Goodbye, "Decider." Hello, "Mr. Interrupter"

The president says his would-be successors don't understand how hard the job really is.


Salon Staff
November 21, 2007 7:02PM (UTC)

In an interview with ABC's Charles Gibson Tuesday, George W. Bush said he thinks the 2008 presidential contenders don't understand how hard it is to be the president.

"I would tell you what I think, uh, these candidates don't really understand is how complex the environment is inside the Oval Office," ABC's transcript has Bush saying. "And how important it is, to have a set of principles from which you will not deviate, and, so that you can make good sound decisions. It is impossible I ... maybe not, but I think it's impossible for anybody to fully comprehend, you know, how much incoming there is into the Oval Office, and therefore it's important, to have a very orderly ... disciplined process, that enables people to come in and give you their opinion, in a timely fashion, so that there's enough data available for the president to deal with the problems in the world."

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Nearly seven years into his presidency, maybe Bush has the "incoming" part of the process down. The "outgoing"? Not so much.

At one point in Tuesday's interview, Gibson asked Laura Bush how to differentiate between the situation in Burma, on which she has been quite outspoken, and that in Pakistan, on which the White House response has been muted. She dodged, and the president did his best to come to his wife's rescue. "Yeah, there is a difference in that, Pakistan has been on the road to democracy, Burma hadn't been. And um, I'm real proud of Laura's, she's learned that her voice can be pretty loud in international politics, and has really called the world's attention to the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese people.

"One of the interesting stories, if I might, not to be Mr. Interrupter here, but uh, was after my speech at the United Nations where it was pretty clear about Burma, and she got an email from a human rights activist on the Thai border that had gotten to know Laura, heard the comments that I had made at the UN, and emailed Laura as a, as kind of a conduit into the White House. So it's a, she's, her role has been very impressive and very important."

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And so it went.

Bush on how quickly his presidency is passing: "You know, just last year I was thinking about, how to deal with Iraq, I -- you know, I was, I was part of the people who didn't approve of Iraq. And when they asked the endless questions -- 'Do you approve of Iraq?' -- I was one, no, I didn't approve of what's going on. And wanted to do something about it and was confronted with a serious decision. It was just a year ago ... that I was, you know ... listening to people and getting ready to make the -- make the decision, and it just seemed like ... it was just yesterday, I mean it's unbelievable how much time's passed."

Bush on whether Pakistan's nuclear weapons are safe from Islamic radicals: "I certainly hope so. We feel pretty comfortable at this moment in time. And of course we'll pay very close attention to, to any, country that has got nuclear weapons. And, but yeah, I feel good about it right now."

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Bush on who will be the Republicans' presidential nominee: "I'm like Laura, I really don't know, um ... uh, and if I didn't I wouldn't wanna opine about it."


Salon Staff

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