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If you like George H.W. Bush's story, you might also like:
Jimmy Carter,
Tom Clancy,
Colin Powell,
Mikhail Gorbachev,
Peggy Noonan,
Shimon Peres,
Norman Schwarzkopf
and Alan Simpson

George Bush also appears in the video:
President George Bush: Lessons of Leadership

Related Links:
George H.W. Bush Presidential Library
The White House
Bush Library Foundation

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George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush
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George H.W. Bush Interview (page: 3 / 4)

41st President of the United States

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  George H.W. Bush

What was the proudest moment of your career?

George H.W. Bush Interview Photo
George H.W. Bush: This may sound like a cliche, but I'll put it this way. The proudest thing in my life is that my children come home. The proudest moment of my Presidency, domestically, was when I signed a piece of civil rights legislation known as the ADA, doing something for the disabled. A massive piece of civil rights legislation that put disabled people, 50 million of them, into the mainstream, or at least removed legal obstacles to their being in the mainstream.

The proudest moment internationally was when we prevailed over a brutal dictator. Formed a coalition that overcame public opinion in this country, cynicism in the press, reluctance in the Congress to do what was right, to say that a country -- in this instance Iraq -- with the fourth largest army in the world was not going to brutalize its neighbor, take over its neighbor by force. It was proud for me because I was privileged to be the Commander in Chief, but I'm not quite egotistical enough to feel that it was anything but a team effort. A classic victory of young soldiers working together, of sound diplomats doing their best. And of a country coming together to make a profound moral statement: aggression will not stand.

What were the biggest disappointments in your career?

George H.W. Bush: Nobody likes to lose. I used to call home when I was a 14 year-old soccer player away at school and tell my mother, "I got three goals today." And she'd shake me off over the long distance phone and say, "It doesn't matter, how did the team do?"

When I lost a race for the United States Senate, I thought the world was going to end for me politically, and 18 years later I was elected President of the United States.

The biggest disappointment was that I wasn't able to communicate properly to the American people -- with the proper conviction and the proper ability -- where the country really stood. The pessimists, the naysayers, the change-wanters overwhelmed me, and I wasn't good enough. I wasn't articulate enough to have the country understand that we weren't in a recession, that we were in a rather booming economy in the last half of my Presidency. That was a personal shortcoming, a failure on my path. My predecessor could handle it pretty well, Ronald Reagan.

George H.W. Bush Interview Photo
Let me say this, and I don't want to put a bitter note on the press, but there's an unaccountability. The charge that got me the most was against my character. It was alleged that I went to Paris to meet with Iranians in 1988, to talk them into holding Americans hostage until after the Presidential election. I fought for my country. The fact that this charge could be given credence by the press got right to my soul. The fact that it caused the Congress to spend $2 million running down this outrageous charge against my very soul really, really affected me. It still does, and it will 'til the day I die. I fought for my country, and to suggest that I would make an insidious deal like that with the Iranians so that Ronald Reagan and I could win an election was horrible. I fault the press for that. I fault them for unaccountable charges that were subsequently shown to be totally false. I fought the Congress from pursuing this outrageous allegation against my character. Good friends on the Democratic side, insisted on the hearing. In a sense, I'm glad they did, because there was total vindication and these charges were shown to be totally erroneous, but it hurt, because it transcended politics for me. It got to what I am. Would I do that?

I went to a Missing In Action POW meeting just before the election. Some idiot got up and started yelling at me that I knew there were live Americans in Vietnam, and I was unwilling to bring them home. That had nothing to do with Vietnam prisoners. What it had to do with was character.

Would an American President, would I, who fought for my country and did my level best, leave an American incarcerated, knowing that we could do something about it? And the answer was, no. It's the attack on character, it's the attack on your very fiber, your being, that hurts. And who's guilty? Well, I think to some degree the press is much more unaccountable and ferociously adversarial. And I think there's some that have accepted the view that, well, this might well be true, the man doesn't have the character. And I did. I made mistakes, screwed things up real bad on a lot of things. Couldn't get things done the way I wanted, but it wasn't because I was a couple of quarts low on character.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

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This page last revised on Feb 26, 2008 16:31 EDT
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