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. Bill Clinton, NY

    'I feel your pain'

    November 9, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. Matthew, Roanoke, Virginia

    Saying that Iraq was better off under the control of Saddam is nothing sort of ludicrous. Is the war in Iraq more than we bargained for? Yes. Has President Bush made some bad decisions? Yes. Have lots of innocent lives been lost in the process? Yes. However, unless you blindly disregard the sentiments of the Iraqi people there is NO way that it can be argued that Iraq was better off under the control of such an awful dictator as Saddam.

    November 9, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  3. Mike, Lawrence KS

    So we have to "lay off", huh? I say the man works for all of us and deserves it. Trillions of dollars in debt, gasoline that those on fixed incomes can't afford, and all he (43) and his kind (that includes daddy, 41) can do is think about those who can afford to play the big gambling game that is the stock and futures markets.

    While I have no reason to save the pennies I can because banks only pay 1-2%. Gimmeabreak.

    Perhaps what this country needs is a real revolution to clear out the greedy bastards that think they can run this country only for themselves.

    Sure, remember Hussein, remember the Shah (oh yeah, he was a right angel now, wasn't he?); now Musharref, Afghanistan ain't fixed yet, either.

    Every proper dictator in the world need only take lessons from the U.S. As long as you base everything you do on the "constitution", you have nothing to fear. Look at Putin! –He's doing it exactly by the [legal] book.

    November 9, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  4. B. Brown

    What is he kidding? Someone said it right when they asked about everyone else's pain – the troops, the Iraqis and the tax payers. We're the one's Bush 41 should be empathizing with. Son made his own bed now dad should send him there (without supper) to lie in it.

    November 9, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. Dsparks Houston,Texas

    Clinton had his chance to get bin laden and did nothing.Bush has done everything but look for him himself.If you people really want to see this Country go to hell put another Clinton in office..

    November 9, 2007 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. Paul - Minnesota

    Who cares! Bush 43 is a liar. He started a war based on lies. He has RUINED that country, and has tarnished this country's history FOREVER. His lies have been the cause of over 3,800 of our troops being murdered, and scores of thousands of people over there killed. Not to mention the scores of thousands who have been injured, and the millions of people who's lives have been ruined by, again, a war based on lies. Bush 43 needs to be sent up on war crimes just like Hussein, and if found guilty, suffer the same punishment!

    November 9, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. Todd Newland,Columbus, Ohio


    November 9, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  8. Aaron Kinney, Sherman Oaks CA

    How dare he! Leave your son alone? Sure, if your son will leave the rest of the world alone!

    That old, senile, one-term ex-president thinks he has any say in this situation? He should shut up and go eat his broccoli.

    November 9, 2007 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. Oscar, Rio Vista CA

    Kevin Moon of PA. If you want people to get up and do something... why don't you join the military and go to Iraq. You think it's such a wonderful thing so get up off your fat butt and show us how great everything in Iraq is now.

    November 9, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  10. Mike, Utica NY

    If the elected leader of the free world can't handle civil discourse in response to costly and informed policy, then boooo hooo

    November 9, 2007 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Dear GTH Lewiston

    Are you not aware that Saddam was fully contained and that Iraq was swarming with UN weapons inspectors when Bush ordered them OUT prior to his unprovoked attack and failed occupation of Iraq? Did you miss that he was gassing no one with that US-supplied gas when Bush attacked, and at war with no one? Your point is a moot one since it is bereft of both fact and context.

    November 9, 2007 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. EKG, Alameda, California

    Since the same amount of folks who support 43 also believe that extraterrestrials have visited Earth, maybe they are aliens themselves. I mean, that would explain how they can view a long and depraved list of buffoonery as has been displayed by 43, and come to the conclusion that he is good and has done good by the country. They are from some part of the galaxy wherein the basic moral and physical norms we operate under on this planet are the polar opposite.

    November 9, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  13. Tony, Raleigh, NC

    If he(Bush Jr.) was the CEO of any company in america, he would've been ask to step down or fired by now..I can't see why he and his gang hasn't been impeached yet. It's not us who's going to suffer, it's our kids who will feel the true effect of what this Gangster has done.. Bush and his gang has pulled off the biggest robbery in worlds history..

    November 9, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  14. Bruce Burdick, Joice Iowa

    The Middle east may be better of without him now. But, is the middle east's progress more important than our own. Bush 43 is more concerened about other countries than the one he is a president for.

    November 9, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  15. roy, modesto ca

    if bush 43 and company believe so much in the war, why don't they send their sons, daughters and friends to fight for the cause. i would also like to see the republicans who follow 43 blindly send their family and friends. maybe the might think differently about the war if the had a personal stake in it. oh wait, they like to use the excuse that they can better server their country by doing something differnt. this war is just costing more american lives and a money pit for billions of our tax dollars while his cronies are getting richer. we certainly need a new direction in iraq.

    November 9, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  16. Karen,ny

    All the Bush's should be taken over to Iraq and planted in the middle of Bagdad!

    November 9, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  17. Larry Sessions, Denver, CO

    Yeah, we'll be glad to lay off Dubbya, at the next election. Strangely, I couldn't help but kinda like #41, but #43 is the sorriest excuse for a president we have ever had.

    Larry Sessions
    Denver, cO

    November 9, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  18. Jeff, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

    If everyone would take a day and walk in the shoes of our President, the comments from some might be different than displayed on this page. People have forgotten what is most important in this life and our part in it. We have some that cannot even be responsible for themselves must less a nation. I am a veteran and each member of our Armed Services knows the oath they took an here we have so called Americans sleeping safely that picket and hold demostrations which degrade the very ones that keep it safe everyday. Everyone has an opinion and says it would have been better if we had done it this way or that way. I am glad we had this Bush 43 at the wheel because I know that he sincerely asks and prays for direction in doing what is right. Besides if everyone worked like they complaind imagine where our country would be today.

    November 9, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Addie Staten Island New York

    Excuse me while I puke!!

    November 9, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  20. Dennis, Martinez CA

    It continues to amuse me that people like Rod in Winter Springs think that Bush 43 is a conservative. Maybe socially, but certainly not fiscally. He's only vetoed 5 bills...and the majority of those were socially liberal bills sponsored by Democrats. He has signed many, many bills that continue to plunge us into a greater and greater deficit. He cries about us spending too much on health care for children but then spend hundreds of billions in Iraq. Bill Clinton was far more fiscally conservative than Bush 43 is. Give me a break! A true Republican is fiscally conservative, not just socially conservative. Finally, Bush is the biggest flip flopper in the world. In the first election he totally played the middle including not taking a clear stance on abortion and saying he didn't believe in regime change. Well, we all now how that turned out. At least we had a balanced budget and a prosperous economy with Clinton. Finally, I think approval ratings say it all. When Clinton was being impeached, he was still approved of by over 70% of the US. In the midst of a war which normally garners support for a president, Bush 43 is in the 20's. There you go...

    November 9, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  21. Henry Tucker, Ga

    Aww come on guys... can't you put a little more hate into your posts? These aren't vile enough. We know you got it in you – where's the Bush-planned-9/11 crowd? Or War-for-oil people??

    I'm rather disappointed in yall bashers. Yall must be getting tired of day-in, day-out cryin' and hollerin'?

    November 9, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  22. Ryan, Keller, TX

    Civil liberties washed away, the world hates us, and each day this country moves further and further away from democracy under this man's "leadership" – and his father is concerned about hurt feelings?

    November 9, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  23. Barbra Bush, Texas

    He is a joke in many ways.

    November 9, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  24. David, Dallas,Tx

    Please, how is this newsworthy. It would be newsworthy if Bush 41 admitted how he really feels about the way his son screwed up Iraq, or his own failure to consider the Iraqi people the first time around. Bush 43 is a bad error that this country has had to live with way too long.

    November 9, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  25. Mike Waltham MA

    Hey, everyone has the chance of having a whacko in the family, deal with it. 7 years of making money off of death, bombs, misery, death, mutilation, bombs, children burned, you get the drift. Not the ideal way to run the world, huh?

    November 9, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
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