There are times in the life of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States and father of the 43rd, that people, perfect strangers, come up to him and say the harshest things — words intended to comfort but words that wind up only causing pain.
“I love you, sir, but your son’s way off base here,” they might say, according to Ron Kaufman, a longtime adviser to Mr. Bush, who has witnessed any number of such encounters — perhaps at a political fund-raiser, or a restaurant dinner, a chance meeting on the streets of Houston or Kennebunkport, Me. They are, he says, just one way the presidency of the son has taken a toll on the father.
“It wears on his heart,” Mr. Kaufman said, “and his soul.”
The article compares Bush the Elder to the Little League father who can't resist yelling at the umpire when his son gets a bad call, which is an unbelievably generous rendering of the situation.
I've long suspected that the definitive account of the second Bush administration would probably be written by clinical psychiatrists rather than historians. Read the rest of the article and see what you think.
But certainly, the irony for Bush the Elder must be painful: His own reputation, tarnished at the end of his single term in the White House, is actually floating upward these days, largely through comparison to his son's spectacular failures. Whatever dynastic dreams he once had--George W., like Fredo, was never supposed to take over the family business--are facing a cold morning light. It's possible that Jeb still has a shot at the White House some day, but no one other than Poppy seems to hold much interest in the idea these days.