Former Chief of Staff Discusses 9/11, Election Season, and Kaepernick


Adam Theriault

Students facetime Andrew Card, former Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush

Sarah Eastland, Sophie Nikolenko, Anna Waldron, and Seth Facey


Former Chief of Staff Andrew Card, is immortalized in American history as the one who first told President George W. Bush of the events of September 11th, 2001. Days after the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Card took the time to speak to students of Souhegan High School about his time in the White House and how politics have changed in the 15 years since the attacks.

Card began his work in the White House under president Ronald Reagan in 1982 as a liaison to United States governors. From there he worked for president George H.W Bush in several capacities, until finally becoming White House Chief of Staff to president George W. Bush.

As Chief of Staff, Card says he learned, “…that with every tough decision comes with a consequence” and that presidents- the successful ones- must be able to “taste their words before they spit them out” and that an inability to do this will cause many problems.

Card went on to say that the biggest change in politics since 2000 is the role of technology, and how it requires politicians to be “more spontaneous in their response to policy needs”. This spontaneity is detrimental to the policy making process.  The want of immediate answers means that politicians must make decisions before they have all the facts and when their own emotions may still cloud the issue. By demanding these things from politicians you remove their ability to “taste their words” first which is neither good for the policy or the person.

The worst, he said at thinking before they speak is Donald Trump. “Building bridges are [sic] more important than building walls” Card said, alluding to Trump’s policy of erecting a large wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump needs to be “more careful with his word choice and rhetoric”. He said the president needs to build strong relationships with both new and old allies, as well as the people of the United States and that Trump’s emotional responses to events will make him unable to accomplish this. While some people have transformed their dislike of Donald Trump into a dislike for the Republican Party, Card stated that, “Yes, I’m troubled by Donald Trump but I am still a proud Republican”.  Card is  supporting Republican candidates Kelly Ayotte and Chris Sununu in their runs for senate and governor in New Hampshire.

Despite his other opinions on Trump, Card believed that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s appearance at the 9/11 memorial on the 15th anniversary was very important. While others have stated their presence was a distraction, Card thought it was extremely necessary that current presidential candidates take the time to reflect on that day and how it changed America.  Card stated that he hopes everyone takes the time on September 11th to pay their respects, and that future generations learn and understand what that day truly meant and that no one forgets the people who lost their lives.

Card touched upon other recent events as well such as controversies in professional sports, particularly the NFL. Many athletes have been kneeling during the National Anthem to protest racial inequalities in America. This phenomenon was started by Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,”. While there have been people who have expressed their dislike for this notion deeming it disrespectful, Card believes everyone has the right to peacefully protest.  He told the story of his Grandmother, who was a suffragette in the early 1900s and was the first woman to register to vote in the town of Holbrook, Massachusetts. He has adopted many attitudes from her story and stated “I celebrate our country, as I respect the right to protest.”

Above all else Card believes that “the first word in the Constitution is the most important- “We”. If the events of September 11th, 2001 had anything to teach it’s that we are all first and foremost, American. All other differences aside that is the one thing we can always know to be true. The job of the president is to unite the nation, no matter what external or internal forces may be acting on it.