He wanted to be president, it seemed, only to do foreign policy which to him meant jousting with the Soviet Union like Truman, Kennedy and Nixon had done. When the Evil Empire collapsed due to the efforts of his predecessor, Bush seemed disappointed and tried to prop up it up with what William Safire termed his “Chicken Kiev Speech.”
Then he went and followed the advice of Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, his foreign policy mavens, who urged him to leave the odious Saddam Hussein in power after ousting him from Kuwait. This limp-wristed “Desert Storm” strategy confirmed the world’s view of post-Vietnam America, that we never have the guts to follow through on any military action, which also convinced Osama bin Laden that he had no fear of American retaliation for successfully murdering 3,000 people on 9/11/2001.
41 saw himself as too classy for domestic politics which led to his cave-in to Democrats on taxes after having conspicuously promised he would not raise them. Remember Read My Lips? He campaigned for re-election against Bill Clinton with an attitude that the whole thing was beneath him. He deserved to lose.
Between 41 and 43, I’ll take W. He made some tough decisions after 9/11, the wisdom of which time will sort out. Yes, he mismanaged the aftermath of Saddam’s downfall, but so did Lincoln mismanage the Civil War and Truman the Korean War to name only two screw ups by past presidents. But at least W didn’t act like politics was beneath him.
Which brings me to Maureen Dowd, the second worst New York Times columnist. Last Sunday, she had a column in which she interviewed 41. Apparently “Poppy” (as she nauseatingly likes to call the elder Bush) agreed to talk to her to promote an upcoming documentary about him. Supposedly MoDo admires the elder Bush in comparison to the utter contempt she has always expressed for his son. An amateur psychiatrist, MoDo sees W’s actions as president as an attempt to resolve his Oedipus Complex. Heavy!
But here is MoDo on what 41 (and his wife) thinks of his son’s presidency:
…the chip on 43’s shoulder prevented him from seeking the counsel of 41 while in the Oval. And his lack of preparation for the job left the insecure W. vulnerable to manipulation by two of Washington’s greatest bureaucratic infighters, Cheney and Rumsfeld. W.’s parents blame Cheney for bad decisions, but that suggests W. wasn’t in charge…
If there is one thing that Bush, the elder, is famous for, it is not passing judgement on any of his successors, not Bill Clinton and not Barack Obama. So I find it unbelievable that he would weigh in on his own son’s administration. Of course, nowhere in her column does MoDo actually say that Bush expressed to her the feelings she attributes to him and his wife.
Is there anyone out there who knows where MoDo got this scoop about the famously reticent George H.W.Bush? And why does it appear that no one that I know of is asking?