Paul Morse/George W. Bush Center

A Portrait of Two Presidents, Reconciling Their Political Struggles

On Sunday, Bob Schieffer got Barack Obama and George W. Bush to wax philosophical about the value of their time in the White House.

In a special 60th anniversary episode of CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, host Bob Schieffer got Barack Obama and George W. Bush to wax philosophical about their respective legacies as president.

In a prerecorded interview in the Oval Office, Schieffer addressed criticism that if Obama were more of a back-slapping, wheeling-and-dealing president like Lyndon B. Johnson, he wouldn't have so many difficulties working with Congress. Does the president even enjoy the game of politics?

"If your name is Barack Hussein Obama, you had to have liked politics in order to get into this office," Obama replied. "The fact is that we wouldn't have gotten health care passed if there wasn't a whole bunch of arm twisting. We would not have been able to make progress on the deficit if I hadn't been willing to cut some deals with Republicans."

But while Obama openly enjoys the politics of the campaign trail and winning over voters, he allowed that this passion doesn't always translate to winning over fellow politicians.

"Campaigning and governance are two different things," Obama said. "When you start governing, there is a tendency sometimes for me to start thinking, 'As long as I get the policy right, then that's what should matter.' "

And while Obama defended his policy record, he admitted a "failure of politics" in selling those policies to American voters.

"One thing that I do need to constantly remind myself and my team of is, it's not enough to build the better mousetrap. People don't automatically come beating to your door. We've got to sell it. We've got to reach out to the other side, and where possible, persuade," Obama said.

"And I think there are times—there's no doubt about it—where I think we have not been successful in going out there and letting people know what it is that we're trying to do and why this is the right direction. So there is a failure of politics there that we've got to improve on."

In his own interview with Schieffer, Bush echoed Obama's frustration in being able to persuade the American public on the White House's agenda. Bush told Schieffer he was "dismayed" about his father losing reelection in 1992, and about the inability of the White House to convince voters that the Gulf War was just as important as domestic matters.

The more obvious failure of politics for Obama came on Tuesday night, when Democrats in Congress suffered embarrassing defeats in both chambers. Schieffer pointed to a recent Washington Post story, in which Sen. Harry Reid's chief of staff aired his grievances on working with the White House during the midterms.

"The buck stops with me," Obama said in reference to Democrats' losses on Tuesday. "I've got to take responsibility." He did not elaborate on whether he thought that responsibility was deserved.

Still, Obama said he has retained optimism throughout his presidency, despite the trials of the past six years.

"I still consider this the best job on Earth," he told Schieffer, "and I'm going to try to squeeze every last ounce of possibility and the ability to do good out of this job in these last two years."

Looking forward to 2016, Bush speculated on his own brother's potential presidential bid.

"I think he'd be a very good president. I understand the decision-making process pretty well, and I know that he's wrestling with the decision," Bush said about his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

And the odds of that decision coming out in favor of a presidential run?

"I think it's 50-50," Bush said. "He and I are very close. On the other hand, he's not here knocking on my door agonizing about the decision. He knows exactly the ramifications on family, for example. He's seen his dad and his brother go through the presidency. I would give it a toss-up. I know this about Jeb: He's not afraid to succeed. In other words, he knows he could do the job. Nor is he afraid to fail."

George W. Bush, who has maintained a low profile since he left the White House, said he would support his brother in whatever capacity he needs.

"I will be whatever he wants," Bush said. "I will be one of his strongest backers. If he wants me out there publicly, I'll be out there publicly. If he wants me behind the scenes, I'll be behind the scenes."

This article appears in the November 10, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.