George W. Bush: The Interview
Salvatore: Mrs. Bush, where do you feel you've taken the role of First Lady in the first four years and where do you want to take it in the next four if you are, in fact, in the White House again? What would you like your legacy to be about?
Mrs. Bush: About education. That's my lifelong interest. I made a decision to be a teacher when I was in the second grade. I like children. I like to be around children. And I want the very best for American children. I also think that education is the single most important factor in making sure our world is free, that our country is prosperous, and that our people can live satisfying lives. And so that's what I would hope people would remember me for -- my interest in the idea of lifelong learning, not just for children, but for everyone.
President Bush: I also think she'll be remembered because during the attacks on our country, Laura was such a calm and reassuring voice to people. She encouraged people to talk to their children during this very traumatic time. I also know the effect she's had on women in places like Afghanistan, and my hope would be in the second term that the situation would be such that Laura could go to Afghanistan and speak to the millions of women who know that she cares about their freedom and rise above some traditions that kept them essentially enslaved to a backward philosophy. She one time did the presidential address by radio, speaking to Afghan women, and the response was really powerful. I can't tell you the number of people who've gone to Afghanistan, not the least among them Karen Hughes [Counselor to the President], and they say that people are really anxious for Laura to go because she represents such a strong symbol of the best of America.
Salvatore: Some questions about the character of the American people for both of you. What one feature do you find the most distressing about American culture today, and the most noble?
Mrs. Bush: Well, the most noble is how generous, how decent, Americans are. I met with a group of Afghan teachers who lived in Nebraska. The University of Nebraska has a big Middle Eastern department, so they had Afghan women come to train to be teachers so that they could go back home to Afghanistan and train teachers there. They lived with families in Nebraska, and you know what those families are like -- such solid American values in the heartland of our country. And those Afghan women were very surprised at how generous and how kind and how solid these families were.
President Bush: I'd say the most disappointing thing about Americans is that we don't exercise enough, that a lot of disease could be prevented from just walking 20 minutes a day.
Salvatore: There's always a lot of discussion about the characteristics of the baby-boomer generation. When you both think about the generation that your daughters belong to, what contribution do you think they will ultimately make to the American fabric?
Mrs. Bush: I know that they're very idealistic. I know that they want to do good things for their country and for their neighbors. I hear from young women and young men who are about to graduate college that all of them want to make a good impact on their country and the world and they want to help in whatever way they can. They are not particularly materialistic, maybe because they grew up with a lot of affluence themselves. One good example is the huge number of young people who apply to Teach for America, so many that they have to turn down a huge number of very qualified young people who want to teach in inner cities or underserved schools.