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. Pete, T.S. FL


    Had you been a responsible father and whipped your boy’s a?? every time he screwed up instead of covering for him, maybe he would have grown up to be a man. Unfortunately you failed and now you are to blame for the mess this country is in.

    It’s not too late; you know you can still whip the wimp!

    November 10, 2007 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  2. Evie TS Florida

    Yea, well Bush 41 has the knowledge that Bush 43 tarnishes anything Bush 41 did – Bush 43 is the US of A's village idiot ...

    November 10, 2007 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  3. JD Rugby ND

    43 will go down in history as the worst American president EVER.

    November 10, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  4. DH, Seattle, WA

    "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."

    I think you need a few lessons in American History before making that claim. Start with WWII and Franklin Roosevelt. Internment camps, censorship.....

    November 10, 2007 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. Anonymous, Hickory, NC

    "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."

    Good lord, LEAVE NOW!!!! It should improve the US gene pool.

    November 10, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. r schier norwalk,ct

    "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"


    IS THIS A JOKE? Only a dim bulb assumes that all who take exception to abysmal policies are liberals...Let loose and give them what they deserve??? What, innocent people who never had an inkling of anything to do with us ever??? It makes perfect sense though; an inferior intelligence is the only feature that can explain how there is any support left for B43 and the neo-con team. "Republican" and "conservative" are oxymorons in every respect, except for the aspect that involves the goal of the top 1% stealing 99.5% of the total wealth. Also,why don't you stop and think what causes horrible acts? The west has been in the mid-east for ages, bullying, installing cronies etc., under the guise of "democracy" would you feel if the tables were reversed???? Dumb begets dumber....

    November 10, 2007 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  7. andrew s. rostolder hillsdale nj. 07642

    at least dad had a brain. unfortunately junior's brain in in carl rove's head

    November 10, 2007 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  8. andy, hillsdale nj

    to nicolas in san francisco. u r n idiot.......bush ruined the place....

    November 10, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. r schier norwalk,ct

    "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"

    Posted By RVB, A Soldier in Iraq

    Just BECUASE YOU HAVE A PROBLEM seeing the multitude of abysmal FAILURE that is RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE, don't go calling everyone else ignorant. Since when do you REQUIRE someone to become a politician, to PARTICIPATE in the politcal PROCESS ????? We not only should expect, but DEMAND that as citizens, that those who are elected are HEARD and that their voices at least receive CONSIDERATION. I can't stop laughing at all these MACHO posts, that just say we should blindly follow and kick-*ss, to blindly please the will of an inept "chief". Your argument is entirely vacuous...not one SPECIFIC ARTICULATED point that would defend these neo-con clowns. Why don't you google PNAC....why don't you start seriously analyzing how many times the U.S. has been hypocritical in terms of their policy, particularly in the middle east...oh wait, I get it....your an oil mogul billionaire...If you have such an EXTENSIVE and DEEP understanding of this war, why haven't you provided a word as to WHY ?????? The same can be said of 99% of the posts by the 2% of ?????? who actually honor these criminal bafoons....

    Please refer to the many well articulated points made by this poster:
    Posted By Jeff, Payson, Az : November 9, 2007 9:17 pm

    JEFF...thanks for saving me the effort...I'd be hard pressed to articulate better....

    November 10, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. Chris, Scranton, PA





    November 10, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. tc plainfield, il

    Didn't Bush 41's advisors counsel containment in Iraq? The neoconservatives wanted Bush 41 to go all the way to Baghdad. He and his advisors, Cheney included, wisely chose not to. Bush 41 should feel bad for our country and for his son's failures in Iraq. Say what you will about Bush Sr., at least he surrounded himself with competent people and they served him well in crisis. Bush 43 surrounded himself with incompetent people and they have not served him or the American people well. That is something to be sad about.

    November 10, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Leigh, Pa.

    Thank You, Jeff in Payson AZ.

    My feelings exactly.

    November 10, 2007 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. Greg Okc

    As someone that has had family members in Iraq, I say I am proud that 43 was our leader at this time. People that sit at home safe, risking not themselves nor their own family are the ones complaining the most. The vast majority of service men and women, and their families support the President. We are the ones that send our sons, we are the ones that enlist. Most of the soldiers come from homes that know there are things worth fighting for. Liberal families do not join the military!! When they do its usually for college tuition etc. We send our sons and daughters to fight for things other Americans only enjoy!!!

    November 10, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Lee, St. Petersburg, Florida

    I really am disgusted by the people that say Bush has killed civilians in Iraq. I think you are simply ignoring who is really killing them, Islamic Radical insurgents how do not want a democratic government in Iraq. If there was no insurgency, would those people have died? The answer is no. Would we still have a huge military presence there if the insurgency which is sponsored by Iran was not going on? No. So please stop pretending like you really care about Iraqi civilians when you said nothing about Saddam Hussein putting down two different rebellions and murdering a million or so people. This is about hating Bush for whatever reason and that makes your arguments skewed and unreasonable. You are free to disagree, do not just hate for the sake of hating someone who disagrees with you and then pick and choose what you want to point out about them so others hate that person, too. This is unfair and frankly, dangerous.

    November 10, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. jacob,dallas,tx

    As someone that has had family members in Iraq, I say I am proud that 43 was our leader at this time. People that sit at home safe, risking not themselves nor their own family are the ones complaining the most. The vast majority of service men and women, and their families support the President. We are the ones that send our sons, we are the ones that enlist. Most of the soldiers come from homes that know there are things worth fighting for. Liberal families do not join the military!! When they do its usually for college tuition etc. We send our sons and daughters to fight for things other Americans only enjoy!!!

    Posted By Greg Okc : November 10, 2007 11:23 am

    Certainly people like you should get some lessons.....Bush should have started with her own daughters then we follow as an example... I can not imagine how many lives have been lost. If you didn't get it this time, I think I can not even make you get it....but I hope your sons and daugthers get it soem day,

    November 10, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Bryant, CT

    Sorry 41 – your son is an incompetent disgrace to this country. He should not be in a position of power like this – as he is not fit. Obviously. Darth Vader is even scarier. January 20th, 2009 cannot come soon enough.

    November 10, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Karen,ny

    Well, I am so glad that Bush Sr. feels the pain because his son has caused all Americans to feel pain!

    November 10, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. pflo, houston , texas.

    Its all very simple.For the bush supporters, lets do this! Since bush,rumsfeld and ,most of all ,cheney, had the Iraqi's FREEDOMS as the justification for the invasion, lets give them each a pellet gun and let them walk the streets of Bagdhad together without any backup. Im sure they will be recieved as heroes! WHY don't they do that? Are they scared, or something? Maybe they prefer low income kids doing that instead. Bloody cowards (that includes bush supporters). Can you say the word "CHICKENHAWKS"?? Look it up, neocons.

    November 10, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. Blayze Kohime, Columbus OH

    Ca Native, you do not understand the meaning of democracy. Democratic leaders do not do what they think is right, they do what the people want. To say that Bush is correct in doing what he thinks is right instead of what the people want, is to admit that you do not believe democracy works.

    November 10, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Marty Pacino

    I think most people who talk smack on this thread have never lived under a communist regime nor a dictatorship for that matter. You people take your freedom for granted. You were born in a free world and thus you think you have the capicty to judge and criticize this regime. Why don't you try to live or shall I say; survive in one of these countries, than you will understand what freedom is and you will shut your mouth and quit putting down the leader of the free world. This is a war of ideoligies. We think people should be free they think people should be supressed. George Bush is a hero and possibly the greatest president of our time. Freedom is on the march and if you don't like it then go move to a socialist, a communist or dictatorship and fight to supress societies. In the mean time I will stand behind our president and fight you people tooth and nail. Not becasue the majority supports us but instead becasue it is the responsibility of the USA to promote democracies throught the golbe no matter how hard the resistance is. You people think we can go to the middle east and win a war in 1 year? 5 Years? It will take 30-50 years for us to win this war and in the end millions will live in a free society. Now tell me what your logic is to argue this point.

    November 10, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Brad, the great state of Texas

    Boy, ther's a lot of intelligent discussion on the ticker everytime the word "Bush" is mentioned. To disagree and critcize policy is one thing– but some of these comments are so horrific, I can't believe CNN posts them (maybe I shouldn't be surprised). I've come to expect the usual Bush Derangement Syndrome outburts (it feels so good to blame GW for $5 a gallon gas while drinking $5 a cup Starbucks, doesn't it?),but nasty comments about the former prez and his wife are clearly out of line, and if you have a speck of decency you know it's true!

    For those of us who have to face hard decisions and major responsibility at our own jobs on a regular basis(flipping burgers and working at the Gap don't count), we know that sometimes it's a catch-22, and when you fail, criticism rightly ensues. But that doesn't mean you are a liar, a moron, an oil baron, or Hitler. Consider that next time you carelessly hurl hysterical insults.

    November 10, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. Terry, E waterboro maine

    we are the ones that enlist. Most of the soldiers come from homes that know there are things worth fighting for. Liberal families do not join the military!!

    Explain Cheney, Rove, Limbaugh, Hannity

    The liberals who stay home;

    Kennedy, Kerry, Kerry,Cleland ..

    Where was bush ?

    It's now well established that George W. Bush never showed up for National Guard duty for a period of approximately one year, possibly more, in 1972-1973. Despite all the talk about "honor and dignity," Bush seems to have a problem meeting his

    November 10, 2007 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Terry M, Portland Maine

    People that sit at home safe, risking not themselves nor their own family are the ones complaining the most. The vast majority of service men and women, and their families support the President.

    the LIBERAL generals speak out

    November 10, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. anywoman, san jose, CA

    George and Laura both have the blood of innocents on their hands. Laura killed her high school boyfriend in an accident when she ran a stop sign. George ordered the bombing of a country on false pretense of WMDs . These people are directly responsible for the deaths of more Americans then the Clintons ever will be proven. The Clintons are a corrupt family but the Bushes are a morally corrupt clan.

    November 10, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. Alvin

    I love you George W. Bush. You will go down as one of the greatest presidents of all time. We were right to go into Iraq. I can't understand why your approval rating is not in the 90s right now. Bush rules. I wish we can have another 8 years of you.

    November 10, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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