called skull and bones which by the way said [inaudible] everybody please do your research because they don't want to be a conspiracy of crazies -- >> host: got her point. what is your response? >> guest: we shouldn't be conspiracy crazy i agree on that. what, if you believe that being director of the cia is an automatic disqualifier fromom being president that's your view. i don't agree. this individual sounds like he doesn't think the cia should exist and that just isn't reality. you need a central intelligence agency for all sorts of reasons. anybody in government knows the. being a member of the skull and bones society i'm not quite sure
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what that is supposed to mean. >> guest: his son ran for president who was a member and ran against a senator, i'm sorry, in the 2004 election, senator kerry also a member of skull and bones [inaudible] it gets everywhere. >> host: scott i and george, go ahead. >> caller: thank you for answering my call. in today's politics we really need h. w. bush back. trump is killing us around the world. i voted for him and i don't know why of all presidents you think
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the times we are going through right now, it's horrible. we needee to get rid of him so that we can go back to a normal decency. what's going on right now in the world is horrible. but everything said, the 6,500 lives where are these guys on ethics are and this is to watch and call him out on that? >> guest: we are being tested on how much we really care about ethics. in other words do the ends justify the means or what can i
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get out of this relationship is that the whole function of having an international or domestic relations were a serving constituency. something the voters are already seeing in these midterm elections in the rising movement of concerned by the voters who want to see more ethics in government right now and fewer conflicts of interest and more accountability. >> host: you talk about the love of his family and family members visit the casket as he was lying in state yesterday on capitol hill. today's "washington post" jeb bush along with james baker strive to live life like george h. w. bush that is one of the columns. they've been putting out a series of videos about what the president has written in his diary andry this is one about aging and his family.
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>> this letter is about aging. last year it was only a tiny of time left, stand running through the glass. ♪ i want to put this aging on hold for a whilele now. i don't expect to be on the team for long but i want to golf and fish and enjoy and be there for you if you get a bad about in life and no doubt you will ever see is to get rough. if i should tear is try not to laugh because i will lose more
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salient. at times it is okay to cry if you are in an. we cry easily when we are happy and counting our blessings were thd. when the summer finishes and this he gets higher and going tt school for i will be making notes a i can add to this repor. remember the old song i will be there ready whenhe you are welli will be there ready when you are because there is so much excitement ahead, so many grandkids to watch grow. if you need me,d i'm here, devotedly, dad. >> that is a very moving letter. i showed it to my wife and my son overer the weekend and i cat get through it without getting
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choked up. it's beautifully written for one thing and that is so authentic and it demonstrated a person family and friends in faith and country he was one of the most self giving people in american politics and that kind of weather to one's children is priceless. >> guest: speaking of letters, i was personally touched by the piece into the sister of a colleague of mine in the washington bureau when she was in the hospital who didn't know bush, and my colleague was a health reporter and bush heard
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his sister was in thehe hospital and got her address and send her a hand written note which he was soas famous for just routinely d that's where you saw that empathy become common great where he really did feel a real attachment and connection to other people's lives. >> host: his former chief of staff and secretary of state saying he reached the pinnacle of power by a raging botanicals ofd loyalty, humility, in todays cynical world such concepts may seem old-fashioned system and easyor to dismiss but the cynics are wrong they are not old-fashioned of your time tested more than 2300 years ago aristotlebe believed the virtues of temperance, courage and justice were vital to mankind and george h. w. bush embodied
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them all and made theal world a better place because of his adherence to them you can read that column today in the post. >> thanks for taking my call. in response to ans previous calr that you had talking about being objective about the legacy of george bush were george h.. bush rather, i think we should be objective and how he handled the aids crisis at the tail end of the crisis when he was president. he did not do enough as president, and unfortunately as a result of some of his inaction on the issue, more people died as a result of the hiv virus and i was just wondering if you thought that perhaps there were mistakes made in that field, in that area of the presidency? >> guest: there probably were.
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it was a presidency that wasn't without flaws. i think that it's from where it was under the reagan administration and a lot of times you look back historically with decades to view certain things and say we got this wrong we didn't understand the gravity of a certain moment and the crisis was a large one and in retrospect i think the federal government and the reagan and bush administration should have been more aggressive than what they did. i'm not an expert. i would have to goto back and check the record. he named magic johnson to c the aid commission and they really stay with overlyf on and ended p leaving because l he felt not enough was being done and that's what you have dwh to do is hav y presidency one term, to terms you sort throughpp the things. i will say having served in
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threehr administrations into the history that my iq is 80 points higher before i went in government andgo 80 points highr when i left because it is a heck of a lot easier when you were on the outside as a writer and commentator and person on the couch watching things unfold and seeing what works and what doesn't and what was missed and saying they should have done this or that. i analogize it to being a quarterback in real time versus the coach watching a quarterback on tape. it's one thing to run back and forth and say this receiver was open at this point and should have hit him and this running back should have picked up and it wasn't a perfectly executed the play. it's different when you are in aaron rodgers and 2.3 seconds. it's harder than anybody thinks liberal, conservative, democrat republican, sometimes what government is about is getting most things pretty bright, not
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messing up on the large things and sometimes getting some in court and issues right. so it wasn't a perfect presidency but i think all things taken together into one impressive as a human being and president. >> the column in the times he didn't leave with aids activists seeing a legacy this is some of that story credit said he didn't do enough funding for the research and treatment and he was also critical of the policy proposals like a federally funded needle exchange activists believed would slow the spread of the virus. by the end of his term was the leading cause of death for men in the united states from 25 to 44 according to the cdc. >> guest: i remember those days very well. ronald reagan got even more criticism for his responding recognizing where they were hit byby this and matthew johnson's
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case shocked a lot of people. to remember in the early days of the crisis a lot of peoplesoft you caught it out of the air as if you just sent we are in the same room with somebody you are going to get all kinds of strange beliefs. jerry falwell believed this was god'that thiswas god's punishmee rise of the right to do. i try to look at this objectively in the sense that ronald reagan was slow but he didd respond and the elder geore bush was slow but he did respond and the younger george bush came along and blew me away with the money he put into fighting aids inta africa and he did that with his connections to the community so a lot of things can happen. it's different from the inside and looking at it from the outside but over time we should
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all learn some lessons and use them to make all of our lives better and i hope our current president picks up on that. >> caller: this is from massachusetts. can you tell me by president trump [inaudible] itself the military. >> host: we will stick to thet conversation t the life and legy of george h. w. bush and you bring up the question of donald trump at the state funeral today the use of air force one and the transportation ofl the late presidentn remains. can you talk about what role he'heis going to place a? >> guest: i will be interested in seeing what role he's going to play.wh he's not going to speak. traditionally a situation like
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this sitting president would speak. george w. bush spoke at the funeral of ronald reagan and gerald ford and bill clinton spoke at the funeral of richard nixon, so that's the norm. there is a tense relationship between trump and the bush family but beyond that, and in a deeper way i think it is because their families stood for so many different things than trump do does. i think he was a sign of grace and graciousness. he's inviting not the person, he's inviting the office and it's out of respect for the president and the presidency and i think it's an effort to try to bring some kind of healing to this toxic pier co. but it's not going to be comfortable. hillary clinton is going too be
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there and not selling a state secret and use a former presidents don't look at donald trump and see interest or a person they admire or i hope that doesn't detract because this is an event to honor and remember george h. w. bush and not donald trump. and i hope he plays in a reduced role and is able to keep his actions within the confines of formality and tradition and decencyha. and let's hope that when this is done the country feels more unified than it does now. >> host: you mentioned the role of the former presidents. here's former president george h. w. bush andsi his answer when asked about the role a president should play after they leave office. >> i think each one has to make
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up his own mind and there shouldn't be one formula that fits all. here each room and wrote this book about after you get out of the presidency and one chapter said what to do about former presidents and he suggested making them members of congress for life and it is the worst idea that i've heard of. [laughter] ..
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. a >> and largely i do not want to complicate the life of the 4d president. that is a pretty easy way to do it we have a great life and we are very happy. >>host: that was from february 2006 in houston barbara bush had a medal for outstanding service. >> but having a retired president i have lost often suggested my journalist should be allowed to do it but that's
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not how we did in the old days. [laughter] but what we see now with remembrances of john bush like john mccain's true appreciation i've been saying that all my life but i really feel that now because what should wedo expect from this president and when they get out of office? . >> thank you so much. and what a wonderful and marvelous and remarkable life.
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and not to talk much about his legacy i think he would be rather pleased with the comments all across america about what a fun president he was dead most of all what a kind and gentle person he was. i did not know him personally but i felt like i did because of our very good family friend. the late congressman. and then to do these things together. but this reflects president bush has surrounded itself. my heartfelt sympathy with
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hearts and prayers going out to the bush family thank you so much for having that opportunityt opportunity. >>host: the photo spread on the various people to the late president in the rotunda lying in state continues through 10:00 today. your thoughts on the number of people in what you have seen from people. >> you could see the grief was evident in his face but it was very moving. all walks of life and different backgrounds and to touch them and they felt like
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they wanted to be here and to see him and to say goodbye and that is magic moment what happens between leaders and the people it is hard to describe but it does matter. and what significant is going on. a healer in that his last act to lay interests. >> those moments yesterday with bob dole. >>
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. >> i mentioned earlier from the vietnam era in the service and to wear the uniform proudly and with heroism i cannot say it did not change my life being a part of that fraternity. i have known bob dole and his wife elizabeth and in public service and getting people back together again. and in great detail over the years. to give almost everything to his country.
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if i see him now giving that salute which means everything to folks of the service. and part of that greatest generation. that suits him perfectly. >>. >> hi clarence i have been reading you for years but my main reason to call was to say i'm out here and i have been commiserating with his frustration the honor and the
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decency of thesi presidency has been juxtaposed from george bush that was a beautiful sidebar of his death comparing his honor and decency and patriotism and service to what is going s on with washington. i just want toin let you know, . >> speed nine but those who were truly great and the last two lines they traveled toward the sun and it is a lovely
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poem i would just say george h.w. bush that we needed him and we will miss him. >> the younger bush with the "60 minutes" interview with the word legacy. and george h.w. bush and his contributions that he had quite a profound legacy the more you think about it. and with the guidance of the future. and with a late george h.w. bush thank you for your service. . >> with the ethics and public policy center we appreciate your time.
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