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. erin Martin

    I have tried to post but it will not go

    May 29, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. Brad

    Wow. You all should try acting like adults some day. You might be amazed how well it works.

    May 29, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Ric

    Worst. President. Ever.

    May 29, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. chuck from Tulsa

    Let him lose his job and his house and see how long Laura stays around.

    Unfortunately, he will never have to suffer from the economy he has created for so many Americans. Ain’t be wealthy wonderful?

    May 29, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Lorna

    You just know there were times when Laura Bush wanted to pull a "Moonstruck" Cher/Nic Cage moment on George....Slap him up aside the head and say"....SNAP OUT OF IT!...." HA!

    May 29, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. Adele

    So he saved his marriage, was responsible for the death of thousands of Iraqis and Americans, ruined the Constitution, supported torture and put us in danger by paying no attention to intelligence before 9/11. Great legacy indeed !!

    May 29, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. Eugene

    As a friend said of her teen when the kid was into drugs, "When her lips were moving, she was lying." W., how can anything you say be taken as truth after what you have done to our country, its standing in the world, the people of Iraq, etc.?

    May 29, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. James, Phoenix AZ

    He loves his wife and screwed the rest of us, too!!

    May 29, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. Nicole

    "May 29th, 2009 12:58 pm ET

    This man kept Americans safe for 8 years. Thank you president Bush. Do you hear that????? It's that famous 3:00 am phone call ringing as N. Korea defies and tests this new rookie administration. We'll see if Hillary was right after all.

    OBAMA = less safe America"

    Last I checked 9/11 happened on Bush's watch, 9 months after he took office. You guys were blaming Obama for Bush's mess two weeks after inauguration! Give it rest. This "rookie" administration has the strong majority of Americans on their side and the more you rant and yell out every name of the book (socialist, commie, racist, etc), the more they fall on deaf ears. Wow, is the GOP really that politically bankrupt?

    May 29, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. ye royal butler

    I guess nobody remembers W's drunk a%s at the Olympics, walking around patting the volleyball team on their backsides. All while wifey Bush just smiled on like the Stepford wife she looks like....LOL

    May 29, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  11. dotjet

    @ American for Truth

    You're statement that Bush kept us safe for 8 years is NOT THE TRUTH! 9/11 happened WHILE BUSH WAS PRESIDENT!!! Why can't you simpletons get that very, very basic fact through your tiny brains???!!!

    May 29, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. michelle

    My thanks to "Matt" who is one of the only persons with literary comments worth my time to read. It just dawned on me, reading all this junk from hippies stoned in communes who did not want to work or fight or read, unless it was non literary junk while another set of persons grew into adulthood, accepted the daily vicissitudes and learned something each day of life.


    Most of the stoned ones of course do not understand leadership because one cannot read and understand if stoned on drugs and what is known as "weed" now days.

    Not only Laura Bush, but Bush's mother, Barbara Bush constantly discussed the necessity of reading and understanding.

    May 29, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. phoenix86

    Whoops, I forgot to mention that Bush made America stronger by completely disregarding the rule of law and trampling on our privacy.

    If we elected him one more term perhaps he would have also made nuclear war legal in order to defend our freedom, that works better than torture, and keeps us STRONG and SAFE.

    May 29, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. comedy at its best!

    Thank you Bush, for the war in Iraq, I made alot of money with that , thanks for the bank bailout, katrina, aftganistan, finding bin ladin, the economy is doing so well, I got a raise on my salary, and I move to Alaska to be with our next savior sarah palin. Oh and laura is one hot mommy!
    I'll vote for you again, again, again.

    May 29, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. JR

    Why don't you get sick and die.

    May 29, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. southerncousin

    What a bunch of creeps you dope smokin' libs are. Read em all. They are astounding. George Soros, the unions and ACORN (which has not yet been investigated) sold all of you such a pile.

    May 29, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. Fair is Fair

    "One fact: a $10+ trillion dollar war (and counting) based on unfounded causes, and in violation of international law. "

    10+ trillion, huh? Who's arse did you pull that number out of? Get real if you're going to make statements.

    May 29, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. Scottyrw

    The real problem ....... REPUBLICAN'Ts

    May 29, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. TJ

    President George W. Bush continues to be an honorable, patriotic man that maintained his character, honor and integrity throughout eight years in office and during the months following his presidency. I am honored that I got to serve in uniform in the War on Terror while he was the Commander in Chief. Thank you for standing up for those of us on the frontlines Mr. President.

    May 29, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. Wha dup? Bush, wrong again, it's the viagra! hee hee hee

    May 29, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. Lexie

    At least one person loves him.

    May 29, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. bill from pa

    On 9/11/2001, I was greatful Bush was president instead of Gore. By 2003 I was angry over the invasion of Iraq, it didn't make sense. By 2008 I was praying he wouldn't mess up anymore before we could elect his replacement.

    May 29, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Randy

    Bush and Rush two clowns of the 20th century

    May 29, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. Kathy

    Bill: How would we handle 9/11, Katrina and two wars? First of all, 9/11 happened on HIS watch after receiving a memo that Osama Bin Laden wanted to fly airplanes into tall buildings, Second, he DIDN'T handle Katrina. People are still suffering because of the poor handling of that crisis. Last, but not least, the two wars are HIS wars. One of them we should never have gotten into. I think he deserves all the criticism and more.

    May 29, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. Osama Bin Laden

    You sure it was that or the alcohol and drugs you and your wife consumed.

    May 29, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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