Can Mr. Obama fare better in a partisan Washington? “He ought to try, and he has a very good chance to do so. I hope so.”
Asked if anyone can really ever prepare fully for the presidency, he said, “You learn. You don’t have any choice. … The only thing a president can do is be open-minded, listen to a lot of voices, and give it your all. And I have done that.”
On the Iraq war, he said it has been “a hard war to convince people that it’s a real war, and it’s an ideological conflict, because the - we don’t face a nation-state.” Asked if Mr. Obama will follow through on the foundation he has laid to battle Islamic extremism, Mr. Bush said flatly: “I would hope that the president-elect and other presidents recognize we’re in an ideological struggle, and I would hope that they would have great confidence in the transformative power of freedom.”
Mr. Bush was brief when asked if the unpopular war in Iraq - and his own low poll numbers - plus the imploding economy doomed Sen. John McCain’s hopes to succeed him in the White House.
“I think he had a very difficult environment in which to run. No question the economic meltdown made it - created a head wind. Secondly, he ran against a well-run campaign. Barack Obama was unbelievably well-financed, well-organized, and they turned out their vote where they needed to,” Mr. Bush said.
But he noted that both parties have been counted out before, only to rise from the ashes and return to power.
“I’m very optimistic about our party because most people agree with our philosophy,” he said. “In order to recover, we’re going to need, you know, fresh candidates, new folks coming into the system who articulate the conservative philosophy in a way where the average citizen says, ‘The guy cares about me; he understands my concerns; and his policies will help create an environment in which I can improve my life.’”
On his own legacy, Mr. Bush said he feels he will be vindicated “when the truth comes out.” Asked how that will happen, he said: “Just with time and objective historians taking a look. … History has a way of becoming more objective with time.”
“I fully understand there’s a lot of people who didn’t like my policy, so it’s going to be hard for them to divorce themselves from the emotions of the moment as they analyze and - analyze history,” Mr. Bush said.
“And I hope that I will - I’m going to write a book, and its objective is to draw people into the Oval Office here and help them realize what the environment was like when I made certain decisions, so that when people analyze this administration they’ll have … one man’s point of view that happened to be in the center of it all.”
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