November 28th, 2008
06:10 PM ET
9 years ago

Bush reflects on legacy: 'I'm leaving with the same set of values'


President Bush says he wants to be remembered as a president who stuck to his values. (GETTY IMAGES)

(CNN) - Reflecting on his eight-year presidency, President Bush said above all he would like to be remembered as a commander-in-chief who remained faithful to his values and "did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process."

In an interview with his younger sister, Doro Bush Koch, the president said he was forced to make several difficult choices during his tenure in the White House, but added "I darn sure wasn't going to sacrifice [my] values."

Excerpts of the interview, released by The White House [PDF]

"I came to Washington with a set of values, and I'm leaving with the same set of values," Bush told Koch in an interview taped earlier this month that aired on National Public Radio Thursday.

Bush also indicated he hopes his legacy is evaluated on success in the War in Iraq, America's efforts to combat AIDS, and the passage of Medicare legislation in 2003.

"I'd like to be a President (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace; that focused on individuals rather than process; that rallied people to serve their neighbor; that led an effort to help relieve HIV/AIDS and malaria on places like the continent of Africa; that helped elderly people get prescription drugs and Medicare as a part of the basic package; that came to Washington, D.C., with a set of political statements and worked as hard as I possibly could to do what I told the American people I would do," Bush said.

In the same wide-ranging interview, Bush said it was a "fabulous experience to be president," but said he would not miss being in the daily spotlight.

"This is a job which, you know, obviously had a lot of stress to it; it has a lot of pressure," he said.

The interview was conducted for StoryCorps, a national oral history initiative.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (743 Responses)
  1. Julia

    The people who voted for him for a second term should be ashamed of themselves!! This man is a liar, and was able to get away with starting a war because of said lies. Why he has not been prosecuted, or at the very least impeached is beyond me!! Crimes against humanity, environmental ignorance, destroying all the good will we had from the world after 9/11, inability to help our own citizens after Katrina... the list goes on and on!!! I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL HE JUST GOES AWAY!!!!! Get back to your ranch and leave this country alone!!!

    November 28, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. mary, colorado springs

    This man and his misguided advisors started an unecessary war to allegedly retaliate against Hussein for his confrontation with Bush'a father, and resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, destruction beyond imagination and mid-east upset that will never be back to normal. He's tried to force democracy on a country that has had its own way of life and traditions for thousands of years. Fighting tradition is a lost cause.

    With all that's transpired, HE STILL DOESN'T GET IT?????

    His legacy will be that as the worst President this country has ever had.

    November 28, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Yobee

    Historically, Bush will be recalled simply as a bad case of hives between the Presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

    Values, indeed.

    November 28, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Larry in Ohio

    I am very thankful for the values that Mr. Bush brought to the office of President and values that he served with. I do not like some of the choices that he made during his tenure but he upheld the most sacred and important charge to any President of the United States- to protect our Nation and Its people from attack from domestic and foreign terrorists! Everything else pales in comparison. He is not and was not a Presdident frought with personal scandals which diverted attention away from our National security. He led us out of an early recession and he tried to do what he thought best, against all odds, such as unrelenting Democrats and an unending barrage of criticism from the media. He sustained under these pressures unlike most other people in the country could have. He had to have had superior moral fiber and principles to withstand all of this. Thank God for President Bush and his perserverence! Now we hear about how we have to accept Obama as our President and rally behind him for the good of the country. Why do we have to do that when the Democrats and media never felt that way about Bush? Mr. Bush will certainly receive the blessings of God and truly thankful people who will pray for him and his family as they transition out of the White House. Thank you, again, Mr. President, for our Freedom!

    November 28, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. billp

    As Stephen Colbert said of Bush: "This man believes on Wednesday the same thing he believed in on Monday, no matter what happened on Tuesday."

    Bush will spend the rest of his life trying to spin as positive his stubborness, inflexibility and unwillingness (or inability) to accommodate new information or changing circumstances. He sure didn't sell out – he remained the intellectually, incurious, bull-headed would-be cowboy he always was.

    In typical Bush logic, he is proud of remaining the same President who has generated historic disapproval ratings, devastated his party and damaged the US both at home and abroad. Clueless to the end.

    November 28, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. Adele

    I didn't know Bush has values. Maybe he's confusing the word stupidity with values.

    November 28, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. Pam in California

    He only has one value. Money.

    November 28, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. MadMax

    Vampires have no soul...

    November 28, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. Adele

    Bush, you're a DISGRACE to America.

    November 28, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. Kate WA

    President Bush is admirable and kept our country safe. He has not committed crimes against humanity as the loony liberals want people to believe. Such talk is only destructive to the country and goodwill.

    President Bush does have strong values, is an intelligent thoughtful, leader, and he has kept his integrity. Our family is proud to have called him President of the United States, we wish him well, and thank him for serving the country.

    November 28, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  11. Bill

    As much as I hate the guy, you do have to give him kudos for his work on AIDS in Africa... If you want to lock up somebody, it's Cheney and Rumsfeld. They're the ones who were really running the country anyway.

    November 28, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. Annie

    When your values are entrenched in the belief that everything you do is 'Good' and everyone who disagrees with you is 'Evil' – I think America, and the World at large, can live without those 'values'

    November 28, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Pepou

    You are leaving a country in ruins. You violated the Constitution, promoted torture, ruined the economy, invaded a sovereign country, destroyed the environment, ignored health care and education and ruined our reputation abroad. In fact you should have been impeached.

    November 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Randy

    Legacy my butt you got all of us into a world of hurt by your spending I am soooooooooo glad you are leaving office I can't wait until your gone

    November 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Joe Fox

    It will take many years for President Bush's footprints to be erased from the constitution which he and Chenney and Rumsfield so willfully steped on in their journey to persue their own agenda. No real concern for the American people or the laws by which we are governed. They decided on their own to twist facts if not outright lying about WMD'S. No wonder the American people don't believe a thing he says.
    He should be charged with criminal intent to deceive the American people.
    Joe in Georgia

    November 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Erick

    Thank you for protecting us from terrorist. If Clinton had gone after them we would never have had 9-11. We should plan on another attack in the next few years as Biden warned us. Thank you for protecting the unborn. Obama is already placing cabinet members and promising to repeal all such protections. More innocent die each year from abortion than any war. Carter was the worst president in recent history no Bush and Obama has already combined Clinton and Carter throwbacks to bring us "change". I think not compromising was Bushes greatest strength and weakness. He was a big government republican but that will look wonderful compared to the next four years. Hopefully our next president will be a true conservative not just in values but in finances.

    November 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. IonaTrailer

    There wasn't much to sell, in my opinion, soul-wise. Of course, he certainly sold out the American people – while his friends and cronies got rich off the blood of our soldiers and innocent civilians.
    I hope President Obama realizes that while he may not want to alienate those Republicans he needs to get this country back on track, there have been serious crimes committed by Bush, et al., and we need to hold the guilty parties accountable. Elected officials can not be allowed to get away with criminal acts. It erodes the basis of the values this country is supposed to be all about. Real values.

    November 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. jason

    yes you did just go away

    November 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. alvino

    Bush continues to live in a fantasy world. Good to know his sister still talks to him.

    November 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. ML

    I said in 2000 that Bush was amoral. He has no moral values. I was correct then and nothing has changed. Heobviously had no idea of the damage he and his cronies have done to this country. Damage that may never be fully remedied. He should go down inhistory as the worst president ever elected. Those who voted for him once should rethink their values. Those who voted for him twice should rethink their sanity. January 20, 2009 cannot come soon enough. Enough damage already.

    November 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. Lisa in Florida

    As a social worker in a nursing home, I deal with the elderly and their families on a daily basis. And I can tell you first hand, the Medicare prescription drug program that Bush claims "helped elderly" could not be further from the truth. It has been a nightmare since it rolled out in 2003. So many are in the donut hole and their costs have increased dramatically. But I guess a president with "values" only sees things through his narrow lens. The same lens he uses to desribe as the "liberation of 50 million"....Iraqis? This man is so in denial, no wonder he will go down in history as the worst president in history...except in his own warped world!!!!! Good-bye and good luck. I would love to know how he sleeps at night.

    November 28, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. Jason

    I had to come back and comment on how Bush says he is leaving with the same set of values. He just openly admitted HE NEVER LEARNED ANYTHING.

    November 28, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. Olaf Big

    "I am leaving with the same set of values...."
    "I have not learned anything in the last eight years..."

    November 28, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. MLH

    Of course he would like to be remembered for all those things. Unfortunately, his actions in office mean that most of us will remember him for far different and less positive aspects of his presidency.

    While it may be true that he leaves the White House with the same set of values he had upon entering, well, there are those of us who didn't think much of his values to begin with.

    I will leave speculation on the current custody of his soul to others.

    November 28, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. GOP=Epic Fail

    "I came to Washington with a set of values, and I'm leaving with the same set of values,"

    no regrets for the lies???

    see.....this is the main reason why bush should be charged for war crimes.

    November 28, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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