tv Q A CSPAN October 13, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
is. >> this week on "q&a," josh bolten talking about the duties during the bush administration. >> josh bolten in the second part of the discussion about your time as chief of staff of the white house, start off by giving us what you saw with the press, the media, that world. how did you view them? >> usually with some hostility. it's the natural state of affairs between the white house and the press corps because that's the -- that's the nature of what the press needs do. they need to -- they need to try to catch the white house out.
we came in in the bush administration with what we thought was a press corps largely inclined to be unfriendly. did a fair amount of work to try to warm up the relation shship it was always -- throughout the bush administration, it was relatively tense. the view inside the white house was that most of the media were either slightly or substantially biassed against the administration. we felt we were most of the time swimming upstream. one of the good things is that the president periodically annoyed by it just said, you know, let it -- is it -- everybody was like let it go off your back. do the best you can but don't get fixated on it. don't -- don't spend all of your
time rawed up about how the press is treating you. do your job. >> who helped him decide who he would grant interviews to? >> that's the press secretary's job usually with the -- with the supervision of the communications director and the structure we had. our communications directors were karen hughes, dan bartlet, ed gillespie. we had a series of press secretaries, most of whom did a fantastic job. ari fleischer, scott mcclellan, tony snow, dana perino. and it was typically the press secretary's job to pick out folks with whom the president would do interviews under what formats on what terms.
for the president's comfort, they would try to steer things toward people who were more likely to be friendly toward the president. but you couldn't always do that. and, you know, to reach the major markets, you had to often invite in people whom the white house felt were not favorably inclined to the president. and you have to take that on. that's part of the job. >> for those who may not have seen the first part of this interview, you were deputy chief of staff what years in the bush administration? >> first two years. >> and you were chief of staff what years? >> last three years. and i was the budget director for the three years in between. so i was there in the white house all eight years. >> talking about the media. here's the late tommy snow talking about how he was selected. >> we work in the first bush white house. he came on the radio show. we were talking about getting together. he's a great guy to work with.
he's somebody i really enjoyed in bush i. made this on weeks and weeks out. on the day before the lunch, he's announced he's going to be in the next white house chief of staff. doing a sales pitch that i could not resist which was he said, you know, i know the numbers look bad. but the fundamentals for the economy and things are going certain way in iraq. he said you've got a great job. you're secured. making a lot of munnell. everybody can understand that a guy like you is taking on the challenges of these sorts of things. at that point, he baited the hook and i snapped. >> how did he get select? >> he got selected by me because i felt that one of the ways as a
staff we were letting the president down by not communicating in a affirmative way of what was going going on in the white house. we got in a mode, i thought, of being responsive and defensive. what better way to change that mode than to bring in a fantastic, affirmative character like tony snow who i miss and everybody who ever worked with him miss very much. >> and how long did tony live once he got into this job? >> he was -- we brought him in in the spring of 2006. i think he stayed in the job for about a year and a half. before he started to get sick again. he had been in remission from a
serious cancer. i think his health was beginning to flag. and so he -- he left the white house, my recollection is, about a year before the end of the administration. and sadly passed away before the -- before the administration end. >> he was an activist. he was outspoken and personality came through. from you looking back at the press secretaries when you're in the white house, is the president better off having somebody who is known in his own right or her on right or having someone we don't know or doesn't have an image? >> i -- i think the key element is the activist element that somebody whom the press will respect likes to be around, whom they feel has the integrity to tell the truth and the access to
know the truth. all at the same time. tony had those attributes in spades. he was just fantastic. and he really changed the tone for the press. i thought his predecessor who, you know, had -- we could -- in a way, an honorable person. just had not been able to communicate effectively on behalf of the president. he was well liked by the president but not really respected by the press. when the president asked me to be chief of staff, that's the first job i targeted for change.
in the clip, tony said i set this lunch up with him well before i was announced chief of staff. i knew from the president i was going to be the chief of staff. is a couple of weeks' lag from the decision to when it was going to be announced and he was on my target list to get him into the white house. i'm glad we did. i think everybody who worked with him is glad we did. >> scott wrote a book that was very critical of the bush administration. why did he do that in your opinion? >> i don't know. that's been a mystery to me. >> those of us inside the bush operation who worked with scott for many years considered one of his or maybe his principal attribute to be loyalty? >> was he fired?
>> yes, i fired him. he hasn't made any bones about that. i hasn't made any bones about that. we tried to do in as gentle and respectful a way is possible. none of us felt we were doing the jobs as we needed. and so we made it as -- as respectful and easy as possible on him, you know, i offered him however he wanted to handle it, whatever time frame, the president went out -- when we announced the departure, the president went out the the sticks and had an emotional set of farewell comments.
are a scott was a friend. he was i didn't think he was doing a good job at the time. we needed a character like tony snow. >> talk about firing here. he talks about the john si knew knew firing when he was his father's chief of staff. from your perspective, what did you do with john si knew knew. and if he fired him, why didn't the president fire him? >> i don't know that story as well. i wasn't around in the episode in 41s administration when he asked john si knew knew to step down as the chief of staff.
but he did too all accounts, he asked 43, his son, and deputy chief of staff andy card the deliver the message to john sinunu who's a very able man and served with distinction. but, again, the president decided was not right for the moment in his presidency. why did 41 ask other people to deliver the news? i'm not sure. that was certainly not 43's style. one of the amusing bits of fallout from that earlier episode was, though, that bush 43's first chief of staff was andy card. served longer than any chief of staff in modern history. the only one at a served longer was sherman adams, eisenhower's
chief of staff. but in the first two years of the bush white house, i was in andy card's deputy. i was in the position to andy that andy had been in in respect to sinunu. every week or so, andy would say, how am i doing? the president want to get rid of me. ife will does, you let me know. i'm gone. andy came at it with the perspective as somebody who had to deliver the news to his then boss. that was not 43's style. he was -- he was very warm and connected in family way with all of his staff. he was tough minded at the same time about what the needs of the white house and the presidency were. so, you know, when i came to him and i said, i think we need to
replace scott mcclellan, he was sad about it. he considered scott a good friend for many years. but he didn't hesitate. he was very warm with scott. wanted to be supportive. called scott's wife to give her reassurance about his good feelings about scott. on the merits of the case, he didn't hesitate at all. it was my job to fire scott, but it was not the kind of decision from which 43 would shrink at all. >> did you have to fire anybody else? >> yes. >> you want to tell us who? >> not really. going to squeeze it out of me, brian. if i could, i would say that's one of the tougher parts of the job.
because that's when it gets personal. people like scott who i knew had given a lot in public service. the reward you give him shouldn't be an abrupt pink slip. the jobs inside the white house, there aren't many more important jobs on the planet. and you've got to fill them with the best possible people at every moment. >> what was your view speaking of the media of the rangel over karl rove and valerie plame and her husband and of yellow cake and bob novak and who leaked the story and all of that. how did you see it where you were sitting and what role did you play in that? i had very little role in the
underlying activity or the fallout from it. i was the budget director at the time kind of removed from those sorts of political activities. be uh you couldn't fail. if you sat at the senior staff table in the bush administration in those years, you couldn't fail to be affectled by it. and to have a lot of sympathy for the folks going through a very difficult investigation. that i -- i think was -- i'm trying to pick a plight word -- ill conceived at best. there had been the -- it's an incredibly complicated story.
but trying to boil it down to some of its basic elements, they're -- they're -- i mean, i've forgotten the name of valerie plame's husband. >> joe wilson. >> joe wilson had published and article saying he had been sent to investigate some of the allegations about saddam importing yellow cake from niger. and the intention was to undermine the credibility of the vice president and the administration in asserting there was evidence of this. and he was asserting in contra that he had been asked by these same people to look and he had
told them no. the response out of the white house to this was to -- was not i don't believe to attack joe wilson personally, but was to undermine the credibility of what he was saying in part by saying, look, we didn't send him. he was sent by the agency. and in particular, at the suggestion of his wife, who worked at the agency. so there was a -- there was a substantive credibility reason to out the wife. i don't think it was intentional. it appeared in a bob novak column that the revelation of the wife having been at the cia. and the -- and as it turned out, the person who had leaked that
information to bob novak was deputy secretary of state, dick armitage who in the course of the investigation fed up to it. he said, yeah, i did that as a mistake. i didn't realize i was revealing any classified information. yet, the special prosecutor's investigation went on at the white house even though they knew what the source of the leak was. they decided they would just keep digging at the white house and what they were basically doing was interviewing people in the hopes of catching them inside some of the perjury trap, which is how they caught scooter. >> how much involved was it that the president got involved in something like that? >> very, very limited if at all. especially once, a special prosecutor appointed. he stepped back and the president himts as you'll see
from both his memoir and from the vice president's memoir, the president himself was very tangentially involved in any of that. in a way, it was kind of a trivial episode that because of the investigation and the prosecution blew up to a big deal. >> back to the media in a minute, do you remember any interview that the president didn't like and you heard from him? >> gosh, i have vivid memories of him not liking interviews and i have trouble coming up with one specific one. >> i'll give you one that i remember -- tim russert in the oval office. >> yeah. >> which was -- you know, probing. >> yeah. >> i mean, the -- >> yeah. the president didn't mind tough
questions. but he did mind the same kwi being asked repeatedly in order to suggest that the answer had been insufficient. >> have you heard him say i'll never have that person interview me again? what i'm get at here is the control that you have in the white house that we've been through it a couple of weeks ago with the president. who they let in and who they won't let in. >> i don't recall him saying i'll never talk to that person again. but be darn sure the next time the press secretary came forward and said, how about tim russert, the president would say, no. he's, you know, he's -- it's not a serious substantive interview. he's looking to score points. sorry. >> what do you think of the daily briefingings. would you have your druthers, would you keep them up and keep them televised. >> press secretary? >> i thought you might be
talking about the daily intelligence briefing. yeah, i'll keep them up and televised. they're -- they've turned into a little bit of theater. but so be it, it's part of the job. in the bush white house in the view that i think a lot of us shared, we're all for transparency and we're all for making sure that the public is informed about what the -- what the thinking is. so often it becomes theater and gotcha. and that's certainly what george w. bush objected to. he never minded a tough question. he liked a tough question. he just didn't like gotcha and theater. >> i don't know if you were involved in this, but why did he put the clamps on the release of archival material for both his father and himself, push it down the road a number of years when he got in there?
>> i don't know. i don't remember the thinking that went into that decision. >> i want to show you two clips. i want to show you the early george bush in 1988 when he was campaigning for his father. and get your reaction to this. you saw them in the later years and show you one of the last interviews that he did. >> see me going to talk to the people of the community through the media about george bush. also the people in the trenches. you win politics by attracting good people who are willing to work for you. the message is simple. we need you, we love you. we're going to fight with you, together. >> any quick reaction. >> he looks like a kid. >> there's a quote from him. this is not from this in '18 88, it was '92. he said instead i unleashed and
told reporters that i thought the stories were biassed. my tone was harsh and i was rude. i had developed a reputation in the press corps as a hot head. i deserved it. my outbursts were driven by love, not politics. >> that sentiment got reflected many times while he was president. he would often recall his time of having been a president's son. the press was tough. it's much harder to take that when you're a son or a spouse than it is when you're the presiden president. that would be him calming people
down about an unfair assault on him in the press. he'd say look, i'm okay. it's tougher on you than it is on me. >> 20 years later at the end of his presidency and the dining room off of the state dining room? >> i was at work every morning at 6:45. i believe it's very important for someone running a complex organization to be disciplined and in his behavior. so if a meeting were to start at 8:00, that meant 8:00. i remember early on -- i think it was karl rove wandered into a meeting late. and it was fortunate it was karl because he had big standing in our administration. i said don't be late again. and all of the people in the meeting were like, man, this guy means it. if he's telling it to karl rove. our meetings started on time, ended on time. it was disciplined inside an organization is very important in order to get good advice.
radio. >> how did he deal with that with you and the way you ran the raidday-to-day operations. >> by the time i became chief of staff, five full years into the administration, it was pretty well established if you were hanging around george w. bush, you were going to run on time. i got the my first lesson in it in the campaign when we were in boston for the presidential debate. we were all leaving and governor bush decided he didn't want to risk being on time. he's going to leave ten minutes early. he got in the motorcade and left. and i remember being able to see the motorcade out of miho tell room taking off.
just left me behind. it was a good idea to have me at the debate site. i got there at the spin room. i guess that's the important part. that story -- everybody has a story like that which is if it involved george w. bush, ten minutes early for the meeting, you're about right. five minutes early, you're on time. if you show up on time, the likelihood is that the meeting would have already started. >> how much did he talk to earlier presidents in the oval office? >> probably not that often. my feeling is every president says they're going stay in touch and consult. they find a comfort of the people who held the office. but the reality is they can't help very much. if you're not really present and you don't really have all of the
information and all of the factors on a tough decision, not much that somebody who isn't involved can really do to be helpful. so apart from his dad with whom he spoke often but i think ra rarely about business, i don't think he talked all that much with his predecessor. he enjoyed talking to president clinton, especially in the later years of his presidency. in particular, i remember, in the 2008 campaign, by political else inty, president bush was sign lined. we had the democratic and republican candidate running against the incumbent. bush understood that. no bitterness or complaint.
it was frustrating for him actively engaged in political campaigns most of his adult life to be on the sidelines. he's a political pro. he loves a good campaign. in the '08 campaign, he would periodically call up 42, president clinton and just talk politics with him. they both seemed to enjoy it. they sustained a good personal relationship. into their post presidencies. >> did they chew you out for anything? >> sure all the time in his own way. he's not a mean guy. he's a tough guy. i don't know what the opposite of mean is, but he's the opposite of it. he's the kind of guy when he chews you out, it's for a purpose. you know it's not personal. and you know he's still supporting you and cares for you. so he's a very good boss in that
respect. 1 one thing to get chewed out, a part of the schedule in the clip you ran. he considered being late is the greatest discourtesy and arrogance to other people. if you put him in a position where he ended up being late, you would hear about it. where you know we worked very hard to make sure that didn't happen. the only circumstance i remember president bush regular lip running later was when he would
have meetings with the families of the fallen. that's the only time he would insist on it was going to be a 30-minute meeting, it's going be 29 minutes. we scheduled ample time, but if they wanted to talk and share remembrances of the -- of the soldier they lost, he was going to stay there with them for as long as he thought they needed -- he'd often weep with them. and that -- those segments which we usually did at the end of a visit to any city around the u.s. the way it worked is that if the president was going out to, you know, chicago or des moines or any place, we would get the
pentagon to send us the names of the fallen within a certain radius and extend invitations to come speak with the president when the scheduled were done. we learned early on you couldn't do it in the front of the schedule, both because of the time factor and because it was emotional. it was hard for him to switch gears and get back to a rousing education event. >> did you have a moment when he was visiting and the person he was talking to got hostile to him? >> yes. it didn't happen often, but it happened regularly. with respect to the families or the families of the fallen. and the president handled it well. that's one reason he was doing those meetings is that he felt like it was his responsibility to hear from people. who's from the -- from the folks who had made the ultimate
sacrifice. they had sacrificed a family member. and he thought he should hear from them. now, overwhelmingly, people were very supportive and the message at least in the sessions that i saw most commonly was, you know, my husband, my son, my wife loved their job and loved serving their country. and were committed to the cause in which you sent them. please don't let them die in vain. >> what would be done in anybody was hostile? did anybody have to get in the middle of that? >> i never saw that. the president is never more than a few feet away from a secret service agent. you never put the president in a situation of physical danger. but even where people were angry
and you can understand when somebody lost a loved one and they, you know, they'd -- they're in grief and they don't understand why it happened, and that have somebody to blame because the guy that sent their loved one to harm's way is sitting right in front of them you. can see where they would see it. it's not a surprise that folks would get hostile. but i don't think there's ever a situation where he was in physical danger. the surprise to me is how rarely that happened. that the messages were usually those of warmth and support. >> we see presidents all the time meeting with world leaders. i always wanted to ask, and i never do for some reason. how often did the leader?
did the foreigner speak english? >> no. >> they would have to speak through interpreters. they developed a good rapport. it was much -- this is surprising to me. i would have thought it would be really hard to develop any kind of rep or interpreter. in many cases, president bush did manage. one of the cases with putin was who increasingly were at logger heads and bush was never gentle in their conversations. always friendly and respectful. but he would come right to the point which created some difficult conversations between them. but they had a good personal rapport even having to go through an interpreter. there are a number of leaders who, you know, spoke good english, but still always had an interpreter present. >> remember one? >> yeah, angela merkel with her
president bush had a great relationship. she's terrific in private as well as public. very thoughtful, smart. and genuine kind of person in mush the same way that president bush is. so they developed a real rapport. her english is very good. but not perfect. so she always when they would talk or when they did video conversations which they did every few weeks during the time i was chief of staff, she would have the interpretive with her. but the interpreter had nothing to do except when angela merkel would get caught on a word. >> what do they do the video conversations? >> the situation room. and president bush did them in my tenure, he did them regularly with tony blair, gordon brown. act la merkel, and prime minister malachi from iraq.
especially our military commander and ambassador in baghdad? >> did prime minister maliki. >> no. it was hard to establish a rapport. they made a good effort at it. the distance in language and in culture is pretty hard to bridge under those circumstance. >> you hear the president has been talking with foreign leaders. what's the process?
prime minister x. it's fairly scripted event. and the -- it's -- you know, it's set up a day or two at least a day or two in advance. somebody briefs the president on what it is -- if it's a u.s.-initiated call, here's what you can say to this person and what you want to get out of them. and the prime minister of
whatever is getting a similar briefing on the other end. so they -- it's usually a fairly scripted call that has the substantive purpose of underscoring a message which could be delivered through subordinates but probably has been. when the president itself does it comes with extra force and it has the political and public relations benefit of having to be done leader to leader. you can say it was done that way. >> let's say there's not an emergency but things have to move fast and he needs to talk to somebody like a -- like a president putin, how you put it together fast and where do you get the interpreter? >> there are state department interpreters for every language on call at all times. >> all times? >> the president had his favorites. he had his favorite in russian
language. favorite in spanish. he might ask for that particular interpreter. he sometimes played a substantive role. i'll come to that in a second. they live in the d.c. area. they're on call. if you're travelling to that country, you bring interpreters with you who you know and trust. trust usually. >> as we sit here, there's somebody in all of those languages on call? >> at the state department, sure. i hope the state department makes sure, especially in times of international tension like this they have an expert in every important language who's
not in the office by their phone ready to jump in when needed. you do have to be able to make that call quickly. talking about the substantive role, i've seen occasions where a very good interpreter won't just interpret the words that the other leader said, he will at a break or beforehand maybe after say something to the president about he was really mad. it's hard to tell in another language but say he's really upset. he's -- i think he's thinking of walking out or something like that. often very good intelligence for the president -- president bush has great emotional intellige e
intelligence, perception of what someone is thinking and feeling in a moment. that's hard to pick up in different languages. keep interpreters, one who did a lot of arab language conversations would tell him more than the exact words that the other leader was saying. >> how many preparation and how does it go to work that he goes to meet with a foreign leader, dinner. maybe he's never met him before. how long does that process take? >> who does it? often an elaborate process. coordinated by the national security council staff. director or senior director for every region and country. they will be drawing, briefing papers and background
information from the state department, from the defense department, from all of the relevant agencies of government. to put into briefing materials for the president. so when the president went off on a foreign trip, let's say he's off though the g-20 where it's jam packed with world leaders, many of whom the president will sit down with one-on-one at the margins of the meeting. a real guts of media like g-8 or g-20, it's not what happens around the table. but the one-on-ones that happen around that meetling. so the president will take off on air force one with a briefing book that's this fat with materials about each of them. president bush was studio. rarely wrent to a meeting with him where he had not read the briefing materials. staff knew not to overload him.
he knew the book was going to be this big. you think the most important country you're writing ant is the most important one you. have to be respectful. he read the briefing papers, often ignored him. they often told him to try to raise ten issues but he knew better than to try to race ten issues with vice president peweden at that moment. at moment. so he exercised an amount of independent judgment about how to raise them. he got detailed reading materials on every meeting going forward. he would rarely sit down with a world leader saying here are the top two or three things i want to fix. >> who had direct access? who could go to the oval office? and who managed -- who had
access by phone and if you had -- if you could go through the door. >> we were never formal about that. as a procedural matter, generally with exception of a select few, you want to see the president, you need the approval of the next chief of stuff. so if some random person called up and said i want to see the president, the call would come down to me, and i would have to determine whether it was something you needed to raise for the president or send off to somebody else. >> what if it was a cabinet officer? >> they come to me as chief of staff. they say i would like to visit with the president. >> what if he doesn't want the visit? >> never had a circumstance where the president said no. there may have been circumstances where i would say not a good time or they would tell me what they're coming in about. and i would say, can we have one
meeting before we visit the president. i think we can tee it up here better, maybe even resolve it. >> who had direct access? karl rove and condy rice. >> you just named them. steve hadley. >> press secretary? >> yes, the press secretary would wander in. but rarely would anyone wander in without alerting the chief of staff.
that's one of the functions of the chief of staff is to know everything that anybody tells the president and more importantly, anything that the president says back. so karl might wander in to talk, gossip about politics or something. they were very close. and that's not necessarily something that karl or the president would say, you know, get the chief down here for that. most other conversations would call me and say so and so was just about to go in. and i'd usually -- i would -- if i didn't happen to be anywhere near the oval office. if i didn't do anything in the oval office at the moment, i would walk down just to be there for my conversation. >> the first time i wanted to ask you about the omb clearance
process and you looked at me i was the wonk of the century. >> i don't feel like a wonk. >> i want to bring it up because i don't think anybody understands it. as an outsider looking in, a very powerful place to be. if someone in the cabinet or the agency wants to start a piece of legislation, they have to come to the omb process, that's what it used to be. is that the case when you were there. what kind of power does the director have in getting a piece of legislation all the way up to the president to be signed on the hill. >> it was the case. more extreme than you just described. not just if a cabinet officer wants to propose a piece of legislation. if a cabinet officer wants to commend on a -- on somebody else's piece of legislation, that document has to come through the clearance proo.m.d. it's less daunting than i think
you made it sound. makes perfect sense. the second tif branch of government is vast. millions and billions of employees, dozens of departments and agencies through -- no malice on the part of the cabinet officer, they may have a point of view not shared by other people in the government. that process exists to make sure there's a consistency of policy and statements. i think most people would be surprised at how small the policy apparatus of the white house is. people who have policy responsibility on the white house staff itself is only a few dozen in domestic and economic
policy, somewhat larger on the nfc staff. but it's not fast. and so those people those few dozen people don't have the resources to monitor what the government is doing at any point in time. omb is a big professional agency within the white house. but it's 500 really high quality, experienced employees. 475 of whom are career employees who are used to the process who know the issues going back a long way don't change with administrations and don't come and go with the political winds. and having them as the centerpiece, the fulcrum of government makes great sense.
most cabinet officers would say it wasn't a -- it wasn't a big impediment. in some cases, a help in getting the views expressed. >> seems like if you look back over to what we're talking about, you were omd director. there's a spot where you could influence the flow of serious legislation. you were chief of staff and you're in a position where people get into the oval office or don't based on whether you say so. and you go back to the fact that you hired tony snow once you got in there and you were responsible for hank pallson. did you feel all of that responsibility in those different jobs? and when you walked out of there, was it thank goodness it's over or gee, i had a lot of fun. >> neither one of those. neither of those. i was well aware of the
responsibilities i had as budget director and otz chief of staff. so i was cognizant of that every day. but the burden did not seem heavy to me at the time. it just seemed part of my job. one of the reasons is we were blessed in the bush white house of having a very supportive team environment. very little struggle. very little from ainging going on inside the bush white house. it's a tone set from the top. if you're going -- if you're going into that kind of circumstance with a lot of really good supportive people around you, the burdens coming from the outside look way less.
>> somebody says i'm going be the chief of staff to change things to make it look better, what would you say? >> well, for the present administration or -- >> just in general, what would your advice be if you're going to write a book? >> advice to the generic chief. >> make sure you're in charge. and president bush gave me that mantle of authority at the outset, which is -- which is critical. i mean, there's a lot of competing forces in the white house. a lot of differing views with a lot of big personalities with a lot of responsibilities themselves. >> would you say a lot ofe goes. >> sure. >> that goes with the high quality people that should be in jobs like cabinet jobs. those folks usually are the best
of their kind and that often comes with a commence rate ego. so the chief of staff for the benefit of the president needs to be fully empowered and in charge. not necessarily to make the decisions. the big decisions belong to the president. to run the process to make it possible for the president to make good decisions based on the advice of all of the people. and to preserve the ability for the president to make the decisionings. that's number one. number two, in part to be sure that the president is in fact the one making the decisions, the advice i've given now to several of my successors is try to keep the nonpresidential issues away from them.
that is try to promote consensus. try to be a catalyst for making the advisors and the cabinet agree on a path. on issues that are not truly presidential. and on issues that are presidential, do the reverse. that is trigger and draw out the disagreement. because what happens often when people come in to the oval office is they shave the edges off of their argument. they don't want to be bringing a tough decision to the president. they don't want to appear to be argue meant tif or a bad colleague for their counterpart on the other side of the cabinet table. so the president often gets shaved at vice with rounded edges. that disserves the president and only the chief of staff can intervene and say, mr. president, this person is -- has a stronger disagreement than
they're letting on and i want to encourage you to make the full argument that i heard you make in the -- in the pre meeting that we had a little while ago. the chief of staff could be a foemter of disagreement in front of the president. if you don't, you're denying the president the opportunity to make the most important decisions. >> why have you not written a book? have you thought about doing that? >> i never seriously thought about it. i don't write easily. i don't -- infind that many books that were written by folks like me tend to be self-justifications or score settling. that's not true of several of the books that have come out of the bush administration which i admire. so i always felt like, you know, i don't really have that much to
contribute in a book, especially when you have an opportunity to talk with brian lam. >> do -- do you keep a diary? >> no. and you have to be very cautious about that. when you're in a senior government role. because it's a bit of a murky area. but anything that you commit to writing that you at least that you share with anyone else, becomes an official record of the executive office of the president. and it -- you lose it as your own property and it becomes the property of the federal government and it becomes maybe discoverable in litigation. certainly requestble by a congressional committee. there's probably stuff that if you were writing an honest diary, you wouldn't want to put down that you would want in the
diary as a memory of what happened but that you wouldn't want to be immediately disclosed in a congressional hearing. >> to your knowledge, does president obama talk very often with president bush? >> not very often is my sense. they have a cordial and respectful relationship. but for some reasons i described earlier, it's hard for a former president to be of much really useful substantive advice because they're not -- they're not in the flow of all of the information. president obama has called president bush periodically at important moments when they were about to take down osama bin laden, that kind of thing. but i don't -- it hasn't been a wide flow of communication.
i don't think it reflects at all a lack of cordiality or a lack of respect. anything, president bush said his admiral reticence in speaking out publicly is part of the appreciation he faces. >> before we close it down. this is the second. went to the same score that al gore went to. a bunch of other people. went to princeton, used to be deputy of chief of staff. works in the trade office for a while. omd director. chief of staff, 2006-2009. last thing, what are you doing now? >> i have my own consulting firm here in d.c. immediately after service, i went off and talked for two years at alma mater prince ton, a fabulous experience and a good
way to come out of political servant is to try to teach about it. it helps the students and the teacher. consolidation what they know. but now i have a small consulting firm that back here in dc, that provides me the lucks i can of getting paid to think about and talk about some of the same issues i thought were so interesting in a published career. >> we're out of time. would you serve government again? >> i don't expect to. >> thank you, joch bolten. >>. [ applause ]