Bush Has Some Advice for Obama
By Dan Eggen
President Bush dispensed a few words of advice to his successor today, urging President-elect Barack Obama to foster robust debate inside the White House and to keep on top of "the bureaucracy" to make sure policies are implemented.
"Creating tension is good for decision-making, so long as it doesn't become destructive," Bush said during a question-and-answer session at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. "...I also like the idea of people being able to walk into the Oval office and [say], 'Have you thought of this?' Or, 'The debate is headed this way, I'd like you to consider this.'"
Although Bush has been criticized for allegedly relying on a small group of like-minded advisers, he characterized himself as encouraging an open-door policy in the Oval Office. He also appeared to suggest that career federal employees had undermined some of his policies -- though he didn't provide specifics.
"Make sure information gets into the Oval Office on a timely basis so that when you find bureaucracies delaying policy, then you do something about it," Bush said when asked for his advice to future presidents. "The best bureaucratic move, if people disagree with policy, is just to delay and hope the president isn't paying attention."
Bush also vowed to maintain a low profile once he leaves the White House on Jan. 20. "We're not going to tell President-elect Obama how to run his administration, nor will I spend a lot of time second-guessing him," Bush said. "I believe once the president gets off the stage, you get off the stage and let the next man do the job."
Bush has made a point of pushing for a smooth transition of power between his administration and the next, and experts from both parties seem to agree that the process has gone remarkably well. The White House announced this week that Bush will host a lunch with Obama and the three living U.S. presidents -- including Bush's father -- next month.
In a separate interview with CNN today, Bush suggested -- perhaps with a hint of envy -- that Obama may be in a position to push a broad agenda given Democratic control of Washington. "Maybe he won't have to deal with quite as contentious issues as I did, or maybe he will, who knows," Bush said. "He came in with a strong vote and he's got good majorities in the House and Senate, and maybe he'll get some things done."
Posted at 6:17 PM ET on Dec 18, 2008
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