Heartbeat: George Bush in His Own Words

Heartbeat: George Bush in His Own Words

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"We are not the sum of our possessions. They are not the measures of our lives. In our hearts, we know what matters. We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend; a loving parent; a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, and town better than he found it."
-- from President George H. W. Bush's Inaugural Address, January 21, 1989
A charming collection of excerpts from the former president's speeches and other writings, Heartbeat reveals the basic ideals and beliefs that have served George H. W. Bush throughout his public and private life. He speaks often of what he calls "heartbeat." It is a simple word -- a code word -- referring to personal bedrock values concerning service, duty, honor, friends, faith, and particularly family.
As the Bushes prove themselves to be one of the most important political families in U.S. history, this warm and revealing look into the former president's guiding principles could not come at a more important time. Culled from Mr. Bush's speeches over the course of his presidency and beyond, Heartbeat discloses a surprising personal side to the forty-first president -- a warm, witty, and expressive man.
In chapters such as "1989: A New Breeze" and "1993-2001: Did It with Honor," the book features entertaining, eloquent, and emotional excerpts from the former president's words...
"Sure we must change, but some values are timeless. I believe in families that stick together, and fathers who stick around. I happen to believe very deeply in the worth of each individual human being, born or unborn. I believe in teaching our kids the difference between what's wrong and what's right, teaching them respect for hard work and to love their neighbors. I believe that America will always have a special place in God's heart, as long as He has a special place in ours...."
"Being president does have its advantages. And this is true: I have a TV set there in the White House with five screens, one big one in the middle, four small ones around it. Now I don't have to miss the nightly news when I watch Wheel of Fortune."
In this single, remarkable collection, Mr. Bush's speeches, interviews, and other statements paint a poig-nant portrait not just of the former president but of a man and a family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743229753
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 03/02/2002
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 313 KB

Read an Excerpt


by Barbara Bush

I first knew George Bush was the most articulate man I had ever met way back in 1941. I was sixteen, he was seventeen, and although we did not know each other, we were attending the same Christmas party. When he walked across the room and asked me if I'd like to dance, they were without a doubt the most brilliant words I had ever heard.

After fifty-six years of marriage, I haven't changed my mind. I could be accused of being prejudiced, but George is one of the funniest, wisest, most caring people I know. I know this because I have listened carefully to everything he's said all these years.

That is why I was thrilled when our friend Jim McGrath told me he was thinking of compiling a book of quotes from George's speeches. Several years ago George published a book of letters, All the Best, which revealed a very private side to a very public man. The letters showed that through the ups and downs of his life, George never lost his sense of humor, his sense of purpose, or his sense of honor. I felt that Jim's idea would be the perfect follow-up to the letters book, this time focusing on the spoken word.

Heartbeat is a wonderful record of how an American President led his country -- and the world -- during an interesting time in our history. Whether it was George speaking about the challenge of Desert Storm, or the somewhat sudden peaceful end to the Cold War, Heartbeat provides insight into how a President tries to both reassure and inspire.

And whether it was George's declaration "I hate broccoli" or his words explaining away the stomach flu in Japan, Heartbeat serves as a reminder that our Presidents are, after all, just plain people like the rest of us.

Unlike his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, George was never accused of being the Great Communicator. He was always too impatient to fine-tune his speech-giving skills, which once in a while resulted in a twisted syntax or two. (I'm sure you all remember the media teasing him that English was his second language.)

But after reading Heartbeat, I think you'll be reminded of an American President who felt the issues deeply, stood by his principles, never forgot the importance of honor, and never lost his sense of humor.

Best of all, Heartbeat is George Bush doing what he does best, speaking from the heart.

Compilation copyright © 2001 by Jim McGrath

Chapter One: 1989: A New Breeze

At 12:05 P.M. on January 20, 1989, standing on the U.S. Capitol's West Front, George Herbert Walker Bush addressed the American people for the first time as the forty-first President of the United States. Declaring that a "new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn," the new President launched an administration that would indeed see the winds of change remake the face of Europe and Latin America within the year. The Wall fell in Berlin; the dictator Manuel Noriega fell in Panama; and the superpowers charted a new path of cooperation at the historic Malta Summit. Meanwhile, closer to home, the President announced a new war on drugs, convened an Education Summit, and confronted the Savings and Loan crisis; and Millie, the Bushes' dog, had puppies.

Commenting on his Inaugural Address the next day, President Bush dictated to his diary: "The speech went about 20 minutes, and it was well received. Congress liked it. We've got to find ways to do this compromise, 'kinder, gentler world'"


Values That Remain, Ties That Bind

We are not the sum of our possessions. They are not the measure of our lives. In our hearts we know what matters. We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend; a loving parent; a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, and town better than he found it.

Inaugural Address, U.S. Capitol West Front,

January 20, 1989


Never wanting to appear "holier-than-thou," as he would often say, President Bush walked a fine line throughout his Presidency between referencing his deeply held faith and "preaching" too much in public...

I freely acknowledge my need to hear and to heed the voice of Almighty God. I began my Inaugural Address with a prayer out of a deep sense of need and desire of God's wisdom in the decisions we face.

Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, Washington Hilton Hotel

International Crystal Ballroom, Washington, D.C., February 2, 1989


During their visit to China, the Bushes returned to the church where their daughter, Doro, was baptized...

Our family has always felt that church is the place to seek guidance and seek strength and peace. And when you are away from home, you realize how much that means. This church, in a sense, was our home away from home. It's a little different though. Today we came up with twenty motorcars in a motorcade, and I used to come to church on my bicycle, my Flying Pigeon.

Remarks at Chongmenwen Christian Church

in Beijing, China, February 26, 1989


I am convinced that faith and family can help us honor God in a most profound and personal way -- daily, as human beings -- by the conduct of our lives. They teach us not only to revere but to practice the Golden Rule. And they also help us reflect the internal values of decency, humility, kindness, and caring.

Remarks on the National Day of Prayer,

White House State Dining Room, May 4, 1989


The pupil-turned-President returns to his old school...

I can speak very briefly of my time here. I loved those years. They did, indeed, teach me the great end and real business of living. And even now its lessons of honesty, selflessness, faith in God -- well, they enrich every day of our lives.

You remember, I'm the guy that said Pearl Harbor Day was on September 7. I want to clear that up -- [laughter] -- because it was right about here, where that guy in a red coat is standing, that I heard our country was at war on December 7, 1941. And it was over there, in Cochran Chapel, that in June of 1942, a graduate of Phillips Academy gave our commencement address -- Henry Stimson. He was then secretary of war, and he observed how the American soldier should be brave without being brutal, self-reliant without boasting, becoming a part of irresistible might without losing faith in individual liberty. I never forgot those words.

For 211 years, Phillips Academy has embodied these qualities that Secretary Stimson alluded to. And it has shown we are "one nation under God." It has inculcated into its sons and daughters a sense of service to others -- each day I'm reminded of this. This is the message of our years here and the message with which I close. Without God's help we can do nothing. With God's help there is nothing we cannot do, for our children and for the world.

Remarks at the Bicentennial Convocation of Phillips Academy,

Samuel Phillips Hall, in Andover, Massachusetts, November 5, 1989


The Bushes' dog, Mildred Kerr Bush, was the subject of much media interest throughout 1989. Here, amid questions on terrorism and aid to the Nicaraguan contras, the new President is pressed for details about their dog's pregnancy...

Q. How many puppies are you going to have?

The President. If I had to bet -- and we've done no sonograms -- I would bet six.

Q. Are you going to keep any of them?

The President....I don't think so. A tremendous demand out there, Tom, enormous demand for these puppies. And I'm particularly interested in the op-ed page in one of the great newspapers the other day, where they had two English spaniel breeders saying this was the most outrageous thing they'd ever seen -- the attention to having these puppies here in the White House. And then, offsetting opinion, counterpoint, came by an eighty-five-year-old woman who has written a book on English spaniels, who announced that this was one of the greatest things that had ever happened. So, it's causing a very lively debate, much like the AK-47 debate -- [laughter] -- a tremendous interest in this.

Q. So, you'll be happy when it's over.

The President. Yeah. It's changed my life....Can I tell them what Barbara told me on the phone?

Mr. Fitzwater [Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater]. Sure.

The President. She said, "Tonight, you're in the Lincoln bed, alone." I said, "Well, why?" She said, "Well, Millie had a very bad night last night, thrashing around, and you would be irritable." So I am being sent down the hall, which just suits the heck out of me.

Q. Who's in the doghouse? You or the dog?

The President. The dog refuses to go in the doghouse is the problem. There's a beautiful pen made for her to have this blessed event in. It's wonderful -- little shelf built out so that the puppies can scurry under there and not get rolled on by the mother. I never thought we'd go through something like this again, after the six kids and eleven grandchildren. But it's a whole new thing.

Q. Is this worse?

The President. In a way, it is. In a way, it is. It's mainly because of Barbara's abiding interest in it. She can't move without the dog being two feet away from her. But it's exciting, and we're real thrilled. Millie's mother gave birth on the Farish [friend Will Farish, who gave Millie to the Bushes] bed at night. He woke up, and he heard a little squeak, and there were three pups and more arriving -- right on the bed. So we're trying to avoid that. It's wonderful -- [laughter] -- great new dimension to our lives.

The President's news conference, aboard Air Force One

en route to Washington, D.C., from Colorado Springs,

Colorado, March 17, 1989


The biggest secret in town is that Will Farish's springer spaniel -- or English spaniel -- is actually Millie's boyfriend. [Laughter] Up to now we've tried to keep his name out of the press. [Laughter] I think it's okay now, though, to reveal his name -- Tug Farish III. [Laughter] Just what my elitist image needs -- puppies with Roman numerals after their names. [Laughter]

...You may have been reading that the pups are sleeping, or have been, on the Washington Post and the New York Times -- [laughter] -- the first time in history those papers have been used to prevent leaks. [Laughter]

Remarks at a fund-raising reception

for Senator Mitch McConnell at Lane's End Farm,

Lexington, Kentucky, May 13, 1989


Q. Can you confirm these widespread stories that your dog has been eating rats and squirrels?

The President. She's doing her part. [Laughter]

Q. Has she been eating rats and squirrels?

The President. Not eating them.

Q. Just killing them?

The President. Our dog is a fearless hunter, and what she does on her own time -- that's her business.

Q. What does it tell us -- that there are rats in the White House yard here?

The President. Look, I just want to keep them out of the swimming pool. One jumped in there when Barbara was swimming. And we're relying heavily on Millie to cut that down.

Q. Mr. President, thank you very much.

The President. There was a mouse in this very room you're sitting in. I hope that doesn't terrify you, but he was done in the other day, too.

Interview with Peter Maer of Mutual/NBC Radio,

Oval Office, November 17, 1989


Q. How's your dog doing?

The President. Oh, she's wonderful. I don't want to say this in front of anybody, but I had to take her into the shower the other day and give her a bath because she rolled in something bad. I mean, really bad. [Laughter] And so, Barbara, my wife, said, "Would you mind giving Millie a bath?" So, even when you're President, you've got to do some stuff that isn't too good or fun. But when she slept in our bed last night, she was very clean, and she smelled real good.

Q. How many puppies did Millie have?

The President. Millie had six puppies. She had five daughters and a son. And the son: he's now eight months old....He's much bigger than Millie, and he plays with her. We had her up to Camp David, and they run through the woods looking for things, but there's some bad news. See that rabbit over there? Don't let him out if Millie comes to this school, okay? [Laughter]

Remarks and question-and-answer session with students

at Pickard Elementary School, Room 305, in Chicago, Illinois,

November 20, 1989


Early in 1989, after a series of tests, Mrs. Bush was diagnosed with Graves' disease stemming from a thyroid gone bad. Here her husband comments on the latest prescription...

I'm delighted that Barbara Bush is with me today. She got a good, clean bill of health from Walter Reed Hospital, I might add. But I'm taking another look at her doctor. He told her, "It's okay to kiss your husband, but don't kiss the dogs." [Laughter] So, I don't know exactly what that means. [Laughter]

Remarks to participants in Project Educational Forum

at the Union High School gymnasiumin, Union, New Jersey,

April 13, 1989


The war on drugs earned President Bush the wrath of South American drug cartels, as was evidenced by this exchange with reporters about the security of the President's family...

Q. Mr. President, there's a report in Newsday today that the drug lords are threatening to kidnap one of your children if they are not granted amnesty....

Q. Do you have any information about what Newsday says is a threat?

The President. I do not. And I have a feeling that that matter is of enough importance to me that it would have been brought to my attention. I don't mean to be complacent, but I have confidence in our intelligence community. I have confidence in the international cooperation in intelligence -- sometimes I wish it were more. And I have confidence in the Secret Service and their ability to do their job. So, I don't live in fear of anything like this, but, Terry [Hunt of the Associated Press], I've not heard that, and I feel confident I would have if there had been some -- what I would call hard intelligence. I can't do my job if I get deterred by rumors....I think I'd know if there was something serious --

Q. But you have increased security, and your children now all have it, when they had declined it.

The President. Yes. Varying degrees. And I don't discuss it because I think one of the contradictions in an open society is, I can understand everyone's interest in knowing every detail, but I can also understand the security system's desire that every detail not be known. I think security is better that way. But that, Helen [Thomas of United Press International] -- to the degree security has been stepped up in accordance with the law and the Bush kids, it is not because of a specific, hard piece of intelligence, hard threat. And I'm confident of that. My problem is, would I tell you if I weren't? But I am confident of that. And I'm confident that I gave you the right answer because I think I would have known that.

Q. You may be the last to know. I'm teasing...

The President. Thank you all. Any more questions on education? [Laughter]

Remarks on the Education Summit and a question-and-answer

session with reporters, Oval Office, September 27, 1989


On a personal note, all four of the Bush kids played it [Little League]. I coached it. And Barbara -- well, back then there were tens of thousands of Texas kids in Little League. And as I've often said, she'd keep score, but there were times when I thought she was carpooling each and every one of them.

Remarks congratulating the Trumbull Nationals on winning

the Little League World Championship, Rose Garden,

October 10, 1989


I'm very sorry that Barbara Bush is not here. She is doing a superb job as First Lady, and she is in good health. I get asked that all the time. You know, there's a magazine, that I'm sure nobody here is too familiar with, called the National Enquirer. [Laughter] But apparently they printed a story about her on the front page, and we have had more crazy letters and inquiries about her state of play [health]. But since some of you were nice enough earlier on at this little receiving line that Dan [Ouellette, former Bee County GOP chairman] worked out, that I would tell you she's in very good health. She feels great, and she's kinda winding down her responsibilities as a grandparent. We have our Dallas twins charging around the White House, having been up there at Camp David with us. And she will meet me in Houston, which is no consolation to her because she wanted very much to come back here. But she did ask me to extend to you her warm wishes. And I'll tell you -- but I've only been married for close to forty-five years; in January, it'll be forty-five -- I think Bar's doing a fantastic job for our country.

Remarks at a barbecue at the Bee County Coliseum,

Beeville, Texas, December 27, 1989


Before entering politics, George Bush was one of the original pioneers in the offshore drilling industry...

A few years after World War II, when I got out of college, I moved out to west Texas; and a couple of years after that, the early fifties, started my own business. And it was a very small firm -- not too small to teach me the economic facts of life. But we got started by risk-taking -- got the business education by helping others make that company grow. And our company was a high-risk venture. There was new technology that was unproven, full of half-starts and failures in that -- it was all called the offshore drilling business. And we took a gamble, and we invested in new technology, and then we succeeded in pioneering a new way to find America's energy.

And it wasn't always easy, even in the years that the company did reasonably well. I recall our despair one time...when one of those hurricanes swept through the Gulf of Mexico and one-third of our company's assets were invested in a brand-new drilling rig, with brand-new technology -- a hurricane swept through the Gulf. And I went out with our drilling engineer and rented a little Piper...in the aftermath of the hurricane and looked and looked and looked. And the rig had totally vanished. People had been taken off before the storm, but the rig was gone. One-third of the investment of our company totally disappeared. But from that and other such similar events, I learned some very important lessons. When that rig went down and people lost their jobs -- when we rebuilt, there was the satisfaction of seeing people go back to work. And I saw the strain of the family breadwinners, but I also saw the joy.

Remarks to the National Legislative Conference

of the Independent Insurance Agents of America,

Capitol Hilton Hotel Presidential Ballroom,

Washington, D.C., March 14, 1989


Unlike Davy Crockett, I first set out for Texas not on horseback from Tennessee but from Connecticut in a red Studebaker in June of 1948. And more than forty years later, that trip is still a vivid memory: Highway 80, neon Pearl Beer signs appearing in the desert twilight...and stopping at a café -- I'll admit it I didn't know if chicken-fried steak was chicken fried like a steak or a steak that tasted like chicken, but I've learned.

Remarks to the Texas State Legislature,

Texas State Capitol House Chamber, April 26, 1989


On the plains of Texas, where for twelve years Barbara and I raised our children, the story is told of a pioneer tradition that said, "Plant plums for yourself, pecans for your grandchildren." A hundred years ago, some farsighted Texas settlers planted these tiny pecan seedlings, and it took hours of backbreaking work, hauling water in the hot prairie sun. But pecan trees take many years to mature, and the settlers themselves would never live to enjoy the shade or food from the tree. It was called, therefore, a grandchildren's cove. Other settlers -- well, they wanted quick results, and they planted the fast, quick-growing plum trees. And for a few years they got good fruit. Soon, the soft bark split, sprouting tangled, barren plum bushes. And instead of enjoying the protection of these tall, stately pecan trees, the grandchildren who followed were saddled with the hardship of clearing a thicket.

Remarks at the South Dakota Centennial Celebration

at Sioux Falls Arena, Sioux Falls, September 18, 1989


I started fishing at the age of five or so, in the cold waters along the Atlantic coast at Maine, using a lead jig with...a little white cloth for bait, trolling with one those old green cotton lines. And after a while, you get the hang of it, pulling in the fish -- mackerel and maybe a flounder. But I became acquainted with the waters up there, and so well now that I think I know every reef, when the swells will break and where they will, the sea conditions and where you can find the seals on a given day.

Remarks at the Boy Scout National Jamboree

at Fort A. P. Hill, Bowling Green, Virginia, August 7, 1989


This is a place where we really enjoy ourselves -- but more than that, kind of refurbish our souls and get our batteries all charged up and enjoy life really to the fullest. It's a point of view. You can feel it in the land and in the water here. And I know that people that are members of this chamber and other visitors that we have here with us understand exactly what I'm talking about. Barbara has told you that I've been coming here every summer since 19 -- well, I was born in '24. And the only one I missed was in 1944 when, like many of you, I was in the service. That's the only time we missed being here. And there is a certain magic about the place.

Our kids live in five different states -- one in Cape Elizabeth and the others, four different states -- and for them, this is an anchor to windward because not far from where this picture was painted my mother was born in a house still standing right there -- not too far from St. Ann's Church.

Remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Chamber

of Commerce at Shawmut Inn, Kennebunkport, Maine,

August 30, 1989


I used to play baseball. Knew I'd never make the big leagues, but I made a lot of friends -- friends I learned to count on, both on and off the field. And we trusted each other to come through, no matter how tough it got. And I learned from that. I learned that the kind of people you make your friends can either give you strength or take it away. I'm not sure why it is, but some people just make you find the best in yourself. They can help you become a better person, help you discover more of who you are.

Nationwide Address to Students on drug abuse,

televised from the White House Library, September 12, 1989


Poking fun at Lee Atwater, Republican National Committee chairman and amateur guitarist...

The tunes Lee likes to play aren't always music to everyone's ears. I hear Lee asked [Republican Utah senator] Orrin Hatch, "If I bring my guitar tonight, would you have any special requests?" Orrin said, "Yes, just one. Don't play it."

Remarks at the National Hispanic Heritage Presidential Tribute Dinner, Omni Shoreham Hotel Regency Ballroom, September 12, 1989


We're pleased that Governor [ John] Sununu is with us today. Like many young Catholics, as a boy John dreamed of one day becoming pope. [Laughter] It was only after having eight kids that we got him to settle for chief of staff.

Remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Catholic Lawyers Guild

at the Park Plaza Hotel Ballroom, Boston, Massachusetts,

September 23, 1989


The friends you make here last you for the rest of your life, and I'm grateful for that. Some other things don't change. Kindness doesn't change. The education and service that is embodied in the Phillips constitution -- talk about -- it says both goodness and kindness come from the noblest character and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind.

Remarks to the Phillips Academy Board of Trustees,

at the Borden Gymnasium, in Andover, Massachusetts,

November 5, 1989


On Peace and the Presidency

A President is neither prince nor pope, and I don't seek a window on men's souls. In fact, I yearn for a greater tolerance, and easygoingness about each other's attitudes and way of life.

Inaugural Address, U.S. Capitol West Front,

January 20, 1989


When the record of our time is finally written, I hope it will be the story of the final triumph of peace and freedom throughout the globe, the story of the sunrise in the day of mankind's age-old aspirations.

Remarks aboard the USS America, Norfolk, Virginia,

January 31, 1989


His first full day on the job, January 21, the new President commented on his new life at a reception for campaign staff members...

When you spend the first night in the White House and then when you go to work in that Oval Office, it does sink in, but it sinks in in a wonderful way.

I opened the top drawer of my desk now -- a beautiful, historical presidential desk -- and there was a really lovely, warm note from my predecessor, which I think demonstrates more than the continuity. It says a lot because it said a lot about our own personal friendship, and it said a lot to me -- though he, the modest, now former President, would never say it -- but a lot of how I got the chance to be in this job. And so, it was emotional, and yet it had a nice steady feeling to it: that the presidency goes on....

You've got plenty of problems to go around. But because of the reestablished credibility of the United States, because our word is seen as good, because our determination is not doubted, I think I have been dealt a very good hand.

Remarks to campaign staff members and political supporters,

State Department Diplomatic Reception Room, January 21, 1989


Response when asked if, as a World War II veteran, he felt uneasy appearing before the coffin of the late Emperor Hirohito, who had led Japan against the Allies in World War II...

I'm representing the United States of America. And we're talking about a friend, and we're talking about an ally. We're talking about a nation with whom we have constructive relationships....Back in World War II, if you'd predicted that I would be here, because of the hard feeling and the symbolic nature of the problem back then of the former emperor's standing, I would have said, "No way." But here we are, and time moves on; and there is a very good lesson for civilized countries in all of this.

The President's news conference in Tokyo,

United States ambassador's residence, February 25, 1989


This nation must stand for tolerance, for pluralism, and a healthy respect for the rights of all minorities.

Remarks to members of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith,

Old Executive Office Building, Room 450, March 14, 1989


A truly free society is within reach if, in our hearts, we abolish bias and bigotry and discrimination.

Remarks on signing the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission Extension Act, White House East Room,

May 17, 1989


The Chinese government's repression of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations shook the world. In this reference, President Bush reveals the value he places on personal contacts between leaders and also comments on one of the most indelible images of his presidency...

I have a special affection for the Chinese people. I've kept up my relationship with various leaders there. I've been back to China five times since Barbara and I left in 1975. And she's been back six times. And it is with a saddened heart that I, joining many of you, watched the proceedings in Tiananmen Square.

I was so moved today by the bravery of that individual that stood alone in front of the tanks rolling down the main avenue there. And I heard some speculation on the television on what it is that gives a young man the strength, gives him the courage, to stand up in front of a column of tanks right there in front of the world. And I'll tell you, it was very moving, because all of us have seen the bravery and the determination of the students and the workers, seen their commitment to peaceful protest. And that image, I think, is going to be with us for a long time. And all I can say to him, wherever he might be, or to people around the world is: We are and we must stand with him. And that's the way it is, and that's the way it's going to be.

Remarks at the annual meeting of the Business Roundtable,

J. W. Marriott Hotel Capitol Ballroom, June 5, 1989


The condition of our inner cities isn't a matter of charts and graphs and these cold statistics. It's more than an exercise in sociology or public policy. It's a question of how people live their lives, a question of human dignity; and it's a challenge that I take to heart.

Remarks at the Urban League Conference,

Washington Convention Center, August 8, 1989


I think America is waking up, and we are beginning to condemn that which, let's face it, we've condoned.

Remarks at the South Dakota Centennial Celebration

at the Sioux Falls Arena, Sioux Falls, September 18, 1989

Securing the Peace

This is a time for America to reach out and take the lead, not merely react. And this is a time for America to move forward confidently and cautiously, not retreat. As the freest and fairest and the most powerful democracy on the earth, we must continue to shine as a beacon of liberty, beacon of justice, for all the people of the world.

Remarks at the swearing-in ceremony for James A. Baker III

as secretary of state, White House East Room, January 27, 1989


On February 9, suffering from laryngitis, President Bush traveled to Capitol Hill to outline his administration's goals before a Joint Session of Congress, in the House Chamber. "Even the President worries about getting the jitters," he would later write. But as he noted in his diary of that night: "My voice held out, although I had to drink some water; but I felt in command and in control, no nervousness..."

Securing a more peaceful world is perhaps the most important priority I'd like to address tonight. You know, we meet at a time of extraordinary hope. Never before in this century have our values of freedom, democracy, and economic opportunity been such a powerful and intellectual force around the globe. Never before has our leadership been so crucial, because while America has its eyes on the future, the world has its eyes on America.


Veterans share a special bond. We've seen the face of war; we know its terrible costs. Americans will never knowingly choose conflict. But we know, as well, that we must be ready and willing to respond when our interests and our ideals come under threat.

Let me be clear. I prefer the diplomatic approach. Nations can and should explore every avenue toward working out their differences without resorting to force or military intimidation, but I'm also a realist. I know there is no substitute for a nation's ability to defend its ideals and interests. And too often we hear that we face a stark choice in coping with conflict. We can pursue a diplomatic situation, or we can seek resolution through military means. One, we're told, is incompatible with the other.

Well, this doesn't square with real-world experience. Diplomacy and military capability are complementary; they're not contradictory. Creative diplomacy can help us avert conflict. Negotiations stand the greatest chance of success when they proceed from a position of strength. The fundamental lesson of this decade is simply this: strength secures the peace. America will continue to be a force for peace and stability in the world provided we stay strong.

Remarks at the annual conference of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sheraton Washington Hotel Ballroom, March 6, 1989


Yes, we're a prosperous country, and we are at peace. But such quiet moments often become pivotal in the nation's history. The choices we make now are going to determine whether the door to the next American century is closing or opening wide, for all who dare to dream.

Remarks to the National Association of Manufacturers,

Mayflower Hotel Grand Ballroom, March 23, 1989


No peace can succeed in a political vacuum.

Remarks following discussions with Prime Minister

Yitzhak Shamir of Israel, at the White House South Portico,

April 6, 1989


As you know, I've just had an audience with His Holiness Pope John Paul II. He was so generous with his time and so generous with his thinking and imparted to me once again his views on world peace and his views on how perhaps we can all work together in that regard. He has devoted his whole life to serving God, and the things that we focused on in this meeting were broad questions of peace and freedom and justice as they apply, or might be applied, all around the world. So, it's a talk that I'll long remember.

Remarks to students at the American Seminary in Vatican City,

Sala Clementina, May 27, 1989


Democracy has captured the spirit of our time. Like all forms of government, though it may be defended, democracy can never be imposed. We believe in democracy -- for without a doubt, though democracy may be a dream deferred for many, it remains, in my view, the destiny of man.

Remarks to the Polish National Assembly,

Parliament Building Main Chamber, Warsaw, July 10, 1989


Throughout the spring of 1989, the Bush administration conducted a thorough review of U.S. foreign policy -- particularly as it related to Central and Eastern Europe. The first of four major speeches outlining the administration's new strategy was set for Hamtramck, Michigan -- a community outside Detroit with strong ethnic ties to Eastern Europe, particularly Poland. Of that speech, President Bush would later write: "The Hamtramck speech was one instance when I was involved from the outset. I worked on the content, and on my delivery, at Camp David the weekend before I was supposed to give it. There were a number of points I wished to make and several issues to avoid....Hamtramck decked itself out in festival manner, with American flags in every window, and smaller ones in what seemed every hand....This was small town ethnic America at its best...".

Unknown to the President at the time, an assassin was in the back of the audience but was deterred from getting too close by the Secret Service's metal detectors. He was later apprehended. Meanwhile, the President began setting forth his strategy to engage the world...

The West can now be bold in proposing a vision of the European future. We dream of the day when there will be no barriers to the free movement of peoples, goods, and ideas. We dream of the day when Eastern European peoples will be free to choose their system of government and to vote for the party of their choice in regular, free, contested elections. And we dream of the day when Eastern European countries will be free to choose their own peaceful course in the world, including closer ties with Western Europe.

Remarks to citizens at Hamtramck City Hall,

Hamtramck, Michigan, April 17, 1989


The United States now has as its goal much more than simply containing Soviet expansionism. We seek the integration of the Soviet Union into the community of nations. And as the Soviet Union itself moves toward greater openness and democratization, as they meet the challenge of responsible international behavior, we will match their steps with steps of our own. Ultimately, our objective is to welcome the Soviet Union back into the world order....

Forty-three years ago, a young lieutenant by the name of Albert Kotzebue, the class of 1945 at Texas A&M, was the first American solider to shake hands with the Soviets at the bank of the Elbe River. Once again, we are ready to extend our hand. Once again, we are ready for a hand in return.

Remarks at Texas A&M University

Commencement Ceremony, G. Rollie White Coliseum,

College Station, May 12, 1989


While an ideological earthquake is shaking asunder the very Communist foundations, the West is being tested by complacency. We must never forget that twice in this century American blood has been shed over conflicts that began in Europe. And we share the fervent desire of Europeans to relegate war forever to the province of distant memory. But that is why the Atlantic alliance is so central to our foreign policy. And that's why America remains committed to the alliance and the strategy which has preserved freedom in Europe. We must never forget that to keep the peace in Europe is to keep the peace in America.

Remarks at the Boston University commencement ceremony,

Dickerson Field, Massachusetts, May 21, 1989


For too long, unnatural and inhuman barriers have divided the East from the West. And we hope to overcome that division, to see a Europe that is truly free, united, and at peace.

Remarks upon departure for Europe, Andrews Air Force Base,

May 26, 1989


Of course, leadership has a constant companion: responsibility. And our responsibility is to look ahead and grasp the promise of the future. I said recently that we're at the end of one era and the beginning of another. And I noted that in regard to the Soviet Union, our policy is to move beyond containment. For forty years, the seeds of democracy in Eastern Europe lay dormant, buried under the frozen tundra of the Cold War. And for forty years, the world has waited for the Cold War to end. And decade after decade, time after time, the flowering human spirit withered from the chill of conflict and oppression; and again, the world waited. But the passion for freedom cannot be denied forever. The world has waited long enough. The time is right. Let Europe be whole and free.

Remarks at the Rheingoldhalle to the citizens of Mainz,

Federal Republic of Germany, May 31, 1989


On July 11, President and Mrs. Bush traveled to Gdansk, where they had lunch at the home of Lech and Danuta Walesa before the two men addressed the biggest crowd Walesa said he had ever seen outside the Lenin Shipyard -- the birthplace of the Solidarity movement. President Bush later wrote: "At the end of the day, I had the heady sense that I was witnessing history being made on the spot..."

A new century is almost upon us. It is alive with possibilities. And in your quest for a better future for yourselves and for those wonderful children that I saw coming in from the airport -- in that quest America stands shoulder to shoulder with the Polish people in solidarity. Americans and Poles know that nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. The dream is a Poland reborn, and the dream is alive.

Remarks at the Solidarity Workers Monument,

outside the Lenin Shipyard, Gdansk, Poland, July 11, 1989


News of the fall of the Berlin Wall reached President Bush in the Oval Office midafternoon on November 9; and while reports of what was transpiring were still unconfirmed, a decision was made to hold an impromptu press conference in the Oval Office rather than holding a more formal press briefing. President Bush would later reflect: "It was an awkward and uncomfortable conference. The press wanted me to give a summation of this historic moment. Of course, I was thankful about the events in Berlin, but as I answered questions my mind kept racing over a possible Soviet crackdown, turning all the happiness to tragedy. My answers were cautious...".

Q. Mr. President, do you think now that East Germany appears to be moving in the direction of Poland and Hungary that the rest of the Eastern Bloc can continue to resist this? I'm thinking of Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania -- will they be next?

The President. No, I don't think anyone can resist it, in Europe or in the Western Hemisphere.

Q. Did you ever imagine --

The President. That's one of the great things about dynamic change in Central America: it's moving in our direction.

Q. Did you ever imagine anything like this happening?

Q. On your watch?

The President. We've imagined it, but I can't say I foresaw this development at this stage. Now, I didn't foresee it, but imagining it -- yes. When I talk about a Europe whole and free, we're talking about this kind of freedom to come and go, this kind of staying with and living by the Helsinki Final Act, which gives the people the right to come and go.

Q. In what you just said, that this is a sort of great victory for our side in the East-West battle, but you don't seem elated. And I'm wondering if you're thinking of the problems.

The President. I am not an emotional kind of guy.

Q. Well, how elated are you?

The President. I'm very pleased. And I've been very pleased with a lot of other developments. And, as I've told you, I think the United States part of this, with us not related to this development today particularly, is being handled in a proper fashion. And we'll have some that'll suggest more flamboyant courses of action for this country, and we're, I think, handling this properly with allies, staying in close touch in this dynamic change -- try to help as developments take place, try to enhance reform, both political and economic.

And so, the fact that I'm not bubbling over -- maybe it's getting along towards evening, because I feel very good about it.

Remarks and a question-and-answer session with reporters

on the relaxation of East German border controls,

Oval Office, November 9, 1989


What is happening in Berlin and on our television screens is astounding. World War II, fought for freedom, ironically left the world divided between the free and the unfree; and most of us alive today were born into that sundered world. And now almost fifty years have passed, and some have wondered all these years why we stayed in Berlin. And let me tell you! We stayed because we knew, we just knew -- all Americans -- that this day would come. And now a century that was born in war and revolution may bequeath a legacy of peace unthinkable only a few years ago.

Remarks on presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom

to Lech Walesa and the Presidential Citizen's Medal

to Lane Kirkland (President of the AFL-CIO),

White House East Room, November 13, 1989


Some historians point to the Malta Summit as the beginning of the end of the Cold War. It was also known as the Seasick Summit because of high winds that buffeted the harbor-bound U.S. and USSR ships...

Frankly, I'd like to get Chairman Gorbachev to get an idea of what U.S. navy food is like. [Laughter] Maybe not -- [laughter] -- what I'm trying to do is ease tensions.

Remarks to the crew and guests on the USS Forrestal

in Malta, December 1, 1989


President Bush would later comment on "Malta's positive effect upon my personal relationship with Gorbachev, which I thought was symbolized in our joint press conference -- the first ever in U.S.-Soviet relations. The talks had shown a friendly openness between us and a genuine willingness to listen to each other's proposals..." Quoting from that historic press conference...

For forty years, the Western alliance has stood together in the cause of freedom. And now, with reform under way in the Soviet Union, we stand at the threshold of a brand-new era of U.S.-Soviet relations. And it is within our grasp to contribute, each in our own way, to overcoming the division of Europe and ending the military confrontation there.

Remarks of the President and Soviet Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev

and a question-and-answer session with reporters on the Soviet liner Maxim Gorky in Marsaxlokk Harbor, Malta,

December 3, 1989


The modern Atlantic alliance was born at sea. It was on a battleship off the coast of Canada that Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met during Europe's darkest hours -- great leaders, a rendezvous at sea, a rendezvous with destiny. The legacy of that meeting became known as the Atlantic Charter, significant not for its details but for its vision. And it spoke of a day when nations would resolve their differences at the negotiating table, not on the field of battle.

Tonight, I've come to Brussels to share with our friends and our allies the results of that vision, results born of strength and solidarity, continuity and commitment. It seems like the world is changing overnight. But the yearning for freedom lives within all of us and always has. And that simple truth is manifested in the thunderous events that are taking place just a few hundred kilometers to the east. And that simple truth brought Mikhail Gorbachev and me together on a windswept harbor off Malta.

The seas were as turbulent as our times, but it was not an ill wind carrying us on our mission. No, it was the wind of change -- strong and constant, profound. And today, as the sun broke through the clouds there at Malta, we could see a new world taking shape, a new world of freedom.

Remarks at a welcoming ceremony at Zaventem Airport,

Brussels, December 3, 1989


During the President's first year in office, Central America dominated the hemispheric agenda. Along with a dramatic bipartisan breakthrough on policy toward Nicaragua -- which eventually helped force the Communist leader of the Sandinistas, Daniel Ortega, to hold free elections -- Panama was front and center through 1989. In the Panamanian election held in early May, an international panel of observers led by former President Jimmy Carter, the Catholic Church, and others documented widespread vote fraud by dictator Manuel Noriega. The people backed opposition candidate Guillermo Endara by a three-to-one margin, and Noriega's thugs resorted to violence to complete their theft. The Bush administration joined other hemispheric leaders in condemning the action...

Today elected constitutional government is the clear choice of the vast majority of the people in the Americas, and the days of the dictator are over. Still, in many parts of our hemisphere, the enemies of democracy lie in wait to overturn elected governments through force or to steal elections through fraud. All nations in the democratic community have a responsibility to make clear, through our actions and our words, that efforts to overturn constitutional regimes or steal elections are unacceptable. If we fail to send a clear signal when democracy is imperiled, the enemies of constitutional government will become more dangerous.

Remarks and a question-and-answer session with reporters

on the situation in Panama, White House Briefing Room,

May 11, 1989


A message to Nicaragua's Communist leader, Daniel Ortega...

The President. I wish Mr. Ortega had been there when [Costa Rican President Oscar] Arias was sworn in, and I'll tell you why....Maybe you were there this day I'm talking about. I represented the United States as Vice President. You had thirty thousand people in a stadium in the capital. Remember that day?

Q. The national stadium?

The President. The national stadium, exactly. And what you did was to go in there, everybody lined up behind their flag. And I'm saying to myself, I don't know what kind of reception I'm going to get -- the U.S. Stars and Stripes and the Vice President of the United States -- I know we've got good relations with Costa Rica, but a lot of other countries [are] represented. I swear to God, to the die I day I'll never forget the reception for my country. It wasn't me -- they didn't know who the hell I was -- but marching in behind the Stars and Stripes with our little delegation, and people were cheering, and it was democracy. It overlooked any kind of regional differences, and it was so moving and touching.


And to Manuel Noriega...

Q. Mr. President, on Mr. Noriega -- we each asked our questions. Will you answer one question on Noriega?

The President. Yes, I'd be delighted to. He's not my favorite character, but what is it? [Laughter]

Q. You've been criticized in this country -- politically and some of the media -- for the way you reacted to the coup in Panama.

The President. Yes.

Q. You said you acted according to what you felt.

The President. I wasn't criticized by any of the countries around this table, I noticed -- not one.

Q. Right. But some of the media in this country and some in Congress --

The President. We've got a lot of hawks out there; we've got a lot of macho guys out there that want me to send somebody else's kid into battle. And what I will do is prudently assess the situation at the time, and I've seen nothing in terms of intelligence or fact coming in later that would make me have done something differently. And that doesn't mean under some provocation or some denial of our rights as the United States of America, that I'd be afraid to use force. But for these instant hawks up there to -- those doves that now become instant hawks on Capitol Hill, they don't bother me one bit because the American people supported me by over two to one, and I think I sent a strong signal to the countries represented around this table that we are not imprudently going to use the force of the United States.

If somebody lays a glove on an American citizen there in the Canal Zone or where we have certain treaty rights, then we've got another story.

Interview with Latin American journalists,

White House Roosevelt Room, October 25, 1989


Today, Noriega may think his lead-pipe politics have won, but he's won nothing more than a fragile status quo. And democracy really will triumph in Panama -- I'm confident of that. It's a question of when, not if.

The President's news conference in Hotel Cariari Convention Hall,

San José, Costa Rica, October 28, 1989


Announcing Operation Just Cause...

I am committed to strengthening our relationship with the democratic nations in this hemisphere. I will continue to seek solutions to the problems of this region through dialogue and multilateral diplomacy. I took this action only after reaching the conclusion that every other avenue was closed and the lives of American citizens were in grave danger. I hope that the people of Panama will put this dark chapter of dictatorship behind them and move forward together as citizens of a democratic Panama with this government that they themselves have elected.

Address to the nation announcing U. S. military action

in Panama, Oval Office, December 20, 1989


Q. Mr. President, this spring you indicated that you would accept Noriega going to a third country where he could be free of prosecution. What has changed now that that's no longer acceptable?

The President. The death of one marine, the brutalization of a wife of a lieutenant, the death of a lot of our kids -- that's what's changed.

Question-and-answer session with reporters in Houston, Texas,

on the situation in Panama, Houstonian Country Club,

December 30, 1989


To Country, to Community

No President, no government, can teach us to remember what is best in what we are. But if the man you have chosen to lead this government can help make a difference; if he can celebrate the quieter, deeper successes that are made not of gold and silk but of better hearts and finer souls; if he can do these things, then he must.

Inaugural Address, U. S. Capitol West Front,

January 20, 1989


To serve and to serve well is the highest fulfillment we can know.

Remarks at the Boy Scout National Jamboree at Fort A. P. Hill, Bowling Green, Virginia, August 7, 1989


President Bush has often stated that the President has an obligation to set a high moral tone for the country, as well as his own administration. Ethics was a major focus of the first few weeks...

The mission is great. But it really has to be accomplished in the finest tradition of our nation: pride, honesty -- spirit of idealism when it comes to public service, knowing that our actions must always be of the highest integrity. It's not really very complicated. It's a question of knowing right from wrong, avoiding conflicts of interest, bending over backwards to see that there's not even a perception of conflict of interest.

Remarks at a swearing-in ceremony for members

of the White House staff, White House East Room,

January 23, 1989


Our principles are clear: that government service is a noble calling and a public trust. I learned that from my mom and dad at an early age, and I expect that that's where many of you learned it -- there or in school. There is no higher honor than to serve free men and women, no greater privilege than to labor in government beneath the Great Seal of the United States and the American flag. And that's why this administration is dedicated to ethics in government and the need for honorable men and women to serve in positions of trust....

Government should be an opportunity for public service, not private gain. And I want to make sure that public service is valued and respected, because I want to encourage America's young to pursue careers in government. There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve your country and your fellow citizens and do it well. And that's what our system of self-government depends on.

And I've never known a finer group of people than those that I worked with in government. You're men and women of knowledge, ability, and integrity. And I saw that in the CIA. I saw that when I was in China. I saw it at the United Nations. And for the last eight years, I saw that in every department and agency of the United States government. And I saw that commitment to excellence in the federal workers I came to know and respect in Washington, all across America, and, indeed, around the world. You work hard; you sacrifice. You deserve to be recognized, rewarded, and certainly appreciated. I pledge to try to make federal jobs more challenging, more satisfying, and more fulfilling. I'm dedicated to making the system work and making it work better.

Remarks to members of the senior executive service,

DAR Constitution Hall, January 26, 1989


On ethical conduct for former Presidents...

Q. You've mentioned ethics in a number of ways, and you've talked about the value of service this year. The last two days we've picked up headlines in the papers, and they've read President Reagan has a $5-million book deal. He's got a $50,000-a-speech deal. With all respect for the office and the former President, do you think it's appropriate to cash in on the presidency?

The President. I don't know whether I'd call it cashing in. I expect every President has written his memoirs and received money for it. Indeed, I read that a former President -- was it Grant? Grant got half a million bucks. That's when half a million really meant something. [Laughter]...so I think there is plenty of tradition that goes with Presidents writing memoirs and being paid for it.

Q. But you've also talked about perceptions. Is there a perception problem here?

The President. No, because I think there has been a long history of that, and I don't think it's ever been challenged as inappropriate.

The President's news conference, White House Briefing Room,

January 27, 1989


I believe in government service. I believe that it plays a vital role. But it must complement individual service. And nothing can replace personal commitment, both in our jobs and in our private lives. Many people look to you, the people in government, to do all things and solve all problems. Well, I think as a people we need to renew our sense of commitment, to take greater responsibility not only for ourselves but for one another.

Remarks at the swearing-in ceremony for Elizabeth H. Dole

as secretary of labor, Department of Labor Great Hall,

January 30, 1989


George Bush served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations from 1971 to 1972, when President Nixon asked him to head the Republican National Committee. Here he recounts a few memories from his UN days...

The memories of my time here in 1971 and 1972 are still with me today -- the human moments, the humorous moments that are part of even the highest undertaking.

With your permission, let me share one story from many of the sessions of the Security Council. I was the permanent representative of the United States. I was forty-five minutes late getting to the meeting, and all forty-five minutes were filled by the first speaker to take the floor. And when I walked in and took my seat, the speaker paused and said with great courtesy, "I welcome the permanent representative of the United States, and now, for his benefit, I will start my speech all over again from the beginning." [Laughter] That's a true story. And at that moment, differences of alliance, ideology, didn't matter. The universal groan that went up around that table from every member present, and then the laughter that followed, united us all....

I do remember sitting in this hall. I remember the mutual respect among all of us proudly serving as representatives. Yes, I remember the almost endless speeches -- and I don't want this to be one of them -- [laughter] -- the Security Council sessions, the receptions, those long receiving lines, the formal meetings of this Assembly and the informal discussions in the delegates' lounge over here. And I remember something more, something beyond the frantic pace and sometimes frustrating experiences of daily life here: the heartbeat of the United Nations, the quiet conviction that we could make the world more peaceful, more free. What we sought then -- all of us -- now lies within our reach.

Address to the Forty-fourth Session of the United Nations

General Assembly, UN General Assembly Hall,

September 25, 1989


Here, addressing the troops for the first time as commander in chief, President Bush briefly recounts his stay on the USS Finback -- the submarine that picked him up in 1944 after he was shot down over the Pacific island of Chi Chi Jima...

I've been in a submerged submarine while depth charges were going off all around it. And I know what it's like to hear the vessel strain and shake and pray to God...

Remarks aboard USS America, Norfolk, Virginia,

January 31, 1989


Using a personal example to underscore how the United States earned its role as a Pacific power. This was President Bush's first address to a foreign legislature as President...

I first came to the Asian Pacific region during World War II, more than forty-five years ago. I was a teenager, nineteen years old. I was flying torpedo bombers in the United States navy. It was then, for the first time in my life, that I truly appreciated the value of freedom and the price we pay to keep it. Believe me, I have never forgotten.

Remarks to the National Assembly at the National

Assembly Hall, Seoul, Korea, February 27, 1989


On April 19, forty-seven sailors aboard the USS Iowa were killed in an explosion. Several days later, President Bush traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, to address a memorial service. As he recounted in his diary: "I kept rehearsing and reading my speech aloud. I did pray for strength, because I cry too easily, so I read it over and over again. I tried not to personalize it when I gave it. I tried not to focus on a grieving parent or a grieving spouse; I tried to comfort individually in the speech; but then I got to the end, I choked up and had to stop...".

To the navy community, remember that you have the admiration of America for sharing the burden of grief as a family, especially the navy wives, who suffer most the hardships of separation. You've always been strong for the sake of love. You must be heroically strong now, but you will find that love endures. It endures in the lingering memory of time together, in the embrace of a friend, in the bright, questioning eyes of a child.

And as for the children of the lost, throughout your lives you must never forget, your father was America's pride. Your mothers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles, are entrusted with the memory of this day. In the years to come, they must pass along to you the legacy of the men behind the guns.

Remarks at the memorial service for crew members

of the USS Iowa at Norfolk Naval Air Station Hangar LP-2,

Norfolk, Virginia, April 24, 1989


Following the service, President Bush traveled to Chicago to address an Associated Press luncheon. Before the lunch, William Keating of the Detroit Newspaper Agency and Lou Boccardi of AP asked President Bush the status of Terry Anderson, an AP reporter who was being held hostage in the Middle East, prompting the following comment at the start of the President's luncheon remarks.

I vowed when I came into the presidency not to talk about the burden of the presidency, the loneliness of the job or the great toughness that nobody understands. I learned from my immediate predecessor -- eight years and I never once heard a call for sympathy or a call for understanding along those lines. But I will say that when you do take that oath of office, you do feel a disproportionate concern for a fallen sailor or an individual held hostage against his or her will anywhere in the world.

Remarks at the Associated Press luncheon

at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Grand Ballroom,

Chicago, Illinois, April 24, 1989

"A Thousand Points of Light"

From now on in America, any definition of a successful life must include service to others.

Remarks to students at University Field House,

Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri,

February 17, 1989


When a President talks about volunteerism, there are a few cynics around who suggest he's trying to escape the responsibility of the federal government, he's trying to say let somebody else do it. I'm saying, and I believe it with a fervor, that this narcotics problem in this country is not going to be solved without the Thousand Points of Light. Not just a thousand organizations, but literally a million efforts to get out there and try to work the problem. It isn't going to be done by the government.

Remarks and a question-and-answer session with students

at the school library, James Madison High School,

Vienna, Virginia, March 28, 1989


You understand that helping the less fortunate is in everyone's best interest; that the most powerful gift we can offer anyone is a sense of purpose, a path to self-esteem; that the fabric of family, like that of society, must forever be renewed and rewoven.

Remarks on signing

the National Volunteer Week Proclamation,

Rose Garden, April 10, 1989


The "Iron Horse," New York Yankee Lou Gehrig, was one of George Bush's idols for the way he played baseball, and a Bush hero for the way he lived his life...

Lou Gehrig was a Hall of Fame first baseman in the 1920s and 1930s. He played in 2,130 straight games, a record which still stands. But more than that, he was a good and decent man about whom a teammate said, "Every day, any day, he just went out and did his job." Fifty years ago, Lou Gehrig was stricken by a form of paralysis which today bears his name: Lou Gehrig's disease. And even so, he told the crowd at Yankee Stadium, "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

This story has become -- certainly among sportsmen and, I think, even more widely -- an American parable. But less known is that after he left the Yankees, for much of the last two years of his life, he served his fellow man. He was dying; weaker by the day; he could barely move his body. But as a parole commissioner for the City of New York, he counseled and inspired kids. And they called him the Iron Horse, the Pride of the Yankees. And he was a hero.

Remarks at the presentation ceremony

for the President's Volunteer Action Awards, East Room,

April 11, 1989


We cannot afford to fail, and we won't. For as Americans, we know what is at stake. We know that volunteerism can help those free-falling through society. We know that as citizens and institutions we can use one-to-one caring to truly love thy neighbor. And we know, finally, that from now on any definition of a successful life must include serving others.

Remarks at a luncheon hosted by the New York Partnership

and the Association for a Better New York at the New York

Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom, New York City,

June 22, 1989


If it weren't for the Points of Light, for these volunteers, the bill to some level of government would be way, way, way higher than it is today. Because neighbor helps neighbor; friend helps friend; people reaching across and trying to lift up those who are hurt -- I don't know how you put a price tag on it, but that is the American way. And it's been that way, and it always will be that way.

Exchange with reporters at Pacific Valley Mall during a tour

of the earthquake damage in Santa Cruz, California,

October 20, 1989


If you've got a hammer, find a nail. If you can read, find someone who can't. If you're well, do it like the volunteers I just saw at St. Jude's [Hospital]. Help someone who isn't well. If you're not in trouble, seek out someone who is. Because everywhere there is a need in America, there is a way to fill it. And everywhere there is a dream in America, there's a way to make it come true.

Remarks at the Commercial Appeal's Thanksgiving Celebration, Commercial Appeal front lawn, Memphis, Tennessee,

November 22, 1989


Ups and Downs, Ins and Outs

You may have noticed my special greeting from [Pistons' forward] Bill Laimbeer. He and his wife, Chris, were with [us] in October, and he told me...he'd see me at the White House in June. Actually, he was sure he'd be here, but not so sure about me.

Remarks congratulating the Detroit Pistons on winning the National Basketball Association Championship, Old Executive Office Building, Room 450, June 20, 1989


The other day I got a little lesson in how impatient the American people are. In the morning mail...I found letters from seventh-graders at a church school in California. It was dated Inauguration Day, January 20, and it said, and remember this was just on the day that I was taking office, "Dear Mr. President, Would you please do something about pollution? I'm not saying you're doing a bad job, but could you put a little more effort into it?" [Laughter]

Remarks at the swearing-in ceremony for William K. Reilly

as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,

Waterside Mall, February 8, 1989


During the 1988 campaign, then Vice President Bush temporarily mistook September 7 as Pearl Harbor Day (December 7). This would not be the last time he would poke fun at himself for that lapse...

Last year I told the American Legion about Pearl Harbor being on September 7. [Laughter] Just think, if Franklin Roosevelt had listened to me, think what we could have spared the nation. [Laughter]

Remarks at the annual conference of the Veterans

of Foreign Wars, Sheraton Washington Hotel Ballroom,

March 6, 1989


Addressing the blurring line between privacy and the right to know on his first trip back to Houston as President...

Q. Is the increased attention being given to the private lives of public officials and candidates a good thing or a bad thing for politics and government in this country?

The President. Well, I think there are excesses. I think there are intrusions into people's private lives that go beyond the public trust or go beyond one's ability to serve. And I don't like the excesses.

Remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Forum Club

of Houston, Texas, at the George R. Brown Convention Center,

March 16, 1989


On his White House role models...

Q. Your resident scholar, Dr. [Roger] Porter [chief domestic policy adviser], gave us a brief history lesson this morning on the presidency. And he recalled a conversation he had with you about the great Presidents of the past, and why we don't have great Presidents today -- talking about Jefferson and Monroe and Madison. Who are your two favorite great Presidents?

The President. First, I'd make the point that everyone looks better over time. [Laughter]

Q. But who are your two?

The President. Herbert Hoover looks better today than he did forty years ago, doesn't he?

Q. No.

The President. People remember -- [laughter] -- not to you, but to a lot of people...they remember the compassionate side of the man. You couldn't even talk about that thirty or forty years ago.

Q. Is he your model?

The President. No, he's not. [Laughter] But I was trying to make the point that time is generous to people. I remember the hue and cry around Harry Truman from guys like me and Republicans. Now we're kind of moderated and think the good things and leave out some of the contentious matters.

So history is basically kind to American Presidents. A model, I think...would be Teddy Roosevelt. He comes out of the same elitist background that I do. [Laughter] And he had the same commitment to the environment that I did, although the rules on hunting have changed dramatically since he used to shoot with no limits out there in South Dakota, or North Dakota.

But he was a man of some action; he was a person that understood government, didn't mind getting his hands dirty in government. I remember part of his life being on the Police Board in New York City. Ask Gabe Pressman about that. Probably combat pay was required in those days. So, he was an activist.

I have great respect for Eisenhower. I'm not trying to compare myself to any of these people, but in Eisenhower's case, he was a hero....He led the Allied forces and helped free the world from imperialism and Nazism. And he brought to the presidency a certain stability. Others may have had more flair, and he presided...in fairly tranquil times, but he did it. He was a fair-minded person, strong leader, and had the respect of people. And I think he was given credit for being a compassionate individual. So, those are two I would throw out there. And you can't live in this house and do as I do: have my office upstairs, next door to the Lincoln Bedroom, in which resides the handwritten copies of the freedom doctrine that will live forever -- Emancipation Proclamation -- right there in our house. So I think all of us -- I think almost all Americans put Lincoln on that list someplace.

Q. Any Democrats in your pantheon, sir?

The President. Well, I respect certain things about Harry Truman. He liked to go for walks. [Laughter] But he was tough -- said what he thought and had respect from people. Won them over, did it his way, and I respect him for being a fighter. They had him written off in '48. I bet ten bucks against him and on Tom Dewey. And I lost. So did a lot of other people who thought the polls would be correct. So I respect a guy that fights back, and Truman did that.

...I had a lot of differences with Lyndon Johnson, but there were certain things about him that were good....We had a little insight that came from a personal knowledge of the man. And he got all caught up in Vietnam, but people forget that -- for his legislative agenda -- he got through what President Kennedy couldn't get through. We ought to give a little credit for somebody who can do that. He controlled both houses of the legislature, which is slightly different than the forty-first President of the United States is facing....

You can't live here without becoming more of a student of history...[and] you begin to pick up the redeeming features of those you maybe hadn't had down as a hero or hadn't even thought much about in the history of this country.

So I don't think that -- I would argue with your premise. I could just go on forever here -- [laughter] -- but I would argue with what I thought was the premise that great leaders were all back there somewhere. I'm not sure of that.

Let me just end on one that -- I learned a lot from Ronald Reagan....One thing I learned from him is, I never once in eight years, no matter how difficult the problem, heard him appeal to me or to others around him for understanding about the toughest, loneliest job in the world -- how can anyone be asked to bear the burden single-handedly? Never -- and when Reagan left office, you never heard the presidency is too big for one man -- never heard it.

Back in 1980, people like Lloyd Cutler, for whom I have great respect, were saying, look, this is so complex today that maybe we need a parliamentary system. He wasn't proposing it; he was saying it ought to be looked at. Reagan came in; stood on certain principles, stayed with them, and never asked for sympathy or never asked for understanding of the great, overwhelming burden of the presidency, and left with 61 percent of the people saying, "Hey, wait a minute! He did a good job." Good lesson right here in modern history.

White House luncheon for journalists, East Room,

March 31, 1989


One of many exchanges on the topic of presidential vacations...

Q. Mr. President, you have this wonderful home, a beautiful Cigarette boat, and yet the average Mainer makes about $14,000 a year. And I was wondering if you could tell us how you manage to stay in touch with the average man's realities.

The President. Well, I do my very best. I've got a lot of friends from all walks of life. And there is a tendency in this job to get isolated, but you --

Q. We see you riding the boat every night on TV and playing tennis and having a great time.

The President. But I don't think people feel anything other than that isn't it nice to have a good vacation. And I try to have as much contact as I can.

Q. Do you think the average Mainer can afford to have a vacation like you have, sir?

The President. I don't think so. I'm very privileged or lucky in that regard, but I also don't think the average Mainer begrudges me a vacation of any kind. In fact, the response from the townspeople here has been the way it's been for the sixty-four other years I've been here -- very good. They're just wonderful.


And presidential security...

Q. Knowing you're always a target for terrorists, do you feel safe strolling about Kennebunkport?

The President. Yes, but I can't stroll quite as freely as I used to before I was in government work. And I don't worry about it. We've got extraordinarily able Secret Service and I just don't -- I honestly don't spend one second of the day thinking about that.

The President's news conference, Walker's Point,

August 23, 1989


Not every President is blessed with a green thumb. Five months ago, I planted an elm to mark North Dakota's new campaign. It turned out they had some kind of moth disease. [Laughter] So, in the interest of public safety here in Sioux Falls, they specifically asked me not to dedicate a building. [Laughter] Well, so far, my luck in this tree business is about like this -- as I had in fishing.

Remarks at the South Dakota Centennial Celebration

at Sioux Falls Arena, Sioux Falls, September 18, 1989


During their fifty-six years of marriage, the Bushes have lived in well over thirty houses -- from Odessa, Midland, and Houston in Texas, to New York, Beijing, and, as we see here, Washington, D.C....

Ira [Gribin, president of the National Association of Realtors] mentioned to me that my speech is a special occasion for this association, and I said I was honored. And then Ira said, "Well, it's not often that we're addressed by someone who lives in public housing..." [Laughter]

When I was elected to Congress -- and I get reminded about this by Barbara -- when I was elected to Congress in 1966, we needed to make housing arrangements up in Washington. We were in Houston. And at that time, Senator Al Simpson's father, Milward Simpson, was retiring and moving back to Wyoming. So, I bought the Simpson house, sight unseen, over the telephone. And when we got to Washington, there were just two problems: we found out right away that the house wasn't quite big enough for our family, and we found out when we put the place up for sale that it wasn't worth quite as much as we paid for it. [Laughter] And that's my claim to fame in your business. I'm the only person who ever lost money in Washington real estate in the last twenty years. [Laughter] Ira, where the hell were you when I needed you? [Laughter]

But few people have done more for the real estate industry than Barbara and I have. We've moved twenty-eight times -- this is true -- we have moved twenty-eight times in our forty-four years of marriage. [Laughter] You ought to be smiling. Now, I know what you're thinking -- what a dream client my family would make for any Realtor. [Laughter] In fact, Dick Darman over at OMB is calculating the commissions we've paid over the years, measured as a percentage of the gross national product.

Remarks announcing the HOPE (Homeownership and Opportunity

for People Everywhere) Initiative to the National Association

of Realtors at Loew's Anatole Hotel Chantilly Ballroom,

Dallas, Texas, November 10, 1989


Every week, I receive up to sixty thousand letters from every state in the Union and from nearly every country in the world. You can get a lot of free advice in this job.

Remarks at the opening session of the Universal Postal Union Congress,

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,

November 13, 1989


A Kinder, Gentler Take

I speak to you today with great respect and in accordance with the plan our Founding Fathers designed two centuries ago: as a President of the United States addressing the freely elected government of a sovereign state. And I speak to you in the spirit of bipartisanship. I've got to; you've got us outnumbered. [Laughter]

Remarks to the South Carolina state legislature,

State Capitol House Chamber, Columbia, February 15, 1989


Our challenge now is to keep it [economic growth] going. We can, and we will. We've all heard the naysayers. I think there are a few out there whose predictions of economic disaster are now in the seventy-eighth straight month. [Laughter]

Remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,

DAR Constitution Hall, May 1, 1989


I'm a big believer in alternative fuels and conservation. This winter I'm putting windmills in Washington. Henceforth, hot air is going to heat the city.

Remarks at the University of Nebraska,

Bob Devaney Sports Center, June 13, 1989


Marshall [Coleman], you're our candidate. Certainly you have my full support, and you know Virginia better than I do, but let me give you a little free advice: don't film your TV ad riding around in a tank.

Remarks at a Republican Party fund-raising dinner

at the Richmond Center Exhibition Hall, Richmond, Virginia,

June 21, 1989


Q. Mr. President, do you have some advice for [Democratic activist] Jesse Jackson if he wants to run for mayor of the District? Would you like to get involved in that?

The President. I gave Jesse my advice last year -- [laughter] -- all during the campaign, in a gentle, kind way. And I might note, he gave me plenty, too -- and still is.

Remarks and a question-and-answer session with reporters

during a meeting with District of Columbia police chief

Maurice Turner, Oval Office, July 27, 1989


I have to tell you I was mightily impressed with that centennial cattle drive. It captured the hearts of America -- three thousand cattle, sixty miles in six days. Now, maybe I can get a few of those drovers to come back with me to Washington. There's a herd back on Capitol Hill that I'd like to move in my direction.

Remarks at the Montana Centennial Celebration

at the State capitol grounds, Helena, September 18, 1989


Back in 1889, when President Harrison sent a letter -- telegram, rather, to the first governor of Washington to tell him that Washington had become the forty-second state, he sent the telegram collect. Well, that's one way to balance the budget. [Laughter]

Remarks at the Washington Centennial Celebration

at Riverfront Park, Spokane, September 19, 1989


The Dallas paper reported last week that [Texas Governor] Bill Clements was dining in a restaurant when a holdup and shoot-out occurred right in front of him. The most remarkable part of all, however, is that not once during the whole ordeal did he put down his hamburger. [Laughter] And I'm not sure if that was Texas courage or hunger or the need for a new pair of glasses or a hearing aid....

I don't often quote Franklin D. Roosevelt on partisan matters, but the little story he told to make fun of his Republican opponents fits the liberal Democrats so well today. Remember the story of the unfortunate chameleon which turned brown when placed on a brown rug and turned red when placed on a red rug, but who died a tragic death when they put him on a Scotch plaid?

Remarks at the Republican Governors' Association Annual

Dinner, Capitol Hilton Presidential Ballroom,

October 17, 1989


Two references here to Governor Ann Richards, who, at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, said George Bush was "born with a silver foot in his mouth"...

Bill, you and I do go back a long way -- long before either of us got into politics. And we shared common goals in business and in politics. We also have a lot in common as public speakers. We've certainly been accused of making our fair share of verbal gaffes. But so what if we've been known to put our foot in our mouth from time to time? I just hope that your foot is as silver as mine....

A Texas Democratic friend of mine had his own ideas about the election. He offered me his prediction that the next governor of the state would be that smart, silver-haired, feisty, outspoken Lone Star lady with a sharp sense of humor. And I said, no way, not possible -- Barbara is very happy in the White House.

Remarks at a Republican fund-raising dinner honoring Governor Bill Clements at the Grand Kempinski Hotel Crystal Room,

Dallas, Texas, November 10, 1989


For each of his four years in office, President Bush threw out the first pitch to help the Texas Rangers baseball team -- then partly owned by his son George W. -- open their Major League season. Here, a participant in a business meeting queries the President about his first official pitch in office...

Q. Mr. President, Red Scott from southern California.

The President. Yes, sir?

Q. Was that pitch a curve or wasn't it, yesterday?

The President. That pitch -- you mean at the Baltimore game? [Laughter] I got into the locker room and warmed up with Mickey Nettleton [Tettleton], the catcher. Sixty-four -- your old arm gradually got a little looser. But it was high and outside. But here's my problem. [Laughter] He stepped in front of the plate before it could break down across the middle. That's my side of it, and I'm going to stick with it.

...Walk out there, and you're always wondering about getting booed....Last year, I go to the All-Star Game in Cincinnati -- and we're in the middle of a campaign -- saying this is suicide, man, what are you going to do out here? You know you're going to get booed. So, right there as I was about to walk out, I saw two Little Leaguers -- one eleven-year-old kid, big, tall guy, you know, and a little eight-year-old blond girl. And I said, "Who are these?" And they said, "Well, these are Little Leaguers. They're going out first." So, I got with them, and I said, "You guys nervous?" [Laughter] And I said, "Well, why don't we all walk out together?" [Laughter] There wasn't a boo in the house -- [laughter] -- it worked!

Remarks at a White House briefing for members of the American Business Conference, Old Executive Office Building, April 4, 1989


I played in 1947 in the first College World Series finals. It started in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I think they played there two or three years before a move to Omaha. And next year, '48, again our Yale team reached the finals, but there was one problem. We had a good coach -- great National League baseball player, Ethan Allen; and we walked the eighth hitter, bases loaded, I think, to get to the ninth hitter. The ninth hitter was their pitcher, Jackie Jensen, who went on to be one of the greatest sluggers the Boston Red Sox ever had. And he hit a ball that's still rolling in Kalamazoo, Michigan....So, we lost both times.

Remarks congratulating the Wichita State University Shockers

on winning the NCAA Baseball Championship, Rose Garden,

June 16, 1989


Fishing, I guess, is my favorite form of relaxation. And it's with a rod and reel that I tend to count my blessings, especially if I'm out there with one of our grandkids or with Barbara, the only woman on earth who can read and fish at the same time -- [laughter] -- and catch every word and every fish.

Remarks at the Boy Scout National Jamboree at Fort A. P. Hill, Bowling Green, Virginia, August 7, 1989


Putting New York City politics in the proper perspective...

Rudy has the energy, the intelligence, and the will to solve New York's problems. He knows that when he becomes mayor, he'll have the second-toughest job in America. The first, of course, is managing the New York Yankees.

Remarks at a fund-raising dinner for mayoral candidate

Rudolph W. Giuliani at the Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom,

New York City, October 12, 1989


As the distinguished mayor said, Acres Homes was a part of my congressional district twenty-some years ago. In fact -- little known fact -- this was the home turf for the George Bush all-star championship women's softball team....He [Bobby Moore] and I started this team in 1960. And we had good teams, and these -- I want to say girls; they were then, now women -- but they almost won the state championship. Traveled all over the state and played out of De Soto Park, which is just down the road a bit, so I do feel at home.

Remarks at the Acres Homes War on Drugs rally

at Andrew Wizner Park, Houston, Texas,

December 7, 1989


At one point or another, Lady Luck spurns all fishermen (and women), as it did George Bush during his 1989 summer vacation. Here, with his friend Brian Mulroney at his side, he attempts to "spin" his lack of success...

This is getting out of hand. And so, between now and when I leave on Monday, I guarantee you -- I positively guarantee you -- that this jinx will be broken. I've seen a lot of good .350 hitters bat about .178 for a while. Then they come out of the slump and move forward. My record fishing in these waters is well-known. It's a superb record, a record of bountiful catches. And somehow, something's gone wrong for the last thirteen days -- [laughter] -- something's happened....We're thinking of having a poll to take a media person with us when Barbara and I go out to thwart these evil rumors that I don't know what I'm doing fishing. It's gotten out of hand. When I see it on national television, I know we've got to put an end to this monkey business. So, we will prevail. And besides that, everyone knows fishing is a team sport.

News conference of the President and Prime Minister

Brian Mulroney of Canada at Walker's Point, Kennebunkport, Maine, August 31, 1989


Before I go any further, I want to put an end to the rumor, ugly rumor that's making the rounds since I was up in Maine about a covert amphibious operation off the coast of the American Northeast. There is no truth to the rumor that the bluefish I finally caught was hooked on the line by a navy frogman -- not true, not true at all.

Remarks at the National Hispanic Heritage

Presidential Tribute dinner at the Omni Shoreham

Hotel Regency Ballroom, September 12, 1989


The relationship between the media and any President is inherently, and historically, confrontational. President Washington referred to the "exaggerated and indecent terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero, a notorious defaulter, or even to common pick-pocket" that the press aimed in his direction after Chief Justice John Jay, acting on orders from the White House, signed a controversial treaty with Great Britain in 1795. President Bush's tenure in office was certainly no exception. And yet, it is clear that he frequently enjoyed bantering with members of the "fourth estate"...

Adlai Stevenson said, "An editor is the person who separates the wheat from the chaff and prints the chaff." [Laughter] So I know I'm probably responsible for providing more than my fair share of chaff, but after all, I am the guy that said during the campaign, "A kitchen in every pot" -- [laughter] -- and also that "America's freedom" -- I was reminded by some of these back here -- "America's freedom is the example by which the world expires." [Laughter]

Remarks to the American Society of Newspaper Editors,

J. W. Marriott Hotel Grand Ballroom, April 12, 1989


President Bush had a particular fondness for the people he called the "photo dogs" -- the White House press photographers who accompanied the reporters just about everywhere he went for four years. During their annual dinner, he clicks off a few shots of his own...

One of the things I do like about Larry [Downing, Newsweek photographer], though, is his loyalty. In Beijing, the microphones picked up his patriotic challenge to some Chinese security guards: "Stop pushing me," he said. "Our President may sound like an idiot, but he's our President, and we're going to take pictures of him."

Remarks at the Annual White House News Photographers

Association Dinner, Washington Hilton Hotel International

Ballroom, May 23, 1989


You're wondering why we're all dressed up. We're off to the Wall Street Journal 's one hundredth anniversary here in a few minutes, and the Wall Street Journal maintains a more dignified air with its no-photos policy. If they were ever to run a swimsuit issue, it would be [former Chrysler chairman] Lee Iacocca in thongs.

Remarks at a Republican Party fund-raising dinner

at the New York Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom,

New York City, June 22, 1989


In 1979, the Wall Street Journal became the largest-circulation daily in the nation, but one rival complained that was only because so many subscribers were at an age where they forgot to cancel. [Laughter]

Speaking of age -- and literally apropos of absolutely nothing -- Bob Hope told this story of aging at the Joe Gibbs charity dinner in Washington this week that Barbara and I attended, and that our guest here Kay Graham's son sponsored. Two men, two old men, sitting on a park bench -- and the first one said, "Do you know how old I am?" The second one said, "Stand up, turn around, drop your trousers down. Now pat yourself on the back. Okay, pull up your trousers, sit back down here on this bench." The man said, "Well, how old am I?" He said, "You're ninety-three years old, four months, and three days." The first guy said, "How did you know that?" He said, "You told me yesterday."

Remarks at the Wall Street Journal Anniversary Dinner

at the World Financial Center Winter Garden,

New York City, June 22, 1989


With tongue firmly in cheek, the President concludes a passionate, yet reasoned, appeal for legislation outlawing flag desecration...

I would now be glad to take questions, all of which I'm sure will be on the flag.

The President's news conference, White House Briefing Room,

October 13, 1989. (The President fielded thirty-one questions,

mostly on the situation in Panama and on abortion funding,

before the flag desecration issue was raised by reporters.)


Years ago, this industry -- I was going to say "yours," but as one who had a tiny interest in gas wells years ago, "ours" -- added an agent to natural gas that gave it a characteristic scent. And that was so that if there ever was a leak in someone's house, they'd have a better chance of detecting the leak. It doesn't work that way in the White House -- [laughter] -- so I would ask for your technological assistance.

Remarks to the members of the Natural Gas Supply Association,

Old Executive Office Building, Room 450, October 19, 1989


Obviously referring to stars from both the political and sports arenas, the President adds a lighter note to the proceedings at 10 Downing Street...

This is a most distinguished gathering, and if I start singling out the excitement that Barbara and I felt about meeting the various individuals here, I'd get into serious trouble. I love politics, and we've got some good, competitive politics around this table. Neil [Neil Kinnock, British Labour Party leader], nice to see you, sir, and the associates on the other side. I love sports, and I could learn about that stiff left arm and looking at the pin and not getting nervous on putting from one distinguished guest here, or bending my knees and volleying properly from another. And so, you have adequately accommodated my insatiable quest for being the name-dropper of the year by the distinguished guests here.

Toast at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in London, June 1, 1989


Opening the Education Summit with the nation's fifty governors...

Welcome, welcome. I will try to keep it short. You see, the record has already been set for toasts here in Charlottesville at the university. Back in 1824, Mr. Jefferson hosted a dinner in the Dome Room of the Rotunda for the Marquis de Lafayette attended by former Presidents Monroe and Madison. It was an elegant dinner. The libations flowed freely -- so freely, in fact, that thirteen formal toasts ensued -- [laughter]...looking around here, to be followed by thirty-seven more impromptu toasts. That's the one tradition I would like to discourage tonight.

Toasts of the President and Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa

at the Education Summit dinner at Monticello in Charlottesville,

Virginia, September 27, 1989


We first met last November, sir, in Houston, Texas. We met, if I might add this personal note, the day after your Harvard football team fell to the mighty men of Yale. It seemed at the time like an inauspicious start, somehow, but we've learned anew how special the relationship -- you're trying to get even -- [laughter] -- the relationship between Mexico and the United States can be....

Speaking of trust, I trust that you dried out from the golf-cart tour of Camp David on Sunday. [Laughter] There was a true downpour. President and Mrs. Salinas came up there in the mountains. But I was anxious for the President to look around, so he and I set out on a golf cart in this driving rain. Barbara was convinced that I had just dealt a severe blow to Mexican-United States relations.

Toast at the state dinner for President Carlos Salinas de Gortari

of Mexico, State Dining Room, October 3, 1989


A student told me a while ago that high school is a great place to learn about personal risk-taking. I asked him, "How do you figure?" And he said, "Have you ever tasted cafeteria food?"

Remarks at the Cheltenham High School commencement ceremony

in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, June 19, 1989


When we talk about merit schools and merit teachers, there could hardly be a better example than this year's winner, the founder of the Westside Preparatory School in Chicago's inner city, Marva Collins. Says Marva, "Any child can learn if they are not taught so thoroughly that they cannot." [Laughter] Think about that one, now.

She got results, working with students who have been written off by the public schools. It's said that 98 percent of her students go on to high school and then college. And her students got results. It was reported one of Marva's six-year-olds could recite Jesse Jackson's 1988 convention speech from memory. [Laughter] Now look, Marva, Jesse is a very gifted speaker, and you're being too tough on those kids. [Laughter] Give them my convention speech, and I bet they can do it at age three. [Laughter]

But I've also heard one young girl who began pounding her lunch box on the desk in the middle of class. Marva told the girl, "No, darling, no one is going to be handing out good jobs to people who pound their lunch boxes on their desks. President Bush does not pound his lunch box on the desk." [Laughter] Obviously, Marva's never been to one of our cabinet meetings.

Remarks at the annual meeting of the American Association of University Women at the Sheraton Washington Hotel Ballroom, June 26, 1989


Q. Are all the Presidents rich? [Laughter]

The President. No. In our history, some didn't have much money at all. And that certainly should never be a requirement. I hope that some people are thinking: Just because we come here, you see, maybe I'll be President someday. Do you ever think about that? You should, because it's fun to dream about stuff.

Q. How does it feel to be President?

The President. Sometimes it feels good, and sometimes it feels less good. But most of the time it's wonderful because I like my job, and I like a lot of parts of it. Some of it I don't like. There are some parts I don't like, but I like what I'm supposed to be doing, and so does my wife...she's trying to help people on literacy. And I like this part of the job. You meet people. And you can say to a school principal and hope people hear it all over the country, "Hey, you're doing a first-class job." And so there's some wonderful things.

You know what I got to do? Some of the boys are interested. Just before I came here, I got to meet the quarterback for the Denver Broncos football team. And I know Mike Ditka, and I know some of the others. So, I get some fun stuff to do in sports. Then you think -- you're President; you think you're helping.

We're going off to meet Mr. Gorbachev, and in a week or so you're going to be reading about all that because it will be in every paper. And why are we doing it? Well, we're trying to make the world a little more peaceful. We want it to be a place where you grow up -- that you don't have to worry about having to go off to war. You can think about what this guy's thinking about -- maybe getting to be President or maybe getting a good education or going out and helping others.

Q. How come you became President?

The President. How did I get to be President? Well, I was in politics a long time, and I was in business, and I worked hard. I decided in the late seventies that I wanted to be President, and then I went out and worked for it. And I had a lot of help. You can't do it alone. You get help. Your governor helped me; and this congresswoman, Lynn Martin, was extraordinarily helpful to me. And then people that aren't in office -- they helped. So, you have to get a lot of people behind your case and your cause. In my case, I ran and lost for the Senate, for example. I got up -- friends pick you up, dust you off, put you back in the game, and you try again. Then I ran for President and lost in 1979. And then President Reagan suggested to our convention that I be Vice President, and then we were elected. And then for eight years I was Vice President. And then I ran again.

So, it's that way. But you have to work at the grass roots; you have to care about people, I think. But you have to be willing to try, to risk something. And you've got to learn that if somebody says something ugly about you, don't worry about it. I used to be very worried when I was much -- fifteen, twenty years ago. Somebody said something that was critical, I would worry about that. I don't worry about that anymore. So, you have to have a fairly thick skin, but never so thick that you don't care about people.

Remarks and question-and-answer session with students

at Pickard Elementary School, Room 305, Chicago, Illinois,

November 20, 1989

Compilation copyright © 2001 by Jim McGrath

Table of Contents




1. 1989: A New Breeze

2. 1990: Darkness in the Desert Sky

3. 1991: The Liberation Has Begun

4. 1992: Finish This Job in Style

5. Postpresidency: Did It with Honor




by Barbara Bush

I first knew George Bush was the most articulate man I had ever met way back in 1941. I was 16, he was 17 and although we did not know each other, we were attending the same Christmas party. When he walked across the room and asked me if I'd like to dance, they were without a doubt the most brilliant words I had ever heard.

After 56 years of marriage, I haven't changed my mind. I could be accused of being prejudiced, but George is one of the funniest, wisest, most caring people I know. I know this because I have listened carefully to everything he's said all these years.

That is why I was thrilled when our friend Jim McGrath told me he was thinking of compiling a book of quotes from George's speeches. Several years ago George published a book of letters, All the Best, which revealed a very private side to a very public man. The letters showed that through the ups and downs of his life, George never lost his sense of humor, his sense of purpose, or his sense of honor. I felt that Jim's idea would be the perfect follow-up to the letters book, this time focusing on the spoken word.

Heartbeat is a wonderful record of how an American President led his country - and the world -- during a very interesting time in our history. Whether it was George speaking about the challenge of Desert Storm, or the somewhat sudden peaceful end to the Cold War, Heartbeat provides insight into how a President tries to both reassure and inspire.

And whether it was George's declaration "I hate broccoli" to his words explaining away the stomach flu in Japan, Heartbeat serves as a reminder that our Presidents are, after all, just plain people like the rest of us.

Unlike his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, George was never accused of being The Great Communicator. He was always too impatient to fine-tune his speech-giving skills, which once in a while resulted in a twisted syntax or two. (I'm sure you all remember the media teasing him that English was his second language.)

But after reading Heartbeat, I think you'll be reminded of an American President who felt the issues deeply, stood by his principles, never forgot the importance of honor, and never lost his sense of humor.

Best of all, Heartbeat is George Bush is doing what he does best, speaking from the heart.

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