President George Bush is a true believer and certainly not afraid to share his faith with anyone, however, he believes actions speak louder than words. by Randy Hill
The following interview took place with President Bush at the Governor's Mansion in Austin, Texas, while President Bush was still the Governor.
Question: We heard that you were at a press conference at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Jester II Unit, and that the inmates sang "Amazing Grace."
George Bush: They did, and I jumped in line. I loved the song, and I was moved by the Spirit. I got in line with the prisoners and sang "Amazing Grace," because it happens to be my favorite hymn. The next day in the Houston Chronicle, there was a picture of me and one of the inmates, who happened to be in prison for murdering his common-law wife. He had been there for 19 H years, and it made me realize a couple of things. First, if people change their heart, they can also change their attitude. Second, in order for the Jester II program to be successful, there has to be Bible study not only within the prison, but also outside the prison. There has to be a church family willing to accept inmates like this man I mentioned. He will need help readjusting to a society that has changed dramatically over the last 19 H years. The whole experience was very moving.
Question: We heard you were involved in a small Bible study in Midland, TX.
GB: Yes, Midland Community Bible Study. I was raised as a Christian, and attended church, but my walk hasn't always been steady throughout my life. In the mid 1980's, I had a chance encounter with Billy Graham at my family's home, in Maine. Billy Graham's presence and his kind words caused me to recommit myself to Christ. People say, "Well, how did that happen?" The only thing I can say is, God was working through Billy Graham. I got into the Bible, something I really had never done as a youth, and I started going to community Bible studies in Midland, TX. A lot of my friends also attended, and it was a wonderful experience and changed my life. I have since read the Bible a lot.
People ask me all the time, "What were your life-changing experiences?" Well, clearly the encounter with Billy Graham and the subsequent recommitment to religion, but also marrying, having children, and also getting lectured by my mother. I believe in the power of prayer. I think my role as the governor is to live a life that people say, "He lives a life that reflects his religious belief." I think it's very important for me to let my actions speak louder than my words. I never want to use the bully pulpit of my office to promote one religion or another. My job is really to encourage religious people to become involved in the process.
Question: It must have been very powerful meeting Billy Graham.
GB: Well, I've had more than one meeting with Billy - I've had several meetings. He actually came and delivered the prayer at my inauguration (as Governor), and he is a family friend. I view him as a life changer. That chance encounter was powerful to the point where I recommitted myself to Christ. That's about as powerful as it gets. He's an interesting and decent guy. I mean, he's a wonderful man. He is a hero, and should be for all of us.
Question: What is the proudest achievement you have made as governor?
GB: I think stylistically I have said to Texas that there is a time for politics, and there is a time for policy. I know the difference between the two. The time for politics is when people run for election. The time for policy is to focus on what's right for Texas, whether it be education or welfare reform, encouragement for faith-based organizations, or good, criminal justice policy. In Washington D.C., there seems to be zero sum politics - the "I win, you lose" politics. Here in Texas, the tone is, "Let's figure out what's best for Texas, share credit, and get along."
A lot of people who are elected officials don't agree with me, and I understand that, but my job is not to figure out where we disagree, but where we do agree so we can do what's right for Texas. That's style, I think. It is better to unite than divide. You can't be a leader unless you have a vision, and a capacity to unite people to go towards that vision. There are some in the political process who like to divide people, but you can't lead by dividing. People won't follow a divider.
I think that my biggest legislative accomplishment (I think there have been several) is that we've slowed the rate of growth of the government, which means people can keep more of the money that they earn. I believe our education reforms are the leading edge for the United States. I believe education...well, I like to say it this way: education is to a state, what national defense is to the federal government. Education is our top priority. Signing the Senate Bill, which is education reform, will be the biggest landmark of my administration.
Question: I know our readers would like to know what the First Family does for entertainment and recreation.
GB: I am a avid exerciser - I run every day. I love to fish, and occasionally play golf. I'm not very good at it, but I play. I'm an avid reader, and my wife is a walker and an avid reader as well. One of our favorite pastimes is to go to our lakehouse in Athens, and get away from everything. We find great peace and tranquility there, and I love to fish when we're there.
Question: What's one thing, public or private, that you would like people to know that nobody else has asked about or printed?
GB: I think the most important thing that people have got to know is that as I think about my future, I am not concerned about public polls or focus groups or titles. I am most concerned about my family; I care more about the security, health and happiness of my family than anything else. It's hard for people to realize that, in this day and age of hope and speculation.
I'll tell you another thing that people don't know about me, and probably won't believe, I've never taken a poll on public policy matters. I've never ran a poll to figure out what I believe. I have taken a poll to determine where I stood relative to a political campaign, or how I was perceived relative to my opponent, but for the first 3 1/2 years of my administration I never took a poll. Why do you need the poll to know what you believe? Either you believe something, or you don't, and I've done what I think is right. Sometimes people agree with it, and sometimes they don't.
I think people have come to realize that I'm a pretty straight-talking fellow, who's got a set philosophy, and I'm willing to lead. I'm not willing to shirk any responsibility, and I'm not afraid to make decisions.
Copyright 2001. True Believer Christian arts, entertainment & lifestyle magazine. Used by permission. www.truebeliever.com