Entries in George H. W. Bush (5)


Jeb Bush Says His Father is the 'Best Man I’ve Ever Met'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a special Father’s Day edition of the Sunday Spotlight on ABC’s This Week, former Florida governor Jeb Bush reflected on lessons learned from his father and hinted about his own political future.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Jon Karl, Bush spoke about Father’s Days spent in the Bush household and called the 41st president “the best dad and the best man I’ve ever met.”

“He’s a humble guy,” Bush said. “Every day was Father’s Day as I’m concerned.”

Bush said his father’s lessons on humility have stayed with him. As Bush reflected on his loss in a 1994 Florida gubernatorial run, he recalled the resiliency his father taught him.

“I ended up learning that losing actually turns out to be pretty good,” Bush said. “It makes you better. You learn and grow.”

Bush said his father’s reaction to losing his 1992 presidential bid also inspired him.

“I think my dad’s post-presidency, he didn’t miss a beat,” Bush said. “He didn’t get into any kind of ‘woe is me.’ He dusted himself off and led an incredible life since 1993.”

Bush opened up about his father’s health challenges. President Bush celebrated his 89th birthday on June 12th and donned a signature pair of colorful Superman socks for the occasion.

“I think it was hard at first for my dad to transition to being immobile,” Bush said.

“I think he’s in a good place. He’s mentally alert,” he added. “He’s spiritually in a place that we should all envy.”

The former Florida governor is frequently mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate -including by family members.

His father and brother, George W. Bush, have encouraged Jeb to enter the race in 2016, while his mother, Barbara, concluded that there have been “enough Bushes” in the White House.

“I think we’ve got a split ballot amongst the Bush senior family. Pretty sure that’s the case,” Bush said smiling.

For now, the Bush family is focused on their Father’s Day letter writing contest, recently launched to honor fathers and promote former First Lady Barbara Bush’s Foundation for Family Literacy.

Bush says the project honors his father’s love of writing letters and encourages families to get involved in the “process of teaching kids how to read and giving them the joy of reading.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Former President George H.W. Bush Moves Out of ICU

Stefan Glidden/HBO(HOUSTON) -- President George H.W. Bush has moved out of the intensive care unit at Houston’s Methodist Hospital on Saturday, and his “condition has improved,” according to his spokesman.

Bush will now be recovering in “a regular patient room” Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement Saturday.

Bush was admitted to the hospital late last month for bronchitis.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


George H. W. Bush on the Waltz That Changed His Life

Stefan Glidden/HBO(NEW YORK) -- Sixty-seven years of marriage all began with a waltz.  That’s what former president George H. W. Bush said in a new HBO documentary simply titled 41 about his own life, in his own words.

But it turns out when the 41st president “somehow” got up the nerve to ask then Barbara Pierce to dance at a holiday party, he didn’t know how to waltz. So they talked instead and he asked her out the next day.

It was stories like this that attracted longtime friend Jerry Weintraub to the project.  He is the executive producer of the film, which will be released to coincide with Bush’s 88th birthday next week.

“It shows him as a man.  It’s not just a documentary about a president.  It’s not him making big speeches and out there rallying the troops and so on and so forth.  It’s about his life,” Weintraub told ABC's Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos.

The two men have been friends for close to 50 years and Weintraub has a house near Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine.

“I’ve known his family for a very long time.  It comes from them.  They would never let him be a bragger.  And they’d never let him go out and say ‘Listen, I’m the greatest,’” Weintraub said.  “He worked his way up and I think he was the most prepared man that we ever had in our country to become president of the United States because he worked at underling jobs.”

Those jobs included ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee and director of the CIA.

Bush never wrote an autobiography about his time as president, so this documentary is in some way his verbal memoir.  And he opens up about personal moments, such as when his son was sworn in as president.

“Very emotional for me.  Very proud father.  First time it’s happened, I guess, in the history of our country except for the Adams’.  But it was mind boggling, it was enormous and a source of great pride for the family,” Bush says in the film.

Both father and son were on hand at the unveiling of former president George W. Bush’s portrait at the White House last week.  The elder Bush was in a wheelchair and Weintraub described his health as “not doing great” but “not terrible” either.

“He’s a very active guy.  When you get Parkinson’s and all of a sudden you’re riding around in a wheelchair and this and that, he can’t do things himself,” Weintraub said.

“It’s tough, but he can handle it because he’s had so much good in his life.  And he has his family around him and everything about him is family,” he added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Politics of September 11th: From Agreement to Discord

Thomas E. Franklin/The Record(NEW YORK) -- Ten years ago, in the days, weeks and months after Sept. 11, 2001, the country and government came together. Democrats and Republicans worked together to ease a scared nation, but also out of fear that not doing so would have them labeled unpatriotic. Bipartisan approval for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reigned. You rarely heard the word "deficit," and money was poured into not only those wars, but to build the Department of Homeland Security.

Now, the government is bitterly divided. What happened?

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, took to the Senate floor Thursday to call for a return to the bipartisanship and cooperation after Sept. 11.

"What we were able to achieve then in terms of common purpose and effective collective action provides us with a model for action that we in Washington must strive to emulate and even if just in part, even if just sporadically to re-create," Schumer said.

On issues like the $20 billion aid package to New York, the controversial Patriot Act, or approval for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, both sides of the aisle gave a green light.

"To his credit, President Bush did not for one second think about the electoral map or political implication of supporting New York. He asked what we needed and he came through," Schumer said. "If, God forbid, another 9/11-like attack were to happen tomorrow, would our national political system respond with the same unity, non-recrimination, common purpose and effective policy action in the way that it did just ten years ago? Or are our politics now so petty, fanatically ideological, polarized and partisan that we would instead descend into blame and brinkmanship, and direct our fire inward, and fail to muster the collective will to act in the interests of the American people?"

In what she calls a "backhanded compliment to bipartisanship," Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute says the American public has given high marks to both George W. Bush and Barack Obama on the topic of terrorism.

"What's absolutely clear is in a time so critical of Washington, the public has given high marks to the presidents of both parties—George W. Bush for making the country safe and they gave Barack Obama high marks for keeping the country safe," Bowman said, who recently authored a study "The War on Terror: Ten Years of Polls on American Attitudes".

With the economy being the number one issue on Americans' minds, Bowman says terrorism has receded significantly as an area of concern.

"I think terrorism wouldn't recede as an issue if they didn't feel the government made them safe," Bowman said.

But what about the dynamic between the president and Congress?

James Lindsay, senior vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations, worked at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. He says the attacks of Sept. 11 "triggered a dynamic as old as the American Republic."

"When the country is under attack and facing a national crisis, power gravitates away from Congress to the president, partly because Americans believe that during times of crisis strong leadership is needed," Lindsay told ABC News. "Also, during times of crisis it's politically safe to rally behind the president. They fear any critique of the White House is taken as an unpatriotic act. That rally around the flag gives enormous power to the president and that power persists as long as the crisis persists."

"As the country returns to more normal times, or if the public is concerned with the failure of the president's policies, power drifts back to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. It's a shifting pendulum of power," said Lindsay, adding that as Americans' concerns have shifted from terrorism to the economy "in a decade we've gone from the age of terror to the age of austerity."

And this age of austerity is seeing some of the more conservative members of Congress question a department they originally supported.

Formed in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security merged 22 federal agencies—among them the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

DHS is now one of the federal government's largest, with an annual budget more than $50 billion and the department employs over 200,000 people.

Although its size was questioned from day one, people asked how it could possibly be efficient. Republicans now feel more free to object its size, especially since it's now under a Democratic administration.

The Government Accountability Office released a report last week assessing DHS. At a Senate committee hearing Wednesday GAO Comptroller Eugene Dodaro praised the department, but added there are still "gaps and weaknesses" that DHS needs to address.

"Has it worked? Has it made us safer as a nation?," asked Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Collins also criticized the "intrusive" screenings that some elderly and young passengers have to endure and expressed concern that people who present a threat to the country get through.

Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary of DHS, lectures at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and is the national security and foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe. She said DHS has changed for the better over the past ten years in terms of prioritizing and interacting with the public and Congress. She points to the example of the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, in May 2010. While the bomber was called inept and inefficient, Kayyem says it was DHS and other agencies like FBI and local responders that prevented a tragedy.

"The Times Square bomber spent very little time training in Pakistan because he was concerned by the length of time spent in the country being scrutinized by immigration officials. He didn't buy more fertilizer and explosive materials because there is monitoring of large purchases of fertilizer. And the 'See Something, Say Something' campaign caused a bystander to realize something was happening," Kayyem said.

Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council of Foreign Relations, added, "I think it takes a fairly brave lawmaker to publicly advocate spending less on counterterrorism. The easy way to go is to blame the expenditures as inefficient or wasting money. The tougher argument is to say, no, we're just doing too much. It exposes political risk if there is a successful attack."

In the weeks following 9/11, Americans were for the most part united that justice against an invisible enemy with no country or uniform needed to be served. Both Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly for intervention to crush Al Qaeda and paralyze and dismantle the terrorist network that wanted to destroy Americans.

Within a few years, Afghanistan was largely forgotten and support for the Iraq war, which always had less unanimous support than Afghanistan publicly but began with widespread bipartisan congressional support, dwindled after it was discovered that Iraq had not been harboring weapons of mass destruction under Saddam Hussein and that there was not a link between Hussein and al Qaeda.

During the election of 2008, says Biddle, when candidate Barack Obama promised to focus on Afghanistan, not Iraq, "people re-discovered the war after seven years" and "people didn't like what they saw.

"When Afghanistan became Obama's war and the Democratic Party owned it, which took place when the president put in place a substantial series of initiatives in waging the war which had not been the policy of George W. Bush, then a lot of Republican started to verbalize they were uncomfortable with the war," he continued. "Republican support for the war in Afghanistan has been very soft since Obama's election."

While many Republicans remain committed to both Afghanistan and steadfast that there not be more cuts to defense spending, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., recently threatened to quit the special deficit super committee if there were more cuts to defense. Biddle explained that those who weren't deeply committed had privately complained that Afghanistan was a "fool's errand." Eventually those private complaints became public. Now several freshman House members openly express concern about continued engagement in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, on both side of the aisle, congressional leaders are echoing Schumer in calling for unity.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, also called on congress to remember the unity of those days. "There were not Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, red states or blue states. We were Americans," Reid said. "We need the bipartisanship of Washington."

In a video message, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, marked the tenth anniversary by praising the troops and encouraging congress to come together as they did after the attacks.

"Let's try to recapture that spirit of 9/11 to work together to solve the hard problems that face us: a mountain of debt, high unemployment, and the threats we face from radical Islam," said Graham. "There is nothing we can't accomplish if we work together."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: George H.W. Bush's Oval Office Letter to Bill Clinton

Photo Courtesy - White House/Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- It's a tradition passed from president to president: leave a letter for the next occupant of the Oval Office on the desk the morning of the inauguration.

Often the contents of these letters are kept secret, but while conducting research for his new novel The Inner Circle, author Brad Meltzer asked George H.W. Bush about these letters, and the former president sent him a copy of what he wrote to Bill Clinton on Jan. 20, 1993.

Here is the full text of the letter:

January 20, 1993

Dear Bill,
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago.  I know you will feel that too.

I wish you great happiness here.  I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note.  I wish you well.  I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country’s success.  I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck –

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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