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. Mari( maybe one of my comments will be posted)

    First of all, the cries about "SOCIALISM!" is the same OLD tired ploy, of the Republicans!

    In the 50's & 60's the GOP cried "the commies are coming!"

    In 2004, its was "the terrorists are coming!"

    And now... they are back to the "Socialists!!!" So predictable!

    In regards to Bush, good for Laura & W. if their marriage is stronger.
    Regardless of how I feel about Bush's 8 years, they seem to be a solid couple.

    Take note, GOPers, I can disagree with the man, but I do not HATE him!

    May 29, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  2. Joe

    Democrats are the nastiest most hateful people on this planet. PERIOD

    May 29, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  3. Duke

    Nothing new, it made the Clintons' marriage strong too.

    May 29, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. SYD

    He served our country, so show respect. He was not perfect and mistakes were made, but to put the majority (or all) of the blame for bad things on him is completely unfair and stupid.
    I believe he made decisions because he was sincerely concerned about the USA people. He would even sacrifice his approval ratings in doing so, something that would be unheard of for previous prezs.
    The fact that USA did return back to their way of life w/o fear of attackes does so he did his job.

    May 29, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. No Incumbents 2010

    in other words, being under the spotlight gave him the motivation to be on his best behavior, in contrast to his instincts.

    May 29, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Erin martin

    What's done is done. Just like the business cycle of expansion and recession, another administration in the future will also make mistakes. The Dems will rule and then another re-alignemnt will occur when they get too powerful. Then, like clockwork, the Republicans will get too powerful and it will keep repeating. This is good and healthy. I think everyone should move on and realize that in 10 years you will be blogging about Obama or the president after Obama and how they screwed something up. The leaders we choose are all trying to do the best thing for our country. I believe that Obama and Bush have the best interest of the citizens truly at heart. They have different thoughts on the best way to move forward, but neither is evil or trying to move America back. We cannot ever know what really happens behind the scenes at the White House with terriosm or the ecomomy. I am sure that if many of the bloggers on this site had the task of running the country they could not do any better. If they feel they could, then go out and run for office and give it a try.

    May 29, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. shoegal

    Ignored the memos that lead to 9/11? My gosh, people hate President Bush so much that they can't see the trees through the forest. The plot for 9/11 strated long before Bush was even in office. the hijackers visas were approved before the election. Disagree with views on policy all you like, but to blame him for 9/11 is stupid and ignores the facts. You won, you have one of the most liberal presidents ever. It is time to get over your blind hatred and start accepting responsiblity for the direction that the current president is taking this country in.

    May 29, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. tjfacts

    What a relief, W. All of your screw-ups improved your personal life.

    May 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. js -----santee

    BILL.....So is any better for you to be an Obama Hater? When you have a 2 party system someone is always going to lose. The Majority of the people in this country believe that Bush made idiotic choices. The Majority of the people in this country voted for and still aprove of Obama. George Bush enjoyed the support of this country until he started making idiotic choices that actually came to fruition. Lets give the current President of the United States the same chance to show us his choices.

    May 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. js -----santee

    Bill....Is it any better to be an Obama hater?

    May 29, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. Lynn

    How does he know she actually did vote for him?

    May 29, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Mike

    To all of you that keep claiming that Bush kept America safe for 8 years – guess what – the 9//11 terrorist attack happened during his 8 years – so you are all wrong. It happened -that is a fact so why do all of you lie about it? He also invaded a country after telling the American people a bunch of lies to garner our support – it happened- that is a fact.

    May 29, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. dan

    "As a president you don't want your nation to be so worried about an attack that people don't go about their lives"

    Unless it's election time, and you're trying to scare everyone with the ridiculous claim that we wouldn't be safe under a Democratic administration.

    Or unless you're thinking about invading a country that had nothing to do with September 11.

    Or unless you're trying to justify your use of illegal interrogation techniques.

    I guess maybe you do want your nation to be worried, as long as it benefits you to keep it that way.

    May 29, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. David Platt

    Even you "conservative christians" who voted for this pathetic excuse of a man for president must realize that DarthCheney was really running the show for the past 8 years.And he had one mission.Make himself and his rich friends richer.He did that by starting an illegal
    war,not for oil,not for WMD'S,but for contracts.Knock a whole bunch of things down,get paid billions to build them back up.So what if a 4300 American soldiers died and countless more were wounded,I GOT MINE BABY!And where was Cheney during Vietnam?.......5 deferments.Avoided combat any way possible,but happy to send yours and my children to die.......Oh by the way,anyone catch Bin Laden yet?......"Were gonna smoke him out" Dubya said.I think he was smoking something else! Bush didn't really want to catch him.Their family ties go back forty years.Bin Laden knows what kind of unethical criminals his entire family is, going all the way back to Prescott Bush, the dummy's grandpa,and he would tell the rest of the world.

    May 29, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |

    I am so glad this scumball bottom feeder is so happy and proud....

    But what about the millions he murdered worldwide, and the 5000 U.S. Military who have died to make him and his bimbo happy...Do you do you beleive they are so happy??

    Neither one of his big fat butt daughters joined the milirary

    He belongs in a federal prison for murder..facing a hangmans noose.


    May 29, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. js -----santee

    OMG....Maybe he should have watched the news and listened to what was being said. The President of the United does not have the right to live in a vacumn with only HIS religion to guide him.

    May 29, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. BUSHED!!!

    @Crossbuck May 29th, 2009 12:15 pm are a jerk .....Bush and the real leader Cheney ****Bush took a thriving economy and borrowed/spent it into shambles on an unnecessary war. He has given our enemies plenty of ammo with abuses & torture of detainees, and by keeping them unlawfully at gitmo......Teleprompter of the U.S.A. May 29th, 2009 11:54 am ET yiu are sooo wrong ......The article about Bush open the door for all the Racist Rethugs like you to attack President Obama **Iraq DID NOT have WMDs. Bush DID ignore relevant memos and documents indicating an impending Al Qaeda attack. Bush DID create Gitmo and DID torture people and that DOES violate international law, every principle upon which our country was founded and basic human rights. Bush DID engage in extraordinary rendition. Bush DID create a massive wiretapping program that violated the Constitutional privacy rights of every American citizen who was tapped. Bush DID create massive tax cuts for the wealthy based on trickle-down economic theory and it DID continue the trend started by Reagan of the already-wealthy becoming more and more wealthy while the middle-class kept receiving the same salaries. The list goes on and on **Now shut lying Pie Hole!!!

    May 29, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. Alice

    War criminal.

    May 29, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Bush Lied to America

    Bush is a pathological liar. Remember the lies about "we will be greeted as liberators" in Iraq, the oil revenue will pay for the reconstruction of Iraq, proof of WMD is a slam dunk, there will be a "mushroom cloud" in Iraq if we don't invade, and "we are in the last throes" of the insurgency? All proven to be lies so he could conduct an illegal war without a Congressional declaration of war using illegal interrogation methods.

    May 29, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. Scott

    1. I am not sure Laura voted for him the second time around
    2. Dick CHeney WAS the President...GW was just the marionette

    May 29, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  21. mtv

    I just don't know the media keeps putting idiots in the news

    May 29, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  22. Chris

    Okay, okay. We get it. Lots of people didn't like Bush, blah, blah, blah... Bush bashing is getting old, leave it alone, get on with your lives.

    May 29, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. AD

    I think as much as people dislike things Pres. Bush did. He was still the President of the United States. If people think being in the spotlight all the time is easy, you have rocks in your head. I dont think he did a good job a president but I still respect the fact that he was. We are being such disrepectful citizens to each other. We all need to pray.

    May 29, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  24. Jeff Brown

    Pressure? You were never there you moron!

    May 29, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  25. JT

    Bush put the country into 2 wars, an economic meltdown, offended every nation in this global economy, and created a health care crisis. He put the country on AUTO-PILOT for 8 years and let Dick Cheney run amok with his torture games and who knows what else.

    The posts that Bush was an excellent president are such a stretch that the word 'stretch' doesn't even reach that far.

    May 29, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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