President George W. Bush hosts a meeting in the Oval Office decorated with the new presidential rug on December 20, 2001. White House and Homeland Security staff attended the meeting: (clockwise from the bottom), President George Bush, Governor Tom Ridge, Condoleezza Rice, Admiral Steve Abbot, Karen Hughes, Dean McGrath, Karl Rove, Albert Hawkins, Mitch Daniels, Josh Bolton and Andy Card. White House photographer Paul Morse is at left.
But they, oftentimes, they ask me — they say, what's it like, being the President of the United States?
And my answer to them is, first, it's a huge honor. But, secondly, if I had to give you a job description, it would be a decision-maker. I make a lot of decisions. I make some that you see that obviously affect people's lives, not only here, but around the world. I make a lot of small ones you never see, but have got consequence.
Decision-maker is the job description.
First of all, when you make decisions, you've got to stand on principle. If you are going to make decisions, you've got to know what you believe.
I guess the best way to summarize me is I came from Texas and I'm going back to Texas with the exact same values I had when I arrived in Washington, D.C. (Applause.) In order to make good decisions, you've got to rely upon the judgment of people you trust.
I'll never forget the first decision I had to make as the President. I wasn't even sworn in yet, and a fellow called me on the phone and he said: "What color of rug do you want to have in the Oval Office?" (Laughter)
I said: "You've got to be kidding me, man." (Laughter)
He said: "No, what color rug would you like to have in the Oval Office?" I said, "I don't know." He said, "Well, it turns out that Presidents — you've just got to know that Presidents design their rugs."
I said: "Well, to be honest with you, I don't know much about designing rugs."
So I called, I delegated. That's one of the things you do in decision-making. (Laughter)
I said, "Laura, how about helping design the rug?" (Laughter)
Part of being a decision-maker, though, is you've got to help -- you've got to think strategically. And so I said to her — she said, "What color do you want?" I said, "Make it say this: 'Optimistic person comes here to work every single day.'" (Laughter)
You can't lead the nation, you can't make good decisions unless you are optimistic about the future. So for the students here, as you take over organizations or head out of college and become involved in your life, you got to be optimistic about — if you're going to lead somebody. Imagine somebody saying, "Follow me, the world is going to be worse." (Laughter) That's not a very good organizing principle about which to lead people.
I'm optimistic about our future, and the reason I am is because I believe so strongly in what America stands for: liberty and freedom and human rights and the human dignity of every single person. (Applause.)George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. This essay is from a speech titled, "The President Discusses Global War on Terror at Kansas State University," January 23, 2006.