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. Jerry Masinton, 324 North Eaton Dr., Lawrence, KS 66049

    Let the first Bush remember that he chose not to topple Hussein when he had an easy chance. He decided that the Middle East would be less chaotic with him than without him. The comments on Bush 43 are hardly "grossly unfair": he has botched the war and its aftermath. He has made the Mideast a dangerously unsafe region. Politicians here and in the larger world community roundly condemn 43's incompetence. Moreover, our citizens still have the right to comment on their leaders.

    November 9, 2007 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  2. Dave Sun Cith Center Fl.

    Nush 43 is as dumb as a rock and daddy knows it. Both are professional liars. You have that little twirp running around pretending to be a texas cowboy. He is still a pilgrim from up north. You got keep em.

    November 9, 2007 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  3. Beth, Green Bay, WI

    Like father, like son. Dumb and dumber. Bush 43 needs to leave now before he destroys what little dignity America has left.

    November 9, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  4. Mal, Tallahassee, FL

    Bush 41 should have told Barbara to abort Bush 43. Also, I am reminded of what Barbara said about Bush 41 when he did the parachute jump for his birthday "NO ONE EVER ACCUSED HIM OF BEING SMART."

    November 9, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  5. Derf Senrab Durango Co

    Many Republican posters point to 9/11 as the reason for invading Iraq and consider anybody questioning Bush for going lin as un American.

    My counter is "what have you guys been smoking?" Most of the perpetrators of 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia not Iraq. Saddam had no ties to terrorism. Saddam had NO wmd. It makes almost as much sense to invade France as Iraq except France doesn't have any oil.

    I get that we were pissed off that we were attacked, but lashing out at Iraq when it had nothing to do with 9/11 is nothing short of criminal.

    Sorry but I feel it would be un-American not to speak out against this gross misuse of power. I get going after terrorism. Bush went after the wrong guy and now 100,000 people have paid the ultimate price for his stupidity and the Republican sheep consider him a hero for it.

    I still have a hard time believing it myself.

    November 9, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  6. Joel, Evansville, Indiana

    I usually vote Republican – in fact I voted for Bush twice – but I am really tired of these people and their so-called dynasty and I wish they would just leave.

    If the Democrats weren't so stupid in nominating laughable candidates like Kerry, maybe there would be a real alternative next time. But instead they will probably nominate H. Clinton, and then we will have eight more years of that mess.

    The whole process is just a fraud, full of corruption and greed and narcissists. Why even bother to vote? The whole thing has become a big circus. Instead of discussing serious issues, it's all about who can cry more on Oprah or who left a bigger tip at the restaurant or who wears the flag lapel pin. How stupid, and what a colossal waste of time.

    November 9, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  7. josh, fairlawn, oh

    Tell you what, George Herbert Walker Bush, son of Prescott...profiteer from Nazis...when your son lays off the entire country, we'll lay off of him.

    November 9, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  8. GerogeK, LA CA

    George Senior – we will lay off of him if you will take him home and spanking him really hard for being such a bad boy!

    November 9, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  9. Abigail, Libertyville IL

    God bless you Bush 41 and Bush 43.

    Be proud of your son for doing what needed to be done a long time ago. GWB has never compromised himself. He is a man of conviction, courage, and belief in himself and this country. These are qualities sorely lacking lacking in the previous President.

    I am proud of this President and will be very sorry to see him go in '09.

    November 9, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. bobbie Yakima WA

    Is 41 just now realizing that 43 is going to be written of as the ABSOLUTELY worst president the nation has ever suffered thru??
    Boo-hoo ~

    November 9, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  11. Mike Gorczynski, Whitby, Ontario, Canada

    It's a good thing that Saddam's gone, but that's just a spec of dust in the whole vacuum bag. We got a whole lot of dirt to clean up, and there's no way the troops should get out of there. It also might get a heck of a lot worse before it gets better, that's because the enemies are doing everything they can to avoid stability in the region. We are doing everything we can to stabilize the region with a proper government. They are doing everything in their power to stop us from doing what we want to do, and what should be done. Leaving would restart the entire mess.

    November 9, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  12. Chuck, Cottonwood Minnesota

    Tell the Bush "41" that we will lay off when his son resigns and turns himself into the Hauge where we will stand trail for crimes against humanity.

    The world is a far worse place thanks to his son. I just hope he and Darth Vader aren't planning to declare marshall law when their term is up. Wouldn't surprise me a bit though. We're nearly a police state already.

    November 9, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  13. Jose, Orlando, Florida

    He should make Time's man of the Year, as The Most Hated Man in America!!!!

    November 9, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  14. Joe A. Pittsburgh, PA

    Yes, I would prefer to have Saddam back in power. Turn Bush over to the Iraqi militia so they can punish him for his war crimes. Bush 41 should be turned over too for raising such an incompetent son.

    November 9, 2007 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  15. Hill, New York

    Ah, if only the people who prefer Saddam Hussein could have been shipped back in time to an Iraq when he was in power.

    November 9, 2007 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  16. Michaela, Houston, Tx

    Even Homer Simpson would have made a better job. Who ever believes that the aggression against Iraq was ok, please put your money where your mouth is. Donate 30% of your pay check to the US military. Maybe then our soldiers get the equipment they deserve and the vets the care they need. Don't want to do that? Then shut up and let real people take over responsibility.

    Shame on the democrats for not standing up for what is right.

    November 9, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  17. John Spakaowski, Phoenix, AZ

    Bush 41 should be rightly worried that the dumb ass son of his will make the Bush legacy a big embarrassment. Bush 43 is he same as Bush 41 only dumber, unable to think on his own, and like Bush 41, placed himself in the middle of smarter, self serving cronies of previous failed administrations. Take Cheney and Rumsfeld, please.

    But the bigggest blame goes not to Bush 41, but to the American people who elected him president twice. Who is the fool – Bush 43 or the dumb ass Republicans who scraped and lied to put him there.

    November 9, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  18. Mike, Phoenix AZ

    Forrest Gump would have been a better president. Hmmmm, maybe that's what we got....

    November 9, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  19. Cherri Brown, Fayetteville, Georgia

    Poor papa; maybe those who disagree with his son's policies are what, irrelevant, unpatriotic?

    Let me see now, I think it was Papa who didn't want to get into the Iraq mess years ago because, why was it now; no plan for what to do next, Middle East chaos, segmented Iraq, civil war?

    "Grossly unfair," my patootie.

    November 9, 2007 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  20. Fort Collins, CO

    Over 3,000 Americans dead. Almost 100,000 innocent Iraqs dead. Close to a half trillion dollars spent in a war that did not have to happen. And papa Bush says lay off my son?! Incredible!

    It will be years before we understand just how big a mess his son has created.

    November 9, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  21. Alaska Keri, Tucson, AZ

    Let's just pretend that 50% of the people who read CNN are "liberal" and 50% are "conservative". I'd just like to point out that it seems the majority of the comments here are made by liberal sided folk (i.e. lame, hippocrates, wasteful, complainers, actionless). This leads to the conclusion that liberal people are wasting their time WAY more than conservatives. They are hanging out on the lame computer instead of spending quality time with their families and taking real action toward improving this country. Real improvement in this country starts with the children and building families and community strength. Can anyone truly dispute this? I don't have a family (yet), I am taking a break, cruising the internet, from writing my Masters Thesis. But you better believe I won't ever spend a Friday evening with a computer instead of my children!!!

    November 9, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. Sharon, Littleton, CO

    In the early 1990s, I thought Bush 41 was completely out of touch with average American citizens...looks like he still is. He's delusional if he thinks his son, George, has done a great job as president and his other son, Neil is a crooked as a dog's hind leg. Must be a family trait!

    November 9, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  23. Randy, Reno Nevada

    Bush has made our country the most hated in the world. He needs to be impeached and tried in the international court. His imperialistic and easily manipulated mindset which the Zionists have taken advantage of is endangering the lifes of all Americans and our future generations. Death to Imperialism and Zionism.

    November 9, 2007 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  24. GM, Charlottesville, VA, via Ramadi Iraq

    It makes me ashamed to be an American to read what I have read here on this site. Yes, we have the greatest system in the world. One in which every opinion matters and the consensus governs. It is that ideal that sets us aside from the rest of the world. What is sad is the utter disrespect in which we hold this right. With the power to state our opinions should come the responsibility to base our opionions on some sort of reality and facts. Here are some questions for the people posting on this site: What have you ever done for this country? How many Iraqis have you ever met, forget about spoken to or lived with? What sacrifices have you made in the last 30 years of your life for this country? What would you do if tommorrow someone walked up to your front door and said "I hate you...tomorrow I kill your wife and children". I have been there and done that. My opinion, although it may not count for more than yours, is MUCH more informed. There is one thing that many of you just don't get .... sometimes the niceties of the privileges that we enjoy just don't meet the cut. Sometimes the Best of us are willing to do what is unpopular and will cause us great personal hardship in the long run. This President and Commander in Chief is not perfect, but is confronting a reality of which you only dream ... and which as sheep it is proper that you are ignorant of.
    I am a proud American, husband, father, and Soldier. I am hated, abused, degraded, and unrespected by a far too large majority of our spoiled and ignorant populace. Keep on listening to CNN and reading the news. Dont' bother listening to people who are actually IN IRAQ or Afghanistan. What does it take to realize that when Joe Jihad says he wants to kill Americans that he means YOU! Literally! He wants you...the one who is perhaps inadvertently supporting and protecting him.
    I am not urging you to change your mind. I am urging you to base your opinion on what you know...instead of basing your opinions on what others purport to know. Most of your comments are just rhetoric...repeating what you hear. Grow up, face reality and stop living in a false utopian world.

    Soldier, husband, father

    November 9, 2007 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  25. Ronnie.Irving,Texas

    The Bush family are a bunch of wussies!We will lay off Bush once he stops the murders of the U.S. military for a war in Iraq that was based on lies he told.

    November 9, 2007 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
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