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. Dawn in Pa

    To phoenix86;

    I like to know what planet you are on, how can Bush keep America stronger, when the whole world was not going to back us in anything.
    North Korea is a product of him saying at the State of the Union, the axis of Evil. They don't take kindly to insults. Bush left the Presidency with lowest rating of any President, that includes Nixon and Carter.

    You right wing nuts calls President Obama Robin Hood? Well Bush and any Republican who takes from the poor to give to the filthy rich. Do you live in a well to do area, or someplace where there is poverty.

    If anyone likes to have some good laughs, google Bushisms.
    it would make you chuckle.

    May 29, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Steve (the real one)

    FORMER republican, NEVER again! May 29th, 2009 12:16 pm ET
    911 happened on bushs' watch. How did he keep us safe?
    True but when was it planned? Since you are pointing fingers, let's point fingers! The following occurred during the watch of Clinton:
    The 1st World Trade Center attack
    The attack on te USS Cole
    The attacks on te Americam Embassies in Africa
    A strong response against any of these might have prevented 9-11!

    May 29, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Dave from CO

    Bush has torture, deceit, and a collapsing economy, what a legacy. The GOP seems to get amnesia when we talk about the root of today's problems. Obama is doing well considering the disaster the last administration left. Now if we can get rid of the party of NO we can move forward.

    May 29, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. William, from Cali!

    Marriage is a great thing, MR. Ex-President-between a man and a woman-these Democrats and some lost Repubs can't see that for the "fog" that covers their eyes and "brains".....this country is headed towards "foreclosure" in a Demo basket!

    May 29, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Scott

    He's rested up from his 8 yrs of destroying our country and now he wants to rewrite history. Good luck GW. Liars like you, Cheney, Rove, etc count on people's good graces to forgive them, but what you've done to our country, only God can forgive.

    May 29, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. Jimmy the Greek

    After reading MOST of the posts – the Center for Disease Control is quite concerned with the lasting effects of BDS.

    Seriously – you "enlightened" & "accepting" people who spew such hatred towards President Bush have real problems.

    May 29, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. Dont blame me

    Some of you posters are just flat PATHETIC Bush haters and that is something that will never change.

    And some of you call him an idiot.

    As for me, them most intelligent idiot that we have ever had as president is in office right now.

    How many of you are going to continue to ignore the corruption, lies, cheating, theft, tax evation, and distruction of America that is currently going on under this current administration.

    Obama is raising taxes on the the poor, he lied.

    Obama is socializing the banks.

    Obama is socializing the car industry.

    Obama wants to socialize health care.

    My God, you people have no idea what is happening to this country, right under your noses.

    May 29, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Sam


    Iraq war is all about having control over the Gulf oil and OPEC.

    None of the 9/11 terrorists were from Iraq. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were from countries that are friends of US. Remember even in the London Subway bombings, all terrorists were from Pakistan, which is a friend of US and UK.

    Iraq never had WMDs. UN arms inspectors said this very clearly. But Bush did not believe UN arms inspectors, he still wanted war, because his father had a war with Iraq in 1990. Bush admitted that Iraq WMDs was a mistake. Can anybody imagine this one mistake has resulted in how many deaths?

    4300 US Troops have died so far. 25000 US Troops have suffered life time injuries. Our economy is in Shambles.

    May 29, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. Polar Bears Against Palen

    Why aren't you right-wing Bush lovers in Iraq right now fighing his lie of a war? Well? Let's hear the excuses......I mean, the reasons....

    May 29, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  10. Steph

    My relationship with my husband is always better after a nice relaxing vacation. So, it makes sense that former Pres. Bush's marriage is stronger after his extended vacation, oops, I mean presidency. I have trouble remembering that he was president when he spent more time at the ranch than he did at the White House.

    May 29, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. Pauly

    SoCal Vet:

    An educated and compassionate take on the presidency. We need more dem voting citizens like you. I may not agree with your vote, but at least I can tell you've thought about it.

    Do you folks that bad mouth ANY president really think they do it all on their own? That would be a dictatorship. Since we are a democratic nation, Americans are responsible for any percieved or real American Downfall.

    I believe that purported democrats forget what Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country!" That really is the only way out of our messes at any point in history. Put aside your personal anger and personal agendas and work to make it better. Pointing fingers and placing blame is cowardice and escapism.

    May 29, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. jeeze

    Rob May 29th, 2009 12:08 pm ET

    Idiot liberals is more like it…godless, you "owe me" morons. obama will go down as the worst president in history when its all said and done. you voted for him…so go to hell with him
    See ya there!

    May 29, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. Ia Guy

    @pat May 29th, 2009 12:21 pm ET

    Public opinion would be a lot more favorable toward President Bush, if the people had to stand in his shoes for just one week of his term.

    What most do not understand, is he inheirited the terriorist that the previous president allowed into our country. He inheirited the economic crisis that went totally unchecked and even promoted under the previous president.

    Actually, Bin Laden was trained by the USA while Reagan was in office. I'd say blame starts there.

    For Economics, I seem to recall prosperity and a budget surplus when Mr. Clinton left office.

    The one truly inheriting a mess is Obama.

    May 29, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Barbara

    Why isn't this man in jail?

    May 29, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Francis, MT


    You couldn't be more wrong. Bush made our country weaker. It's easy to run the country when you don't adhere to any laws. Dictatorship is a cake walk. When Bush didn't like something or worst didn’t understand something, he would break the laws and change the rules (like a 5 year old).

    We are not China or Cuba, but the United States of America. That used to stand for something in the world.

    Don’t blame President Obama for doing the right thing. It's harder to run the country when you abide by the laws and principles of our founding fathers. President Barack Obama is doing a yeoman's job in cleaning up Bush's MESS.

    May 29, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. Christian

    I am enjoying the recently contrived mantra of the right, that liberals are somehow filled with "hate", I suppose because we dare to evaluate and criticize actions taken by our leaders in our names. I thought that participation in government was being a responsible citizen. The bile that Republithugs regularly vent is driving away Christians, women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and working folks; soon it will be a small cabal of the wealthy and Christian Identity folks. Several folks indicate America is somehow better off after Bush than before...can anyone identify one thing that was better at the end of 2008 than it was at the end of 2000? Honestly, I want to know.

    May 29, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. gary cardinale

    To the Conniver-in-Chief:
    The end of your presidency came as a GREAT relief to many of us. I hope someday we can experience even greater relief when you and Cheney and Rove are held accountable for the damage you did to this nation, its people and our collective self-esteem. Offshored jobs, devastated economy, damaged enviroment and the rich got richer. It is a crime, what you did, and I will dance when you die like I did when Nixon did. I never thought I could hate anyone as much as him, but you have surpassed him by ight years. Good Riddance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 29, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Brian in AZ

    I'm appalled...there's NOTHING to be gained in attacking Bush now, yet the comments on this board are about as hateful as if he were running in 2012, and delusional enough that I wouldn't be surprised if the authors didn't REALLY think he was running in 2012.

    Behold what CNN's demonizing sensationalism hath wrought. All for a quick buck. How long til the yellow pen costs the red, white and blue its liberty altogether?

    May 29, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  19. Proud American

    Your Republicans are total moron's the only thing this country walked away with after Bush left office is his stong marriage? The Idiot left a very weaken country.

    May 29, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  20. obama support team

    This is not a liberal or conservative thing. Bush was better as not being president. That is why he has kept quiet. He knows he screwed up royaly. Yes conservatives miss him but we would endure more danger and problems under him bottomline. He did right by staying out of limelight. Now people want to put the current prez under the bus for the mess of the last administration and the party of WHINE!!

    May 29, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. Lori

    To the Republicans: Perhaps if this jacka#$ Bush hadn't put our troops in Iraq fighting Saddam's regime, we might have enough manpower and resources to actually pose a threat to North Korea who actually DOES HAVE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. You can thank your messiah, Bush for 'keeping us safe'... yeah.

    May 29, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Teleprompter of the U.S.A.: ",,, How long before the hate-filled liberals start posting about him making all sorts of accusations that aren't true and can't be proven?"

    Bush sent a couple hundred thousand American troops to Iraq because, his Administration said, "There is no doubt" that weapons of mass destruction were there in enormous quantity. So, we invaded Iraq, went trillions of dollars in the hole, and sent good men and women into coffins for no reason. The real bad characters were Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Darfur, but we blew our resources and precious lives due to one incredibly bad decision and now our resources have been spent – for nothing. Well,not for nothing. The world does have one less Stalinist dictator. However, the real weapons of mass destruction are still safe in Iran and N. Korea.

    That's the first thing this "hate-filled Liberal" would like to mention. I could mention a few more, but I thought that one

    May 29, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. shucks

    To the Bush supporters on here hoping for his return and declaring how great a president he was, only have to look as far as the voting booth to realize that they were the minority when it came to supporting the previous president and his agenda, and still are a very small minority who think he did a good job. I like calling the right wing republican evangelicals the minority. Minority, minority, minority. That feels so damn good.

    May 29, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    @ Jeff, who said "Moder day liberals cannot understand that freedom is often purchased with a price, and that price is the human capital that it takes in times of war. "

    Wrong. The price we paid during the Bush presidency was the abandonment of every single fundamental belief upon which our nation and our society were founded. And whose freedom are you talking about anyway? Ours? We didn't purchase our own freedom by sending our young ones over to Iraq to die. We certainly didn't purchase freedom for the almost 5,000 who have died, nor for the 150,000+/- Iraqis who are now dead because of our invasion and our destruction of their infrastructure. Please explain how illegally wiretapping millions of Americans in violation of our privacy rights, i.e., one of the pillars of our freedom, was purchasing our can't, it's a pradox. Explain how throwing out our belief in equality and inalienable human rights with Gitmo and torture, all because it was expedient, how that purchases our freedom. It doesn't, because it shows our freedom might just be an illusion that can be stripped away by the convenience of the moment. True patriots die upholding our beliefs...they don't live by trampling them.

    May 29, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    His marriage is probably one of the few things in which he has had success. Then again, who other than Laura would have him!

    May 29, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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