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. Don, Mission Viejo, CA

    The entire Bush family are a bunch of failures.

    November 9, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  2. Tom, Melbourne, Australia

    My god, the sheer nerve and arrogance of the Bush family is breathtaking. Complaining how criticism of their miserable failure of a son is grossly unfair – that's simply disgusting. The only good thing the Bush administration may have accomplished is ruined the Bush family name for all time. Bush Sr. should apologize to the family of every single soldier wounded or killed in this unnecessary war, which was based on the lies of little Georgie. And apologize to us taxpayers for wasting billions of our dollars on wars and tax cuts for the wealthy, while refusing to fund health care for children. And these people claim to be Christian! Shocking hypocrisy and failure.

    November 9, 2007 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  3. Robert, Muskegon, MI

    People, the world is closing in on us. We can't be caught with our pants down like 9/11. Evil is real, and just because you want to sit and drink beer in your hammock all day and be safe, doesn't get rid of the fact that there's people out there that want to hurt us! I mean, if Bush really screwed up he would be in jail or impeached, but that hasn't happened. Don't be hatin. This evil talk is scary. I don't like it anymore than anyone else that jobs fly away when republicans are in charge, but you know what? The most profound evil does not come from a bad president, it comes from the people's "REACTION" to something they don't agree with. That's the evil, that's the true evil. Ya'll riot, exchange foul words, curse God, curse your fellow man, curse everyone that doesn't agree with you.... it's madness! It's evil!!
    If we all could learn to support our country no matter what, like family, or bro's.... "yo man I got yer back!".... why can't it be like that! Don't you see your hurting us more than any terrorists could do??? Wake up people!

    November 9, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  4. Bovaria New York NY

    Are these the 152 people that would like to take me up on my offer to buy them one way tickets to Afghanistan, if they don't appreciate thier American feedoms. Planes and ships leave quite frequently. Just let me know when you wish to leave.

    November 9, 2007 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  5. Boriazi New York NY

    Oh yes, and please take the CNN moderators with you.

    November 9, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  6. Shane, San Diego, CA

    SDM, Glendale, California: It is free speech when someone wants to bash Bush. But when someone opposes your liberal views, you want to shut them up. Why don't you try counting how many on here try to say GW did a good job, then count how many people there are telling them they have their head in the sand, or if they live on another planet. It's only free speech if it's someone that agrees with you, now isn't it!

    November 9, 2007 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  7. Pittsburgh

    Tell your son to lay off our country, he has done enough damage already!

    November 9, 2007 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  8. edward podgurski huron ohio

    ca native, what is the matter with you Clinton has been gone for 7 years.Yes he messed up personally but he killed no troops like this labodmized idiot.Under his watch 10 billion $ missing, wheres the oil money that was to pay for this war?What about theGonzo.the scooder,Rove the outing of Phlame which is treason.Torture spying on americanstomuch to write. Wake up and be a good and honest american navy vet ohio

    November 9, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  9. Stan Diabolos

    So the President doesn't care what his critics (ie: we the people) think.

    What a surprise.

    Of course Sr. is going to defend his son. Even parents of serial killers say their kids are quiet and caring...

    November 9, 2007 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  10. Mark, San Diego,CA

    whaaa my son is the worst President in the history of our America whaaaaa 🙁

    November 9, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  11. Dr. RaTsTaR Lebanon OR

    Ritual hari-kari on live TV is the only honorable thing for dubya to do now.

    Then again, maybe him and Cheney could ride through downtown Baghdad in an open motorcade so the natives can express their gratitude to them for having gotten rid of SadMan. Karl Rove can drive.

    November 9, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  12. Dood, Rockville TN

    Bush's legacy is one of fraud, corruption and failure.

    Nothing can ever change that.

    Apparently, that's a sign of quality as far as Republicans are concerned.

    If there were any justice in America, Poppy and his sons would all be in prison.

    November 9, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  13. Uoplazi New York NY

    Have you asked the people who died in 911 ? And I also wonder why these 152 all smart people are not running for President, with the CNN Moderators as their cabinet members. Seems that should be the answer, eh ?

    November 9, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  14. Pat W.

    Actually, whether Iraq was better off with Saddam Hussein is irrelevant. What's relevant is. . . where is bin Laden? Is he under my computer? No, nothing there. Is he in my closet? No, nothing there.

    Further Hussein kept Iran in line by making Iran believe Iraq had weapons of mass distruction. So, how foolish was it for Bush 43 to take out Hussein when 43 KNEW that the WMD accusation was bogus, thus empowering Iran? Just about the most foolish thing I ever witnessed.

    November 9, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  15. Max, Boston, MA

    Both 41 and 43 were terrible presidents.

    November 9, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  16. A TRUE AMERICAN_{ Fort Worth, Texas}

    I have not voted for a democratic candidate in any election since I voted for Hubert Humphrey when I was just out of college. I have been a consistent Republican voter but that has come to a sad and sudden end. To Bush-41, I voted for you but your IDIOT SON... well everybody knows the rest OF THE STORY

    November 9, 2007 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  17. Common Sense, Washington, DC

    It is interesting to read some of the comments on here. For some reason, "If you can't handle free speech, move to China. It's our right and duty to question our government" is a respectable response to someone who doesn't agree with the negative press against the President. Seems like the author of that line can't handle free speech himself. People are going to disagree on the issues, and each persons opinion shares the same weight and are due the same respect as all others. I would recommend that you remember that in the future before trying to belittle someone elses opinion.

    November 9, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  18. C. A. Martin

    I've seen more dumb people blame Dubya for things that weren't his doing than smarter people sticking to the facts. My son's school is full of students that think all terrorist anger toward the US is Dubya's fault...and they hear it from their parents.

    Pathetic.

    The guy's nothing like perfect and I disagree with his handling of several things...but I've never seen people pile on with ignorant hatred like this before. A lot of people should be terribly ashamed.

    November 9, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  19. ty, phoenix, az

    Ca. Native, You're as confused and moronic as that idiot that's leading our country to ruin. People like you need to be neutered and kept out of the voting booth.

    November 9, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  20. jfz

    Bush 43 doesn't follow and doesn't care what the American people think...why should ANYONE care what Bush 41 thinks???

    November 9, 2007 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  21. Kim, Dallas, TX

    this country would be so much better with out all the Liberals. They do not understand what it means to be united. Horrible acts were done to this country and all the republicans back Bush. We should have come into the war stronger inoreder to already be done and out of it but of course we can not because he has to please all the crazy left wingers make a good public apperance to them. Its time to let loose in Iraq and give them what they deserve. I wish we could send some libs over because if they had any brain….they'd be republican.

    Posted By CAREPUBLICAN, REDWOOD CITY, CA : November 9, 2007 5:25 pm

    Carepublican if Republicans had any brains or guts to stand up to pressure, we wouldn't be in Iraq in the first place. Where have you been hiding? They didn't cause 911 and had not made threats against the US. They weren't capable of making nuclear weapons, the few misguided blogs that made comments thinking they were will not let go of the lies told to get us into this illegal war. Take your heads out of the sand. The reason we are not united is because of the war in Iraq that should never have begun...thanks to the idiot Republican in office and his Neocon PNAC cronies. His corporate interests and family background with grandpappy Preston should cause anyone to question what is he up to?

    November 9, 2007 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  22. ELAINE-LOS ANGELES, CA

    ALL OF YOU NEED TO THANK THE GOOD OLD USA FOR EVEN HAVING THE PLEASURE OF BEING IN THIS BEAUTIFUL LIBERAL COUNTRY. WE CAN BE WORSE OFF IN A THIRD WOLD COUNTRY WITH NO ACCESS TO EVEN SPEAKING YOUR MIND {JUST LIKE NOW} BECAUSE YOU WILL BE HISTORY.

    I PERSONALLY THANK YOU FAMILY BUSH FOR PROTECTING US THE BEST WAY YOU CAN AND MADE THIS A BETTER PLACE FOR US TO LIVE. NONE OF OUR PARENTS WERE GIVEN PERFECT INSTRUCTIONS IN HOW TO HANDLE EVERY SITUATION THAT WILL OCCUR AND WE AS A "FREE NATION" ARE HAVING TO CLEAN UP AFTER SOMEONE ELSES MISTAKES {EVEN AFTER BEING WARNED OF WHAT WAS OUT THERE AWAITING}.

    November 9, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  23. Birdie, San Marcos, Texas

    Being from Texas, I haven't like Bush since he was governor of Texas and I knew he wouldn't be good for the country.

    One thing really concerns me is why did it take so long for America to start to wake up and speak up? Remember the banning of the Dixie Chicks for speaking up? ...and they were right. What about those that are still sleeping?

    We need to make smarter choices about who we choose to run our country. Seek out the truth and make informed choices. And not stand idly by while a court decides our presidency. There are no provisions in the Constitution for the Supreme Court to stop a recount of votes.
    A couple of quotes that we should keep in mind.

    "The people shouldn't be afraid of their government. The government should be afraid of the people."

    And

    "He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security."

    The best thing we can do for ourselves at this point is to educate ourselves, get involved, don't ever vote against our own best interests, don't run political campaigns like popularity contests and hold everyone accountable! No one is above the law. No more signing statements that say, "This new law I'm signing applies to everyone else but me." No more lobbyist or campaign contributions. No more letting the industries write their own laws, ie. credit card industry, big pharma, etc.

    If we really want our government to represent us, then we ALL need to get involved...and stop being afraid of the boogeyman.

    November 9, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  24. T. James, Las Vegas, NV

    He wanted the big job and the glory. Along with that come the criticisms. He should have known that going in. If he can't handle the criticisms, he's hardly the stuff of which a president should be made.

    November 9, 2007 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  25. Larry Ripp Saint Paul, Minnesota

    Give me a BREAK! Bush Sr. didn't know what a "bar code" was at the supermarket and he doesn't know pain and suffering. He should go talk to the 2867 families who have lost a loved one in His "son's" war in Iraq. THEN he'd know suffering...

    November 9, 2007 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
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