There’s something oddly Shakespearean about all of this.
Former President George H. W. Bush has ignited Republican infighting by alleging in an upcoming biography that former Vice President Dick Cheney formed his “own empire” within the White House and evolved into an “iron-ass” on foreign policy while serving in George W. Bush’s administration.According to The New York Times, the 41st president is highly critical of Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the book, with the elder Bush slamming both men for having ”served the president badly.”
Cheney, you’ll recall, was the defense secretary for George H.W. Bush before he became George W. Bush’s vice president. But Bush pere has come to believe this latest version of Cheney is “very different” from the one he “he knew and worked with.”
The elder Bush was even less kind towards Rumsfeld, whom the former president sees as “arrogant” and lacking in “humility.”
In response, Rumsfeld today responded, “Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43, who I found made his own decisions.”
For the record, Rumsfeld is an 83-year-old man. Not to put too fine a point on this, but hearing an 83-year-old flippantly dismiss the concerns of a 91-year-old because the latter is “getting up in years” seems a little ridiculous.
Making this a little stranger still, H.W. Bush suggested he wasn’t altogether pleased with some of his son’s phrases, most notably “axis of evil,” during his presidency. “I do worry about some of the rhetoric that was out there – some of it his, maybe, and some of it the people around him,” he said of W. Bush.
This led Jeb Bush to defend his brother against his father’s mild rebuke. The former governor told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, “My brother’s a big boy. His administration was shaped by his thinking, his reaction to the attack on 9/11. I think my dad, like a lotta people that love George wanna try to create a different narrative perhaps just to – just ‘cause that’s natural to do, right?”
Jeb added, “As it relates to Dick Cheney, he served my brother well as vice president, and he served my dad extraordinarily well as security of defense.”
Update: In H.W. Bush’s book, he also refers to his 1988 rival, former Gov. Michael Dukakis (D), as a “midget nerd.” Some of the instincts that did not serve Bush well during his White House tenure, regrettably, never went away.