Skip to comments.NBC's Lauer Presses Bush on Legacy: Are You Trying to 'Force Critics to Take a Second Look?'
Posted on 04/25/2013 6:20:38 PM PDT by Kaslin
At the beginning of a live interview with former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered about the motivation behind Bush's presidential library: "So many difficult moments, so many controversial decisions you made. Some of them cost you dearly in terms of popularity. Is one of the ideas here...to force your critics to take a second look?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
As the three of them toured the museum, Lauer highlighted an exhibit on the war on terror and noted how "it includes what was perhaps the most controversial decision of your presidency, invading Iraq." Lauer wondered: "Do you want people to look at some of the information you had, and do you think you'll convince the people who thought that was an unjust war, the wrong war at the wrong time, that perhaps you were right?"
NBC's Lauer Presses Bush on Legacy: Are You Trying to 'Force Critics to Take a Second Look?'
Turning to the former first lady, Lauer fretted that a theater inside the library would provide a presentation slanted in favor of her husband: "In that theater, Mrs. Bush, visitors get to listen to advisers and they get to see breaking news. Is it a fair analysis? In other words, is it weighted in the direction of your president and your husband and what he eventually chose to do? Or is it right down the middle?"
At one point, President Bush explained: "The purpose here is not to defend or to argue or to debate." Lauer skeptically countered: "So you're not being defensive here?"
Later in the interview, Lauer took time to recall a contentious exchange he had with Bush as president: "I started to ask you questions about things like enhanced interrogation techniques and about secret CIA sites. And sir, you became animated with me and I would go as far to say you became agitated with me....I do want to ask you to describe the pressure you were feeling in the years post-9/11."
Bush acknowledged: "My duty is was to protect the homeland. And I made some very controversial decisions." Lauer interjected: "You rethought any of them?" Bush replied: "No, because we were successful in protecting the homeland. People are going to argue about whether such and such yielded information and I'm telling you it did."
Here are relevant portions of the April 25 exchange:
MATT LAUER: Back here at the George W. Bush Presidential Center just outside Dallas, with the former president and the former first lady. And there were so many key moments in your presidency that are captured in this center. So many difficult moments, so many controversial decisions you made. Some of them cost you dearly in terms of popularity. Is one of the ideas here, President Bush, to force your critics to take a second look?
GEORGE W. BUSH: I never thought about my critics. I thought about just laying out for the American people the events that began the 21st century. And let them understand what it's like to make a decision, talk about the different events that took place, talk about some of the successes and some of the failures. And because ultimately history will judge whether critics are right or wrong. And but this is a place to educate people.
LAUER: We're going to leave this area here where there are some hanging chads over there. We all remember that. We remember talking about the Supreme Court decision that resulted in your moving into the White House. And even though the country was divided and there was so much controversy, when you came to office, you had great plans in terms of a domestic agenda. And this section of your museum and library is dedicated to that.
LAUER: Over here, if we walk further, now we get into the, you know, we've had 9/11 and now we get into a wall here that says "Fighting the Global War on Terror." This, of course, includes the war in Afghanistan. And it includes what was perhaps the most controversial decision of your presidency, invading Iraq. And it became even more controversial after no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were found.
Do you want people and there's one area here called the Decision Points Theater do you want people to look at some of the information you had, and do you think you'll convince the people who thought that was an unjust war, the wrong war at the wrong time, that perhaps you were right?
GEORGE BUSH: I look, the whole purpose is to lay out the facts as I saw them at the time. And people will make their own judgments. Some will agree, some will disagree. I will give you my judgment, removing Saddam Hussein was the right decision and the world is better off without him in power.
LAUER: In that theater, Mrs. Bush, visitors get to listen to advisers and they get to see breaking news. Is it a fair analysis? In other words, is it weighted in the direction of your president and your husband and what he eventually chose to do? Or is it right down the middle?
LAURA BUSH: I think it's right down the middle. It's to really give people the chance to see what it's like to hear from a lot of different advisers, to be prodded by the press. You know, what are you going to do? What's your decision? How are you going to make it?
GEORGE BUSH: Prodded is a polite word.
LAUER: You looked at me when he says that.
LAURA BUSH: But really to have some idea what it's like, especially monumental decisions, like the war on terror was. You know, that's just that's a very, very big decision. And every president hopes they won't have to make that kind of decision.
GEORGE BUSH: But see the lesson here is every president is going to be confronted with decisions that they didn't expect to make.
GEORGE BUSH: And so the purpose here is not to defend or to argue or to debate.
LAUER: So you're not being defensive here?
GEORGE BUSH: No, not at all. What we're being is factual. And you know, if somebody said to me, "Well, you're never going to disclose, of course, that weapons of mass destruction weren't found, are you?" I said, "Heck yeah, I mean, that's a fact." And we also disclose the fact that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to make weapons, the Duelfer Report reported that, you know, he wanted to make weapons when the world looked away. In other words, we just lay out the facts and people and, I think, encouraging debate is important for to understand history.
LAUER: One of the last times you and I stood in the real Oval Office was five years after the attacks of 9/11, it was the five-year anniversary. And I started to ask you questions about things like enhanced interrogation techniques and about secret CIA sites. And sir, you became animated with me and I would go as far to say you became agitated with me. And I'm not going to argue that issue with you again. But I do want to ask you to describe the pressure you were feeling in the years post-9/11.
GEORGE BUSH: My duty is was to protect the homeland. And I made some very controversial decisions.
LAUER: You rethought any of them?
GEORGE BUSH: No. No, because we were successful in protecting the homeland. People are going to argue about whether such and such yielded information and I'm telling you it did. And that without information you can't protect the homeland.
And so, I don't remember being agitated. I might have been really angry. I don't remember being agitated.
LAUER: You poked in chest a couple of times, which hadn't happened to me before in the Oval Office.
GEORGE BUSH: Well, I was thinking about doing it again, but, you know.
What an ASS Lauer is - asking such a question. Meanwhile, I am not a big Bushie: This is real legacy IMO: written 09:
Where do they find such small people to
report distort the news?
Republicans will never learn. They so much want to be liked by these assholes like Lauer that they give them these opportunities to ask stupid questions and instead of telling Lauer that he’s an asshole Bush just squirms and doesn’t defend himself vigorously. It makes me ill.
Why does anybody who is not lockstep with the statists ever give them the satisfaction of conducting an “interview”?
I wouldn’t give them the time of day.
He’s been braindead for years. It is amazing what you can do with microchips and a built-in microphone.
To the Partisan Media, NOTHING Obama has done is controversial. Even at the Margaret Thatcher funeral, we were constantly told how divisive she was.
But to challenge Obama’s agenda is to be “racist” and a “bitter clinger”.
Lauer is a slimeball punk. Simple as that. A fact.
For years I have refused to watch anything but FOX in the a.m. Don’t want to give that ass Lauer, or any of the rest of them, credit in the ratings.
Besides which I think they’re a nest of vipers on TODAY. Not nice people AT ALL.
It also astounds me that Mr. Bush would showcase his Presidential Center on a second-rate morning show, hosted by a man who engineered the firing of his former co-anchor—and is a serial adulterer to boot.
Meanwhile, the crew at FNC would have given the event the dignity it deserved, without the snarky questions.
Lauer is an ass...but I take consolation in the fact that sometime next year, he’ll be an unemployed ass.
W doesn’t care if he’s liked by Lauer. He just opened up his library and is advertising on the Today Show.
I would dearly love to see if he did one with Bill Clinton at his library dedication! This one is petty and ridiculous and I bet one with Clinton would have been entirely different.
For the life of me, I will never understand why Republicans ever talk to The Ego with The Mini-Mind!!
Exactly! Bush is not thin~skinned... he doesn’t care what Matt thinks... i love that he doesn’t feel the need to defend himself... he knows who he is and i suspect, Whose he is... he does not have to prove himself... can’t wait to visit his library...
I have a friend who uses the Today show as her news show I think....luckily, I believe her husband helps her vote the RIGHT way....
Motivation? I was unaware an ex-President needed "motivation" to set up a library. Did ol' Matty boy "wonder about the motivation" of Billy-Bob Clinton's library? Or was Matty just at the Bush library to cause controversy and try to pee on Bush's day? did Matty give Clinton grief and harass him at his library opening?
Otoh, oh, how I would love to see obama interviewed like that!!!
Now that would be a GREAT reason to tune in!
Matt Lauer is a complete pos
W shoulda pulled out a couple of revolvers and told Lauer to dance.
That’s RIGHT, you stinking metrosexual Communist punk. You wanna maybe DO somethin’ about it??? (How I wish W had replied;)
Some jack@ss woman from the AP who had covered Bush during the presidency came up with the same sort of nastiness on Fox tonight, claiming that his library presentations, which allow visitors to sort through the arguments leading up to some of his major decisions and make up their own minds, were “defensive” - I think the press is really worried that as the people take a second look at what Bush went through and had to deal with, they’re going to decide that his actions were not that unreasonable and reckless after all, and that the press in fact helped mislead the public - then let’s see who gets defensive.....
“Lauer is a slimeball punk. Simple as that. A fact.”
Progressives seem to have a habit of behaving in the same obnoxious manner.
IMO, G W Bush is being more than generous in even letting Lauer onto the property, much less granting him an interview.
Lauer will rot in hell for his lifetime of angry actions.
IF it were MY library, I would not grant Lauer a single minute of my time. Life is too short to ‘dance with ugly men’.......