George W. Bush photo

Remarks on the Unveiling of the President's Portrait in Austin, Texas

January 04, 2002

Thank you. Thank you, Laura. You need to know, I listen to her every day. [Laughter] Whatever success we've had is because she's constantly telling me what to do. [Laughter] I'm proud of Laura, and I can't tell you what a great job she has done for America—you know that, yourself. But she brings such a steadiness and a calm resolve, and I'm really proud of her.

I want to thank the Governor and the first lady. Thank you all very much for your hospitality. It's great to see the Lieutenant Governor and Sally, the speaker and Nelda. It's good to see you all. I can't help but notice that my friend Jan Bullock is here, as well. Jan, thank you for coming.

We've got all kinds of dignitaries here. I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to come and witness my hanging. [Laughter] Fortunately, it's my portrait. [Laughter]

I'm particularly pleased to be here with the artist. Now, I was somewhat concerned when Laura told me that the Gentlings were famous painters of birds—[laughter]—but they would make time to paint my picture. [Laughter] Pretty tough old bird here to paint, wasn't I? [Laughter] But I appreciate, Scott, your taking time to try to figure me out. It's a real pleasure for me to work with you. I know it's a challenge from your part, but it looks like you did me justice, and I thank you. And it's also good to see your brother, Stuart. The Gentlings are a part of the really fantastic artistic community we have here in Texas. These guys may seem a little odd when you meet them upstairs, but they're really good at what they do. [Laughter]

I've got to tell you, I was talking with Bomerlast night, and we started laughing about all the wonderful times we had in this building. And as I look around the room, I see many who helped make that happen. This was a joyous 6 years for us here. It kind of reminds me of what Harry Truman said. He said, "I've tried never to forget who I was or where I'd come from and where I was going back to." And that's what this capitol says to us. And so does Crawford, by the way. It's our home.

One of the things that happened here is that we made a lot of friends. You know, sometimes in politics, friends are just a fleeting memory. But that's not the case for us. Our friends are permanent parts of our life. We don't view such things as political friends. You're either our friend, or you're not our friend, no matter what your politics are like.

That's why we have got such fond memories of working with Pete and Nelda Laney. Oh, I know he's got the Democrat label, but somehow our relationship transcended that. And the same with Bullock. I can't help but chuckle about our breakfasts that we used to have in this building, Pete, with Bullock. I'd like to share some of the stories with the people watching on C- SPAN—[laughter]—but unfortunately, I can't repeat them in mixed company. [Laughter]

But the truth of the matter is, whether it be the speaker or Bullock or Janelle or others, from both parties, we came in this building with one desire, to do what's right for Texas. We've got political labels around our name, no question about it. But we made up our mind to try to figure out what was best for our State and to work together.

And so I went up to Washington with a wonderful sense of being able to get things done, because of my relationships and my experience here in the State capitol. I still believe that can happen. But sometimes Washington needs to figure out that politics isn't what's most important; the people are what's most important.

And so I'm going to take that can-do Texas spirit to Washington for however long I'm there and remind people that results are matter—results are what matters, not rhetoric; remind people that if you're willing to share credit, if you're willing to tell the other person that you're going to succeed, as well, amazing things can happen; and remind people that our country, just like our State, is much bigger than the political process.

Those are the lessons I learned here in this State capitol. I also learned you cannot succeed without a good team around you. There's no such thing, in my judgment, as a one-man band when it comes to politics or being the Governor or being the President of the United States. You're only successful if you're able to convince a lot of good folks to join on the team and to empower them to achieve the common objectives.

And that's exactly what we did here in Austin. I think history will show that the staff of Governor George Bush was one of the greatest staffs ever assembled. You should be applauding because you're the ones who were on the staff, in this room. [Applause] We had fun. We got some positive things done for Texas. We worked hard. And it was the memories that I'll never forget. And so I want to thank you all who worked on our team.

It should be noted that many of them who were on this team moved to Washington: Pinky Allbaugh—[laughter]—he's not here, so I can say it—[laughter]— Karen, of course; Karl Rove; Gonzales— I see Al is here, the chief attorney; Margaret Spellings, she's got a new last name now—those of us who know her husband are somewhat amazed—[laughter]—Albert Hawkins; Harriet Miers. These are all the folks that I rely on. These are people who have got great judgment and care deeply about our country. And America is really better off by the fact that they decided to make a huge sacrifice, leave their beloved State, and go to Washington, DC.

We also have got a lot of others up there that many of you knew: Ashley, Izzy, Logan—it's such an honor for Logan to know that we named one of our cows after him that was recently born—[laughter]— Margaret Wilson and Stuart Bowen and Vickers Meadows, Pat Wood. These are all folks—we worked together here in Austin—who are now serving our Nation. And I truly believe America is better off as a result of the influx of Texans who showed up.

I always will remember—and this painting helps remind me of the fact that all of us were a part of a larger story, a story much bigger than ourselves. Many have come before us, and many will follow. Mine is just one of 46 portraits in this Dome, and I'll always be in good company here.

It is amazing for me to think, when I step back and think this will be hanging here forever, along with J. Pinckney Henderson. I didn't know Henderson very well. [Laughter] But I did read about Sam Houston or John Connolly and the first Texas Governor I ever knew, Allan Shivers. It's an honor to be hanging with these men. It's also amazing to think that it'll be here for a long, long time. I just hope Governor Richards doesn't mind being my neighbor for eternity. [Laughter]

I want to thank you all for coming. It's a day I've really been looking forward to for a long time. We look forward to seeing you upstairs for the little coffee we're having.

Again, I remember you; I won't forget Texas. It's a huge honor to be the President, by the way. But one of these days I'll be back, settled in, sitting on my porch in Crawford, looking for somebody to come and recount old war stories with.

May God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:07 a.m. at the Texas State Capitol. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and his wife, Anita Thigpen Perry; Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliffe of Texas and his wife, Sally; Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives James E. "Pete" Laney and his wife, Nelda; Janelle Bullock, widow of former Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock of Texas; artists Scott and Stuart Gentling; Texas Secretary of State Elton Bomer; Joe M. Allbaugh, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Karen Hughes, Counselor to the President; Karl Rove, Senior Adviser to the President; Alberto R. Gonzales, Assistant to the President and White House Counsel; Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Margaret Spellings and her husband, Robert; Albert Hawkins, Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Cabinet; Harriet Miers, Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary; Ashley Estes, the President's Personal Secretary; Special Assistant to the President Israel "Izzy" Hernandez; Presidential Aide Logan Walters; Commerce Department Deputy General Counsel Margaret Wilson; Deputy Assistant to the President Stuart Bowen; Vickers B. Meadows, Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Patrick Henry Wood III, Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and former Gov. Ann Richards of Texas.

George W. Bush, Remarks on the Unveiling of the President's Portrait in Austin, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives