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Interview with the president

"Interview with the president" Continued...

Another issue that we get no credit for, of course, is drugs, where drug use is down with teenagers by 25 percent. One of the big initiatives that I think the Republican Party ought to stand strongly for is the faith-based initiative, where we recognize that government is going to play a role in helping people who are not as fortunate, can't help themselves. That ought to be a focus of government in my judgment. Maybe some would argue there should be no government help there. I disagree.

But I also say that what matters is whether or not the money that we're spending actually works. And in some cases, a faith-based program can do a better job than a government program. Take, for example, drug addiction. There are all kinds of government programs that try to help the addict and that's fine. But I have said that why don't we give the addict a voucher and let him or her choose where to find the help he or she needs; many of whom recognize it's the redemptive power of the Almighty that helps change their hearts and, therefore, helps change their behavior. And if that's the case, should we not welcome a faith-based institution to be a part of this fabric of providers to help us solve some of the very intractable problems that we face?
THOMAS: You have said almost from the beginning, since 9/11, you've spoken of your belief in the doctrine of pre-emption. Your successor has said that he does not believe in that. Are there risks in his policy?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I think that the new administration will take a sober look at the world in which we live and come to the conclusions necessary to protect the homeland. You know, one of the things that is going to be very apparent for future presidents is that there is an enemy that still lurks and that the main job of the president is to protect the security of our homeland.
THOMAS: Democrats and liberals have attacked you relentlessly and personally. Harry Reid, on one of the Sunday morning chat shows, called you "the worst president in history." Now, what has amazed me, and a lot of others, is that you've never responded in kind. Politically, it might have been beneficial to do so. Why didn't you?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I believe there's a way to conduct ourselves in public life without resorting to name-calling. And so I won't. I tend to ignore that.
THOMAS: Doesn't it ever bother you?
THOMAS: Consider the source?
PRESIDENT BUSH: No, it just means I'm doing things. It means I'm a president that has had an active agenda. I told the American people what I was going to do. There's two things about the agendas of a president. One is, you know, I tried to be the kind of person that goes out on the campaign trail and said, vote for me, here's what I'm going to do. I did it as a gubernatorial candidate, implemented what I said I was going to do. Same as president.

And then, of course, you have to deal with the unexpected. That's the other part of the job. And we've dealt with the unexpected in a very strong, resolute way. And, you know, we haven't been attacked again, for which I am very grateful. But it's not as a result of the lack of trying by the enemy; it's a result of the actions we've taken. And it's not just me, it's a government full of really hardworking, decent people that have used tools we've put in place to help understand what the enemy is thinking and to stop them from attacking us.
THOMAS: You told your sister that your faith sustained you through your presidency: "I've been in the Bible every day since I've been the president."
THOMAS: Now, many presidents have spoken of faith and reliance upon God. How did you process this? Your detractors say, oh, he's got a direct hotline to God-really great, got us involved in Iraq and all these other things. So how do you process this and not fall into arrogance in the sense that political decisions are necessarily the specific dictates of God? How does that work?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I have explained when asked that prayer is very personal. And, you know, people try to characterize my religion the way it suits their view of their world. I have been sustained by prayer. I have been strengthened by prayer, and I am grateful for prayer. I tell people, some days are happy, some days not so happy, every day joyous. And that's a true statement.
THOMAS: Well, let me see if I can go a little deeper in that, without revealing my own proclivities. Before a major decision, before launching the toppling of Saddam, do you say, "You know, God, if I'm not making the right decision, step in and check-stop me"? How does it practically work?
PRESIDENT BUSH: For me, prayer is wisdom and strength, protect my family; protect the troops. Look, you make the best decisions you can at the time and you listen to a lot of advisers who are here to provide you good, sound advice. I'm spiritual; I'm not mystical.
THOMAS: What does that mean?
PRESIDENT BUSH: It means that I don't hear voices. I don't hear voices. I know that I have to make tough calls based upon the circumstances at the time. And so that's why I say, for me, prayer is a very personal, personal matter.

Have you been asked for any advice from your successor, other than-
PRESIDENT BUSH: Not really. I had a very good meeting with the president-elect. I was impressed by his demeanor and impressed by his love of his family. And I told him I'd be available after the presidency if he cared to ask my opinions.
THOMAS: What did he say to that?
PRESIDENT BUSH: He said, fine; you know, sure. I think he's going to find that he'll get plenty of opinions, and he's going to have to choose whose voices are most credible, as he sorts through these different issues that he'll face.
THOMAS: There have only been 43 of you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: That's right.
THOMAS: And what should he expect that he may not be expecting?

Well, I think, you know, it is clear that we are in an era where the homeland is under threat, and that will become very evident to him as time goes on. And I'm confident it already is evident to him.


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