The Interview with the President Went Swimmingly

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The Interview with the President Went Swimmingly

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Today was one of the more exciting days in Daly family history -- the reason why all depends on who you ask.gwbushdallas1.jpg

My boys, Trent and Troy, quizzed early this morning about what they thought the highlight of their day was going to be, took nanoseconds to respond, "We're going swimming!" It was a particularly joyous occasion for Trent, the fish of the family, since he hasn't been able to hit the pool for a couple of months after breaking his wrist this summer.

So it seemed a perfectly natural answer for a 10 and 8-year-old -- even though they were only a few minutes away from meeting the 43rd President of the United States.

I brought the boys and Jean along with me to Dallas today to meet President George W. Bush at his office here, where we recorded a Focus on the Family broadcast scheduled to air next week, Tuesday and Wednesday, December 14th and 15th. I've met Mr. Bush a couple of times before, and was thrilled to have the opportunity for the boys to meet him, too.

Almost as thrilled as they were to splash around in the hotel pool.

The President was friendly and gracious with them, giving them presidential bookmarks as gifts and wishing them a Merry Christmas. (He also had a little fun with me, remarking as I was telling him about a spill I took mountain biking with a mutual friend, "You're a little big for a mountain bike, aren't you?") The boys and I had talked in advance about some questions they might want to ask him, and with a little help from Dad they did find out whether the President carries money.

The answer? No.

Mr. Bush said aides handle any point-of-sale purchases that need to be made, so there's no need to keep cash on hand, but added that the funds used for buying everything from food for the First Family to putting up relatives at Camp David comes from a president's personal finances.gwbushdallas2.jpg

That was just one of the interesting things discovered in the 90 or so minutes the Dalys and some members of the Focus team spent with the president this morning.

They say you can tell a lot about what a man values by the way his office is decorated -- and in that case it's clear President Bush is a person of great faith and love for his family. The wall closest to his desk is home to three large photographs: one of him with his daughter Jenna on her wedding day; one of him with his wife, Laura; and one with his other daughter, Barbara.

On the credenza behind his desk are a few family photos as well: one of his father's inauguration as president (there are no photos, tellingly, of Mr. Bush's own two inaugurations); a shot of his grandfather, Prescott Bush, a U.S. senator; and an old family snapshot taken outside an airplane -- the days when air travel was an *event*! -- featuring his parents and grandparents and him as a toddler.

President Bush's desk is neat and mostly unadorned -- there's a clock, a small bust of an eagle and a small bust of a steer.  There were two books stacked there, as well: "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God But Were Afraid to Ask" by Eric Metaxas and "All Things Are Possible Through Prayer" by Charles L. Allen. On the credenza is another pair of leather-bound editions: "Decision Points" and the New American Standard Bible.

gwbushdallas4.jpgI was fascinated by "Decision Points" and the straightforward way President Bush discussed the key highs and lows of his eight years in office -- from the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks to the financial crisis of 2008. What struck me most, though, just as his office reflects, was how his faith in Christ and his love of family helped him weather the rough times and deepened the joy of the good times.

I don't want to spoil some of the insights you'll hear on the broadcast next week, but there is one thing he said to me off-mic, before the recorders started rolling, that I think succinctly sums up who he is. As we were about to begin, I told him I wasn't going to ask a lot of questions about politics, but rather explore his personal journey as a believer in Christ, a husband and father and son, who served the American people during a particularly meaningful moment in history.

"That's about right," he said as he nestled into his chair. "It is Focus on the Family, not Focus on the Party."

Those are the words of a man who seems to have his priorities straight, a man my boys will be proud to have met.

Just as soon as they get out of the pool.

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  • Comment by  Janice:

    Wow, Awesome. I saw him on Oprah.. Great man of faith and loves God.

  • Comment by  mary:

    Mr. Daly,  I am so excited for you and your family that you got to spend time with President Bush.  You are both two of my heroes.  I am hoping to get Decision Points for Christmas!!  I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas.

  • Comment by  Betsy:

    Oh, how I'm looking forward to hearing two of my favorites on the broadcast. I admire President Bush so much for his humility and the way I saw him interact with people in need and the way he led through crisis. Kind of the same way I feel about Jim Daly, without the Southern drawl!

  • Comment by  Paula:

    I support "W" and hold him in high regard.  I know he doesn't want to go back into politics but I'd vote for him in a heart beat.  I'm reading his book, as we speak, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  Thanks for doing this interview, Jim!

  • Comment by  Lorelei F.:

    How precious! President Bush is a truly a public servant of the highest degree!  He has served as President out of his calling to do so.  His faith is evident in his humility and in his love and devotion to his family.  What a great day for Mr. Daly and his family; what a great day for Focus on the Family!  Can't wait to hear the broadcast next week!

  • Comment by  S. A.:

    Thanks Jim, I can't wait for the interview to air!

  • Comment by  K.A.J.:

    A true man of integrity, humble, and unwavering in his faith, and I'm so thankful he's a brother in Christ. Thanks for sharing your time with him, and I look forward to the broadcast!

  • Comment by  Victor:

    I too admire President George W. Bush. I know he is a God fearing, humble man and that he sought God's will during his tenure; However, if I had the chance to ask him anything during an interview, it would not be about his family life. Sure, we are all proud to have had a pro-life, pro-family President, but I am more concerned about our ever growing government and its power over its citizens. What good will a pro-life President do when federal government has centralized power? The U.S. Government has grown entirely to big over the past 20 yeasr, including the Bush I & Bush II years. We certainly need pro-life and pro-family leaders, but without a passion to shrink the power, scope and size of the federal government this nation will not need pro-life and pro-family laws.

  • Comment by  Cathey C.:

    I am glad that you are having Pres. Bush on your program.  I think he was a leader who we can respect.Cathey

  • Comment by  Jacob:

    Very touching and admirable.  I like President Bush, too.  Please be sure to share with your boys though, that there is new and legitimate president now, whom God has put in place, who should be respected.  I am sure they would enjoy a visit to the White House if you take them.

  • Comment by  Sherry:

    As awesome as it would be to talk to President Bush, I can't help but focus on how your sons point us in an important direction. That direction of living this wonderful life God gave us and not recognizing fame or power so well. How great it was, as a kid, to just "be". Makes me remember and look forward to being in that mindset again someday-in His presence  Thanks, this story made me smile.

  • Comment by  xfitdad:

    I look forward to the interview with President Bush. If history is still being written in 100 years, he will stand out as strong as bold as Lincoln.  Now, tell me about that pool.

  • Comment by  Aria :

    Awesome!  I am so happy your family had this opportunity, and that we Focus listeners get to hear the interview!  What a day for your boys, too!  Blessings!

  • Comment by  Sophia P.:

    How Awesome,and what a wonderful Blessing for your whole family. I must say, He is by far my favorite President,( I don't care what other think or have to say I boldly brag about how much I appreciate this Godly President) and his mother happens to be  my favorite first lady ever. Nothing again Mrs. Laura Bush his wife, I just remember Barabara Bush as my favorite.

    I look forward to hearing your interview next week.Thank you for the preview... I was smiling the whole time I was reading this letter...Be blessed and Thank you for all you do.

  • Comment by  Catherine M.:

    I wish I could let Pres. Bush know how much we admire him. He is the only president whose picture adorns our room divider in the living room. We know in the future people will realize what a great leader he was.