Bush contemplates how he’d like to be remembered

November 28, 2008

President George W. Bush, nearing the end of his final term in office, says he most wants to be remembered as someone who came to Washington and didn’t lose his values.
Someone who didn’t sell his soul to the political process.
Somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace.
So he told his sister, Dorothy Bush Koch, in an interview for StoryCorps, the national oral history initiative. An excerpt of the interview aired on National Public Radio on Thanksgiving Day and the White House released excerpts on Friday. The entire interview will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

“I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process,” Bush said in the interview. “I came to Washington with a set of values, and I’m leaving with the same set of values.  And I darn sure wasn’t going to sacrifice those values.”
“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,” the president added.
He mentions his HIV/AIDS and malaria initiatives in Africa, and the Medicare prescription drug benefit as two programs he is proud of.
Asked about his “No Child Left Behind” education law, Bush called it one of the “significant achievements of my administration.”
“We said loud and clear to educators, parents, and children that we expect the best for every child, that we believe every child can learn, and that in return for federal money we expect there to be an accountability system in place to determine whether every child is learning to read, write and add and subtract,” Bush said.

Bush hands over power to President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 20, 2009.
As he heads into the final weeks of his presidency, Bush’s job approval ratings remain low. Only about 26 percent approve of his performance, while some 70 percent disapprove.
Bush’s decision to take the United States to war in Iraq is widely unpopular. A Quinnipiac University poll in early November found that 58 percent disagreed with decision.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Ho New (Bush talks by phone to troops in remote locations on Thanksgiving); Reuters/Jason Reed (Bush pardons national Thanksgiving turkey, Pumpkin)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I believe that President Bush has always striven to do what he thought was best for America. It took great courage and determination and he was second guessed by media and enemies at home and abroad. He stayed the course at great political cost to himself. The stories we here from the press do not reflect what I hear from a network of returning and serving marines and army friends. Iraq ia a victory and the people are living safer, freer lives with opportunities they have not had before. They are self governing and have a good start on school, water facility, hospital facility and road building. The hope and freedom we have brought though hard won in lives, war related injuries and money has succeeded in jump starting a democracy. A democracy that will give the new generation of Iraqi young people lots more options that jihad.

Posted by JGalt | Report as abusive

I didn’t vote for G W Bush, either time he ran, but I believe in giving credit where it’s due. We haven’t been attacked since 9/11/2001, and this administration, despite their other failures, should be appreciated for this.

Posted by A_Lewis | Report as abusive

The sad thing is Bush now seems to be hated for the financial downturn, instead of the decision to invent silly stories to invade other countries.

The only way I figure makes the invasion make sense is to make the US government more unpredictable – Invading Iraq, which had nothing to do with the Twin Towers attacks (if you wanted to invade a country, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would have made more sense).

I guess the signal is, if you say, bomb the Washington monument, we will nuke your desert into a giant glass fruit bowl.

Posted by Mama Jones | Report as abusive

bush did not cause the financial problems we’re now experiencing. the dims set up the whole thing by encouraging, promoting, even mandating loans to folks who are unable to repay then, he has kept us safe fron terrorist attacts for 7+ years, and freed over fifty million people. now it’s obvious that he’s had his low points, too. but in this era, an approval rating in the 20s is not bad if your viewed by a public that gets the bulk of their news from biased sources. give it a few years and even bush won’t look so bad.

Posted by s. boliviar | Report as abusive

Worst President Ever!!!

WMD = Dubbya of Mass Destruction

There have been known tyrants that seem better than Bush. After all Saddam never killed as many Iraqis as W. Every U.S. soldier I know says that the Iraq war is a clear cut case of PROFIT over PEOPLE. That being the case I hope that we never have another fake conservative in the office again. I hope that we never have another false Christian in office again. I hope we never have another anti-humanitarian in office again. W was never an Adolf Hitler, but he is the closest thing that America has to one.

NYTs seems to have the same article as this one but does not allow for commenting. In every peer reviewed article GWB gets hammered with discontent by the majority. “Mission Accomplished.”

Please world, don’t let this one go. Do what must be done.

Posted by Kilroy | Report as abusive

George Bush will be remembered as a heroic man who led a pack of yapping-at-the-heels dog Democrats to victory in spite of their vicious selves.

Posted by Donald Kingsbury | Report as abusive

kilroy, this assertion that President Bush killed more Iraqis then Saddam reveals the true extent of your hatred and ignorance. President Bush is a good man who kept us safe, his first responsibility as CIC-There is not a whit of reason to list the accomplishments of this man because you have totally bought into the 8 years of hate the left dominated MSM has been feeding you.

Posted by MM | Report as abusive

Mama Jones,

Think out of the left wing box for a minute. Pakistan has nukes. If we had invaded them, our troops would have been vaporized. How quickly would we have abandoned the war on terror after that? As it is, Bush has achieved victory in Iraq and a new democracy with a progressive constitution has been planted in the middle east. Will that help make them a more peaceful people? Let’s hope so.

Saudi Arabia is a country on whom we depend for oil. We can’t invade them because that would be biting the hand that feeds you.

If we want to take them on, and I agree we need to, then the first thing we need to do is end our dependence on their oil. We do that by getting other sources of oil while we develop alternative energy technology. Only when we do that will we be in a position to tell the Saudis to kiss our ass and stop building madrassas around the world. Unfortunately, Dear Leader Obama would have us put on a sweater and shiver in the dark rather than put up an oil derrick next to a caribou. I guess we’ll have to wait for Sarah Palin to be elected in 2012 for that to happen.

Posted by Odysseus | Report as abusive

Bush was Clinton, 2. Obama is Clinton 3. Some of the most corrupt politicians in American history. Probably spokesmen for the same rich, elite, power mongers. Expect hyperinflation, soon. Maybe nukes from IRAN, in a few years. mensunion.org would strike to force them to be replaced, but the movement hasn’t geared up. Too many addlebrains, too many people on the dole, the economy has to crash first. I’ve got my mountain cabin outfitted with solar panels, woodstove, spring, well, greenhouse, solar rooms, gas, silver. I’m insulated from the coming hard times. Best regards, Sportacus wolfpack@swcp.com

Bush = bad.

Just Say No! 2 Sara Palin in 012.

Posted by bOB | Report as abusive

sorry obamainics even with all the media swooning ,after seeing the people he is choosing for his cabinet the only change you can guarantee is the movies coming out of hollywood, the terrorists will again be the bad guys and the president will be guess who?the hero.and the nasty mr bush will be hiding in the swamp from the peach activists .

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

perhaps should have contemplated that 8 years ago. He may have a short memory span, but history’s is REALLLLY long

Posted by patsy | Report as abusive

This man has no legacy. He’s been a failure in almost every venture he pursued. He set the Republican party back 30 years. His legacy will be turning the house, senate and Presidency over the the opposing party.

He can spend his leisure time hunting with Dick Cheney.

Posted by Mark Giuseffi | Report as abusive

Bush will be remembered as a liar and and stupid. The only reason he was not impeached is that Cheny is worse. That twosome has left this contry in shambles and we will be a long time in shamables. Shame on them for the the rest of their lives.

George W Bush will remembered as the President who so politicized every department of the Federal government, it nearly brought the Nation to collapse — Just think, the Justice Department, FEMA, Labor, SEC, the failure to separate church and state. Please add to that the war in Iraq, which was totally unnecessary when the Nation had one war going already. I think that he has already started writing his legacy and Obama’s too for that matter. I just hope that SMU has enough storage space and deodorizer for his mess.

Posted by Lydia Williams | Report as abusive

Mr. Bush had the Midas touch in reverse – everything he touched fell apart.

Posted by CG | Report as abusive

Isn’t a little late for that?

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Looking at personal finances…I seem to remember Bush having a net worth of a few million when he took office.
Yet surprise, surprise…even with presidents supposedly having to put their affairs into trusts during their terms, it turns out Bush exits office with 20 plus million net worth. Interestingly…most of it seems to be in cash now (what did he know that the rest of us didn’t). Furthermore…if he’s in cash, how did that initial 2-3 million grow into 20 + million. Ah yes, American, home of the brave, the free…and the corrupt.

Posted by Joe A | Report as abusive

I seem to remember Bush having a net worth of a few million when he took office.”
You remember wrong.
Bush had 15-20 million of net worth in 2000, thanks largely to the Texas Rangers team.
He has been personally generous to charities, more so than Gore or Obama.

I also like this comment: “George Bush will be remembered as a heroic man who led a pack of yapping-at-the-heels dog Democrats to victory in spite of their vicious selves.”

It’s funny how all those who in 2002 voted for war, including Clinton, Biden, Hagel, and many others … became turncoats against their own position. The Democrats were wrong about the surge, were wrong to protect fannie mae, and are wrong today in trying to shovel money into failures like the big 3 bailout.
But the Dems got away with it because they could always blame Bush no matter how irresponsible or wrong they were!

Had President Bush been a weaker man, we’d have lost in Iraq.
Thank you, President Bush for persisting and WINNING in Iraq. I think his inner core values are sound and his policies will proved to be sound over time as well.

“George W Bush will remembered as the President who so politicized every department of the Federal government, it nearly brought the Nation to collapse — Just think, the Justice Department, FEMA, Labor, SEC, the failure to separate church and state.”

George Bush will be remembered as the President who sent liberals in frothy rage and caused them to lie and demean and smear and make up absurd and insane nonsense that didnt have an ounce of truth in them.
Just think – Bush was less political than Clinton admin (who fired *every* DoJ attorney in 1993), DoJ is standing, church and state as separate as ever and athiests more outspoken than ever, FEMA helped in dozens of storms, including Ike this year.
Oh yeah, and Bush won the war in Iraq. we can thank him for finishing the job there so obama doesnt have to.

How should W be remembered? The worst American President ever! He wasn’t even a real president he had whined and stole it away from Gore and Kerry (voter fraud and civil rights violations). I will remember him as the eunuch that sat as our towers burns and New Orleans flooded. People did not have to die in their attics waiting weeks and up to a year in one case before help arrived. How many innocent Iraqis died somewhere between 400 to 900 thousand so he could again steal a pearl handled revolver from a former US ally who fought against the fundamentalist Mujahedeen that his daddy created and armed in the 80s. I will remember a tyrannt, a miscreant, a nightmare who divided the world. He should be remembered as a criminal who was tried in the world court at the hague and found guilty and placed in jail for the rest of his days. Crimes against humanity, genocide in Iraq, Incompetence in Katrina Rescue that lead to even more deaths. Couldnt this guy do anything correct or noble? Go to Hell W!

Posted by James Gaier | Report as abusive

I think W. will be remembered as a man who did what he thought was right, a man of action who refused to back down or see America’s greatness compromised. History will record him as the first president to stand and fight the evil of Islamic terrorism even though it cost him dearly politically.

Thank you for your courageous leadership, President Bush.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Bush will be remembered as a liar and and stupid. The only reason he was not impeached is that Cheny is worse. That twosome has left this contry in shambles and we will be a long time in shamables. Shame on them for the the rest of their lives.

- Posted by lady wingnut

Bush is stupid? Please explain to me what a shamable is.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

If a CEO ran a corporation like GW Bush ran the country, would the stockholders keep him for 8 years?

The current administration has demonstrated a complete disregard for the legal system, US Constitution, established international agreements and treaties, without any meaningful supervision by the House or Senate.

The Administration has engaged in personal slander, propaganda campaigns, double-speak and unmitigated fraud for anyone in disagreement with their warped agenda.

a. The House and Senate negated their assigned duties as representatives of the electorate when they handed the Administrative Branch a carte blanch ticket to start wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

b. The House and Senate have stood idly by while the administration carried out illegal wiretaps, refused to provide testimony required to ascertain the extent of the abuses and then passed laws to protect the culpable from due process/prosecution.

c. To allow the President and Vice-president to usurp the power designated to them by the electorate, the House and the Senate can only be recognized as complacent supporters of Totalitarianism and Fascism.

d. I urge Congress to restore court oversight of the government spying program and hold accountable the corporations that knowingly broke the law. I urge full judicial oversight of the responsible parties, removal from elected office or corporate position and, if so adjudicated, incarceration.

e. The non-sanctioned, preemptive wars against the sovereign nations of Afghanistan and Iraq were undertaken in violation of laws governing international aggression. The pretext for starting the wars was done with known deception of elected officials and the people. No matter how big your flag is, it is not big enough to wrap around the bodies of innocent men, women and children killed in battle.

f. I urge the immediate impeachment and trail for war crimes and misdemeanors of the President, Vice-president, Secretary of State, former Secretary of Defense per the petitions that were submitted to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees by popular petitions. This has remained in committee too long already.

Posted by R. L. Rathmann | Report as abusive

President Bush is a great man and will be remembered as one in spite of the main stream media’s own candidate – bambi (who will fall on his face withing the 1st year).

2008 – the year the media DIED

Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

Reuters, why such a pathetic lack of journalistic integrity?

You leave out many conservative quotes of substance, while giving your lefty pals a free pass on outright distortions:

Google how many years there were between the next most recent Islamic fundamentalist terror attack on the US and 9/11. Get back to me on how this proves W improved our security apparatus.


Ok: 1993 – World Trade Center bombed by Islamic fundamentalists, 6 killed, 1,000 injured : No response from Clinton Administration

1995 – Islamic fundamentalists bomb Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing many US Military personnel housed there: No response from Clinton Administration

1998 – US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania bombed, 200+ killed: No response from Clinton Administration

2000 – USS Cole bombed by Islamic fundamentalists – 17 sailors killed, many more injured: No response from Clinton Administration.

At some point in there, he lobbed a sinlge missle at an aspirin factory, taking out the major threat that was the one janitor killed there, most admit in order to take attention away from his misuse of the oval office and an intern.

So Scott, thats four in seven years if you don’t count the embassies separately, leaving you with an average of one major terrorist attack on the US every 1.75 years under a president who did everything in his might not only to not use the military correctly, but to demean and dismantle it at every opportunity.

On the other hand, within a month of the only major terrorist attack on the US under Bush, we responded militarily. There hasn’t been one since. So, 1 in 7 years compared to 4 in 7 years tells me he’s slowed the rate to one quarter of the rate of attacks under Clinton.

Let me know if you need any more help with math.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Bush sacrificed the American public in order to protect his own “values”. He has done everything possible to undermine our country and has done so with a smile and a glib “stay the course” on his lips. He has left the country in an absolutely preventable recession, with unemployment rates higher than they’ve been in 15 years, simply because he could and because he didn’t care. He spent 8 years using America as a disposable playtoy and has never once thought of taking responsibility for his own actions and attitudes.

“I think W. will be remembered as a man who did what he thought was right, a man of action who refused to back down or see America’s greatness compromised. ” — Posted by Mark

What someone thinks is right is not always the right thing to do. Politics can NOT be governed by personal values, especially not in a country as large and diverse as ours is. The President must put what’s best for the people at the forefront of his office. What’s best for himself comes last.

We didn’t need other countries to compromise America, he was happily doing it from within. Did you ever stop to wonder why Americans in other countries constantly felt the need to apologize for Bush, or were you too busy swallowing his “everything is fine” idiocy to look past your front lawn?

Posted by K von M | Report as abusive