For almost 25 years until his death in November 2018, former president George H. W. Bush had Jean Becker as his chief of staff. For event after event through the best of those times and the worst–from dozens of affirming trips overseas to several parachute jumps in his latter years to many funerals–Becker was there to schedule it, plan it, manage it, and often attend it. All of this has given her a uniquely wide and deep understanding of the challenges and rewards of a long post-presidency.
For the 30th anniversary of Bush 41’s departure from the White House, David Priess chatted with Becker about how she first came to work with First Lady Barbara Bush, how that led to her work as chief of staff for Bush after he’d left office, the diverse activities of a lengthy post-presidency, former presidents’ interactions with intelligence and classified material, Bush 41’s choice to refrain from frequent political statements, his relationships with other presidents ranging from his son to Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to Joe Biden, and what a chief of staff for a former president actually does.
Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Noam Osband and Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
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Works mentioned during this episode:
The book The Man I Knew: The Amazing Story of George H. W. Bush’s Post-Presidency by Jean Becker
The book The President’s Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
The book 41 by George W. Bush
The book Pearls of Wisdom by Barbara Bush
The book The Nazi Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch
The TV series Ted Lasso