This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 15, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to the special edition of "Hannity." Now tonight, for the hour, the 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush joins us in studio.
Mr. President, it is an honor to have you here. Thank you for being here with us.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks.
HANNITY: And earlier this week the president's long awaited memoir "Decision Points" hit bookstores worldwide and in our studio audience tonight are some of the key figures who advised President Bush throughout his eight years in office.
Former White House chief of staff Andy Card, former White House press secretary Dana Perino, also former counsel to president, Karen Hughes, and former national security advisor, Steve Hadley.
I want to thank all of you for being with us tonight. And I'm sure your --
HANNITY: Your boss is happy to see all of you as well.
Mister President, it's -- well, first of all, you've become a little bit like a rock star. So you start your book tour and you had people sleeping overnight outside a bookstore in Dallas and thousands and thousands of people. You've --
BUSH: I was -- I signed about 2,400 books. And I couldn't thank people enough for showing an interest. And I appreciate it.
My objective is to explain what it is like to be the president of this great country. And I -- you know I fully understand some people agree with the decisions I made and some of them didn't. But nevertheless if they read the book they'll have a sense of why.
I've read a lot of history prior to the presidency and during the presidency. And I realized that it just takes time for the true history of any administration to show up. And there's no need to try to shape it.
I've tried to explain my view of history. At least the eight years in which I was in the White House. But eventually objective historians will come and analyze the decisions that my administration make and the results of those decisions more importantly.
I feel great. Thank you. You know I really don't miss the limelight. I do miss being pampered.
BUSH: I actually had to drive through traffic to get to the studio.
BUSH: And I miss being the commander-in-chief. I love our military. I cannot tell you, and I hope people get a sense of it in the book about how my respect for the military grew during my presidency. And I love military families as well. And I'm glad some people I got to know during my presidency in the military are with us today.
HANNITY: Well, we're going to get to them in the course of this. You have been reluctant, and as a matter of fact almost unwilling. When we were in Crawford, you were kind of laughing at me a little bit because I was prodding a little bit and poking.
A lot has happened in two years since you've left office.
HANNITY: You -- it seems that you are -- you just do not want to weigh in on current affairs. Why?
BUSH: Because, first of all, I'm trying to regain a sense of anonymity, which I know is impossible. But nevertheless it's worth the effort. Secondly I don't think it's good for the country to have a former president criticizing his successor.
If I were to weigh in, people would want to know my views of the man who succeeded me. And I don't think it's good. I really don't. I don't think it's good for the institution of the presidency. I fully recognize that -- as well, that he's got plenty of critics. And I'm not suggesting you're one but --
HANNITY: No, no.
HANNITY: No, not me.
BUSH: I'm going to do what I think is comfortable. And not being out there opining and bloviating makes me comfortable.
HANNITY: You know, I just -- maybe it's my background, and I grew up in New York. And every once in a while I guess if I was listening to criticism, blame Sean Hannity, because a lot of people do. Or people that blame Bush, I think it would be a natural temptation at some point to want to hit back. But you don't want to.
BUSH: I really don't. I -- you know, first of all I've been in politics a long time and I've seen all kind of tactics. And it's just a tactic I don't -- I didn't choose when I was president. And I don't -- I just don't feel any need to.
Frankly, I don't pay that much attention to it. You know, I'm not saying my wife doesn't pay attention to it. But --
HANNITY: Do you -- as you see, we just came through a historic election.
HANNITY: I mean, biggest number of House seats changing hands in the midterm elections, 70 years, 10 governorships, 682 legislative seats changed hands. Massive statement by the American people.
What do you think happened on election night?
BUSH: Well, you know, I had -- I've got a unique perspective on these off-year elections since I went through two of them as president. In 2002 I felt the election was about whether or not my administration was taken the right measures to protect the country and the people said yes.
So we picked up seats. The only administration to have done so since Franklin Roosevelt. And 2006 was a little different story. In the book, I've talked about this a little bit. And people are kind of tired of me. And I understood that.
I mean the truth of the matter is after you've been on somebody's TV screen for six years they tend to get tired of you. And secondly, the Iraq war -- not you, but me.
BUSH: They love you.
But the Iraq war wasn't going well, plus our party had lost its way. We had sex scandals, we had bridges to nowhere. We had an opportunity to reform Social Security and Republicans balked.
And the people were tired of it. And so we got thumped, as I said. Same thing happened in 2010. The American people took a look, didn't like what -- didn't like what they were seeing and they came out to vote.
And I think that -- you know, even though I was on the losing end in 2006, it's a healthy process for people to show up and express their will. And things changed.
HANNITY: You've very open in this book. Your first chapter, you talk about your life, your personal life. And you tell the story about how your wife Laura asked you the question, can you remember the last time you ever had a drink?
HANNITY: And you answer, of course I can. And then?
BUSH: I couldn't.
BUSH: Drinking had become a habit. I have a habitual personality. You know I was -- smoked a lot. And then in order to get off cigarettes I had to go to Copenhagen. In order to get off Copenhagen I had to go to Beach Nut. In order to get off Beach Nut I had to go to cigars.
BUSH: And the same thing was happening, you know, with alcohol.
BUSH: It was all right before I didn't have any responsibilities. It was all right to be kind of carefree and drinking. Then all of a sudden I became a husband and a dad, and I realized that alcohol was becoming -- was competing for my affections.
And so when Laura said, can you tell me the day which you had a drink? This is after a period of time in which she had become concerned about my drinking. I began -- and her statement got me more concern. And I began to focus and the truth of the matter is I grew up and realize there are certain responsibilities in life that you have to assume.
And the -- and so the reason I tell that story is twofold. One, I want people to understand the person who made the decision to run for president, and secondly I hope someone reads that book, realizes that he or she can quit drinking.
HANNITY: And upon that decision, all future decisions were made including every one as president. You said it wouldn't have been happened but for that decision.
BUSH: Well, I wouldn't have been president. And I'm confident. Because I do tell a couple of stories in there about how alcohol loosened my tongue.
HANNITY: What was -- you tell one in particular about -- if you want to tell it. It was a -- you were at a dinner with your mom and dad. And you blurted out --
BUSH: And my wife. And I had been drinking. No question I was drunk. And I said to this beautiful woman sitting next to me, what is sex life after 50? Yes. And nobody laughed at the table. And --
BUSH: And, you know, needless to say my parents were mortified, and Laura was furious. My brothers and sister were kind of stared at their food. I woke up the next day with the remorses.
BUSH: And called the woman, apologized, and on my 50th birthday I got a note from her. She said, "Dear Governor, well?"
BUSH: The reason I tell the story is that, you know, I also put in there, you know, I had my daddy's eyes and my mother's mouth. And that alcohol would take that kind of bluntness and/or the quipster and turn it in to something that really was not attractive.
And I tell the story of myself to set up the case to the reader for me, for the reader to understand I needed to quit.
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