The Thoughtful Note That George H.W. Bush Left on Bill Clinton’s Desk Before Leaving the White House (1993)

With the passing of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton reflected on the life and legacy of his political predecessor, and particularly the thoughtful note that Bush 41 left on his desk, right before leaving the White House. Dated January 20, 1993, it read:

Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck—


It’s hard not to see this letter as a relic of an irretrievable age in American politics. But Clinton won’t quite buy that. He writes today in the Washington Post: “Given what politics looks like in America and around the world today, it’s easy to sigh and say George H.W. Bush belonged to an era that is gone and never coming back — where our opponents are not our enemies, where we are open to different ideas and changing our minds, where facts matter and where our devotion to our children’s future leads to honest compromise and shared progress. I know what he would say: ‘Nonsense. It’s your duty to get that America back.'” Soon enough, after enough sturm and drang, the majority of Americans (Electoral College included) may be ready to sign up for that.

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Comments (6)
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  • Barbara says:

    Bush 43 was, in turn, left an office with the petty immaturity to have had all the “W” keys removed from the keyboards. Speaks volumes doesn’t it?

    Some speculate that Bobby Kennedy’s death was the beginning of the end for Civil Politics and others blame Nixon, who let an excruciatingly close loss to JFK go without challenge and then later resign to avoid the negativity of impeachment on our country.

    I personally feel it was Bush v Gore in 2000.

  • Fynes Moryson says:

    45 could never come close to write something like that.

    Farewell Mr Bush. I was never one for your politics but you were always a gentleman and a scholar.

  • Chris says:

    He may have left a nice note but he was a mass murdering war criminal with so much death, destruction and suffering left behind in his wake, the nation of Iraq may never recover. I’ll tell you what, that nice letter ain’t gonna get his ass through the pearly gates. When he gets in that final elevator it’s going DOWN. Should’ve swung from a rope as far as I’m concerned, right alongside Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice and the rest of that band of murderous criminals.

    It makes me sick to my stomach to hear all the turd polishing that’s going on in the media since he croaked.

    Down the memory hole..

  • Erik says:

    Lookup CRETIN in your GOOGLE ally. Then look in the mirror. SEE?

  • Bill W. says:

    …as opposed to whom, Chris? Bush Sr. was perhaps the last “normal” POTUS we had. The rest since, have been dysfunctional, including (guess who, Mr. Hopey Changey) our longest-serving war present, who bombed 7 countries in 8 years, and all without comment from people like yourself!

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