May 29th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
9 years ago

Bush: White House pressure made my marriage stronger

Former President Bush said Thursday that it is 'much harder to be the son of the president than to be the president.'

Former President Bush said Thursday that it is 'much harder to be the son of the president than to be the president.'

BENTON HARBOR, Michigan (CNN) - Former President George W. Bush said Thursday that if Laura Bush hadn't been first lady, he isn't sure he could have counted on her vote.

"I can promise you that her life dream when she was growing up was not to be first lady of the United States," he told a Michigan audience in one of his first major domestic speeches since leaving the White House. "Frankly, I am not so sure that if we hadn't married she'd have voted for me."

Bush continued: "There's a lot of pressure in the White House as I'm sure you can imagine. Pressure sometimes can make a marriage stronger or weaker. In my case because of her patience and her enthusiasm, it made our marriage a really good marriage."

The pressure of the presidency, he said, weighs most on family members.

"It's much harder to be the son of the president than to be the president. And it's much harder to be the father of the president than to be the president," he said. "And I used to have to admonish him not pay attention to what they were writing on the editorial pages about his son. I had gone through the same agony myself. And so I am confident that the end of the presidency is a great relief because of our strong love."

Something else Bush called a great relief: having a vice president, Dick Cheney, who had no plans to run for the top spot.

"I was pleased to have someone serve as my vice president who was not running for president, because someone who is running for president, at times, will try to distance themselves," said Bush. "If things got tough, [he] could be one of the first person off the ship, and that would be really unpleasant in the White House."

Bush said he wasn't surprised to lose public support for some of the main elements of his national security agenda. "I was frustrated because the stakes were so high in some of the decisions that I had to make. I wasn't surprised that people would forget the feeling of how they felt after September 11. I was grateful that people were moving beyond September 11. As a president you don't want your nation to be so worried about an attack that people don't go about their lives ... the psychology of the nation concerned me. Which then made it harder to get people to listen to you, to some of the decisions I made."

The fact that Americans eventually tuned out media coverage of the risk of terrorism wasn't surprising to him either, he said - he ignored most news coverage himself.

"The truth of the matter is, I never watched the nightly news, because it was predictable, I thought. Nor did I ever pay attention to the editorial pages, good editorials or bad," he said. "I knew what was in the news. When you're president you can get so obsessed with this stuff that I felt it would cloud your vision. The truth of the matter is there is so much attention paid to you, I thought it was important even in the toughest moments to be upbeat and not to be so worried about myself that I couldn't convey a sense of confidence."

He mused on the transition to a far calmer post-presidential existence. "People ask, what is it like? Well, I have never stopped at a traffic light for eight years," he said.

"The neighborhood we live in is nice. You know Laura bought this house sight unseen. At least she saw. I didn't. It was like a faith-based initiative."

Bush will take the stage with another former president, Bill Clinton, tonight in Toronto.

Filed under: George W. Bush • Laura Bush • Popular Posts
soundoff (393 Responses)
  1. Operation Crush Rush

    Some of these neocons would praise Charles Manson and call for his release also.Watch "The Right: Feeling Wronged",an HBO special that aired some time ago.You will see the nut jobs that still back Bush.Have a towel near by ,you will both laugh and cry.

    May 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. brenda

    I am not a fan of President Bush and I didn't vote for him either time. However, during the debates with John Kerry, when he started talking about his christian faith and his family, his facial expressions and demeanor completely softened. I saw how important they were to him. I may not like his policies or his presidency, but I admire his commitment to his family and his faith. I am a christian democrat. Yes – there is such a person!!!

    May 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. nadine

    Who was President when the World Trade Center was destroyed and thousands of American men, women and children were killed. Oh yeah, Bush was. This claim of how he and Dick Cheney kept America safe for 8 years is crazy. He's was the only sitting President in the history of America that allowed our country to be attacked on our own soil. My god the Pentagon was bombed, the Twin Towers fell. How stupid do you have to be to swallow this crap about Bush keeping this country safe for 8 years. We were attacked during his 8 years, we were always on some different level of attack warnings in his 8 years, we had the economy bottom out during his eight years and yet theirs these idiots that seem to think he kept us safe. He's the reason we were attacked in the first place. No other President ever let something like 911 happen. Thank God he's gone before he complete destroyed what's left of America. God Bless President Obama and the USA!!!

    May 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Louis

    Word is, Laura is thinking about kicking this moron to the curb...

    May 29, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. tell it like it is

    What a class act. how different from the classless "blame everyone but me" attitude of obama.

    History will judge Bush more favorably than obama. bush made one mistake, Iraq. obama makes one every day.

    May 29, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Alphonse Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    Well, as long as Bush's marriage got stronger, then the Iraq fiasco and the New Orleans fiasco and the Plame scandal and the U.S. Attorneys scsndal and the illegal wiretapping fiasco and the torture fiasco and the economic disaster were all worth it.

    Thanks for putting the thin silver lining on that long dark cloud, George!

    May 29, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Chris - Denver

    And having Bush in the White House made our country weaker.

    May 29, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    @ American for Truth, who said "This man kept Americans safe for 8 years."

    Let's get down to brass tacks: Because of what that man did, WE WEREN'T AMERICA FOR 8 YEARS.

    Personally, I believe all the hullaballoo Jefferson and Madison and their contemporaries wrote and I'd rather die an American than live knowing I abandoned it all.

    May 29, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. donttreadonme

    Just because you don't agree with his policies doesn't make them criminal either. You libs are so out of touch with reality it won't be long before the majority see's the dems for what they really are.

    May 29, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Kevin in Ohio

    @ can you say with a straight face that you have any morals whatsoever? When you change your mind about abortion, maybe I'll believe you.

    May 29, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. buddy

    When I read things like this I think of Bush as a kind of cute little puppy, and its almost difficult to dislike him. Then I think of my friends who are in Iraq, the passage of Medicaid Part D that will break the Treasury and ultimately the country, the destruction and denigration of scientific research.... and then I remember that he signed off on all of it.

    Bad dog George... bad dog!

    May 29, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Alan

    I am so sick and tired of hearing everyone slam "the media."

    Does anyone understand this is the ONE protection given us by our forefathers that holds more power to MAINTAIN our democracy than ANY other constitutional protection?

    Gun nuts all claim it's the "right to bear arms." They try to tell you the first thing a dictator does is come and take your guns.

    Sorry - the first thing a dictator does is TAKE CONTROL OF THE MEDIA so they can dictate what they publish. THEN it's easy to take you by surprise when they show up at your door to demand your guns.

    Media is SUPPOSED to dog our public officials. That's OUR VOICE. If you don't agree - switch media! There is something out there to suite the tastes and beliefs of ANYONE. If not - we are ALL guaranteed the right to start our OWN publications.

    It's so true - you just can't fix stupid.

    May 29, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Bud Burgoon-Clark

    George DUH-bya Bush ... the WORST PRESIDENT EVER! You call 9/11 keeping us safe? It happened on HIS WATCH. He's a WAR CRIMINAL, and OUGHT to be in PRISON for LIFE!

    May 29, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. nick

    I really wonder if Mrs. Bush, (Laura) actually voted for her husband.

    May 29, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. kgeukes

    Get the hell out of MI butt head!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 29, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  16. T

    Phoenix86 you are just talking from the side of your mouth, you need
    To remember 911 happen on Bush watch....history will judge Bush but Chaney was the one giving the orders. How did Bush presidency made America stronger? Obama is not weakening the US. He is
    Doing fine. He is turning this MESS (BUSH) INTO A MESSAGE.
    Get real. .

    May 29, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. buddickmanut

    Ill buy the book

    May 29, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Claudia in Houson

    Marriage stronger but the nation weaker! This man is a baffoon. What about the American soldiers and their families who have given and suffered so much just to make Bush's "marriage stronger". I could just vomit.

    May 29, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. P. Y.

    I really think that CNN should put a cookie on computers and then people could only blog once on each subject. The way it is now, they use many names and want us to think that many folks share their view.
    Idiots !
    Bush was the worst president ever. He almost destroyed our great county. As for Laura, I have nothing against her except that she is like a Stepford ( spelling may be off for all you English/spelling fanatics ) wife and puts up with his BS.

    May 29, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Expat American

    Dave, the truth teller: The GOP doesn't care about Poor White Trash...they just want your vote.

    May 29, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. sky

    ....too bad it didn't make the country stronger.

    May 29, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Ted Tartaglia

    Who really cares?

    May 29, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. Michael in Ventura,CA

    This is probably the wisest and most human thing I've heard him say.

    May 29, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Greg

    Funny how the Communist News Network will let people go on an on about how bad Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh and any other republican or conservative is, but anything critical of dems and the current administration is subject to 'moderation' and comments are cut short.

    There hasn't been another terrorist attack on US soil in the eight years since 9/11... 'nuff said.

    May 29, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    Hey Matt, your point is moot and here's why. It was big banks and lending institutions that put a 250k price tag on a 40k home and opened the door for all of this sub prime credit mess! I'll give you credit though for making uninformed, and idiotic comments on a pretty consistant basis. So in short, your and uninformed moron whose arguement hold about as much water as a spagetti strainer!

    May 29, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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