HOH’s One-Minute Recess: Deep Thoughts With Dubya

Posted September 15, 2009 at 11:00am

Former President George W. Bush pretty much kept his personal thoughts about the 2008 presidential election to himself, backing Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) publicly while mostly staying out of the election limelight. But fortunately for gossip-hounds such as HOH, a new book reveals some juicy insight into Bush’s views of the nominees, including now President Barack Obama.

[IMGCAP(1)]Matt Latimer, a speechwriter for Bush from 2007 until the end of his term, has written a memoir on his time in the White House, titled “Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor.— And GQ magazine has published an excerpt from the tome in its new issue, which hits newsstands on Wednesday.

Latimer goes into depth about the Bush administration’s handling of the financial crisis, outlining the president’s reaction to the House’s initial rejection of the bailout. But the gossipy stuff comes when Latimer discusses Bush’s views of the 2008 presidential candidates, of whom he writes: “The president, like me, didn’t seem to be in love with any of the available options.—

• Bush on Obama: “He didn’t think much of Barack Obama. After one of Obama’s blistering speeches against the administration, the president had a very human reaction: He was ticked off. He came in one day to rehearse a speech, fuming, ‘This is a dangerous world,’ he said for no apparent reason. ‘And this cat isn’t remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you.’—

• Bush on McCain: “The president, who had quite a good political mind, was clearly not impressed with the McCain operation. I was once in the Oval Office when the president was told a campaign event in Phoenix he was to attend with McCain suddenly had to be closed to the press. The president didn’t understand why when the whole purpose of holding the event had been to show Bush and McCain together. … If the event was closed to the press, the whole thing didn’t make sense.

‘If he doesn’t want me to go fine,’ the president said. ‘I’ve got better things to do.’

Eventually, someone informed the president that the reason the event was closed was that McCain was having trouble getting a crowd. Bush was incredulous — and to the point. ‘He can’t get 500 people to show up for an event in his hometown?— he asked. … ‘This is a five-spiral crash, boys.’—

• Bush on then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.): “He always believed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. ‘Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk,’ he once said (except he didn’t say ‘keister.’)—

• Bush on then-Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.): “The president didn’t think much of Joe Biden, either. ‘Dana, did you tell them my line?’ the president once asked with a smile on his face. ‘No, Mr. President,’ Dana replied hesitantly. ‘I didn’t.’ He paused for a minute. I could see him thinking maybe he shouldn’t say it, but he couldn’t resist. ‘If bullshit was currency,’ he said straight-faced, ‘Joe Biden would be a billionaire.’—

• Bush on then-Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: “It was clear … that the president, ever the skilled politician, had concerns about the choice of Palin, which he called, ‘interesting.’ … ‘This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,’ he said. ‘She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let’s wait and see how she looks five days out.’ It was a rare dose of reality in a White House that liked to believe every decision was great, every Republican was a genius, and McCain was the hope of the world because, well, because he chose to be a member of our party.—

“Speech-less— hits bookstores on Sept. 22.

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