David M. Rubenstein is a Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms. Mr. Rubenstein co-founded the firm in 1987. Since then, Carlyle has grown into a firm managing more than $85 billion from 29 offices around the world. Prior to co-founding Carlyle in 1987, Mr. Rubenstein practiced law in New York, with the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy in the Carter administration; and practiced law in Washington, D.C., with the firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge. Mr. Rubenstein is a member of the Board of Directors of The Council on Foreign Relations, the Institute for International Economics and Freedom House; the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Dance Theatre of Harlem; and a member of the Visiting Committee of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and the National Advisory Committee of J.P. Morgan Chase. He is based in Washington, DC.
I’m not sure the legacy of George W. Bush will be the legacy that he thought it would be when he took office. No doubt the legacy will be how Iraq turns out. No matter what George W. Bush thinks, in my view, about what his legacy will be, it will be inextricably linked to the war. If the war is ultimately seen as a successful effort against terrorism and a successful military venture by the United States, then his legacy will be good. If it’s seen ultimately as a disastrous effort to stop Saddam Hussein from utilizing weapons of mass destruction, and an effort to keep Al Qaeda from coming to the United States, it may be viewed differently. If a terrorism attack occurs in the United States, it may be viewed one way. If no terrorism attack occurs here for five years, 10 years into the future, his effort may be looked at differently. I think the president is very much inspired by Harry Truman’s situation. Harry Truman left Washington in 1953 when Dwight Eisenhower became president a very unpopular person. His popularity ratings were probably 15 to 19 percent, and nobody had a big sendoff for him. He walked to the train station essentially and went back to Missouri. In hindsight, people think that Harry Truman was a great president. In hindsight they think he did some very courageous things. I think George Bush is propelled to think that the same thing might happen to him; that five years, 10 years, 15 years down the road people will say, “Well it’s a good thing that he fought the war in Iraq because of the things that developed subsequently.” I don’t think we have that perspective today. I think today the war is not that popular for sure, and George Bush isn’t viewed today as Harry Truman is viewed today. But I think he views it possible . . . possibly the case that he will be viewed that way. Recorded on: 9/13/07