Bush advice for Obama: Do what you think is right | AspenTimes.com

Bush advice for Obama: Do what you think is right

Ben Feller
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
President George W. Bush reflects on his eight years as he holds his last formal news conference at the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON ” Do what you think is right. Avoid self-pity. And be ready for that one moment when it really hits you: Yes, you are the president.

Words of advice, from President George W. Bush to President-elect Barack Obama.

In a remarkably candid and nostalgic goodbye news conference, Bush on Monday deferred to Obama on how to confront the challenges of the presidency. But in responding to reporters’ questions, Bush did sketch out some guidance for the man who will replace him as president on Jan. 20.

Most sobering, Bush said the biggest threat Obama will face is another terrorist attack on the United States. The president repeatedly offered him support.

“I wish him all the best,” Bush said. “And people say, ‘Oh, you just, that’s just a throwaway line.’ No, it’s not a throwaway line. The stakes are high. There is an enemy that still is out there. You know, people can maybe try to write that off as, you know, he’s trying to set something up. I’m telling you there’s an enemy that would like to attack America ” Americans ” again. There just is. That’s the reality of the world.”

Another bit of advice from Bush to Obama: Don’t let the “loud voices” of harsh criticism deter you from pursuing what you think is best for the country.

“He’ll get in the Oval Office and there will be a lot of people that are real critical and harsh, and he’ll be disappointed at times by the tone of the rhetoric,” Bush said of Obama. “And he’s going to have to do what he thinks is right. And if you don’t, then I don’t see how you can live with yourself.”

Sometimes, Bush said, Obama may have to make a decision that makes him uncomfortable. The president cited his own move to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to shore up the economy in an emergency, a move he said went against his own free-market philosophy.

But as for the burdens of the presidency? Overstated, Bush said. He said the Oval Office is no place for woe-is-me thinking.

“It’s pathetic, isn’t it, self-pity?” Bush said. “And I don’t believe that President-elect Obama will be full of self-pity.”

Yes, Obama should be ready for some people to disappoint him, Bush said. Some of them will even be “so-called friends,” the president warned.

In perspective, though, those setbacks will only be a minor irritant; the job is simply too exciting and too profound, Bush said.

It won’t take long for the enormity of it all to become clear to Obama, Bush said.

He guessed it would be after the inauguration, when Obama walks into the Oval Office for the first time as commander in chief.

“There will be a moment,” Bush said, “when the responsibilities of the president land squarely on his shoulders.”

Despite the pressures, Bush said he never felt that the presidency was a lonely place. He said he didn’t think Obama will, either.

“One reason he won’t feel isolated is because he’s got a fabulous family and he cares a lot about his family,” Bush said. “That’s evident from my discussions with him. “He’s a 45-second commute away from a great wife and two little girls that love him dearly.”

On his way out, the president has had nothing but positives to say about Obama, a Democrat who vowed change, the one who said many of Bush’s policies have been a failure. Bush called Obama smart and engaging.

And he said that he, too, has been affected by the unfolding history. Obama will be the nation’s first black president.

“President-elect Obama’s election does speak volumes about how far this country has come when it comes to racial relations,” Bush said. “But there’s still work to do. There’s always going to be work to do to deal with people’s hearts.”

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