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. curtis

    Several have stated that they think Mr & Mrs Bush Sr must be so embarrassed by their son. True but I also think that subconsciously, at least, Bush Sr is relieved. Because now when historians talk about the failed Bush presidency, they won't be talking about him anymore.

    November 9, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  2. Jed in Texas

    Jeff in Payson,Az. I couldnt have said it better.Im just really sorry he gave Texas such a bad name.Many of the folks here are good people.But like any place you go, there are those folks who are no smarter than a 1st grader and they vote.This is also the state run by Big Oil and the War Machine.Companies who are making billions in War profits.

    November 9, 2007 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  3. Todd, New York, NY

    You people are so full of it.

    9/11 (they have the will)
    WMD (they have the means)
    Terrorists (they are everywhere)

    We had to send a message to the world regardless of the pretext. Simple as that. Grow up. Get over it.

    Of course it's about oil. So what. Of course the story was manipulated. So what. Was still the right policy.

    November 9, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  4. Dave, Denver co

    After reading the comments written by the Bush defenders(sparce as they are)I have come to a couple conclusions.

    1.Republicans are illiterate morons
    2.It is time for another civil war in this country. Red against Blue. Sooner the better.

    Good thing for the RED they get to go to heaven after we exterminate them.

    November 9, 2007 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  5. Birdie, San Marcos, Texas

    All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

    Posted By Jeff, Payson, Az : November 9, 2007 9:17 pm

    Nicely done!!!

    Just like to add one thing. The SEC Investigation files were in World Trade Center Building 7 that collapsed a few hours after the Towers.

    I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but it was very convenient.

    November 9, 2007 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  6. John, Cambridge, MA

    Forget his 'son's pain'? I sincerely hope you never have children.

    November 10, 2007 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  7. Will

    If the Democrats are the answer to all of our questions, then why is it that our Republican President has a higher approval rating then the Democratic Congress? In fact it just happens to be the lowest approval rating for the congress in our government’s history. Interesting.

    November 10, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  8. David, Portland, ME

    Bush 43 hasn't done any "handling" of the war. Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld were the grand architects who conceived the pipedream of a democracy-forged-at-gunpoint in Iraq. Bush has merely stood in the face of abject defeat and loudly proclaimed "Victory!" over and over and over.
    It's a nice picture that accompanies the ticker article; the double Georges fishing in the power boat with 700+ hp of fossil-fuel guzzling outboards makes me think proudly of a particular moment in one of W's state of the union addresses. W said that we are a nation "drunk on oil". My fear is that he and pappa own most of the bars in town.
    Now, one of W's big claims to success in his presidency, economically speaking, was that "home ownership is at an all time high". He said it over and over. Now the dubious methods of financing this great pinnacle of American might are threatening the foundations of our economy. His administration said that we were experiencing a "Goldie Locks economy". I'm afraid the way that the story ends, however, involves Goldie Locks being devoured by the three bears. I don't want to continue on with a negative rant so I'll just leave it that I can't think of any aspects of our domestic, foreign or fiscal policy that Bush and his comrades didn't run into the ground. It's truly appalling.

    November 10, 2007 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  9. Mrs. America

    I would ache for my child too if she turned into a monster and had the blood of thousands on her hands. I would also ache for those whose blood had been shed and their families. Finally, I would ache for myself, heartsick in thinking that I was, at least in part, responsible for what she had become.

    November 10, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  10. Sharon - Portola, CA

    I feel kinda sorry about ol' #41, and yet I don't. He's known since sonny-boy was born that the boy wasn't really all there, but love is blind and he's stood behind his spawn, whatever that spawn thought it oughta do.

    George W is causing our country to rot from the inside out, and I'm sure that's a difficult pill for an old guy to swallow.

    I'll tell you the truth, if one of my own kids displayed the lack of conscience or bullheadedness and blind ideology and the irrational belief that he could do no wrong...well, let's just say that if they got in trouble with the law, I'd let the law take care of 'em. Kids never learn anything if their parents keep covering their butts. Heck, Bush the 2nd is just a little older than I, but he's still as dumb and willful as some bully on an elementary school playground.

    If Bush the 2nd isn't impeached or brought up on some sort of charges by a World Court because of his crimes, that Jesus he claims to believe in has some real interesting surprises in store for hom on the other side of this life.

    November 10, 2007 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  11. paul, fl

    Hey Mrs. America you wish you could have a child. in fact i would bet your some old hag that has nothing better to do in her worthless life then to say dumb things about Bush. You would never be so lucky to have a child that one day would become president because your child would be just as dumb as you.

    November 10, 2007 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  12. Louisville

    daddy bush saves the day...

    November 10, 2007 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  13. Mark. Hot Springs Arkansas

    After Bush 41 and Bush 43 why would anyone in their right mind would vote republican again? If another republican is elected for president in the near future I am moving to Mexico. Should be alot of cheap vacant homes since they all left for the U.S. I hear it is a whole lot cheaper to live there. You can smoke just about anywhere you want in Mexico.

    November 10, 2007 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  14. JC, USA

    Karen,ny :

    41 and 43 are their IQ's.

    November 10, 2007 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  15. Colin742

    It is difficult to understand why 43 did nit cunsult 41 and General Scowcroft.

    November 10, 2007 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  16. alan St Louis

    Well you got plenty of hundreed dollar bills from the oil cartel and haulibuton kick backs to wipe those tears off.

    The only ones winning this war on terror are the corpate republicans

    Iraq a lost cause.

    We have lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis. Most of em wish Sadam was back in power. At least with Sadam they had working power all year long, And working water plants and working sewer plants. Dont believe me go check with British News network they have a detailed on the average Iraqi and the average working utilies they have. So far its 30mins a week. How would you like if the power, phone, sewer and water company called you and say you are only getting 30 mins a week for years to come. Iraqis want us out. since we been there they been living in the dark ages. do you blam them??

    Osama a lost cause By us ignoring him for a long time, because we allocated 99% of the military to Iraq which had nothing to do with 911 Which gave him time and an Islam illegal war which Osama used as a lighting rod made his organization stronger then ever. Even if we get him, Others will take his lead and make him a mader. His organization gotten so strong he is about to toppel pakistan. Pakistan leader so desparate and scared they dismiised the constitution and dismised democracy to become a self empowered dictator. BIG WIN ON TERROR???? The people of pakistan are getting realy pissed off and about to over throw his butt. I bet the new government will be a Osama backed government. SCARRY PAKISTAN HAS MANY NUKES What realy sto stu stu STUPID that Sadam hated IRAN and fougt many wars with them lol. Now Iraq is in shambles the one that kept IRAN week.

    How we handle the middle east problem is with such high STUPIDITY, Is the whitehouse that STUPID are is it SMART for making trillions for the OIL CARTEL and HAUILIBURTON.????????

    The next preisident has a big job to undue all the damage done. The best man for the Job is Biden. But Obama ok to. Clinton is not fit. Puting a flip flooper in white house will keep the staus quo.

    I dont understand if the President played the cards delt to him he could have been the best president ever. All he had to do was to send 100% of the military to Afganistan. If he did that Alqueda would have been wiped off the planet, and Osama would be dead are captuered. He could have been the president that saved the USA and brought this country togather with pride. But he had to toss those cards in the trash and play the GREED card. HE EARNED the DISLIKE he is getting!!!!! IF Daddy is mad, it is his fault for not giving his son a butt wooppin he earned.

    November 10, 2007 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  17. mark from wilkes barre pa

    third time this week cnn took my post down or did not post at all whats the matter moniter only want to hear from irrational left or right commenters ?

    November 10, 2007 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  18. RVB, A Soldier in Iraq

    I swear, 88% of you commenting your opinions on this Blog are imbeciles, 98% of you do not have a clue what is actually taking place, or why our political elite have chosen to take the course that they have. I do not claim that I do, I surely know better than the 88% of you whining, delusional, weak-hearted opinionates, however I am not so disillusioned as to presume to understand things which I clearly do not. All that I read are pusillanimous, misinformed criticism's. Any simpleminded poltroon can criticize, if you are so profound in your wisdom, then why do you not enter into politics, other wise keep your imbecilic, treacherous bleeding heart blathering's to yourselves; Save it for Thanks Giving, and Christmas dinner discussion, and let those of us with an understanding of War, and Politcs do the thinking.
    From one who is aware of his ignorance
    "War is the continuation of politics by other means"
    Carl Von Clausewitz

    November 10, 2007 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  19. mark wilkes barre pa

    theres many comments from the same senders on this blog two,three and four hate comments at a time here for left and right of the story I guess cnn monitors don't like rational middle of the road comments It really sucks when I can see the same names under comments from the LEFT or RIGHT and know what there going to say before they say it. DO these people work for you CNN ?????? Is this a made up comment blog ? Are the same names we see under these comments actual people ? How about giving some one else room to talk ??????????????

    November 10, 2007 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  20. Mark Freda Mechanicsburg, Pa.

    I feel (as an American), that our President has lost touch with the "common man". Most of today's government policies (taxes, interest rates, etc.) have been geared to benefit the most wealthy. There has been no "trickle down method" to fuel our economy. The results are really being felt today by our citizens. Most are now in dis-pare wondering where will all of this end.

    November 10, 2007 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  21. mark wilkes barre pa

    same hate mongers here that comment on every issue how about letting new voices be heard CNN. this is my 4th attempt at making a comment on this issue. I think all hate mongers, LEFT OR RIGHT are working for the two big parties or get off on writing angry,hateful and grotesque things about other human beings. YEAH lets pick on a 80 somthing year old man who loves his son and is proud of him,,, just like your fathers are hopefully proud of you. CNN you should strive for better comments than the poor excuses for humans that you allow to fuel such anger and hate time and time again. I read through these comments and I see the same names under the comments and I know what they will say before I read it. Are these people employed by cnn to do this sort of thing or is it time you have a talk to your monitor ?

    November 10, 2007 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  22. Christopher Aikele, Arco ID

    Does any of your "Core Beliefs" have anything to do with humility? If you admited you were wrong and you are trying to do your best now to fix the problem you might gain more support and respect from your fellow countrymen. But I guess you'll let your pride drag you down to be known as possibly the worst president ever.

    November 10, 2007 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  23. JR WI

    It is the blind sheep in this country that were foolish enough to vote such a wrongful president not once but twice into office. Not only is the problems of this country on his hands, but they are on those who voted for him. They are just as responsible as Bush41 is for having him as a son.

    Heh, what kind of question is that really? Hussein back in the middle east, christ do you think the american public is that stupid, I would at least think they could see past that question, or so I'd hope...I have my doubts these days. To cover up all your sons wrong doings by that question, shows how ignorant your little bushy family is, and how true it is that you have destroyed most moral beliefs in this country and no this country is not safer. Paranoia only leads to worse events not better safety.

    November 10, 2007 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  24. chochanker, OK

    You guys whine like a bunch of liberal babies...wait a minute. Have you guys seen any UFO's lately?

    November 10, 2007 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  25. Antonio, Tempe AZ

    I never liked 41 but I could respect him. His son has done more to undermine the rule of law in the US than any president for a hundred and fifty years.

    November 10, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
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