What The Bushes Will Miss About The White House

As part of StoryCorps' National Day of Listening project, Dorothy Bush Koch talks with her brother President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush. The project encourages people to sit down with a loved one on Nov. 28, the day after Thanksgiving, and record a meaningful conversation.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

We'd like you to think of tomorrow, the day after Thanksgiving, as a holiday of a different sort. Friday is the National Day of Listening.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: It comes from our friends at StoryCorps who record conversations between loved ones. And we'd like to encourage you to try the same thing on Friday that you've been hearing all week on this program. Today, we're going to hear George and Laura Bush, the president and first lady for a few weeks more. The first couple sat down with Mr. Bush's younger sister Doro Bush Koch, and the three of them spoke this month at a moment of change. Mrs. Bush had just shown the White House to incoming first lady Michelle Obama, and that got Mrs. Bush thinking about another White House tour, eight years earlier.

Ms. LAURA BUSH (First Lady): I remembered when Hillary Clinton had welcomed me here and how we'd gone on a tour of every single room, all the way through the residence upstairs. And we had even walked downstairs and opened the door to the Cross Hall, looked out, and tourists were all standing there with their mouths open, looking at both of us. But I did remember that she told me when we were in my upstairs dressing room, she said, I often look out this window, because your mother-in-law had said that she could see her husband over in the Oval Office, watched ceremonies that were going on in the Rose Garden. And so I told Mrs. Obama the same thing, that Mrs. Clinton had told me that, and that she could tell the next person who came the same thing.

Ms. DOROTHY BUSH KOCH: How do you see life shaping up for both of you after the White House?

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm sure I'm going to lose a lot of weight because Laura's going to be the cook.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BUSH: You're going to be the person grilling.

President BUSH: Then we're going to lose a lot of weight.

(Soundbite of laughter)

President BUSH: Frankly, I'm not going to miss the limelight all that much. It's been a fabulous experience to be the president.

Ms. KOCH: Right.

President BUSH: But it will be nice to see the Klieg lights shift somewhere else.

Ms. KOCH: What, Laura, will you miss most about the White House?

Ms. BUSH: Well, I'll miss all the people here a lot, all the people that work here in the White House, that work here from administration to administration, many of whom we knew from before when we would visit your parents. And then, I'll be frank, I'll miss the chef.

(Soundbite of laughter)

President BUSH: So will I.

Ms. KOCH: What about you, Mr. President? What will you miss most?

President BUSH: You know, I have really enjoyed the people with whom I work and, of course, will miss no traffic jams.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BUSH: Air Force One, everyone misses that.

President BUSH: Yeah, Air Force One. Camp David has been such a fantastic - there's a lot.

Ms. KOCH: Yeah. As president, one of the benefits for us has been that you all lived here in Washington, D.C., near us, and that you included us in so many wonderful historic events. I'm wondering if you'll miss us as much as we'll miss you.

President BUSH: Well, thank you. I'll make you feel better. No, we're not going to miss you at all.

(Soundbite of laughter)

President BUSH: Yes, we're going to miss you. Listen, the reason we had you around a lot was for selfish reasons. This is a job which, you know, obviously had a lot of stress to it. It has a lot of pressure. There's a lot of nice things said. There's a lot of bad things said. But when you're around your family, all that pales. And so, you didn't realize it, but you were therapeutic to your brother. And, yeah, we love having you, and of course we'll miss seeing you. On the other hand, they do have telephones now.

Ms. KOCH: And airplanes.

President BUSH: Yeah airplanes and email. And so we'll be only a couple of numbers away.

Ms. KOCH: That's good. Well, thank you.

President BUSH: Yeah, that's good.

Ms. KOCH: This has been a great conversation. I've enjoyed it a lot.

Ms. BUSH: Thanks Doro.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: That's President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush with the president's sister Doro Bush Koch. Their conversation will be archived along with all StoryCorps interviews at the Library of Congress. Remember, tomorrow is what we're calling the National Day of Listening, and if you are planning to interview someone for the National Day of Listening, you can find help and sample questions from StoryCorps at npr.org.

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