CBS’s Smith: No ‘Job Well Done’ on Bush Report Card
Reacting to President Bush’s Monday press conference, on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith remarked: "Not going to get a 'job well done'...on the report card, on the final report card." That observation was prompted by Republican strategist Ed Rollins declaring: "I think to a certain extent, we have a lot to be thankful to this president for his service, but he's not going to get a ‘great job’ from the American public."
Prior to that exchange, Rollins criticized Bush for being too confident: "...you saw a lot of confidence yesterday, he always was a man that was overly confident." Smith asked: "Did you say overly confident?" Rollins elaborated: "I think he’s overly confident. I think he’s overly confident about a lot of things. I – there was no humility there yesterday when you basically talk in terms of the ‘Mission Impossible’ [Referring to ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner] sign, at the same time he can't find weapons of mass destruction...You know, you also -- forget ‘Mission Accomplished,’ he flew in a jet, he had a pilot's outfit on, it was sort of the conquering hero."
Smith also spoke with former Bush advisor Dan Bartlett and used Rollins comments to ask: "Dan Bartlett, that whole 'Mission Accomplished' thing, there's been so many stories about that. The Navy said they did it, Scott McClellan said he was responsible. Who really was responsible for that?" Bartlett responded: "...yours truly was the guy who actually signed off from the people out on the air craft carrier...But the president didn't throw us under the bus, he took responsibility, and that's why he endears so much loyalty from people like myself and others who have worked for him."
Here is the full transcript of the segment:
JULIE CHEN: President Bush reflects on his eight years in office.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Clearly, putting a 'Mission Accomplished' on a air craft carrier was a mistake.
HARRY SMITH: Coming up next, President Bush, candid, emotional. What a range yesterday in that press conference. We're going to talk to Republican insiders about what he had to say.
HARRY SMITH: One week from today, President Bush leaves office. On Monday, he held his final news conference at the White House, offering a candid look back at the past eight years.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Clearly, putting a 'Mission Accomplished' on a air craft carrier was a mistake [Picture of Banner]...There have been disappointments, Abu Ghraib, obviously, was a huge disappointment during the presidency [Picture of Abu Ghraib]...Not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment. I don't know if you want to call those mistakes or not but they were -- things didn't go according to plan, let's put it that way...I thought long and hard about Katrina, you know, could I have done something differently, absolutely, but when I hear people say 'the federal response was slow,' what are they going to say to those chopper drivers or the 30,000 that got pulled off the roofs [Picture of Bush on Air Force One]...I believe the phrase 'burdens of the office' is over stated, yeah, it's kind of like 'why me?,' Oh, the burdens,' 'why did the financial collapse have to happen on my watch?' It's just -- it's pathetic, isn't it, self pity...I was affected by TV after the elections, when I saw people saying 'I never thought I would see the day that a black person would be erected president' and a lot of people had tears streaming down their cheeks when they said it. [Footage of Obama victory speech and Jesse Jackson crying] And so, I am -- I am -- consider myself fortunate to have a front row seat on what is going to be a historic moment for the country.
SMITH: Joining us, Dan Bartlett, former senior advisor to President Bush, and a CBS News consultant, and Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist. Good morning to you both.
ED ROLLINS: Good morning.
DAN BARTLETT: Morning, Harry.
SMITH: Dan, I want to start with you. You know this guy as well as anybody on this planet, worked so closely with him. When you watched this 46-minute news conference yesterday, what went through your mind?
BARTLETT: Wow. I mean, this was the guy I saw everyday in the Oval Office. And this was the type of person I think that a lot of Americans came to really enjoy to watch and the reason why they probably voted for him in 2000 and 2004. He really is an open book, Harry when you walk in-
SMITH: He was yesterday, that's what-
BARTLETT: a whole wide range of-
SMITH: I thought yesterday-
BARTLETT: He was-
SMITH: Because the window really opened yesterday in a way we hadn't seen in years.
BARTLETT: And that -- and the interesting thing is that's really how he is everyday in the Oval Office when he's going about doing his job. He's funny, he can get mad, he can be steadfast in his views. I'm just glad that the American people got a good glimpse of it hear at the -- in the final chapter of his presidency.
SMITH: One of the things that he talked about with such passion yesterday, at the end, was connecting the dots, that section where he said 'do you remember what it was like here after 9/11? And it -- he basically said the reason I did the things I did with the laws of this country, the reason there is a Guantanamo, the reason there is all of this stuff, is because that's my responsibility. We saw an answer to that question that I didn't think we'd ever seen before.
ED ROLLINS: I think this president has assumed those responsibilities in a very important way after 9/11. I think 9/11 obviously had a great impact on all of us. And I think that's the highlight of his presidency. I think lots of other things that he did, you saw a lot of confidence yesterday, he always was a man that was overly confident. The things-
SMITH: Did you say overly confident?
ROLLINS: I think he's overly confident. I think he's overly confident about a lot of things. I -- there was no humility there yesterday when you basically talk in terms of the 'Mission Impossible' sign, at the same time he can't find weapons of mass destruction-
SMITH: 'Mission Accomplished,' yeah.
ROLLINS: You know, you also -- forget 'Mission Accomplished,' he flew in a jet, he had a pilot's outfit on, it was sort of the conquering hero. And I think to a certain extent, we have a lot to be thankful to this president for his service, but he's not going to get a 'great job' from the American public.
SMITH: Not going to get a 'job well done'-
SMITH: on the report card, on the final report card.
ROLLINS: I don't think so.
SMITH: Dan Bartlett, that whole 'Mission Accomplished' thing, there's been so many stories about that. The Navy said they did it, Scott McClellan said he was responsible. Who really was responsible for that?
BARTLETT: Well, the interesting thing, and I think it speaks to the character of this president, that he didn't attempt to throw any staff under the bus yesterday when it came to the banner. Of course, as you know, Harry, he didn't have anything to do with the actual banner. And I -- it's funny that Scott said it, quite frankly, yours truly was the guy who actually signed off from the people out on the air craft carrier, actually, when they were going through Hawaii, to say they wanted to hang this sign to tribute to the troops who had been on leave for more than 14 months, I think the longest service ever of an air craft carrier in war. And I was the guy they called and I conferred with Ari Fleischer and others, and we said 'yeah, that sounded fine.' And I regret it to this day, because it did send the wrong message. The old communications adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, was so true. But the president didn't throw us under the bus, he took responsibility, and that's why he endears so much loyalty from people like myself and others who have worked for him.
SMITH: Dan Bartlett, thank you so much, do appreciate it, good to see you sir. Ed, thanks for stopping in as well.
BARTLETT: You too, Harry.
ROLLINS: Thank you, thank you.
SMITH: Alright, guys.