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.