To promote his new memoir, “Decision Points,” which hit shelves today, former President George W. Bush sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an intriguing interview that covers everything from booze to Sarah Palin’s chances at the presidency.
Bush cracked jokes, addressed concerns, and asserted that he had no desire to return to the limelight (despite being on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”).
On his first day off with his wife, Laura, after President Obama’s inauguration: “So I’m lying on the couch and she walks in. I said, ‘Free at last’ and she said, ‘Yeah, you’re free alright. You’re free to do the dishes.’ I said, ‘You’re talking to the former president, baby!’ And she said, ‘Consider it your new domestic policy agenda.'”
]]>On moving on: “I view politics as a chapter in my life, and not
my life. One of the sacrifices you make is loss of anonymity. I can’t
walk down the street! One guy said, ‘Anybody ever say you look like
George W. Bush,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, it happens all the time.’ ‘Sure must
make you mad.'”
On President Obama: “I have zero desire… to criticize my successor. You aren’t going to see me out there chirping away. I want our president to succeed. I love our country. I want to treat my successor the way I’d like to have been treated. He’s got a plenty tough job, trust me, and there are going to be plenty of critics, and he doesn’t need me criticizing him. I don’t think it’s good for the presidency.”
On taking criticism: “I didn’t pay much attention to it. The guy who called me Satan was Hugo Chavez, so you’ve got to look at the source.”
On being inspired to quit drinking: “I realized I was falling in love with alcohol, and alcohol was crowding out my affections for my wife and my daughters. I got drunk as a skunk at the Broadmoor Hotel, and I made an ass out of myself. I’m like my mother, I’ve got kind of a quick tongue, and if you drank too much, the tongue got a little loose. So I’m sitting next to a lovely 50-year-old woman and I’d had too much to drink, and I said, ‘What is sex like after 50?’ My mother and my wife and my father weren’t really happy with me saying that. Alcohol at times made me a fool. When I was Governor of Texas, I turned 50, and I got a note from the lady: ‘Well, what’s the answer?'” On the immediate reaction to Sept 11, 2001: “It became very clear to me that my job was to protect the people. I’d had enough experience to know that during a crisis, the leader must project calm… My construct was this: the first one was likely an accident, the second one was an attack, and the third one was a declaration of war. I’m the Commander in Chief and I want to be in Washington D.C. I was thinking war. I thought war for seven and a half years as president, sadly.” On the missing weapons of mass destruction: “Everybody thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Intelligence agents, many people who became critics of the war later on. We had to treat Saddam Hussein differently after 9/11. When you saw a threat you could not let it materialize… When we didn’t find weapons I felt terrible about it and sick about it, and still do, because a lot of the case in removing Saddam Hussein was based upon weapons of mass destruction… The world’s better with him gone.” On Hurricane Katrina: “It looked like a nuclear bomb had hit the coast. I shouldn’t have flown over and looked, I made a mistake. I should’ve landed. The problem is that when the President lands, resources are taken off the task at hand to protect the President.” On Kanye West’s declaration that Bush does not care about black people: “The thing that really, really irritated me was when they said my response [to Katrina] was slow because I was a racist. That really hurt. You can disagree with my politics, but don’t ever accuse me of being a racist. I put a policy in place that I really felt helped people of all races in America. I don’t understand why somebody would accuse me of being a racist. There’s no justification for that whatsoever, and frankly, it speaks to the ugliness of the American political scene.” On childhood troublemaking: “I wrecked two cars at fourteen. I poisoned Dorothy’s goldfish by pouring vodka in the fishbowl. My mother still loved me. Dorothy didn’t love me, nor did the goldfish.” On Sarah Palin’s possible presidential bid: “I am not a political pundit. You’re asking me to wade back into the swamp. I’m through with politics. It’s hard for people to believe.”
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