President George H.W. Bush shares personal stories
Reaction from presidential historian Doug Wead
- Duration 6:57
- Date Mar 7, 2013
Reaction from presidential historian Doug Wead
Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
We are getting -- new perspective today on one of America's most famous political families as former president George H.
Updates his 1999 book of letters.
In the update he includes personal.
And often emotional stories about his life and his -- time in the White House.
The book titled all the best George Bush my life letters other writings.
Joining us now to discuss it is Doug -- he's a presidential historian and Doug what what a piece of work this is because the former president shares.
Such intimate and emotional moments.
That the course of his life and his son's presidency I just want to kick us off.
With with this is a letter he wrote to a longtime journalist and friend and I use idea I think is how you pronounce at a time magazine he's passed away since.
But he it was a January 21 122001 letter to tissue.
The day after George W had been sworn in as president and and this is George H.
Our son was president of the United States of America it was for real our pride knew no bounds.
We managed to contain her emotions but they shook us to the core wonder joy amazement honor.
I don't know how to describe what I felt.
But it was good real good the.
-- -- That's amazing -- -- it's you have to go back to the Adams to find a president who expresses himself like George Herbert Walker Bush does.
It's not stream of consciousness these little notes he writes -- stream -- part.
-- presidents always right to tell us what they were sinking.
But you seldom get a president who writes and tells you what he's feeling so that this is a wonderful treasure trove for historians.
He talks don't really seen bush the elder get emotional since he left office and to take you there and the one subject that really gets him going is his son and and his family.
And certainly -- this this book in the update reflects.
How easily he is touched on matters that affect them in particular criticism.
About one moment is -- not a critical moment in talks about the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003 aunts and writes quote I shamefully choked up.
When he heard about it the tears tumbling against tumbling down -- my aging cheeks I was embarrassed.
But that I realized I shouldn't worry people see this visible manifestation of a father's concern -- father's love.
With pride yes but it was also an overflowing of joy from all that you have given your mother and me over the years.
Barbara and -- -- your side I hope you can feel it we will stay out of the way that I am there beside you my heart overflowing with happiness on this day of vindication.
And just -- get a flavor for what he went through during his presidency with this with Saddam Hussein vs what bush the younger did as well.
Absolutely and you know I was intrigued by.
The former president's correspondents.
With Mulroney prime minister Monroe Mulroney what he said he just saw his son.
Deliver his address at the Republican National Convention and he tells the prime minister now might political work -- done.
Really so -- read that you take -- wasn't your political life over would Bill Clinton was sworn in as president.
But you see these presidents spend.
There presidency trying to shape what happens and they spend their post presidency trying to shape what people think happens.
But here's George Herbert Walker Bush realizing.
That his post presidency is out of his hands it's not going to be normal it's now his son that he's a helpless bystander.
And his son will help define the legacy of the bush family not not he himself.
So very revealing the -- -- the pride that he had in George W.
Bush winning the presidency twice and and then the the hurt that he felt personally when the press attack Tucson and in particular his son's character he didn't seem to mind when they -- and -- his Lex but.
When they went after his character described him as a liar or someone who was heartless.
We'll talk about his thoughts on that those such attacks in the wake of Katrina.
And the interesting advice he shared to his grand daughters -- and the Barbara before they went on spring break.
Among other things right after the break stick.
-- -- -- to the south presidential historian on the subject of Katrina.
Bush the -- very unhappy with the way his son was portrayed talking about how how down he was.
About the attacks on his son saying here's a guy who cares deeply.
And yet he's being roundly accused of not giving a -- that really affected.
Yes and and he can speak up for his son left.
Actually his staff George W Bush's staff should be speaking up.
For the president but here's a father's had enough on the sidelines so he speaks up from history.
Two to say what his son couldn't say in his own defense.
That this is ridiculous of course he felt it and there were some staff mistakes at the time there was a slow reaction.
But to accuse.
-- motive of the son the father knows better.
And he had some similar empathy for folks across the partisan I haven't talked about Al Gore's defeat.
To his son in 2000 when Florida was ultimately declared for George W.
Bush and said I suddenly felt for him talk about gore.
Saw him as a man -- disappointment had to be overpowering I knew he must be hurting.
He was very gracious he said he'd been publicly for a long time and he is Stanley.
That's -- that's an old formula for the bush family -- They know that politics changes and they reach out across the -- and they reach out to people who are hurt.
And suffering politically and journalist sometimes when they're down.
The bush family -- reach out.
And it -- some could say well it's calculated they know these people are gonna bounce back but I think it's heart felt when he writes little notes -- -- the jobs little comments.
-- nephews and nieces and grand children that are so thoughtful well that's not political they're gonna vote for him anywhere okay.
I love what I do is thoughtful I love going to his granddaughters including Jenna and Barbara -- they're about to go on spring break is and I'm worrying about you.
I wonder if there if you're -- trying to get on a wild college TV women show.
This is stick you know library I'm here all week in Houston if you need adult leadership.
While leading with one final -- from from.
His his book where he talks about the day after president George W.
Bush won reelection.
He said that he asked bush bush the younger quote asked me to come over to the Oval Office after all my clothes and went over there.
The to a sat alone in that historic office for me.
It was magic.
What it what it mean it's history that we -- looking in -- picture we're looking at this picture and that we all lived.
Yes and you know he and his family study that history much more than journalists do or even historians like us.
And he knows that and a hundred years they'll be TV specials they'll -- books -- absolutely -- about the homeless -- thank you.