George W. Bush: Politics Is a Swamp and 'I'm Not Crawling Back In'

The former president went on to explain that he felt a moral responsibility to fight AIDS in Africa.

bush obama.jpg
Reuters

In a rare interview, former president George W. Bush explains his reticence to take part in American political debates and his work, both during and after his time in office, to fight AIDS in Africa.

On the subject of politics, he said that "eight years was awesome. I was famous and I was powerful, but I have no desire for fame and power anymore. I don't want to undermine our president, whoever the president is." In his view, "I think its bad for the presidency to have former presidents bloviating, opining, and telling people how it ought to be done." Nor does he want to play a major role in determining who gets elected. "I crawled out of the swamp, and I'm not crawling back in," he said. "I'm a supporter of Mitt Romney. I hope he does well. But he can do well without me."

Asked about AIDS in Africa, and why he made it a priority during his presidency and post-presidency, he said this:

In life you've got to set priorities. I also believe that a principle worth defending, which we'll defend at the Bush Center, is, 'To whom much is given, much is required.' I believe we're a blessed nation that therefore has a sense of responsibility to the extent we can to help others. In this case there was a pandemic destroying an entire generation of people. And I didn't see how I could be president of the most powerful and the richest nation and not lend our support to saving lives. It would have been unconscionable not to act.

The interview, conducted by Peter Robinson, can be viewed here and here.

Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Politics

Just In