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. paul,gainesville fl

    Exactly what Hitler said in the bunker.
    Posted By J.Crobuzon.

    So I take it your a Nazi and was with your dear friend Hitler to know what he said at that time?

    Yes you libs seem to know what evil Dictators have said because you all suck up to them as much as you can. It is so funny that you love these evil little mindless dictators as much as you do but I guess it is because you all have your heads up Bill/Hill backside so much you cannot understand what evil is.

    I believe the real enemies to America happens to be liberals and Democrats and the Clintons. If only Bush could do to you what he did to Saddam we all be better off in this country.

    November 9, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. Bob Borzelleri, Colfax, CA

    I failed to include my city and state in my recent post on this topic

    November 9, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Ray

    Look at the bright side, this idiot makes your administration look competent.

    November 9, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Thomas Olympia, Washington

    Is Daddy Bush whining again? If his son can't stand the heat, he should get out of the WHITE HOUSE. The sooner, the better !!

    November 9, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. Doug M. Seattle, WA.

    Three words Georgie. GO TO HELL!

    November 9, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |

    Bush 41, your son is a drunk disgraceful loser, always will be just like you.

    November 9, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. RC, Naperville IL

    He deserves even more, the people of this country should be outraged and taking to the streets. His son is a disgrace and has ruined this country, said one thing and done the exact opposite. If this is compassionate conservatism, I'd hate to see what non-compassionate is...maybe like the torture we use

    November 9, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. Shirley North Dakota

    It's obvious that Bush 41 doesn't care about the American people either. He's not experiencing any of misery that has been caused by the actions of his precious son. Don't feel a bit sorry for man. He just doesn't like to hear the truth. The apple doesn't fall from the tree!

    November 9, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. John Crain, North Little Rock, Arkansas

    Thanks Mr. President for being the strong leader you are. Thanks for sticking to your guns no matter what people say or do. You epitomize what the conservative republican stands for.

    November 9, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. Chad, Ft.Lauderdale Florida

    Although i disagree with a fair amount of President Bush 43's policies for our economy, i believe what we did over in the middle east was the right thing. When has war ever been about anything other than money or power? The war is also about defending our nation. IF we had not invaded Iraq, I am more than positive that America would have been attacked again by Islamic extremists. We can not look weak in the face of danger. By showing that we are not weak we are scaring nations that would harbor terrorists into not harboring terrorists or at least into trying to hide that they do sponsor terrorism. America can not run without oil and it is important to make that region secure for our posterity. And as much money that is being spent, the war is creating jobs that would not be there if it was not for the war. Be proud to be an American, and that we have the strongest military in the world and that we are using it to secure our way of life.

    November 9, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Jeff, Paris, Tennessee

    Perhaps bush 41 can take solace in the fact that thousands of other American fathers find it "grossly unfair" that their children had to die fighting a war that is more about big-business and oil than it is about Iraq freedom. Look George if you want to feel a sense of pride concerning your son, just look at your large bank account and think about how much larger it is thanks to him being the president. Of course, it would be easier all of us to be proud of him if you had not raised him to be a greedy, war-mongering, lair.

    November 9, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. john, biddeford,me

    hey 41 we'd love to "lay off your son" and not wait til jan 20, 2009. Lay him off right now!

    November 9, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. James K. Goodwin, Doylestown, PA

    As a father, you want the best for your children. But, you cannot hold them back and you must let them walk on into life.

    I will say that I am totally baffled by those of you who said that Iraq was stable under Saddam than it is now. That is because the dissidents were brutally tortured and executed by Saddam's secret police.

    But what I will say is why couldn't Saddam clean up his act by allowing unfettered access to his alleged WMD stocks so it could be determined once and for all if he was hiding banned substances he was not allowed to possess. This is exactly what the probation officer would do at midnight when he knocks on your door to determine if you have had alcohol beverages secreted into your hidden places at home or it is off to jail you go.

    Saddam had many friends in liberal America and in the Mideast who were contented with him stonewalling the inspections. His friends went out of his way to prevent implementation of more severe penalties and the sanctions imposed upon Iraq didn ot even hurt Saddam at all, only his people. You can see who was protecting who and who was denouncing who. It was Saddam being protected and Bush being denounced for insisting on tougher sanctions.

    A Philadelphia cop was slain by a black 270 pound 21 year old loser who was a high school dropout when the cop entered the Dunkin DOnuts and got a 9mm Glock in his forehead. The miscreant even stole his gun, got help from a cousin who took the two guns and escaped to Miami where he was caught the other day.

    At the funeral, the priest said that on that fateful day when Officer cassidy was shot and killed, vice came in conflict with virtue and vice won the day, but virtue won the war when the miscreant was caught.

    With Saddam, vice won the day, but with President Bush, virtue won the war and restored to the people what was rightfully theirs – the right to choose a government of their own choosing, the right to be treated like people and not brutalized by a fearless dictatorial bully like Saddam.

    That is what the critics have failed to take notice.

    As about BUsh 43, I know he knows well in his own gut that he did the right thing when all was concerned. He has the love and support of his family and stand by him, including his loving father. He goes to bed, confident that he did the right thing during the day. He does not need judgment from liberals from the left or in Hollywood with no sense of decency in their thought processes. He knows right from wrong and will say so at any time.

    November 9, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. NMK

    "Ca Native" posted one of the biggest troll postings I've ever seen. No way he could actually be as stupid as is comments; he's just doing his Ann Coulter impression!

    November 9, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. MIKE, Richmond, Va

    I just want to type the obvious joke: Too bad it isn't "Bush 43" watchin' the televisions, and "Bush 41" doing the "executive work". And I hope that "Bush 41" is as appalled as I am
    about the "running mouths" everywhere saying things ONLY TO GET THEIR CHECK, REGARDLESS OF VALIDITY OR ACCURACY.

    November 9, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Joel, Gilford,NH

    It's one thing to be loyal to your son. But when your son's incompetence and dishonesty causes the loss of American lives, loyalty can't get in the way of honesty. Bush 41 is an honorable man. Bush 43 is pathetic.

    November 9, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. Ted, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    I understand 41's feelings – no one wants their son the be the object of ridicule. I, however, was there in the desert in 1991 when we made the decision to not invade Iraq because he and others knew what it would take to hold the area would be costly. It would have been nice if his son could have thought about this beforehand. And for the gentlemen that seems to think the Middle East will be a democracy that will make him comfortable with our actions, then he needs to review the history of the region and realize this is not going to end the way he thinks. Dubya would be well served to consider that as well, especially when it will be history that will evaluate his actions, most likely unfavorably.

    November 9, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. Fenton, Denver CO

    "Bush 41: Lay off my son."
    When i saw that link, i thought it was communicating that Bush 41 was suggesting we lay off the President, as in fire him! Hilarious. Or maybe it means that The United States of America, Inc., is going under and so the CEO Bush will be laid off. Thanks CNN that made my day.

    November 9, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. Kato Krause, Lisle, IL

    I don't know about whether the Middle East would be a better place, but I believe America would be. Either discipline/ground your son or we will have to.

    November 9, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  20. Terry Gloege (Kansas)

    I think there is an old saying to cover this situation. "If you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen."

    November 9, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. Bill, Floyd, VA

    Irrespective of how arrogant and ignorant Bush 43 is, the key thing is that he and his administration are failures that never have the guts to come out and admit it or apologize when they have screwed up so that problems not acknowledged are never fixed. Stay the original course no matter what. Bush 41 must be either delusional or lying through his teeth when he defends the incompetent son that has driven our nation to one of the lowest points in its history.

    November 9, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. DAG, Costa, Ca

    Little Bush is on mission to crush the American Middle Class and make his close friends and all his cronies rich before his term is up!

    November 9, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Had Bush 41 raised Bush 43 to be responsible and take responsibility for his actions, listen to those wiser and more informed than he, lay off the coke and booze all those years, and be capable of admitting he has made a serious mistake and change course, not only would America be safer and more prosperous and not reviled globally as the ultimate "Rogue Nation", 4,000 US troops and one MILLION Iraqi civilians would not have died horrific NEEDLESS deaths. Had Bush 43 learned the work ethic instead of being spoiled and pampered, he would have not taken yet another month long vacation the summer of 2001 when his top security advisors told him that Al Qaeda had something BIG in the works and soon and instead put his nose to the grindstone daily like the rest of us do and try to stop their plans. But, like Guliani, without 9-11, Bush 43 would have ZERO focus as a president, so I guess that vacation paid off well....for him. Amazing that either man would expect sympathy from Americans when they have so little empathy for them....maybe all that blood money will warm them on chilly lonely nights as America shudders under the weight of this cruelly inept presidency that occured in spite of election returns.

    November 9, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. Rob Austin, TX

    most of us would like to "lay off" W, if only it were that easy!
    His job is secure for another 14 months unfortunately.

    November 9, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. Bob, Ann Arbor, MI

    Well, it looks as if GHW has officially reached geezerdom.

    Let's see, we should 'lay off' his son despite the fact that GW and his government led the country into an unprovoked and unnecessary war based on false and falsified threats, premised on unrealistic expectations of cost, duration, casualties, approval of the Iraqi people and resulting in (i) deaths of hundreds of thousands of completely innocent Iraqi civilians (this I would call murder and a war crime), (ii) deaths of near 4000 and woundings of more than 25,000 US service personnel, (iii) an expenditure of >$500 billion, headed towards $1 trillion, all of this irretrievably lost and much of it siphoned into the pockets of criminal war profiteers, many of them US citizens, (iv) the shameful betrayal of the ethical and legal standards by our military in regard to treatment of prisoners, (v) the remolding of our national image to the rest of the world as a rogue militaristic and unilateralist state, and last, but not least, (vi) the creation of a hugely successful recruiting tool for those who actually threaten us, Al Qaeda and other radical terrorist groups.

    Blood is apparently thicker than the elder Bush's sense of patriotism and concern for his country.

    November 9, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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