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. SK, Austin TX

    James from Phoenix and CA Native:

    Yes, Clinton lied: About his SEX LIFE!!!! Since when is that our business, even if he does do it in his office? I hope Hillary and Chelsea kicked his butt, but it should have only only affected his immediate family (and would have if his detractors hadn't seen fit to spends millions of dollars and countless hours boring us with it).

    GW Bush also lied (and lied and lied), but about WAR! Little bit more important, don't you think? Yes, he's an extremely dim bulb (why, oh why didn't they just make him Baseball Commissioner, which was the job he really wanted?), but ignorance is no excuse, especially for a President. What Bush has done to harm our once-great nation is irreparable, and the harm he has wrought in the Middle East is criminal. Poppy gets a pass for not seeing his child's limitations (to put it euphemistically), but if you can't see how much damage GW has done and continues to do, I pity you, I really do.

    November 10, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. George, IL

    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.
    Posted By Alvin : November 10, 2007 1:35 pm

    I am forced to believe that there are numerous trolls on this board that try to stir up anger and disgust.

    November 10, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. FW, SC

    If I were daddy Bush I would feel bad and ashamed for having raised such a dumb idiot for a son. Your children are a reflection of you so what does that say about daddy Bush?

    The middle east was better off with Saddam in Iraq. We can see now why he had to rule with an iron fist in order to keep Iraq under control. That part of the world has been fighting each other for centuries and removing Saddam only made it worst.

    Dick Cheney gave an interview in the 1990's as to why daddy Bush didn't topple Saddam during the gulf war. Every reason he gave has happened since GW invaded Iraq. He opened up Pandora's box and he doesn't have a clue as to how to put the top back on.

    November 10, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Love America

    Thank you to the US military and thank yout to George W Bush who had the guts to do what Clinton never would have.

    Keep fightint the good fight, Mr President and our troops!!

    November 10, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. John, Columbus, OH

    May I ask the obvious question....whatt he heck does "41" and "43" stand for?

    November 10, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. J.V., Killeen TEXAS

    WHY ARE WE STILL IN THE MIDDLE EAST?!! Aren't they supposed to be running their own land now with their own army that we clothed, supplied, and trained.
    COME ON! Let them do their own crowd control with their own people. We took down the BAD LEADER and others...Where the hell is WALDO?..I MEAN..BIN LADEN.

    November 10, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Joseph,tx

    I am sure daddy you are proud of your son's accomplishment of wounding Americans and IRaQs..oooh how about Katrina victims that were used to fan the war so that Americans and the world could pay attention...Never been ashamed to be an American more than I am right now.....

    November 10, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. G. Keith, Hilton Head, SC

    HA! Spoken like true left-wingers! Bush handled Katrina poorly??!!! WHAT ABOUT THE MAYOR AND GOVERNOR?! OH NO, don't blame them, they're just IN CHARGE. But no democrat has the guts to admit failure. We have become a nation of cowards and sissies, led by our democratic congress and the left-wing media. Each and every democrat-communist coward should be either sent to exile in France or brought up on charges. The clinton white house set up future administrations for failure when they failed to contain terrorism because they lacked the intestinal fortitude to stop it. Like a true democrat, they hid in fear. You heard it here first. If a democrat-communist gets elected they'll blame each and every failure on Bush. That's the democrat way, hide and blame.

    November 10, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. kay. newport beach, calif.

    What is a man if he has no conscience?

    November 10, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. Ron Nebraska

    John from Columbus...........41 and 43 refers to their presidencies. Old George was president number 41, Clinton was president 42, young George is president 43, the next president will be number 44,,,,,,,,,ok?

    November 10, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Tomorrow Canadians pay tribute to all the men and women who have sacrificed and are sacrificing their lives for our Freedom.

    We pay tribute to all our brave military members who are now actively engaged in the Iraq War. And to those who fought bravely in WWI, WWII, The Korean War and The Vietnam War.

    Many Canadian Parents and Families are also grieving for their sons and daughters who were lost fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. As are many parents and family members around the world who lost loved ones due to past Wars and the Iraq War.

    But these families who grieve for their loved ones do so with great pride for their heroes. For their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers who fearlessly and bravely answered the call for our Freedom.

    And I can tell you this, George Bush I nor II has the power to diminish the pride I feel for these heroes, including my Dad, Uncles, and Grandfathers. I will stand proud and pay homage to each and every military member who is and who has made the ultimate sacrifice.

    And while many will remember Bush II as America's worst President – Yesterday, Tomorrow and Each Day to Come, We Will Remember The Best, The Greatest, The Bravest, Men and Women
    For – As the Legacies of those who failed to Govern and Serve their Nation Proudly fade away in time .....

    They, Our Heroes, shall not grow old as we who are left grow old.
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

    November 10, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  12. P. Sherman, Ontario Canada

    You can hardly see Bush Sr. on any programme, especially the ones I have seen him on CNN, where he doesn't say that people are picking on his son. It must be embarrassing to have a President have to have his dad come out and tell people to lay off. I know it is embarrassing having to listen to him defend him so often. I thought if you are good enough to be President then you are supposed to be man enough to take the complaints without having Dad come out and stick up for you.

    November 10, 2007 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  13. aohs, Seattle, WA

    It's a pity that the article has been altered now to remove the original headline –

    Bush 41: Lay off my son

    It was beautiful, but I suppose you folks in the right-wing media have to maintain the proper tone....

    November 11, 2007 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. LQ, Rochester MN

    Jeff from AZ, I agree with you completely.
    43 absolutely sickens me. I had such high hopes when we elected a democratic Congress. I wish the democrats would get the backbone to vote to impeach first Cheney then 43. Then they should be tried for war crimes.

    November 11, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  15. pflo, dubai

    "Many Canadian Parents and Families are also grieving for their sons and daughters who were lost fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. As are many parents and family members around the world who lost loved ones due to past Wars and the Iraq War." UH, Canada is not in Iraq. You obviously prefer bling jingoism to fact checking. You dont even know what countries YOUR countries army is in!

    November 11, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX


    November 11, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  17. Ken Long Beach, CA

    DEAR Gorbashov; Tom, ALBUQUERQUE, NM; T. Tim, Lodi, WI; Bob, San Francisco, CA; Steve, Portland, OR; J.Crobuzon; Samuel, Lincoln, NE; mike, philadelphia; Guido, Charleston, South Carolina; Walter, Atlanta, Georgia :

    Wake up and smell the mass graves U.S. soldiers keep uncovering in IRAQ. "Stability" to SADDAM and other despots in the MID-EAST means a boot on your neck and a gun to your head.

    Try studying the history of Afghanistan and Iraq so you really understand where ISLAMOFACISM started and you will realize that it is a direct by-product of NAZISM and FACISM that we fought in WWII.

    Blaming BUSH for every negative event in this country and around the globe for that matter, while refusing any him credit for one positive just shows how deranged you are.

    Give it a rest. For once I would love for one Democrat voice a rational suggestion or original thought on how to change course that does not involve quitting and breaking our promise to help those people who so desperately need us.

    The real division in this country is not between right-left or Dem-Rep, but between those that believe we should stand by our commitment to combat terrorism with force when necessary and those that still believe we can negotiate and appease the fanatics. Some of us want to stand up and fight for those that can't defend themselves...and there are those people that want to close their eyes pretend these monsters don't exist.

    Wake up and pull your heads from the sand or stand aside and let our military do their job.

    November 12, 2007 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  18. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    "The real division in this country is not between right-left or Dem-Rep, but between those that believe we should stand by our commitment to combat terrorism with force when necessary and those that still believe we can negotiate and appease the fanatics. Some of us want to stand up and fight for those that can't defend themselves…and there are those people that want to close their eyes pretend these monsters don't exist.
    - -
    Osama bin Laden's fanatical ideas come NOT from Nazis, but the belief that Muslims should go back to their older ways. His hatred escalated greatly when Saudi Arabia let Bush 41 put his troops in there during the first war.

    Terrorism is a tactic, not a political or religious movement. There are terrorists in every country including ours (Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph).

    Bush chose to spend his major effort invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. He was "not that concerned" about the terrorist that attacked our country, but did manage to create a breeding ground for al Qaeda where there wasn't one before.

    The Iraqi committee, Gen. Petraeus, and even Bush admit there can be NO MILITARY SOLUTION to the problem. The final resolution must come through diplomatic efforts.

    "Wake up and pull your heads from the sand"

    November 12, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  19. Jeff, Payson, Az

    Bill Clinton receive a sexual favor and lied about it for which he was impeached.

    George Dubya Bush has screwed an entire Nation, and lied about everything; where are the impeachment papers?

    Here is what we've come to: A President blinded by power and privilege, oblivious to the devastation toward which he is pushing America and the world. An International corporate culture run amok, freed from restraints in every area from pollution control to health and safety standards to merciless price-gouging, even as the abuses slip quietly from the attention of corporate owned media. An economy trumpeted as "blooming" even while hundreds of thousands lose their jobs, slip into poverty, are left without homes or health care or enough to eat. A "Patriot Act" that makes all of us traitors if we speak out in any way the Washington thought militia deems threatening. Warrantless Wiretapping, Systemic Torture. Abuse of Detainees, Cherry-Picking Intelligence, Muzzling Truth tellers, Shredding our Constitution.

    George W. Bush's last act as Governor of Texas and one of his first acts as president-elect, George W. Bush demonstrated his utter disregard for the law when it comes to secrecy. In December 2000, as the cliff-hanging Florida presidential recount was sorting itself out and heading for the U.S. Supreme Court, Dubya was in Austin, Texas, away from the spotlight. As soon as he got word of the U.S. Supreme Court's favorable ruling, he arraigned for his gubernatorial records to be gathered, placed on sixty large pallets, shrink-wrapped in heavy plastic, and, with no announcement, quietly shipped off to his father's presidential library at Texas A&M University. Actually, this effort to bury his records had started in 1997, when DUBYA sought and obtained a change in Texas law to permit a governor to select a site for his papers, within Texas, other than the Texas State Library. But such an alternative site was permissible only after "consultation" with the state's library and archives commission. This consultation was mandatory, obviously required to make sure any alternative arraignments satisfied the state's stringent open-access law regarding the records. DUBYA, however, removed his papers with no consultation whatsoever; rather, he dispatched an aide to inform the head of the Library and Archive Commission that he was sending his records to his father's library, like it or not.

    Well, she didn't like it. With one of the nation's strongest public information laws (much to DUBYA's) chagrin), Peggy Rudd, the director and librarian of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, took exception to his unilateral action. Under Texas law, gubernatorial papers are immediately indexed by archivist and then made publicly available. All requests fir these records must be answered within 10 days under the Texas statute. Bush senior's presidential library is run by the U.S. government's National Archives and Records Administration, however, which quickly advised those seeking access to DUBYA's gubernatorial records that his papers were no longer subject to Texas laws and that the federal archivists were to busy with father's papers to process his son's. DUBYA had effectively federalized his papers, hiding them in legal limbo in his father's library, where no one could have access to them. His handpicked successor, the newly installed Texas governor Rick Perry, agreed with Dubya.

    But Ms. Rudd did not cotton to being bullied by the former governor, even if he was president of the country, and refused to accept Dubya's designation of his father's library. It took her over a year, but in May 2002 she prevailed, forcing the Texas attorney general, who would have been hard-pressed to read the Texas law any other way, to rule against Dubya, making his gubernatorial papers subject to Texas Public Information Act. Given the clarity of Texas law, Dubya's claim that Ms. Rudd's office had no role other than the ministerial one of recording the governor's designation of an alternative location was beyond Philadelphia lawyering. It was a flagrant violation of the law.

    News accounts reported that Dubya's ploy had not violated the law, but a close reading of the attorney general's formal opinion shows that these reports are incorrect. There are no sanctions for such a violation other than to male the papers available as the law requires. No telling how much scrubbing Dubya's gubernatorial papers received, both before he left office and while in limbo at his father's library.

    However, Dubya appears to have the last laugh in this tale; His papers were sent to Austin, Texas, for processing – slowly. And Governor Perry, along with a new attorney general (both DUBYA supporters), had found new exceptions in the state's information law that give him the keys to the filing cabinets with DUBYA's records. In Short secrecy wins, and good luck to anyone seeking DUBYA's gubernatorial records (as a few did before Perry got the keys; such access resulted in DUBYA's embarrassment, like showing that DUBYA and council Alberto Gonzales processed death-row communications on incomplete information and faster than DUBYA could say, "EXECUTE HER". It is really difficult to believe one would go to so much trouble to hide his public records unless he had something he really did not want people to know about.

    To Birdie is San Marcos, Tx.
    Marvin P. Bush, the president’s younger brother, was a principal in a company called Securacom that provided security for the World Trade Center, United Airlines, and Dulles International Airport. The company, was backed by KuwAm, a Kuwaiti-American investment firm.

    The company lists as government clients "the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S Air force, and the Department of Justice," in projects that "often require state-of-the-art security solutions for classified or high-risk government sites." Bush and his no bid nepotism contracts are bankrupting this country.

    I for one will speak out against this IMBECILE and his henchman Tricky Dickie. I have and will continue to send letters to Congress to investigate these 2 crooks to the fullest extent of the Law; glad to see a federal judge is stepping in to advise these crooks to preserve e-mail communications. Time to expose Dubya for the FRAUD he actually is!

    I have grown so sick of both the Republicans and Democratic parties I'm a proud card carrying member of the Lou Dobbs Independent Populist party, no incumbent will receive my vote.

    I highly recommend the book by Chalmers Johnson "Nemesis".

    November 12, 2007 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
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