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. Walter, Atlanta, Georgia

    The Bush family has created its fortune stealing from the American people by manipulating foreign conflicts, from World War II (when the Bush family scion sided with the nazis and was pursed for doing business with an enemy of the United States) through today. On top of that, the current president is an imbecile. Sorry, but I don't feel at all sorry for their bruised feelings. In private they are laughing all the way to the bank.

    November 9, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |


    November 9, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  3. Claude, Mesa AZ

    The Clintons and the Bushes need to SHUT UP and go home.

    November 9, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. ralph tyler, santa fe nm

    yes. things would be better in the mideast if sadam were still in power.

    #43 has made a gigantic #2. his presidency is an unqualified failure at home and abroad.

    November 9, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    Mr. President (Bush #41)- you're a good man and good father."


    For those Republicans knocking Bill Clinton's morality and praising Bush #41, do some research on Jennifer Fitzgerald. She served him in a variety of positions when he was an ambassador, vice-president and president.

    It was widely circulated that they had an affair for many years. When confronted by newsmen, Bush #41 said only "I will not respond to it. I have not responded to it in the past. Except to say, it's a lie". This was the ONLY public denial he made. Rather than shout from the rooftops that he was innocent, he steadfastly refused to comment. He was given a chance on a TV magazine show to tell the world it was a lie and instead stormed off the set without comment when the subject was raised. You'd have to be extremely naive to think there was no fire with all this smoke around. You know you'd NEVER refuse to comment when you had a chance to tell everyone you were innocent.

    November 9, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    Bush 41 –

    Think of the people of this country when you tell people to lay off your son. We feel the real pain! You are isolated from the real problems this country has been made to suffer while your son fumbles his way through each problem that comes to his desk. His terms are a disaster and despite your fatherly feelings, he needs to be told "by you" that he needs to change now. You are part of his failure. As you don't see his mistakes. You could actually teach him a thing or two about diplomacy. Spare the rod and spoil the child, 41.

    Telling it like I see it,

    November 9, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. KIZ BEAR, DE.


    November 9, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. Scum Sucking Lawyer, Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Awww, how sweet. King George I speaks out for King George II. Anything to distract the public's attention to the fact that (a) bin Laden has not been captured (either dead OR alive), (b) Iraq has become another quagmire like Vietname, (c) oil prices are sky rocketing, (d) the housing industry has collapsed, (e) anything Congress TRIES to do to resolve any issue gets vetoed by George II, (f) there never WERE WMDs, (g) the cost of the war in Iraq was going to be paid by the Iraqis from oil funds, not US tax dollars, (h) the battle in Iraq would be over quickly, and finally (i) "Mission Accomplished."

    Need I say more? If you believe in King George II, might as well give up the ghost now.

    November 9, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. Buzz, Adams, MA

    George HW Bush.... Saddam would have been gone years ago had you allowed the trrops to get him in '91. This war is a disaster created by George "mission Accomplished" Bush the II as entertainment for him and his merry band of deciders. Until this administration I have NEVER been ashamed of my country, but your loser son took care of that.

    November 9, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. Corbett, Seattle WA

    It is our fault for electing you and your son. Its not our fault that you two were crappy presidents. You did that yourselves.

    November 9, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. Fred, New York, NY

    Hey, Posted By Ca Native...there are MANY others out in America that agree with you.

    November 9, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. Dustin, Tucson, AZ

    Wow, "Lay off my son" on the front page?

    That's one hell of a deceiving title CNN. Bravo. An upstanding bastion of journalism, as always.

    November 9, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Patrick, Atllanta GA

    Don't make Bush 41 come over there.

    November 9, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. Stacey Augmen, Duluth MN

    It is obvious that the Bush family (continue to) thinks the world revolves around them.

    Let me see. You prop up a war that should never happened. Fail to execute any form of plan. Watch as everything in Iraq self destructs. Continue to do nothing to resolve the problem. And then, expect the world not to be critical.

    Time to stop being a "dad" and start being real.

    November 9, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. ACL, Seattle, Washington

    What is up with these Bush people?!?

    Clue for the Bush clan: It's not about popularity, it's about representing the wishes of the American people. It's about following the rule of law. It's about respecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    George W. Bush is the worst president in American History. Bush 41, your son is a failure according to about 70% of the American people (not to mention what the rest of the world thinks). Iraq is a failure. The economy is a failure. The dollar is a failure. Daddy, your son has done about as much damage as one president could possibily do. All your TV's must be set to the FOX news channel if you think Dubya has accomplished anything positive.

    What's really scary is there's a third, sneaky Bush waiting in the wings.

    America should "stay out of the Bush's".

    November 9, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. Frank, New York, NY

    What about the pain of those who lost their children to this war and never will be able to tell them that they are loved and missed? They will never have the chance to heal "bruised feelings", nor will they ever have a chance to be called "Dad" once again by their children.

    November 9, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Bradley Olsen Estell Manor NJ

    What a joke. He's worried about crticism when thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead because of his lies and incompetence.

    November 9, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. Fermin, Antioch Ca.

    I see these comments about how evil Bush43 is and all I can say is what were you thinking when the towers were hit. I bet you were praising him for his actions to topple the Taliban. When Saddam was rattling his sword, who's being naive when just because they didn't find the WMD. Saddam had the plans and surely would use it if it suited his diabolic scheme. Bush43 inheirited the BS left over from the Clinton administration. All you so called Support the troops democrats can piss off.

    November 9, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. Sally, Portland, OR

    Samuel, you are the hick, you idiot. The Supreme Court enforced the law, Gore could fabricate enough votes to win Florida. And the next election GW won more than 3million votes more than LoserKerry. But that doesn't matter, because GW again won the EC vote. Learn about how the election laws work in this country, or find another. You hick!

    November 9, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  20. Joseph, Ft. Sheridan, IL

    Mr. Bush,

    Yes, be glad of your son. Without his leadership there would be thousands of military men, women and children who would together as a family today as opposed to be buried underground.

    You have a fine son there Mr. Bush, a fine son.

    November 9, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  21. Oleg, Foster City, CA

    That is why we need a change of names in Oval Office. Our country was ruled by Bushes and Clintons for more than two decades and is starting to look more like a monarchy than a democracy. Do we really want to read how much Bill Clinton watches news about Hilary?

    November 9, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  22. ellen,rochester,NY

    Dear Mr.President, if you had taught that sorry excuse for a man how to behave maybe you would be able to be proud of him and not have to run defense for him. You do not have my sympathy nor respect as a parent. Instead of using your influence and wealth to grease the skids for little Georgie you should have demanded good behavior,good grades and accountability!You accepted drunken behavior, unfulfilled military obligations and failed businesses and then you foisted the result of your failure to parent effectively on"we the people". Now the world will have to clean up the mess your spoiled child has made!

    November 9, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  23. Ryan Indianapolis

    Good for him, enough is enough with the far left in this country. They think Bush is a worst threat then Bin Laden. GW is a couragous man that is leading our country thru very tough times that came about by the terrorist, nobody else. The left should really be ASHMAMED of themselves.

    November 9, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. Bob Borzelleri

    The irony here is that the feelings of a man who has apparently made one of the most ill advised foreign policy decisions in recent memory is being given more attention than the lives and deaths of the untold thousands of people who have been affected by those same decisions.

    We seem to be totally unprepared, as a society, to hold leaders accountable for taking ill advised and irresponsible actions in the name of furthering their particular ideology.

    November 9, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. James Kebler

    As a Father I completely understand Bush 1 defending his kid. As a citizen of the USA I would hope he would ache for his country as well and realize the debt, deaths and ruin his son has brought this country. Sometimes a Father has to stand up and tell his kid he just dosen't have what it takes, This is obviously the case with Dumbya. Thanks Dad, great gift to our nation you gave us, next time please pull out( aka cut and run).

    November 9, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
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