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C-SPAN Video Conference #2: Andrew Card

Copyright: rawstory.com

“It was a misunderstood administration that had the undeniable courage to make tough decisions.”

This was how Andrew Card answered the first question of , “What did you think about the Bush administration?” during the C-SPAN video conference.

On April 7 Card joined Steve Scully, political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and participating students from George Mason University, Purdue University and the University of Denver for a live video conference.

Card, who is the former chief of staff for George W. Bush, had a lot of insight on the inner workings and difficult jobs he faced over his six years in this position.

He started off by speaking about the tragic morning of September 11, 2001 in which he uttered ths famous words to President Bush of: “A second plane has hit the second tower. America is under attack.”

He explained his thought process in choosing what exactly to say to the president. 1) He asked himself  “Does the president need to know?” 2) Make sure his statement wouldn’t elicit a question.

He talked about how this was an unprecedented moment and how it was extremely rare to interrupt the President during an event, as he was speaking to second graders at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota County, FL.

I was cool, calm, collected and objective on 9/11. I tried to not let my emotions take over me and focus on the job at hand,” said Card.

He talked about how this was the day that changed him and President Bush forever. It made him grounded and put a new focus on his faith.

In the days following this tragic event, he explained how September 14, 2001 became the most memorable day as Chief of Staff. Referred to as the “Bullhorn Speech“, President Bush gave an unscripted speech on the site of Ground Zero that Card described as showing “passion, concern and resolve.”

Card then went on to discuss a “typical day” on the job:

  • At his desk by 5:30 a.m.
  • First document he read everyday was the Presidents Daily Brief, which is one of the most secret documents.
  • Read economic and domestic news.
  • Looked at his locator box which informed where the President, Vice President, their children and First Lady were (6:45-7:00 a.m)
  • He got to greet the President every morning and tell him his agenda.

“You kind of become a vampire,” explained Card. “You are required to do work in the middle of the night and my job wasn’t done until I knew the President was asleep.”

When asked about the challenges of his job, he simply chuckled with, “Giving information to the President”. He then went on to explain that he had to “give him everything he needs, but not necessarily what he wants.” Card explained how he always ensured that he gave President Bush the time he needed to be prepared to make a decision.

“If the President makes an easy decision, then the Chief of Staff hasn’t done his job.” – Card

The conference concluded with some insight on what Card misses most about his position as Chief of Staff. These things included:

  • All the information he had and knew.
  • The fact that he knew more than the President.
  • The scary and serious information he was given.
  • Knowing that the enemy is real and that they plot and create danger.

Card explained how he obviously had to maintain a professional relationship with President Bush. He actually said to Bush that, “As long as I’m your Chief of Staff, I can’t be your friend.” He had to find the right balance and know that this relationship would lead way to a wonderful friendship in the future.

He ended things off my explaining how Bush Senior and former President Bill Clinton have become good friends. “Bush Senior is an good listener, Clinton is a good talker, and you put the two together and there’s a great friendship,” said Card.

As for Card, he now has that wonderful friendship with former President Bush and the experience of a lifetime to take with him.

The distance learning course, which is produced by C-SPAN, is a unique opportunity for students to interview guests via video conference. The course airs on C-SPAN3 on Fridays at 5 p.m. and also streams online here.

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