Archive for Monday, November 17, 2008

Former President Bush recounts career in accepting Dole Prize

Dole Institute of Politics director Bill Lacy, left, interviews former President George H. W. Bush on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008 at the Lied Center. Former President Bush received the Dole Leadership Prize.

Dole Institute of Politics director Bill Lacy, left, interviews former President George H. W. Bush on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008 at the Lied Center. Former President Bush received the Dole Leadership Prize.

November 17, 2008

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Bush accepts Dole Leadership Prize

A crowd of about 2,000 gathered to see former-President George H.W. Bush receive the 2008 Dole Institute of Politics Leadership Prize. Enlarge video

Highlights of Bush discussion

Why he chose a career in public service: "I was lucky. I had a father who inculcated into his kids the idea that public service is a noble calling, and I still feel that way."

Why the first Gulf War was his most significant presidential achievement: "It ended this canard that our military was no good and our military was on the ropes after Vietnam. They weren't."

The help he received from Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., the Senate minority leader: "Bob followed in character. That's the way he was to me the whole time I was president."

His "Read my lips: No new taxes line" that opponents hammered him with in the 1992 campaign: "I think in terms of the budget and effect on the economy (the tax increase) proved to be right. In terms of the politics, it proved to be wrong because the words were so flamboyant that people never let me forget it."

Advice for President-elect Barack Obama: "He's going to find the tough realities of politics, and he's going to find that you have to compromise from time to time."

His son's handling of the current Iraq War: "These calls are not easy for a president. On that one there was a lot of controversy, but you didn't hear much about it in the campaign. Why? Because it's going better. The surge is successful."

His work raising disaster relief and relationship with President Bill Clinton, after a story about Clinton giving Bush an airplane bed and instead sleeping on the floor: "He didn't have to do that. He was extremely considerate and kind to me."

On comedian Dana Carvey's impressions of him: "He's a good man. His humor never was mean. He sure stung at times, but it was never hurtful. You never thought it was vicious."

Former President George H.W. Bush said the phone call in 1980 came "out of the clear blue sky" and it was "the luckiest thing that ever happened to me."

He had recently lost the presidential Republican nomination to then California Gov. Ronald Reagan, but just before the Republican National Convention, Reagan called his former political rival to offer him a position on the GOP's ticket.

"I saw up close what I hadn't seen when I got to be his running mate - his innate kindness and courtesy and just a wonderful human being, and I think that did come through to the American people," Bush said.

From a chair Sunday afternoon at Kansas University's Lied Center, Bush - the nation's 41st president - recounted several similar stories about his long political career and several critical events and issues.

Bush accepted the Dole Leadership Prize from the Dole Institute of Politics after his one-hour interview with Bill Lacy, the institute's director.

In response to a written question from presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, the first Dole Institute director, Bush also recalled when a reporter in the Oval Office asked why he didn't do what congressional Democrats suggested and "dance on the Berlin Wall" to take credit after Cold War symbol fell in 1989.

"I didn't tell her this, but that's the stupidest idea I've ever heard," Bush said.

He was wary about how the Soviet Union's military would react, and he didn't want to risk a "victory lap" for political clout when it could undermine Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and might diminish the chance for a final peaceful solution as the former Communist empire was beginning to break up.

Bush recounted several stories from his presidency, choosing to focus on the relationships he has formed with others like Reagan, President Bill Clinton and Sen. Bob Dole.

"There can be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others," he said.

KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said he enjoyed Bush's stories about interactions with others in office.

"It makes you realize the presidency is a very human task, and it takes a very strong human being to take on those tasks and conduct them successfully," Hemenway said.

Bush also said he considered the victory in the first Gulf War his most significant achievement; defended the surge strategy for the current Iraq War; and said he has called President-elect Barack Obama to congratulate him on his "historic" election.

The crowd was mostly supportive, and even applauded the former president for saying that his son, current President George W. Bush, has received unfair treatment from the media during his two terms.

Anti-war hecklers did interrupt Bush's talk three times. Lacy had asked them to be civil, but one heckler mentioned "genocide" and "war crimes."

KU Public Safety officers escorted about a half dozen people out of the auditorium for interruptions as most of the crowd booed or tried to hush them.

"I thought the situation was handled well because the Dole Institute is dedicated to nonpartisan politics - that you believe strongly in your political views but you share them in a respectful way," Hemenway said.

Bush later said that type of criticism usually comes with a political career.

"These guys yelling at me - that doesn't bother me anymore. It just goes with the territory. You have to get used to it," he said.

KTWU, the PBS affiliate that airs on Sunflower Broadband channel 11, plans to broadcast the talk at a later date as part of a Dole Institute and KTWU series "Minds that Matter."

Comments

Jason Bailey 6 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

justthefacts 6 years, 5 months ago

Did you go to the lecture or submit a question ahead of time Bozo? It's always much easier to criticize without all the information or from an anonymous soap box, then to get personally involved and/or have all the facts first. President Clinton and Bush Sr. have shown what great good can be done when people choose to be positive and not negative. http://video.aol.com/video-detail/clinton-and-bush-sr-team-up/2121271729

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

Were there anything but softball questions? Doesn't sound like it. No wonder they were heckling this BS session.

lildos 6 years, 5 months ago

The Dole Institute asked some of its contributors to ask questions, and I am pretty sure those questions were screened. Since it was an event to honor pres. Bush I would not expect anything less than soft questions. There were a couple of questions in the end (the ones submitted by the donors) that were somewhat harder, but Bush was pretty good in avoiding the tough parts of the question.I have some issues with Bush, just like anyone has with any president. However, that was not the venue for the closed minded "protest" that is hackling and yelling. But to use this event to already start the questions about Obama is just uncalled for. I am going to paraphrase some of the things that Bush said last night, which I believe most of the very conservative folks will chose to ignore. Let's give Obama a chance, he won and he is now the president of the USA. We are going to go through some tough times now, and a divided Congress (and a divided electorate) will just make things harder. Let Obama run his presidency for at least two years before blindly criticizing him for things he did not even do yet.I am pretty sure most people will not even remember those comments by Bush, but I think that is what is lacking in US politics sometimes. That goes the other way around as well, democrats sometimes need to get their heads out and see that not everything they do is perfect. Let's give our leaders at least sometime to prove themselves, and like Bush said, if in 2 or 3 years nothing gets done, then we have the elections to show the politicians how we feel.I went to this event expecting the soft questions and that's what I got. I went to the event expecting some insightful ideas from Bush, and that's what I got. He was categorical in talking about his son and about Obama, but that is what is expected as well from a lifelong politician. So, while it is great to have questions and to dissent, there is the proper venue and the proper time. The Lied Center was not the place to yell like a 6 year old at a former president. But let's hear what Bush had to say and stay away from the senseless criticism of a president that had not have the chance to prove himself. Maybe the "liberal media" was kind of soft on Obama, but that doesn't mean that he is incompetent, and we will have to wait and see for that one. In the mean time, give the guy a chance.

Jason Bailey 6 years, 5 months ago

Hmmm...I post a comment that is identical to comments posted by Bozo in the "Teach the Facts" thread last week...mine are deleted due to terms of usage violation...Bozo's are still up and available for all to see.LJW staff: if you're going to delete comments willy nilly, change your terms of use to say so.

guesswho 6 years, 5 months ago

Thank you lildos; I did not vote for W., but did try to give him a chance; he promised to be a uniter, not a divider. I don't think he is a bad person, but he surrounded himself with people who were not uniters - Rove, Cheney, etc, who made incredibly poor choices regarding the invasion of Iraq and not focusing on the perpetrators of 9/11. So, of course this isn't the time to criticize Bush Sr., there is plenty that could be done and more about the Reagan/Bush years should be brought to light (but won't for many years due to executive pardons) but let's all focus on working together and not tearing down Obama. Yes, the View's interview with Obama was pathetic, but so was Fox's interview with the Palins. Let's all get over it, and move forward.

c_dubya 6 years, 5 months ago

"I could only assume he was trying to reference a black man and I was disgusted."You know what happens when you assume? You look like an $&^%.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"Did you go to the lecture or submit a question ahead of time Bozo?"No, I didn't because I knew he'd have nothing but the same old pablum to offer. It would have been a total waste of time, and while heckling him might have provided a bit of entertainment, and allowed other attendees to pat themselves on the back for how mature they are, other than that, it didn't really accomplish anything, either.While I expect that Obama will be a huge improvement over Bush, it appears at the moment that he's mostly just recycling folks and ideas from the Clinton administration. Which means that he's not going to stray that far from the general conventional "wisdom" that has governed Washington for decades. I only hope that I'm wrong.

Donkey_H8er 6 years, 5 months ago

Leave it to the socialist, liberal lefties to be lewd and disrespectful. The elder Bush is not his son, his policies no where near those of W's, he is a great american! I can only hope that some day that bumbling idiot WJC comes to town so that we can heckle him in the same manner. Clinton is one of the worst presidents we ever had, not policy wise, but integrity and respect wise. He had no respect for the office or the american people. The elder bush led America through a transition period, and for that alone the man deserves his props. Yes his son is right there along side Clinton as one of the worst presidents we have ever had, but the man deserves respect for the many years of service to the American people, regardless of his political ambitions, policies etc.

volunteer 6 years, 5 months ago

Did anyone catch last week's Frontline episode on campaign manager Lee Atwater's life and death? A clip showed GW at some rally or celebration, perhaps after winning an election, in which Lee and a few others were playing banjos.GW was on stage grinning and he twice looked at some friend off-camera and jutted out his jaw as if he was imitating an ape. I could only assume he was trying to reference a black man and I was disgusted.

jayhawker85 6 years, 5 months ago

Bozo, you didn't even go to the event and all you can say is, "No, I didn't because I knew he'd have nothing but the same old pablum to offer."If you read above your narrow-minded post, you will see this, "I am going to paraphrase some of the things that Bush said last night, which I believe most of the very conservative folks will chose to ignore. Let's give Obama a chance, he won and he is now the president of the USA. We are going to go through some tough times now, and a divided Congress (and a divided electorate) will just make things harder. Let Obama run his presidency for at least two years before blindly criticizing him for things he did not even do yet."But then again, why even ask you to read anything or think critically?

Donkey_H8er 6 years, 5 months ago

logorithmic, your concept of international policy is as flawed as the logic that Bill Clinton was a great president...let's look at the Billary Clinton "legacy"-First of all he was IMPEACHED. The only reason he was convicted was because his Democratic Party cronies voted along party lines. EVERYONE knew he was guilty of perjury.-Murdered innocent men, women and children in Sudan when his "al Qauda training camp" turned out to be a pharmecutical production factory.-Waged the infamous "Air War" against the Bosnian Serb Military which counted for thousands of civilian casualties aka "Collateral Damage" and destroyed the Chinese Embassy.-Presided over the failed occupation of Somalia, then left our troops high and dry by pulling out all our heavy armor assets thus leading to the infamous "Black Hawk Down" incident (although is fellow idiot Les Aspen shares much of the blame.)-Failed knew about German and French violations of the arms embargo to Iraq but did nothing about it.-Pardoned many of his fellow criminal friends in his last days in office.-Made a mockery of the Office of President of the United States, lacked moral character and resolve. Lied to the american people. Severely damaged our reputation abroad, and made adultery culturally acceptable.Oh and the hecklers are not patriots my delusional friend, they are cowards and yellow bellies. The true patriots are in Iraq fighting, and the best of those patriots are buried in the ground so that flamming leftest liberals such as your self can mock them as you have done, and spout your Marxist/Socialist rhetoric.And if the elder Bush is a war Crimianl, doesn't that make JFK a war criminal since he and his buddy LBJ started the Conflict in Souteast Asia? And well FDR would be a war criminal too, under your logic.

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