November 10th, 2007
07:37 AM ET
15 years ago

Ed Henry: Bush 41 feels his son's pain

President Bush and his father in Kennebunkport, Maine.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The current President Bush prides himself on saying he doesn't pay much attention to the critics who bombard him via television, newspapers and the Internet. But I want to let you in on a little secret: his father keeps tabs on all of it.

I was reminded of this fact recently when a friend of mine spent a little time at the swank Kennebunkport, Maine, home of former President George Herbert Walker Bush. The former President, known as "Bush 41," showed off his study and confided that he has several television sets where he can watch all of the cable networks simultaneously when a big story breaks - and monitor every word said about his son, a.k.a. "Bush 43".

I was reminded of this phenomenon again Friday, when USA Today published an interview with Bush 41 timed to Saturday's unveiling of his refurbished presidential library in College Station, Texas. The patriarch of the Bush family lashed out, declaring criticism of his son's handling of the Iraq war is "grossly unfair."

"Do they want to bring back Saddam Hussein, these critics?" the elder Bush railed to the newspaper. "Do they want to go back to the status quo ante? ... Do they think life would be better in the Middle East if Saddam were still there?"

Actually there is a major debate over whether the Middle East would be more secure if Hussein had not been toppled, but that's not the point of this story. Andy Card, who served in high posts in both Bush administrations, told me what he thinks motivated Bush 41's comments.

"It's a lot about a father caring about his son," said Card. "Like any parent, he aches for his child. But there's also a certain degree of empathy."

Card is right. Bush 41 has a unique perspective on what it's like to take the slings and arrows of being commander-in-chief, especially when it comes to dealing with a war in the Persian Gulf. After all, he's only the second former president in history, after John Adams, to watch his son follow him into the White House.

As for Bush 43, he's still claiming not to care about the naysayers. "Popularity is just like, it comes and goes," the current President told a German television interviewer from RTL this week. "And I've never been one to really worry about that, you know? Because when it's all said and done I think the key thing in life is to look in the mirror and say, 'I didn't compromise my core beliefs.'"

His father, on the other hand, clearly has some bruised feelings. He's not just a former president - he's a Dad.

Related video: Elder Bush defends son on Iraq

Related video: Watch former President Bush make a surprise landing at his library

- CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (544 Responses)
  1. Gary, Chicago, IL

    Yeah old man...ask the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civillians who've died since Chimpy's invasion if they'd rather be alive under Husseign still or dead under your moronic son occupation! Better yet, ask the 3000+ families of fallen U.S. soldiers would they give if Saddam were back if it meant having their dead son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, etc., alive and still with them! This man and his family sicken me!

    November 9, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. Cheryl Fontaine, Lake Stevens, WA

    Suck it up George the elder; I didn't think there could be a worse president than you, but turns out I was wrong. Your son is the worst president this country has ever known.

    He is destroying us all. I hate everything he stands for...can't bear to hear his voice or see his ugly face. I am ashamed to be an American; something I thought I would never say. I abhor what he has done to Iraq, to our country's economy, children, education system, old folks, environment – you name it, he has slimed it.

    November 9, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  3. karen ny

    it's lonely they say, being President, no matter which party you are tied with. . .

    November 9, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  4. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    As always, its always and only about their family ... no concern for those families who have their children returned either wounded in body and soul or in coffins.

    This is the same Daddy Warbucks who made sure his fortunate son didn't go to Vietnam ... I hope Bush Sr is serving cheese with all the whine ...

    November 9, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Trey, Charlotte,NC

    So No.41 feels his son pain, What about the Pain your son has inflicted on the American People and the World, he is a Joke, and the worst President we have ever had!

    November 9, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  6. Steve Krauss

    It is not his fault his son is an idiot. However, Bush 43 must have inherited it from someone. Maybe the lady who feels the black people in New Orleans never had it so good. Barbara and George, you have nothing to be proud of with this arrogant, ignorant, moron who still can succeed in screwing up the things he hasn't yet in the 14 months remaining.

    November 9, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  7. aj, winston salem nc

    Geoge 41 created thid monster, George 41. Does any one expect him to not defend his creation? This Bush dynasty goes beyond our imagination. How else could this miserable individual have made it to a ballot let alone to the WH? Anybody else so incompetent would have been tarred and feathered the first month in office. The Dynasty managed to even get him on the ballot a second term. The world continues to laugh at the US while the Bush boss defends the village idiot.

    November 9, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  8. Romano, Denver CO

    Papa should realize that his bouncing baby boy has alot more to worry about than his hurt wittle feewings. If the democrats have any stones after they win this election, they will easily obtain enough evidence to put wee little george and his fellow criminals in prison. To those of you who defend this man, your numbers are waning and you better hope that the future of this country treats you with more compassion than your "leaders". Otherwise you could find yourself on a waterboard. Oh yeah, thats not torture, so you shouldn't mind.

    November 9, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  9. Manny - Miami, FL

    Hey "truebob" in Hollywood,FL

    Unfortunatelly your son, my daughter, and all our children, and their children to come will be bound to the yoke that this buffoon has perpretrated on us... paying off the debt to China & Japan... and being treated like pariah's because their parents or grandparents didn't have the intelligence to tell the difference between "patriotism" and "fanatacism..." .. Tell your son that... I'm sure he'll sleep better at night.

    November 9, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. Brenda--Hillary Country NY

    It seems that so many of the people who have posted thus far have anger issues. They appear so uninformed about what is actually happening in the world.

    November 9, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  11. Chris, Baltimore, Maryland

    Too bad 41 doesn't feel the pain of the thousands of families whose children were senselessly sent to their deaths by his idiot son.

    November 9, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  12. John R., San Jose, CA

    Bob, how can you say that the Middle East was more stable with Saddam controlling Iraq? He started a war with Iran that cost millions of lives. Do you really think that he would hesitate to do so again if he were still around?

    November 9, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  13. myle kohl

    All the US presidents, including Mr. Clinton and Mr. Nixon have my profound respect except Bush 43. What kind of super power leader can possibily mistake APEC and OPEC? Then, 4 more mistakes in front of the whole. Only Bush 43 the great. My question is How big is Iraq? 20 million people. How much resources Sadam Hussein used to control the nation? I rather have him alive and take care his own people. Gosh......

    November 9, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  14. Gerrold West Covina, CA

    Here come the 23% of America – the fantical loons acting like Pavlov's dogs – salivating at the chance to bash Bush.

    The soldiers of Code Pink, Moveon.Org, Cindy Sheehan, and Michael Moore.

    November 9, 2007 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  15. Osvaldo, Chicago, IL

    What's the point of this story–if indeed it may be called a story–? Card as a source of insight? Great: he resigned to avoid an investigation. Iraq has simply vanished from the news but we are offered this behind the scene rubbish.

    November 9, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  16. Marie, Florida

    Wow! A lot of nasty, negative vibes coming from the anti-Bush camp. If you all actually believe half the accusations you make against the Bush family, you truly are the simpletons you accuse the conservatives of being. By the way, have you actually studied economics to know how the economy works? Apparently not.

    Bush isn't perfect, never claimed to be as far as I recall. I'd like to see any of you critics do a better job of running the country. You all can live in your fairy tale world where the Clintons are wonderful. As for those of us who live in reality, we know better. The Clintons you love are guilty of far more underhanded and unethical things than you accuse the Bushs of. How you enlightened liberals can't see the sleeze that just oozes from Bill and Hillary is amazing. I guess you choose to see what you want. Or perhaps you are so brainwashed by the media that you can't think for yourselves anymore.

    Thankfully, even though you think you are the majority opinion, you are not. You may be more vocal, but the silent majority will hold its own.

    November 9, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  17. Bryant, CT

    Anyone supporting this President or the first Bush is a complete imbecile as far as I'm concerned. People – wake up. Please. Thank God we will return normalcy and intelligence to the White House with a Democrat on January 21, 2009.

    November 9, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  18. Craig, Seattle, WA

    Awwwwww... what a crybaby. Bush 43 has deserved every bit of criticism he's received, if not more!

    November 9, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  19. Independent Centrist, Dallas, TX

    Sounds like 41 has become as delusional as 43. A pity. He used to seem pretty sharp. Then again, maybe it is pure defensiveness. Maybe he gave up on educating President Willfully Ignorant long ago.

    November 9, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |

    Ca Native:

    Seriously, no disrespect. I believe that in the this country, we all maintain the right to believe what feel is truthful. But, please be real, Bush did not and has not brought democracy anywhere. It upsets so much for anyone to think Afghanistan is a better place or Iraq is a better place. The Taliban is stronger than ever due to Bush and Rumsfeld denial to enforce any eradication policy. Yes, the country voted and that in itself is a great thing. But, a vote is purely symbolic is the government is corrupt, most citizens do not have access to clean water, a police force to protect them, and girls cannot attend school due to the Taliban. We belonged in Afghanistan and could have brought democracry, but instead we invaded country that had nothing to do with 911 and now, the US, the world, and Afghanistan pay the price for more of a chance for a terrorism and the West is hated. It's sad and a shame.

    November 9, 2007 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  21. Bruce C, Middlesex, NY

    A tough skin is required...yet, I have seen "Bush 41" make these comments more than once in "Bush 43"'s Presidency and it's not empathetic, it's just plain pathetic.

    November 9, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  22. L. Brooks Guymon, OK

    I completely support Bush 41 and Bush 43 – I have family in the marines that is fighting for the right for the liberals of this country to do just what they do – bash all that is conservative so that they can feel better about their poor choices. Freedom of speech is bought at a terrible price and we slap the face of those who have sacrificed when we constantly criticize our leader. It must be difficult to steer a ship of a country who wants to go in the direction of immorality. God will be the final judge.

    November 9, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  23. Dave, Westport, MA

    It's sad... disagree with the left wing extremists and you're insulted. Time will tell, but my prediction is that when the democrats do take the Whitehouse then they will see how close we have come to another attack and it was this administration that prevented it. Then they will sing a different tune.

    November 9, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  24. David, Everett, WA

    "Do they think life would be better in the Middle East if Saddam were still there?"

    Have you bothered to actually ask an Iraqi that question, Mr. Shrub #41?

    November 9, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  25. Spencer, Seattle, WA

    Sorry, Papa Bush. Your son is a failure of Shakespearean proportions. I wonder how the American people are going to find a way to apologize to the rest of the world for George W. Bush? There is no mistaking the fact that some kind of recognition is required of all of us for allowing this man to fabricate, fictionalize and cronyize the biggest single foreign policy mistake the United States has ever made. How do we excuse the most despised president in our history? The rape of Iraq? The dead? The damage to our image? The debt burden? Is it even possible?

    November 9, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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