tv President George H.W. Bush Interview CSPAN December 1, 2018 9:50pm-10:56pm EST
edition." announcer: tomorrow on live sunday from noon to 3 p.m. eastern on book tv, on c-span2. former president george h.w. bush will lie in state at the capitol monday evening through wednesday morning. president trump has announced wednesday will be a national day of mourning to honor the former president, who passed away friday night at the age of 94. in the 19 end nine, the former president talked with c-span's brian lamb about his personal life and his time as cia director, vice president and president, as well as his relationship with ronald reagan. this is
brian: mr. president, can you remember the first time you thought about being president? >> i did not think i honestly can't. i remember when i started thinking seriously about it. jimmy carter was elected president. somewhere in there after that i began to be serious about it. i did not make any permanent connection or university connection. i know i got thinking seriously about. but whether it even crossed my mind earlier on, i don't know. probably. everyone may think hey hey, sometime i may be present. brian: in your book, you write a memo on aging. [laughter] well is the point of that in your new book? w: i put it in that because i wanted my kids to understand if it looked like i'm disconnected i am.
it is a letter to kids talking about what it is like getting older. it is different, i mean, heck, your legs hurt. coal.feel, like a spring but i do forget stuff. brian: are you afraid someday someone might find something that makes one of those front-page stories? >> no. i think there is plenty that'll make interesting reading for the american people, but i son't think we have anything that will cause muckrakers to go crazy. brian: are there any audiotapes? george h.w.: i don't think so. i don't know. you know, we taped overseas conversations. it is a standard deal. they have an interpreter in russia, and we have one.
whether they kept audiotapes, i don't know. donehe ones that are without someone knowing that they are being taped, nothing like that. you to go back, because as you come to your library and walk through it, you can see your career unfold. when you think back to your two terms in congress, 1965? george h.w.: i was elected in the fall of 65 and served until 1968. brian: four years. what did you learn about being a congressman? george h.w.: i learned that even though you are in your 40's you can still make friends. i thought maybe you make your fast friends in school or
college, or in the service. i remember being frustrated that it trained me for being president when i faced a democratic majority in house and senate for all four years. i learned about that from my service in congress. i loved being a member of the united states in congress. but it was hard to kind of get something done. it is huge, 435 people, and it is hard to get it done. brian: what did you learn about government? george h.w.: that it -- i learned that it works. i learned respect for people who serve, without getting credit for civil service. republican politics or democratic politics. those who served in korea civil service of any kind. there are a lot of good people serving our country.
brian: do you remember the wall street journal front page he's back in the 1960's that said, men to become president of the united states someday, there was george bush, riegel? g fish i don't remember that much -- george h.w.: i remember the bad stuff. i remember an article ridiculing me on the editorial page back in those days. i do not remember this nice squib. brian: the senate race, two times. h.w.: iran and lost in
in4, and then ran and lost 1970. it is a character builder. i think i'm a better person because i have tasted defeat. i worked to be sure i would not be defeated in 1964 in the 1970, and again in it hurts a 1992. lot. but you learn there is a life beyond your personal defeat. you learn you have to be gracious in victory and defeat. you learn the pain of losing is not euros alone. , in myot yours alone case, the pain of a lot of volunteers, people who helped me a -- along the way. there are so many lessons you can get out of defeat. and there is a lot of lessons you can learn out of victory, too. brian: do remember why you want to be a senator? george h.w.: i thought my experience in the house, it would be better to get something
done. you are not one of 435 people, you are one of one of two 100. senators. in my case, senator from the huge state of texas. i could've accomplished more along the legislative lines. it was that. i remember in a 1964 when i ran, the party was desperate to get someone to run. it was back in the phone booth days when the party could meet in a phone booth. now we are a two-party state. it was not a great ground for public opinion. -- a great groundswell of public opinion. i was doing what the party leaders wanted me to in 1964. in a 1970, having had experience in the house, i just thought being member of the senate would be a much better way to accomplish things. brian: do you remember how much money you raised?
george h.w.: we raised a lot of money but it was miniscule -- my campaign for congress in 1966 i -- i want to say, $200,000, which was considered huge in those days. 1966. but i do not really remember in the senate. i know that we had a good fundraising effort, and i cannot say that i lost because i did not have proper funding. brian: your father was a senator for 10 years? george h.w.: 10 years. replace senator mcmahon who died in during his term and then he was reelected for a full six years. and he said, i don't want to serve in the senate until i am
70 years old. so he didn't run again. he would have won. brian: what was your relationship to him? george h.w.: respect. i did not think there is a man i've had more respect for. he was a strong principled man. he was the epitome of what a senator ought to be. in terms of civility and honor. terms that seem to escape us sometimes today. influence on my life, it was all-encompassing. brian: what did you learn of politics from him? george h.w.: not much, because i was living in west texas when he was in the senate. people forget that, so i was not in his campaigns. my brothers were. they were for their heart out for him. so did my sister. but in 1952 in 1956 i was in west texas, working for a living in missouri could not go back there. but once in a while i went as a guest of the senate. his guest, there
i learned respect for the us at the institution. i remember him saying lyndon johnson is a great leader. because his word is good. scheduling legislation. he says the vote to be a 10:00, it will be a 10:00. there was a civility and the senate that they respected and contributed to. i learned more about that than i did any legislative initiative. >> there is a picture people talk about, in 1969 probably when lyndon johnson left the air force base and you cannot tell who everyone is in the picture, but it looks like a lot of democrats and one republican. why did you go out there to say goodbye to democrat? george h.w.: i was a junior texas congressman. he was a senior political figure, texan who would been
elected president. i thought it was a suggestion of a woman at work. i wish i could say i thought of it. she worked for democrats and republicans and said you want to -- ought to go out there. you want to pay your respects to him as he leaves office. i differed with him on the most every legislative initiative but i went out there, stood in the long line and he saw me. he walked by, he turned around and came back and spoke to me. subsequently i heard over and over, from the family that they took note of it and appreciated. i discovered in life it is not hard to do something that might appear to be kind or thoughtful or proper. going there -- i hope it was all of those things. i know president johnson
mentioned to me when i got back to texas. that he appreciated. >> have you learned anything from lyndon johnson how you want to live after your presidency? george h.w.: i am sure i learned something. i stayed off of all boards of directors. try to avoid activities that might in any way diminish the office i was on a to hold. i don't think any particular president has been a role model. jimmy carter did a lot of good work. he is involved in some things i would not want to be involved in. i think his motivation is wonderful and he is made great contributions to help mankind in africa or wherever us. else.reever
i don't go his want to be -- have an opinion on foreign affairs. in the way did may look like i'm china to influence the government. i had my chance. i was beaten fair and square. i told president clinton the day i left the white house, he waved goodbye to me. for the most part i have avoided criticism. it is better for me to sit back with my family and i passed the torch to two sons. that is all a dad can ask. barbara and i are trying to be one of the points of light, put something back into the system. whether it be this library or in public service. if we can teach a handful of
kids that public service is noble, better than you think it is. try it. >> i don't know because of where we are located, there is noise in the background. your dog. george h.w.: sadie. sadie's four and a half or five. she is trained to be a great huntress. we have not hunted her yet. she is the joy of barbara's life and mine. she is fast as lightning. she is a kind dog. she makes friends easily. >> how often that she go with you? george h.w.: always. when we are in texas. when we come home she would rush and lookout. >> go back to the chronology, the u.n. came after you defeated for the senate, how did you get that job?
george h.w.: president and called me to the white house and said i would like you to do something. he was in a dilemma, he wanted john conley to go when the secretary of the treasury. he thought it would look funny in texas if he appointed conley and i was sitting out there. i did not expect to be taken care of. but he suggested i might come to the white house as an aid and i did not want to do that. i knew he was leaving as ambassador to the u.n., i said what about going there? although i had no experience. i knew how he felt about the establishment. mayor lindsay criticizing him. he said there's someone who knows something about politics and can learn about foreign affairs. so he sent me up there and i loved it.
>> were you thinking about the presidency? george h.w.: i don't think so, no. >> how long were you at the u.n.? george h.w.: two years. >> what did you learn? george h.w.: the united nations is like a parliamentary body. you're working for votes. you cannot always do it your way. i learned to treat other countries large and small with respect. even the small ones. an embassy consisted of one secretary and one other guy. those were the united states -- the united states ambassador was going to reach out and it helped. the person did not have an show options to vote. and we could win votes that way. i met people that i would interact with later on. i loved it.
>> had you started your note writing by then? george h.w.: i'm sure i had. i started it when i was a teenager. i would write notes to different ambassadors. sometimes those meetings got boring. most ambassadors including the cold warrior from the soviet union had a sense of humor. i sent him a note. there was a woman who delivered messages. i said take this to the soviet ambassador. he would look over and smile at some humorous thing. it was fun. that was fun. for you newy yorkers my name was on the list. ,i thought that that was unfair. the guy that wrote the story
thought i was worthy of the honor. this is what is the 10 most overrated new yorkers? i got a letter -- from their to thank you for the lovely weekend. that was the initial exposure. we did that with our own grandchildren now. it helps because of email. >> the note writing, where did you get it from? >> it was a thank you letter and it started that way and spread. a little more than thank you for the lovely weekend. that was the initial exposure. we did that with our own grandchildren now. it helps because of email. it is easier. barbara would send them in -- an email.
do you write your letters to your grandfather? they would say thanks. it is easier for those kids. we have always had this in our family. >> do you have a system? have you kept copies of all your notes. george h.w.: no. i kept copies of everything i wrote when i was vice president and certainly when i was president. every piece of paper that came off the desk, there's a copy somewhere. i know i kept records. the rest were sporadic. jean becker worked with me in cia and we had to get clearances and went to the united nations to help dig out files to find paper trail or pieces of paper that might fit into this book of letters. our record-keeping was excellent in the white house. we had the most efficient assistant. she saw that every piece of paper went where it belonged in
there somewhere. in these marvelous archives. >> is there any doubt those notes had an impact on people? george h.w.: i don't know. if they had some substance they might have. i do not know that the simple thank you note has any effect. i would write notes to world leaders. it built a personal trust. they might disagree, but i believe in personal diplomacy. part of that would be writing a note, telling a guy how much you enjoyed his speaking or thank him for the marvelous time or we loved having you. in its, you would work in a little substance. themain fact of communication that i think did
add to my ability when the tough was the ability to confer with recipients. >> what was your system? how did you keep track of the people you wanted to write notes it? george h.w.: i did not. it was hit and miss. i'm sure i overlooked a lot i wish i had written to. something would come up. maybe a birthday. or a swearing-in of a successor, or it might be an election, or to might be having seen them at a conference, or it might be something humorous. people speak different languages and have wonderful senses of humor. we tap into that wherever we could. >> do ever remember a time in you political career where devoted an enormous amount of time to writing notes for campaign?
george h.w.: after a campaign you try and thank people and you cannot. you will always leave someone out. it is impossible to adequate thank people that help you in the campaign or an administration. i tried hard because i knew the credit belonged elsewhere and if we won a congress race it was a team. if we got something right as president it was a team effort. , a lot of people never saw the light of day in terms of sitting at the head table. those are the ones i would want to write. >> have you had anyone say they started to collect them and your people that have folders. george h.w.: yes. we do. a lot of them are thank you notes for campaigns. we have had a lot of people, when word got out that we were putting the book of letters out. my brother said i thought this was a great letter. it never even made the book.
it was all great and wonderful. >> on this book, are you surprised this is on the bestseller list? your big tome on foreign affairs did not make it. george h.w.: this is less serious. we are up there with harry potter and i don't know who the latest movie star is. it may not stay forever. >> do you know how many you have sold? george h.w.: i don't. i think it has had its fourth printing in this hanging in there better than i thought it would. we had a lot of fun with this. i don't want to write a memoir. this is the closest you will get because it is not about substance. it is about heartbeat. it's about my pulse, what makes my family come together. what hurts us. what makes us cry and laugh. >> back to the chronology, you
where the republican committee chairman what dear? george h.w.: winter of 1973. >> why did you do? -- why did you do it? george h.w.: the president asked me to. >> why did he ask you to do it? george h.w.: because he thought i would be the best guy to be chairman of the party. when he was elected in he called 1972, the whole cabinet together. we want everyone's resignation before close of business. not the kindest approach to our service but we all sent the letters in and ross summons to -- and we were all summoned to go to camp david and talk to him. one of the things he's adjusted to be theed to me was deputy secretary of the treasury which would've been an honor. but he said what i want you to do is be chairman of the national committee.
i believe if the president asked you, it is something you ought to try to do if you can't. so i did. >> you have a lot -- a letter to your children. you say dorothy was too young at the time. you critique president nation. -- president nixon. you have a lot of trouble at the end. you say he lied. george h.w.: i think he did on the smoking gun tape. i defended him through thick and thin trying to keep the party separate on the ugliness of watergate. i was signed to be as loyal as i could to the head of the party. that was richard nixon. it was not easy. there was a final blow were a soft he did not level with the american people. and felt he should leave office.
when i became president the president i got the most advice from was richard nixon. >> what did you mean by the man is a moral? george h.w.: you do not tell you r cabinet one thing and have it turn out to be something opposite. that is what it was. there were some wonderful sides but we see from tapes there was an ugly side when he would be critical of people in a very personal and mean way. that was hurtful. noteis is a august 5, 1974 that you wrote. you are talking about our head hagg and how he predicted the president would not survive. we would look back and we were 80 and say he had been one of
the great presidents of our time. you are 75. close to 80. george h.w.: i could come close to saying that now, not looking at what i think was flawed character in this field, in this way, but looking at his global perspective and his knowledge of foreign affairs and his determination, his strength. i think he will be recorded, but i think his presidency will be sullied and some would argue fatally so because of the fidelity of the lie of watergate. lie oflity of the watergate. >> after the national committee, you got the china job. how did that happen? in between that, there's talk about you being vice president. george h.w.: there was some 1968 when tom dooley suggested. i think it would be flattering
to call it a boom. but there were colleagues and they thought it would be a good idea. nixon told me you had a fine campaign going to be vice president and i was very impressive. -- impressed. it did not happen. when nixon left office gerald ford had the pick a vice president. i was asked to take a poll in -- poll and i sent the exact results to the national committee with the names to the white house. there was speculation that my name was involved. the day ford announces his pick, he walked into the east room and announced who we want to be vice president.
sai the presidenthe said i'm going in right now. he said it was a hard choice and he cannot have been nicer. gerald ford is one of the most considerate men i have met. i could see it on television. here he was calling me because he didn't want me to have hurt feelings. there was speculation. flattering speculation, but i did not expect that. >> had you thought about running for president? george h.w.: i don't know. by real thinking about it came after it. maybe there was something like that. i don't waste time on it. >> why did you go to china? george h.w.: because i thought there was a future. so i went. and president ford was generous. i also knew i want to do more in
foreign affairs. he said how about those and i said what about china? the senior diplomat was coming home and he said let me check. i said they might not like it because i defended the dual representation policy at the u.n.. china might not accept me. you should check with the secretary. he said it would be all right. the chinese sent an agreement to president ford and i loved it. >> you tried to learn chinese? george h.w.: every day, five days a week. >> how did you do? george h.w.: i gave a going away speech in chinese. i think they all understood i was speaking in chinese. i am not sure if they did. the language teacher was in the back, a quiet lady.
smiling to make sure that the pronunciation and the tones right. i loved it. >> you have some old chicken scratches downstairs in your library. george h.w.: i did not write characters. that must be somebody else's. >> you were trying to do the english with the characters around it. be.ge h.w.: oh, could characters, all it was was speaking. >> what did you learn? george h.w.: how to buy noodles and chinese. i learned about the importance of china. i was there in a tough time. i saw the disadvantages of a closed society. having been there i appreciate , there are far more human rights than when i lived there. not perfect, family was still a strong entity in china. i remember thinking the family
is falling apart in china. the minute i got there, i saw how wrong it was. i saw the beginning of real growth in china. society was closed. people were scared to talk to you. you are followed if you went up a little alley. i learned about the blessings of freedom. our freedom. >> you fly into houston, your name is on the airport. you drive out of dolly madison highway and there it is. george bush cia. named after you. there is a major conference going on here when we tapes this interview on the cia. how long was the you there
that's how long were you there and what market you leave on it? george h.w.: i was only there one year. it was the most fascinating individual year my lifetime. i do not know that i left a mark, but they left a mark on me. it had to do with the importance of intelligence. it had to do with dedicated, selfless, honorable, public service. it had to do with my comprehending the importance to the presence of the best intelligence in the world. it had to do with being outraged by the critics of the cia. i was privileged to defend it. we corrected some abuses that had taken pace in the past. then, boy, we ran and tried to point out the importance in congress and everywhere else of having the best foreign intelligence in the world. >> why did you leave? george h.w.: thrown out. president carter wanted his own director in.
he nominated ted sorensen. i went home. >> are you studying as you go through all of these jobs with presidency and government? did you think about the structure? george h.w.: no. i hadn't. i think about the individual assignment, for example china, or hows that interact were decisions made. or the cia, how do you ensure the abuses of the past don't take place again. or that you have the proper executive orders from the white house to guarantee the cia is properly supervised. or lived within its mandate. -- irned from individuals don't think i ever -- i don't member, but i don't think i ever put it in the context of each step being a step towards an inevitable presidency. >> let me stop and go back a
little and ask about two things. vietnam and watergate. either from what was going on in your life at the cia or beyond, what you think the legacy of both of those -- i was watching some take the other day with president nixon saying it was created a bunkert mentality. what you think the legacy of those two things are? george h.w.: i think the legacy of a war is if you fight it, when it. the legacy of vietnam was not the dishonor those who serve honorably. many people in journalism agreed with protesters and flag burners and the run to canada crowd. that denigrated the service of those who did their duty. the military had its hands tied
behind its back and that was a bad thing to say in those days. my lessons from watergate are different than some others. i would agree not to get into a war when the mission is not clear. but once you're in it, fight it and win it and don't dishonor those who serve their country and wear the uniform. one of the great things about desert storm is because we defined the mission, let the military fight and win given the resources to do it, it was pride and respect in our country. a lot of the wounds of vietnam were healed because of that experience. i am old-fashioned about vietnam. i'm not a revisionists who thinks we ought to honor those who ran away. >> what about watergate?
george h.w.: that was an aberration. i think that was such a small thing until the lies and the cover-up. if someone has said what a huge mistake, this is how it happened. this stupid operation to spy on -- i cannot remember who it was. some guy doing papers. they would steal all my papers and not learn a thing. but they had it covered up and they got the fbi and corrupted the process of government. that was a seriousness of watergate. i learned from watergate, be sure everyone plays by the rules. be sure the laws are enforced and not for political reasons. i saw a good man, richard nixon, brought down because of an ugly cover-up. >> then, the vice presidency
came along. how did that happen? george h.w.: i came in second to ronald reagan running for president. i saw i was defeated even though we won some big primaries. michigan, pennsylvania come to mine after the early iowa, new hampshire, and all of that. so i went out and paid off debt. i went across the country and mississippi was a last. -- last stop. jackson, mississippi. i said i want to go to the republican convention in mrs want to owe i don't a dime. i hated asking you. i don't like to owe money. i don't like to cheat people out of what they're entitled to buy owing money. i went to jackson, a successful fundraiser, paid off every dime.
about a half-million dollar debt. went to michigan not expecting anything and there were rumors that reagan was going to back to -- back gerald ford to be his running mate and that blew up. room,sitting in the hotel the phone rang and it was reagan asking me if i would be his running mate. >> did you think about not doing it? george h.w.: no. all the stuff about people saying i did not want to be vice president. they do. >> step back a little bit. when did you make the decision to say i'm going to go for the presidency echo george h.w.: i don't remember. oh you mean -- i think about 1977. i ran starting off as an asterix. nobody knew who i was. i had a network of friends and i was able to raise enough money to get my mental message out.
the next thing i knew a lot of bigger names had fallen by the wayside and i was left standing with ronald reagan. the towering figure that he was. he dusted me off somewhere afted not for very long, he dusted me off somewhere after michigan and before california. brian: what did you learn? i know it is a big question, those eight years you're vice president? pres. bush: loyalty, government, foreign affairs. everybody ridicules the vice presidency, there is a lot of substance to it provided you work for a menu respect and who will delegate certain responsibilities to you. in my case, regulatory reform, leaving antiterrorist studies and things of this nature. in return, i owed him my loyalty. and i was lucky, because ronald reagan, when i ran for president after eight years as his vice
president, i would not have moved away from him if it had meant the entire election. i would not have said, i knew all along he should've done this differently, or he did this wrong. i would not have done that and i did not feel that way. the iran-contra thing. forcefully, the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of the american people. but i would not have said, if i had been there, i would not have done this. you cannot do this and live with yourself in terms of loyalty and character. brian: who taught you loyalty? pres. bush: my mom and dad. brian: who taught them loyalty? where does it come from? pres. bush: in those days, people were not afraid to teach values in the school. i don't know they got it from school or their family. but they had values. the values were not always just, you know, tell the truth, but
don't brag about yourself. values like be kind to people. help someone when he is hurt. values like give the other guy credit. those serve me well when i was president. brian: were you surprised, in the recent book about ronald reagan, the comment about "they do not invite us upstairs" got such attention? pres. bush: i never made such a comment. if you look at the archives, you will see the number of times barbara and i were upstairs. he did not have to invite us to do that. we were upstairs many, many times. i don't know where he got that. i did not know he attributed the quote to me, but it is totally wrong. brian: did you talk to him for that book? pres. bush: morris?
i probably did. i don't remember it, here we go again, but if i did it would be right here in the library. i am sure i did. barber, too. brian: but you did not feel that way about president reagan? pres. bush: no, and i would not have said that if i had, because of what i said earlier. you can't be loyal in some things and then tried again and not on the other guy by pushing him down. i would not do it and i did not feel that way. my relationship with reagan -- and after this came out, we had calls from nancy reagan, a lot of people, fred ryan, reagan did not feel this way about you. apparently there was a put down in the book about how he disdained barbara and me. all these people, we were there, we know. i know. ronald reagan's marvelous
secretary called me afterward and said i feel so hurt reading this. i would hear him talk after you left a meeting, and he would say , be sure georges informed. we had a close relationship, and to have it diminished, i found it quite hurtful. --an: what to do talk about what did you talk about with president reagan on a regular basis? pres. bush: no agenda. him, amore, i hope for relaxing meeting he looks forward to. , if thereell jokes was something going on in a big way in the world, we would talk about that. but it was totally relaxed. we usually had what was called a white house mexican plate, because it was usually on a wednesday or thursday.
i think he knew i was not going to blindside him. a lot of people would call me, you're going to see the president tomorrow, please tell him we have to do this on the airline strike or something else. i would not do that. brian: you have a diary. pres. bush: a sporadic one, not a very good one. brian: did you make notes after every meeting with the president? pres. bush: no, i wish i had. i did on some. i'm not sure it's in the library yet, it is very personal. maybe it is here, i don't know. you won't have access to it for a while -- i don't have a lot of stuff in there that is going to hurt people's feelings. and there's not a lot of stuff in my diary that hurts people's feelings, but if there are one or two things in there that will hurt people's feelings, i don't want it in there. did you notice in your meetings with president reagan he was beginning to lose contact? pres. bush: i never did.
alleges that after he was shot, he lost it, i don't think it did, but if it did, it would be wrong. i remember reagan saying to me maybe a year after he became president, do you have trouble remembering stuff? i said, yeah, of course i do. -- iuld compare notes, but would watch him, i would see him every day. the only one, i think, able to walk into the oval office anytime i wanted to. his secretary would confirm that. but the idea that he might have "lost it" then or earlier in his presidency, i just think it's fallacious. brian: did you ever think you would be made in break president because of him being shot or
operations? pres. bush: i think it's more agnosticism. i did not know. i remember flying from fort worth, texas to washington, and the latest reports were that reagan was shot and in the hospital. i think i wrote some notes about it, it was more like a friend was hurt and i was wondering what it was like. you know, i am sure somewhere along the line maybe there is paper to back it up or not, i , the burden of the presidency might defend on me. but it became clear pretty early on that he was going to make it, and that came as a huge relief. brian: eight years as vice president. pres. bush: yes. brian: there was one other man 100 years earlier, martin van buren, who had gone from that role into the presidency.
it was a long time. things,hink about those but it didn't work for people? pres. bush: i wondered why, but i did not think the odds were stacked against me because marty was the last to win. the press speculated a lot. a lot of it was, if you are vice president, you are not your own mansard he have to get your own heartbeat and pulls out there. to agree that is true. you sublimate your own views to those of the president provided you want the vice presidency to mean anything. or if the vice presidency is going to mean anything to him. if i go out and start carving my own niche as vice president because over the hill i can see a chance to race -- to run for president, what is ronald reagan than think about that? what kind of use would he have were vice president? not even have an
office in the white house. brian: you are vice president, you run for president. had you been studying what you would do differently? don't remember real study but i'm sure i have some ideas about it. i think i may have written down some major objectives. as ae, it wasn't running departure from the ronald reagan record. in not having to say, this is been a failure and so i will do it this way. i did not do that and i would not have done it anyway. the economy was doing reasonably well, reagan was a beloved president. -contra thing iran had calmed down despite the
press fascination in trying to tar me about it. you haven't told the truth about it. i had. i don't remember when i began to make a specific agenda. i have specific views. brian: go back to when you had started your presidency. you have been vice president, you can watch this office, and one day you raise your hand. do you feel different? pres. bush: yes. brian: what happens to you? pres. bush: i vowed, brian, when i went to the white house as president, i would not complain about the loneliness of the job. if only somebody understood the burden on my shoulders, they this understand why i did or that, i am alone and i cannot turn to anybody -- that is a bunch of malarkey. dayuse i was blessed from one with the first-class team, a team of experts in foreign
policy that knew more about it than i did. arms control, defense strategy and all of this. i was blessed in the economics side with a very smart, knowledgeable people. if you have confidence in somebody else into are willing to delegate, all the burden forever, is not gone but it is partially reduced. the day i walked in there, i knew what my team was going to be for the most part. i had seen ronald reagan under pressure. at least i was prepared for the magnitude of the job. not that you can never think, i'm capable of solving every problem. -- if i had seen it operate, i would be more awesome. i remember one of the first pictures taken when i was , first in the oval
office, and for my mother, there was a symbolism about that. she had taught me a lot about values and trying to do it right in life, and the fact that she i was setting perhaps the tone for how i would want to treat other people. brian: in one of these letters, you talk about how when you are jumping out of the plane, you did not sleep very well into popped some tylenol p.m. when you are president, did you sleep differently? depends, when there was a crisis -- i remember panama. it's not just sleeping, for me it was the muscles aching. i had to consider somebody else's kid losing their life. , or maybethan that with some great confrontation
,ith the democratic congress with whom i had an adversarial relationship, that could keep you awake. but no, most of the time i slept pretty darn well. brian: in your book, most of the stuff you wrote yourself. most of these notes -- pres. bush: everything is written by me. except the lead in paragraphs. brian: you have all of the speechwriters when you were president. why is it -- i know time is one , whenm, but why is it -- when didto read presidents become so formalized? pres. bush: i don't know, that they were very good, our speechwriters. but i know what you mean. i would go through the state of the union speech and say, i cannot do this. people know i am not
theroeu. maybe a could of done better if , or irds had not soared had been popping up intellectual quotes. maybe people would see through that. and yet, some of the speeches, some of the best were speeches written by the people. i kind of am ambivalent about this. brian: you talked a lot about the press. in the context of your presidency, i want you to look at your son. you can see people as they begin to run for president change as the cocoon comes around them and the press begins to intensely look at a situation. how do you avoid that? do you see your son changing as the scrutiny gets worse? pres. bush: there has been some criticism and muckraking,
unaccountable journalism. gotcha pop quizzes. hell, i know something about foreign affairs and the cannot answer a lot of those questions. you're going to have this kind of thing. he is bettern -- than his dad because he can stay connected with people. i was a pretty good campaigner. i could interact with people, i liked going down the rope line. interactn and i could well, but not as well as my son. i don't think any positive press, any negative press, is going to keep him from communicating with a guy out there on the street, on the rope line, in the school, or whatever. i don't know. journalism kind of that you are implying about here
is worrisome, but it shouldn't keep good people from wanting to serve. brian: when you are president, did you let those kind of things -- remember the "newsweek" cover? pres. bush: it didn't get me down, make him angry. i thought it was a little unfair. brian: did it affect you in a way it shouldn't? how do you protect yourself? pres. bush: yeah, it got me angry. ife don't get too far in l by getting angry. maybe every once a while. i felt a certain sense of betrayal by the nice woman who wrote the article. because of my intervention, she got to interview my ailing mother, and we try to protect her from this kind of thing. she was welcomed into my family by my sister. and it was a gut job. the cover was totally offensive. i thought the story was.
it is something i very seldom do. i was not present, i was vice president, and we had a meeting with catherine cooke -- katharine graham, and the editor from new york. they wanted me to give special treatment to "newsweek," which i was not going to do. i said, why give them special treatment? you answer questions at a press conference, but i'm not going to give #-- behind-the-scenes access after you give me a good job. -- a gut job. i did not write to editor's as president. i wrote once about someone that i thought was smeared. about being disconnected from a scanner, i did not know what it was. most of the other media people reported it that way. brian: in the grocery store? pres. bush: no, in a convention,
andyou could take a package show the price tag on the package. i said it was amazing. but some reporter in new york said, he does not know that you can scan groceries. even though cbs said it was unfair, it lived on. even the most everybody else jumped on the guy who wrote the story. but it is still there, in your computers. i saw a story in "the wall street journal" this year that said, he was not connected, the scanner thing showed that. so that would get me angry than it should. i wrote a letter to salisbury, the rest of my presidency, i don't think i ever -- some guys going to watch this and say, yes, here is the letter -- that
i don't think i ever personally appeal to a publisher or picked up the phone and said that lousy story you guys did. maybe i should've done more of it. brian: looking back on your career, what are the two are thing -- two or three things that really made you who you were as president? what made the biggest impact? pres. bush: my values. my respect for the office. brian: which job? pres. bush: president. brian: no, which job before that -- cia, china? pres. bush: they all came together. a navy pilot fighting for his country at 20 years old in combat. i think that experience shaped my life when i lost two friends in that plane and felt a sense of responsibility for their death, that my life was spared. that is profound for a little guy, a scared navy pilot, 20 years old. but i learned about the pride of the military and honor and
country. libraryome back to this , say 100 years ago, people come in this place and they see your career, what on the walls is most important to you? pres. bush: they will see desert torm and that i reached out try to end this peacefully. brian: what is the legacy today of desert storm? pres. bush: the legacy is that a brutal neighbor will not, with impunity, take over the neighborhood. that there are certain moral lines you cannot cross, and this was one of them. we cannot let that aggression stand. that is the moral underpinning. that aggression cannot stand. it is against the backdrop of raping 14-year-old muslim girls, brutalizing the community, setting fire to the environment. i think if he had to put one
thatent, it would be desert storm, with its trials, its tribulations, it's politics, it's diplomacy, and eventually with its combination in victory by the best all volunteer force in the world, i think to have , givingpen on my watch plenty of credit to others, is wonderful. brian: the last two minutes. your son is in front of you and you have two minutes to tell him some broad approaches to running for president based on what your experience. what do you tell them? pres. bush: be yourself, be honest. respect others. best. your if you win or lose, your life will be fantastic ahead of you.
i would definitely tell him that. that's what happened to my life. i can speak from considerable experience. give it your best shot and i will be there to help you if you get hurt. brian: we will have to end it. thank you, mr. president. pres. bush: not at all. >> members of the house and senate will take part in an arrival ceremony for armor president george h.w. bush in the capitol rotunda monday. after that, the public will be able to pay respects to the late president from 7:30 p.m. on monday until 7:00 a.m. wednesday morning. we will have live coverage of the arrival beginning at 5:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. c-span's "washington journal ," live every day with news and
policy issues that impact you. sunday morning, we dedicate our --st hhout to remembering first hour to removing george h.w. bush. the formerear from chief of staff for nancy to discuss democratic leadership and strategy in the 116th congress. then, a former trump white house advisor and author talks about the mueller investigation and his new book, "why we fight." be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal," with at 7:00 eastern sunday morning. join the discussion. sunday on "q&a," we visit the washington library at mount vernon for the 2018 debates program, featuring historians.
discussing what it means to be american. >> one nation indivisible innocence was, we are all together, right? that is somehow elemental to what it means to be an american. >> the american character, what it needs to be american, is being able to improvise. when you look at george washington and the dark days of december, 1777 at valley forge, the ability of general washington to improvise, to be almost like a guerrilla fighter, to live off the land, to do it we need to do to get the job done. >> i think from the very beginning, not all groups were included in what an american is. certainly minority groups were not. certain religious groups were not. and women were not really considered citizens, at least. that changes over time. over time, more and more people are brought into the american family. easterny night at 8:00
on c-span's "q&a." >> the white house did not release an address this week. california representative elect katie hill delivered the democratic weekly address. she talks about priorities for the 116th congress. hello, i am katie hill, from california's 25th congressional district. i'm a new member orientation. in addition to learning where things are, we did a lot of talking this week about where we go from here now that we officially have a house majority. we know that before anything else can happen, we have to repair the trust between people and our government. the is a priority, and 116th congress will be focused on giving power back to people, not corporations and special interests.