tv Andy Card Discusses Inauguration Day Transition at the White House CSPAN January 22, 2017 3:35pm-4:00pm EST
i feel that it is really important to go through the effort to bring history to the people. nothing quite explains history the way visual imagery does. i think, without that visual imagery, people might lose a bit of the connection that they have to our history. i feel like this is not only a great learning tool, but also a place where people can explore and learn and see what's come before them. beliefme assert my firm that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. >> this weekend come on american artifacts, we visit the national archives to see how they are making high-resolution digital copies of 10 of president franklin d roosevelt's most important speeches. here's a preview. next, a conversation with
andrew card, former white house chief of staff -- chief of staff for president bush. he talked about white house and west wing inauguration day activities, both practical and ceremonial. he shared his observations of past presidential transitions. this is about 20 minutes. >> having served three republican presidents, walk through the final 24 hours of the outgoing president. what is going through his mind? what is happening inside the white house? differencere is a between a president who leaves because he lost his bid for reelection and he leaves because the constitution prevents his reelection. i was a part of both. when president george h.w. bush and the white house welcomed president-elect clinton into the white house, it was very different because george
h.w. bush really didn't want to leave. >> the mechanics inside the white house, what is going on? andrew: the white house is getting ready for the president. there is only one president at a time. they try to have that transition completed by noon time. they are usually little bit late, but they also start a little bit early so that the white house itself pretty quickly after the staff leaves their last day of real work, people run around, change furniture, change locks. they paint walls. rugs, change new the paintings in the oval office to fit what the new president wants. they said at the table and put the family pictures in the background. it is a flurry of activity. the muster medically for me was smelling the paint drying in the oval office just before the new president is about to come in. so the outgoing president is
kind of seeing that which was their domain being readied for someone else. and it's a little bit sad. it's also a chance for celebration, because you can say what a fabulous experience it was to be here. but this wasn't my office. this was the people's office. this was the white house. this doesn't belong to me. and it was a great privilege to be there. i think there's tremendous pride. there is probably, for george h.w. bush, it was, like, darn it, i wish i had done a better job campaigning or maybe i wish i had done this. but i'm going to do it right because he was so noble. the white house itself becomes an empty catacomb. it's amazing how there's no noise. there's nobody walking around. the only noise is the quiet noise of those coming into change carpets or to get ready
to paint the walls. so the west wing of the white house is pretty bare on the last hours of a president's presidency. steve: let's talk about the farewell. with president reagan and with both president a still be bush and george w. bush, what was it like for them? what was it like for their farewells, for the staff, in the final 24 to 36 hours? andy: they start about the divide. offers to come to the oval office and take pictures and sugar hands. very a lot of subgroups meeting. it's kind of a reunion. they bring back sometimes former staffers. and then they will welcome families in for pictures. and than the 24 hours before, those are already done, so the
goodbye parties have happened. there will be one more probably it andrews air force base and they will invite everybody to .ome in and say goodbye saysormer president goodbye and he gets on the plane leaves and the vice president says goodbye. and those are teary, but they are also determined a celebration because the , it's theof reunions first reunion, the first reunion of those people who helped their president do under normal sleep day oflt job is on the the transition of power from one party to another party, one person to another person, whatever it is, and they celebrate with they did and they have a reunion right after the new person takes the oath of office. ronald reagan had left a letter for his successor, george herbert walker bush george bush
took it one step forward, a tradition that continues. talk about that and what that letter represents. i think the letters that presidents leave in the dust drawer in the overall office -- the oval office for the new president are letters of comfort and support. they are letters that reflect empathy. i have empathy for you. suddenly, there is a message you have -- you will have empathy for me. but it is really one of pride and congratulations and unique support. is unique support because i've been there. and i will support you.
steve: what did george w. bush right to barack obama? steve: i never sought -- andy: i never saw the letter he wrote to barack obama. it was a great time, but i did not get to see the letter that hero for barack obama. andy: the top about the morning of the inauguration. you know it's likely incoming and the outgoing administrations. walk us through the events as they unfold. andy: it starts than i before the inauguration when the president stays at the blair house. is treated with great respect by the staff. they are going to have a
briefing, which i think defines a presidency. it is done the night before or it never leaves the side of an aide who never leaves the president's presence. that is the code to the military weapons. a very sobering briefing because it is done without emotion. officer sayingan to a commander, if you need this, and you follow these rules you will implement what you have decided. not a committee. it's not a team. it is not a group. mr. president, when you take that oath of office, i will be by your side carrying this briefcase. and if you ever need to use it, we will make sure it is used.
i found that to be a very sobering thing for george w. bush to appreciate and to understand, and it puts in context the greatest burden that a president carries, that they as't talk about much president. they don't talk about it much during an inaugural address. but they realize that they really can't keep their oath of office without other people keeping their oath of office. and those people would put that other oath of office, promised to follow the command of the commander in chief. and there is no conditional clause to it. it doesn't say, if i voted for him or her, if i agree with him or her, if i respect him or her. i will follow the command of the commander in chief. and presidents come to realize quite quickly that sometimes, with the help that they need
from those people to keep their oath to the american people, there will be sacrifices made that no president would want to invite on anybody. but they become an obligation. happensmoment, which just before the president is going to be inaugurated, is a sobering moment. it puts the entire responsibility of being president into the ultimate context. then you go over to the white and you have tn crumpets with the president and the first family and a handful of staffers are there. the vice president would be there, the vice president elect would be there. a nice, warm,have welcoming kind of stand up brunch, getting ready to go to the capital. it's a joyous time.
it is one of you are going to love living here. you're going to meet the staff. it is a warm and inviting thing. i was privileged to be a part of that. i think the president and the president to be right in the same vehicle into the capital. what a great signal and symbol to the whole world. and then i think the next dramatic moment is, for everybody is back at the white house painting, putting up photographs, vacuuming the rugs, fixing the phones, making sure the west wing and the oval office is as the new president wanted to become a not as the old president had it, the president is being introduced to an audiencel that stretches as far as he can see. people, of thousands of including those that he will with members of
congress. and this is an event sponsored by article 1 in the constitution. it is sponsored by congress. and they are honoring the president. and that has got to be a phenomenal moment to realize, wow. thewhile the workers are at white house getting things ready, the chief justice of the supreme court steps up and invite you to come up and his wife do i do and you put your hand on the bible and eurasia right hand and you repeat an oath. but it's funny, i do not think presidents think much of their oath until they are met with responsibility that they have to keep it. as a think about the most important speech of my life after i put my hand down. the inaugural address.
they tends to be fully focused on the inaugural address. after the white house, there are lots of people from gsa. working at the white house to get its ready, painting the walls, putting photographs up, fixing the security telephones that the president can use it and that book comes a new shrine in an old building. a shrine to democracy that the world will close but to recognize. -- will come to recognize. when foreign leaders enter the office, they are moved by that office. not necessarily by the person who occupies it double but by the office of the presidency. steve: and then in the late afternoon, early evening, the new president is welcomed by the usher. and then he goes to the oval office. what do you remember about your time? and what is it like for the first time they enter the room?
andy: i will back up a little bit. the parade takes place on pennsylvania avenue. i remember george bush's parade. we had lunch. there were lots of hello's along the way. but in the reviewing stand, it was a cold, rainy, almost only day, i remember in aid coming up saying, would you like to warm up a bit and have hot chocolate? he turned and said, "no, everybody who marches in the parade is paying respect to the president and the president will pay respect to them." we stayed until every single unit went by. i received a phone call from a janitor at the white house. he said, "mr. carter, would you card, would you like to
see the oval office and see if it is right for the new president?" i said, "i will be right over." my wife and i left and went through the reception area of washington crossing the delaware in the roosevelt room and went to the oval office. it might have been cold and dark outside but that room was bright and warm and inviting. and i walked in and there was a workman working on the secure phone and the desk. there was somebody else putting up the president's photographs behind the desk. there was somebody dusting around the photographs. and i went over and stood by the grandfather's clock and i was in awe. you could smell the painter drying. -- the paint still drying. it looked beautiful. and then i heard footsteps by the colonnade. the door opened up. in walked the new president. the truth is i should not have been there. he did not acknowledge me.
he just walked in and went and stood in the middle of the oval office. he was right on top of the seal of the rug, under the seal which is in the ceiling. right in front of the seal on the desk. and he is looking around the oval office. he goes behind the desk and sits in the chair. he rocks back in the chair and leans forward. then you hear footsteps of the colonnade. the door opened and the gentleman walks in and says "mr. president?" the president looks up and says, "mr. president," it was his dad. george w. bush, president bush, stood up behind the desk. came in front of it. the 41st president walked and stood in front of the desk. there they were standing on top of the seal, under the seal and in front of the seal. they were looking at each other. they both had tears.
they had tremendous mutual respect for the presidency. as well as for each other. it was a phenomenal moment and it kind of defined how i viewed the responsibilities that i had as chief of staff. respect of the presidency as much as they respected it. and it was so clear then that special place is where the presidency is defined and the burdens is carried and the obligations are met. steve: as you well know, nine months later, 9011 defined the -- 9/11 defined the bush presidency. how did it change much george w. bush view the transition to barack obama? and how has barack obama mirrored what george w. bush did for the trump administration? andy: nobody comes to office
wanting to be a war president. george bush was so far away from that when he took the oath of office. he was focusing on low expectations and no child left behind and getting the economy going after a mild recession. he was focused on domestic agenda. and he had a plan. but guess what? other things. 9/11 happened. he had to keep his oath of office. the burden was the oath of office. it did change the presidency. it also puts them in a position where he wanted to make sure it any president would recognize what it takes to meet that which you do not want to have to meet, and obligation. he made a commitment very early on to make sure you ever -- whoever succeeded him, whether after the first bid for reelection or after he cannot run again that the transition would be such they would be able
to meet the responsibility of the war whether they started it or came in after it. it could happen. he was committed to having a very good transition plan for his successor and he actually started it in his first term, pretty early in his first term and made plans so that we would not compromise the ability of his successor to meet the responsibilities that he found to be so awesome. steve: let me conclude with this question. does the president change the presidency or the presidency does or does the presidency change that person? andy: the presidency definitely changes the person. i would caution. i do not think the job of the president is to change the presidency but make sure the presidency is not damaged for any successor.
precedents is very important in the white house. the distinction between article one and article two in our constitution and article two and article three is stark. separate but equal. i know that every president that is tempted to be a party to be -- the erosion of some of the authority under article two. article one always wants you to give up something. it is like we can give up something and it will be all right. i do not want to see a president thinking i will change the presidency. no, i want you to protect the presidency for future presidents. use the presidency, understand it, have the courage to do what you think is right and where you have responsibility to do it and invite others to be a part of the solution where the closet to just says they must be part of
-- where the constitution says they must be part of the solution with you. i disagree a little bit with the premise of your question, but being president does change you. the greatest change comes in recognizing that the sooner you show up to work on your first full day as president, the number of easy decisions you get to make, it gets fewer and fewer and the number of tough decisions you have to make grow and grow and grow. it is the chief of staff's job to make sure the president does not waste his time making easy decisions. the president needs to make presidential decisions, not necessarily government decisions. steve: a successful chief, a successful staff does what in order to make the president successful? andy: everybody who works for the president, if you or a commissioned officer and their are assistants to the president and deputy assistants as special assistant to the president, all
very lofty titles and you get a fancy document, united states of america, your name and state and the president appoints you to this decision, you serve at the pleasure of the president for the time being. it is redundant. but as soon as you take the job, your real responsibility is not to please the president, it is to serve the president. if you take the job expecting to please the president all the time, you will not contribute to the success of the presidency. you have to not seek pleasure. you serve at pleasure. very important distinction. i would say the staff is there to help the president do an impossibly difficult job where there are never easy answers to the questions. you must be prepared with lots of different answers to every question.
to give the president lots of options to the extent possible discover unintended consequences before they show up and advise the president. i then help them communicate the decisions he makes to people who do have to carry out the policy. and those are the cabinet agencies, the department or -- i will say congress but coming an echo of support or u.n. or other -- i'm going to say congress becoming a net goal of support or u.n. or other world leaders. the white house really does not get to implement anything, they invite others to live to the president's expectations. steve: andy card, for your insight and stories, thank you very much. andy: thank you, steve. great to be with you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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