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

Bush: White House pressure made my marriage stronger

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. @BigMisterC

    "Explain to me how the rich is taking from the poor. I suppose you will argue the profit that is made on products sold to the poor but that is what creates the economy. The poor do not pay taxes nor are they forced to buy from the evil rich. Typical comment from the left, the government should take care of you. It is not the individuals fault they live in poverty. Get off your rear and make a difference for the poor and quit expecting the government to do everything for you."

    Rich taking from the poor is obtained in the following manner:
    1. Move good-paying jobs overseas to better increase the corporate bottom line and bolster profits for RICH shareholders.

    2. Give huge, sweeping tax cuts to the RICH and create tax loopholes for corporations while placating the poor and middle class piddling tax rebates. (This one works particularly well during time of war when the budget is stretched thin to begin with!)

    3. Cut social programs or just cut funding to them while doling out non-competitive goverment contracts to RICH corporations.

    4. Deregulate the banking industry so that flimsy, unsafe debt-backed products can be created making banker and hedge fund managers RICH beyond their dreams but destabilize the mortgage industry to the point that millions of ordinary Americans lose their homes.

    ...I could go on, but I figure you've probably already stopped reading anyway.

    May 29, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. AK

    He violated the UN charter which "prohibited the use of military force" during the war.


    Borrow, borrow, borrow, 674$ billion tax cut.

    Opted out if 5 international treaty commitments.

    Pooped on our whole Constitution with wiretapping, torture, and even destroying tapes.

    50 Years ago we were the leader in exporting manufacturing goods and a leader in importing raw materials.

    Now it's flipflopped, how many jobs were lost through that transition?

    This presidency screwed over my local community in Oregon actually. We were one of the top leaders in exporting aluminum until Enron and Halliburton changed electricity prices. This dropped us in exporting aluminum and now the aluminum plant is being replaced with Wal-Mart. So it went from 30+$ an hour to 10$ an hour. Hundreds of jobs were lost.

    These aren't accusations, they're facts.

    What does it take for some of you people to understand that?

    May 29, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. To: Josh

    "Whether you like Bush's politics or not you have to respect a man that was willing to put his whole life out in the open and try to make decisions that he thought were best for the country (I think he did a good job). "

    I do not have to respect Bush or Cheney, in my mind they went into the presidency with the benefit of the doubt and proceeded to violate and take advantage in every and any way they could. They are opportunists from which we have only begun to reconcile the damage. Torture, recession, outing CIA, spying on Americans. These are but a few of the problems Bush/Cheney have caused.

    I don't care if he thought it was the best, "the road to Hell is paved by good intentions", and he put us well on our way to ruin. He, to put it bluntly, has the intellect of an insect and never should have been pushed (marketed) on to the American people.

    People like Rove have learned to continuely market so that what ever information we get is trumpeted by repeated mis-information until it is such a mess that the most glittery picture wins.

    "I have respect for Obama doing the same thing–He is doing what he feels is good for the country and every president deserves to be bashed by the media, only Obama has yet to experience it and it will hurt him when it does and make his hair gray a lot quicker than a normal person's would."

    On your second point we agree, and I wish only the best for Obama
    And while I wish the best for Bush, I think he did terrible dis-service to our country... he does not deserve the benefit of the doubt

    May 29, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. FreeNLovIt - Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed (1SPMI) of the gospel, for it is (3SPAI) the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (PAPMSD), to the Jew first & also to the Greek

    At the expense of 5 trillion dollars? That's one expensive marital treatment.

    May 29, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. AK

    Just because he was president didn't mean torture all of the sudden becomes legal. It happened, that's also not an accusation, that's a fact. THE JAPANESE WERE EXECUTED FOR DOING THE SAME THING PERFORMED BY OUR COUNTRY.

    His response to Hurricane Katrina is a joke. People were without food/water for months, where was the help? That's how you're going to respond to a natural disaster? Months?

    Were going after the wrong people here, especially Pelosi. Tell me what she did wrong in her whole investigation. If the administration at that time wouldn't have initially used interrogation methods, she wouldn't be in this mess, so it's the masterminds who are to blame.

    Leon Panetta said that the 30 congressional hearings since 2002 MAY BE INACCURATE!!!!!!! Does anyone else with some logic and understand get what that means or is it just me? This means all those Republican talk show hosts blasting Pelosi are more than likely to be wrong, along with all the other brainwashed listeners they have managed through manipulation.

    It's about being logical and reading facts, there's no argument, enough said.

    May 29, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. robert

    this guy is still talking???!!!!!!! OMG another dumb thing to say... Bush plz your Dad is a smart person learn from him please!!! GOP IS DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 29, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. robert


    May 29, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Jonny Revelator

    Ok, Deb,
    I sure am glad to see that you have got the insight to group a bunch of unrelated people together and admonish them. First of all, lets put down the emotion and back up slowly. Next, am I to gather that you really hate all these people so much? Really, do you think that Bush screwed things up that much? If you do, and you did not like, don't get comfortable now. Obama will do no better. He will try what you like perhaps, but his results will be no better.
    Also before you get so critical, why don't you try to do the job yourself?

    May 29, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Dan

    Please go away. Nobody cares what you think.

    Worst. President. Ever.

    May 29, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. mcmgrant

    George W. meant well. He just did not make the right decisions most of the time. Iraq was a disastrous decision, but Katrina is unforgivable.

    May 29, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    George W. meant well. He just did not make the right decisions most of the time. Iraq was a disaster, but Katrina is unforgivable.

    May 29, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. JP

    Nadine said "He's was the only sitting President in the history of America that allowed our country to be attacked on our own soil."

    So the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor happened in another country???? Last I checked, Hawaii is part of the United States. Also, the sitting president at that time is the liberal hero FDR. So by Nadine's reasoning, FDR allowed the Pearl Harbor attack and should be ashamed of himself for letting all those sailors die. Don't you just love how liberals show their ignorance. Nadine, people like you need to keep blogging because it shows how ignorant some of you on the left are.

    May 29, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |

    Eitherway, he served our county for longer than most peopole and deserves our respect regardless of what you think of the man.

    Bill – May 29th, 2009 12:59 pm ET

    I have served this country in the Department of Defense for 43 years as both a soldier and a civilian. respect is earned, not desrved.

    May 29, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. tony

    Jeb Bush / Rush 2012.
    O'Reallyyyy/Hannity 2012 and if not I will ask for Chenney/Bush 2012

    May 29, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. Travis In Colorado

    I love Susan In Nebraska's comments. Very well put! I also like American for Truth! Lots of great comments on here. I voted for Bush twice, yeah that's right, twice! And I would have voted for him again if he could have ran. Bush 43 has my respect and my gratitude, you did a great job against all odds. I didn't agree with everything he said or did, (putting arabs in charge of our ports was one thing I disagreed with) but I can see why he did some of the things he did. And one thing is for sure, if somehow, the liberal democrats get their way, and bush is tried for crimes against humanity for torturing terrorists, go ahead and put me with bush, because I would sure rather have terrorists tortured than continue having Americans killed any day of the week. Everyone on here, every single person on here has enjoyed continued freedom and security because of the things that Bush and our soldiers have fought to protect. It's not easy, and a lot of you can't see it when you take it for granted. Thank God for the courage of George Bush, and thank God for the courage and strength of our brave men and women in our armed forces! God Bless America!

    Ring Ring.....Ring Ring...... you know what that is? It's the 3:00 AM phone call, it's North Korea, will Obama answer it or let it go to voice mail?

    May 29, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. william

    I think its important to remember during this time period with Pres. Carter/Bush..their ratings were comparable to Obama so be careful about quoting approval ratings. We all know what happened to Carter.

    Also, Obama whom I voted for has approved ADDITONAL troops in Afgan.' and agreed to keep large number of troops in Iraq and back stepped his promise on the prisoners in Guan.' so people have to be careful about their blind opinions involving Presidents...look at facts.

    I suspect Obama will be a one term person due to him not keeping his promises and over spending. Remember US Independents decide who the next President is...the left and right are decided so its US who makes the decision and this is not a good sign for Obama.

    May 29, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. jbarrera

    What a wonderful man of integrity! President Bush kept us safe for 7 years after 9-11 and he is a good man. I don't understand how those of you Dems/Leftist swear to want peace, love and happiness around the globe and then go out and HATE your own country men. It's so hard for me to accept how hateful most of you are. I can only imagine what your life has been like to date to make you have so much resentment and anger. If you went to church regularly and had a relationship with God, chances are you would feel a little differently and would react to people and situations more reasonably. There is a civil way to go about your differences with eachother. I know I pointed out the Dems/Leftist side but honestly these are the only people that I see that are always so rude and angry at anyone who disagrees or goes against what they stand for. I pray that God would soften your hearts.

    A lot of Republicans don't agree with everything that President Obama is doing but I haven't seen one Republican go on a rampage against Obama like you all are doing with Bush. To be fair let's wait until Obama has been in office for 8 years and see how America feels about him then. Good luck and God bless.

    May 29, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. joan

    It is so unreal to see so many vicious people. No positive thinking,
    no respect for our President, or Country of the great life that we have
    here in the good USA. I feel President Bush (and Laura) are out of it
    now, they brought back respect to the White House, and under the
    major problems this country was faced with immediately after going
    into office, a job well done. Our concerns now should be S.S. for the
    elderly, who bought and paid for it, our health care which our current
    administration is really destroying, if you were ever in Canada, who has
    what Obama is pushing for, you will find that you are not going to get the
    care we have now, waite six months to a year for a necessary surgery,
    government telling just how much care you will get, a sad thing to go
    through when you know that if you do not get the care you will DIE.
    Your taxes skyrocketing, you'll see, It is going to get worse before
    it will ever get better. This president needs to stop campaigning and
    start working. There are so many in the White House right now
    that are really not the top quality people we need to do the job.
    Mostly all Clinton people. You'll see. I am hoping this President
    will come to his senses and do the job that he was elected to do
    instead of roaming all of the world, putting America down, apologizing
    for all kind of actions that are not true. Even to Hugo Chavez..
    Pray for out President, leave the one who served out Country well
    out of it. Take a good look at the leaders we now have.

    May 29, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
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