Matt Lauer interviewed former President George W. Bush Nov. 8, a day prior to the release of his memoir titled, “Decision Points.” It was Bush’s first interview since leaving office. In addition to speaking about life in the White House, Bush reflected on the moments which defined his presidency. The interview was previewed on Entertainment Weekly.
Bush has never spoken much about his relationship with his mother, Barbara. One story he revealed for the first time, which his mother gave him permission to include in his book, recounted a trip to the emergency room.
“When my mother had a miscarriage I drove her to the hospital. I was 15. She handed me this human fetus in a jar and said, ‘Here you go.’ At that moment I thought, ‘This was a little brother or sister I held in my hand.’ It was at that moment I knew we should respect life,” Bush said.
Lauer pressed Bush on whether or not the miscarriage determined his stance on abortion. Bush said he put the story in the book to expound on his relationship with his mother.
Terror Threats Post 9/11
Bush told Lauer there were many threats to the United States in the weeks after 9/11. The White House and CIA were trying to figure out which threats were credible and which ones weren’t. One poignant terror threat occurred while Bush was visiting China. Vice President Dick Cheney contacted Bush and informed him of a possible bio-terrorism threat to the White House.
“Bio-detectors have gone off and we think there’s a botulism attack at the White House,” Cheney said. Bush said another adviser told him, “Mr. President, we’ll have mice tested soon.” Bush quipped, “If they’re feet up, we’re goners. If they’re feet down, we’re fine.”
This incident was one of many threats leveled at the United States, according to Bush.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. Bush still has strong feelings about the immediate aftermath. Regarding critics charging the President with failing to send National Guard troops to New Orleans sooner, Bush made it clear he was in a bind.
“Here’s the decision I faced–in order to restore order, I needed to send in troops. The problem is, unless I get authority from the governor or declare an insurrection, the troops wouldn’t be able to defend themselves. A Republican president would have had to seize power from a Democratic governor. That would have been like throwing kerosene on a fire,” Bush said.
It was a lack of leadership on the part of the Louisiana governor and the mayor of New Orleans which stalled Hurricane Katrina relieve efforts, in the opinion of the former Commander-in-Chief.
One incident which Bush referred to as one of the “most disgusting moments” of his presidency occurred when Kanye West said Bush didn’t care about black people during a televised charity show hosted by NBC. Bush explained the situation from his perspective and felt West’s comments were inappropriate.
“Kanye West called me a racist. I didn’t appreciate it then and I don’t appreciate it now. I still feel that way,” Bush said.
The interview offered viewers some insight into a man many Americans felt was out of touch with the country for the majority of his time in office. It’s easy to see “Decision Points” presents readers with an opportunity to see the man behind the decisions and actions of the presidency from Bush’s perspective and vantage point.
Bierly, Mandi, “George W. Bush talks liquor, Libby with Matt Lauer”, PopWatch.EW.com.