Political Transcripts April 25, 2013: Former President George W. Bush’s Remarks at His Presidential Library Dedication

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

George W. Bush’s Remarks at His Presidential Library Dedication

Source: NYT, 4-25-13

The following is the text of former President George W. Bush’s remarks at his presidential library dedication in Dallas on Thursday, as transcribed by Federal News Service.

MR. BUSH: Thank you all. Please be seated. Oh, happy days. (Laughter.) I want to thank you all for coming. Laura and I are thrilled to have so many friends — I mean, a lot of friends here to celebrate this special day. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t likely to be found at a library, much less found one. (Laughter.)

Beautiful building has my name above the door, but it belongs to you. It honors the cause we serve and the country we share. For eight years, you gave me the honor of serving as your president, and today I’m proud to dedicate this center to the American people. (Applause.)

I am very grateful to President Obama and Michelle for making this trip. (Applause.) Unlike the other presidents here, he’s actually got a job. (Laughter.) President, thank you for your kinds words and for leading the nation we all love. (Applause.) I appreciate my fellow members of the former presidents club — 42, 41 and 39. I want to thank you all for your kind words and the example you have set. (Applause.)

Alexander Hamilton once worried about ex-presidents wandering among the people like discontented ghosts. (Laughter.) Actually, I think we seem pretty happy. (Laughter.) One reason for that, we have wonderful first ladies at our side. (Applause.)

Hillary and Rosalynn, thank you for your service and your generosity.

Mother and Laura, you know how I feel. (Laughter.)

Condi introduced the world leaders with whom I had the privilege to serve. You’re good friends, and I’m honored to have you here in the Promised Land.

I want to welcome the members of Congress — Mr. Speaker, appreciate you coming — and the diplomatic corps. I know you will all be happy to hear that this speech is a lot shorter than the State of the Union. (Laughter.)

I thank the governors, governor of our own home state and the other governors, mayors, state and local officials who have joined us.

I welcome members of my Cabinet, the White House staff and administration, especially Vice President Dick Cheney. (Applause.) From the day I asked Dick to run with me, he served with loyalty, principle and strength. Proud to call you friend. (Applause.)

History’s going to show that I served with great people — a talented, dedicated, intelligent men — team of men and women who love our nation as much as I do.

I want to thank the people who have made this project a success. President Gerald Turner runs a fantastic university — (applause) — a university with active trustees, dedicated faculty and a student body that is awesome. (Cheers, applause, laughter.)

I want to thank David Ferriero, Alan Lowe and the professionals at the National Archives and Records Administration who have taken on a major task, and I am confident you all will handle it.

I appreciate the architects, landscapers and designers, especially Bob Stern, Michael Van Valkenburgh and Dan Murphy. I want to thank the folks of Manhattan Construction as well as all the workers who built a fine facility that will stand the test of time.

I thank the fantastic team at the George W. Bush Center, headed by Mark Langdale and Jim Glassman and my longtime pal Donny Evans. Much to the delight — much to the delight of the folks who worked on this project, we have raised enough money to pay our bills. We have — (applause) — we have over 300,000 contributors from all 50 states, and Laura and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. (Applause.)

This is the first time in American history that parents have seen their son’s presidential library. Mother, I promise to keep my area clean. (Laughter.) You know, Barbara Bush taught me to live life to the fullest, to laugh a lot and to speak my mind, a trait that sometimes got us both into trouble.

Dad taught me how to be a president. Before that, he showed me how to be a man. And ’41, it is awesome that you are here today. (Cheers, applause.) I welcome — I welcome my dear brothers and sister, as well as in-laws, cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles — all of you for joining us. Our family has meant more to me than anything, and I thank you for making it so.

Not so long ago this campus was home to a beautiful West Texan named Laura Welch. When she earned her degree in library science, I’m not sure this day’s exactly what she had in mind. (Laughter.) She’s been a source of strength and support and inspiration ever since we met in the O’Neills’ backyard in Midland, Texas. One of the joys of the presidency was watching Laura serve as first lady. The American people rightly love her, and so do I. (Applause.)

Laura’s going to be even better in her next role: grandmother. (Laughter.) It was a joy — I can’t tell you what a joy it was to hold little Mila, and I am really happy that Mila’s mother and father, Jenna and Henry, could make it here today. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)

So if you don’t have anything to do in the morning, tune in to the “Today Show.” Jenna’s the correspondent, thereby continuing the warm relations the Bush family has with the national press. (Laughter, applause.)

And I’m really proud of Barbara, who’s with us, for her incredible work to serve others and to save lives. (Applause.)

Today marks a major milestone in a journey that began 20 years ago, when I announced my campaign for governor of Texas. Some of you were there that day. I mean, a lot of you were there that day. I picture you looking a little younger. You probably picture me with a little less gray hair. In politics, you learn who your real friends are. And our friends have stood with us every step of the way.

And today’s a day to give you a proper thanks.

In democracy, the purpose of public office is not to fulfill personal ambition. Elected officials must serve a cause greater than themselves. The political winds blow left and right. Polls rise and fall. Supporters come and go. But in the end, leaders are defined by the convictions they hold.

And my deepest conviction, the guiding principle of the administration, is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom. (Applause.) I believe that freedom is a gift from God and the hope of every human heart. Freedom inspired our founders and preserved our union through civil war and secured the promise of civil rights. Freedom sustains dissidents bound by chains, believers huddled in underground churches and voters who risk their lives to cast their ballots. Freedom unleashes creativity, rewards innovation and replaces poverty with prosperity. And ultimately, freedom lights the path to peace.

Freedom brings responsibility. Independence from the state does not mean isolation from each other. A free society thrives when neighbors help neighbors and the strong protect the weak and public policies promote private compassion. As president, I tried to act on these principles every day. It wasn’t always easy, and it certainly wasn’t always popular.

One of the benefits of freedom is that people can disagree. It’s fair to say I created plenty of opportunities to exercise that right. (Laughter.)

But when future generations come to this library and study this administration, they’re going to find out that we stayed true to our convictions — (applause) — that we expanded freedom at home by raising standards in schools and lowering taxes for everybody — (applause) — that we liberated nations from dictatorship and freed people from AIDS and that when our freedom came under attack, we made the tough decisions required to keep the American people safe. (Applause.)

The same principles define the mission of the presidential center. I’m retired from politics — happily so, I might add — but not from public service. We’ll use our influences to help more children to start life with a quality education, to help more Americans find jobs and economic opportunity, to help more countries overcome poverty and disease, to help more people in every part of the world live in freedom.

We’ll work to empower women around the world to transform their countries, stand behind the courageous men and women who have stepped forward to wear the uniform of the United States to defend our flag and our freedoms here at home.

Ultimately, the success of a nation depends on the character of its citizens. As president, I had the privilege to see that character up close. I saw it in the first responders who charged up the stairs into the flames to save people’s lives from burning towers. I saw it in the Virginia Tech professor who barricaded his classroom door with his body until his students escaped to safety. I saw it in the people of New Orleans that made homemade boats to rescue their neighbors from the floods, saw it in the service members who laid down their lives to keep our country safe and to make other nations free.

Franklin Roosevelt once described the dedication of a library as an act of faith. I dedicate this library with an unshakable faith in the future of our country. It was the honor of a lifetime to lead a country as brave and as noble as the United States. Whatever challenges come before us, I will always believe our nation’s best days lie ahead. God bless.

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Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama at Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

Source: WH, 4-25-13

Bush Presidential Center
Dallas, Texas

10:42 A.M. CDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Please be seated.  To President Bush and Mrs. Bush; to President Clinton and now-former Secretary Clinton; to President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Bush; to President and Mrs. Carter; to current and former world leaders and all the distinguished guests here today — Michelle and I are honored to be with you to mark this historic occasion.

This is a Texas-sized party.  And that’s worthy of what we’re here to do today:  honor the life and legacy of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush.

When all the living former Presidents are together, it’s also a special day for our democracy.  We’ve been called “the world’s most exclusive club” — and we do have a pretty nice clubhouse.  But the truth is, our club is more like a support group.  The last time we all got together was just before I took office.  And I needed that.  Because as each of these leaders will tell you, no matter how much you may think you’re ready to assume the office of the presidency, it’s impossible to truly understand the nature of the job until it’s yours, until you’re sitting at that desk.

And that’s why every President gains a greater appreciation for all those who served before him; for the leaders from both parties who have taken on the momentous challenges and felt the enormous weight of a nation on their shoulders.  And for me, that appreciation very much extends to President Bush.

The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George, and one that demonstrated his compassion and generosity.  For he knew that I would come to learn what he had learned — that being President, above all, is a humbling job.  There are moments where you make mistakes.  There are times where you wish you could turn back the clock.  And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best.

Now, in the past, President Bush has said it’s impossible to pass judgment on his presidency while he’s still alive.  So maybe this is a little bit premature.  But even now, there are certain things that we know for certain.

We know about the son who was raised by two strong, loving parents in Midland, famously inheriting, as he says, “my daddy’s eyes and my mother’s mouth.”  (Laughter.)  The young boy who once came home after a trip to a museum and proudly presented his horrified mother with a small dinosaur tailbone he had smuggled home in his pocket.  (Laughter.)  I’ll bet that went over great with Barbara.

We know about the young man who met the love of his life at a dinner party, ditching his plans to go to bed early and instead talking with the brilliant and charming Laura Welch late into the night.

We know about the father who raised two remarkable, caring, beautiful daughters, even after they tried to discourage him from running for President, saying, “Dad, you’re not as cool as you think you are.”  (Laughter.)  Mr. President, I can relate.  (Laughter.)  And now we see President Bush the grandfather, just beginning to spoil his brand-new granddaughter.

So we know President Bush the man.  And what President Clinton said is absolutely true — to know the man is to like the man, because he’s comfortable in his own skin.  He knows who he is.  He doesn’t put on any pretenses.  He takes his job seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  He is a good man.

But we also know something about George Bush the leader.  As we walk through this library, obviously we’re reminded of the incredible strength and resolve that came through that bullhorn as he stood amid the rubble and the ruins of Ground Zero, promising to deliver justice to those who had sought to destroy our way of life.

We remember the compassion that he showed by leading the global fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria, helping to save millions of lives and reminding people in some of the poorest corners of the globe that America cares and that we’re here to help.

We remember his commitment to reaching across the aisle to unlikely allies like Ted Kennedy, because he believed that we had to reform our schools in ways that help every child learn, not just some; that we have to repair a broken immigration system; and that this progress is only possible when we do it together.

Seven years ago, President Bush restarted an important conversation by speaking with the American people about our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  And even though comprehensive immigration reform has taken a little longer than any of us expected, I am hopeful that this year, with the help of Speaker Boehner and some of the senators and members of Congress who are here today, that we bring it home — for our families, and our economy, and our security, and for this incredible country that we love.  And if we do that, it will be in large part thanks to the hard work of President George W. Bush.  (Applause.)

And finally, a President bears no greater decision and no more solemn burden than serving as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military that the world has ever known.  As President Bush himself has said, “America must and will keep its word to the men and women who have given us so much.”  So even as we Americans may at times disagree on matters of foreign policy, we share a profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families.  And we are united in our determination to comfort the families of the fallen and to care for those who wear the uniform of the United States.  (Applause.)

On the flight back from Russia, after negotiating with Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy’s secretary found a small slip of paper on which the President had written a favorite saying:  “I know there is a God.  And I see a storm coming.  If he has a place for me, I believe I am ready.”

No one can be completely ready for this office.  But America needs leaders who are willing to face the storm head on, even as they pray for God’s strength and wisdom so that they can do what they believe is right.  And that’s what the leaders with whom I share this stage have all done.  That’s what President George W. Bush chose to do.  That’s why I’m honored to be part of today’s celebration.

Mr. President, for your service, for your courage, for your sense of humor, and, most of all, for your love of country, thank you very much.  From all the citizens of the United States of America, God bless you.  And God bless these United States.  (Applause.)

END
10:50 A.M. CDT

History Headlines April 25, 2013: Convergence of Presidents at George W. Bush Library Dedication

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY HEADLINE NEWS

History Buzz

HISTORY MAKING HEADLINES

Convergence of Presidents at Bush Library Dedication

Source: NYT, 4-25-13

From left, President Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter attended the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday in Dallas.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

From left, President Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter attended the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday in Dallas.

President Obama joined all of his living predecessors on Thursday to pay tribute to George W. Bush….READ MORE

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