BUSH ON BUSH REVEALS HISTORY
Fri Nov 07 2014 11:30:00 ET
What happens when one president dares to write about another?
And what if the other president -- is his also his father?
But today, DRUDGE REPORT readers get the first look at the surprisingly emotional work.
In a story titled THE AFTERLIFE, W. Bush recounts a recent day when the family feared their patriarch was about to pass away.
"In November 2012, Dad checked into Houston Methodist hospital with a bad cough. When Laura and I went to visit a few days later, he was wearing a brace around his abdomen and obviously suffering serious pain. 'How you feeling, Dad?' I asked. He smiled. 'It's not the cough that carries you off; it's the coffin you go off in,' he quipped. In typical fashion, he lifted our spirits.
His condition worsened in early December. The brutal, hacking cough turned to pneumonia. I called him often. I wanted to hear his voice and gauge his strength. At the end of every phone call, I said, 'I love you.' He would always reply, 'I love you more.'
"Fearing the worst, our family surrounded Dad. My brother Neil sat for hours at his bedside reading aloud to him. Jeb, Marvin, and Doro visited with their families. Laura and I made another trip to the hospital in December. This time we brought Barbara and Jenna, who was five months pregnant. Before we went in, I told everyone not to cry. I did not want Dad to sense our despair. As we entered the room, he could barely open his eyes and his voice was weak.
"'Hi, George, how are you? And there's Laura. Hi, beautiful.' He lay back contently as Barbara and Jenna rubbed his head. Then he reached out and gently put his hand on Jenna's pregnant belly.
"'There's death,' he said, 'and there's new life.' We all left the room sobbing."
President No. 43 tells the tale of Putin's 2007 visit to the elder Bush's compound in Maine.
"During my presidency, Dad and I didn’t talk much about policy. He understood better than anyone that the President is surrounded by experts with in-depth information about the key issues. If I had asked for his advice on a policy matter, he would have said, 'Send your briefers so that I know what I’m talking about.' He knew that I had plenty of outside opinions. As the father of the President, he could provide something different: the love and support I needed to handle the pressure of the job.
"One area that interested Dad was my relations with foreign leaders. Throughout his career, he had been a master of personal diplomacy — of getting to know people and earning their trust. I had witnessed how effective his approach had been. I held hundreds of face-to-face meetings (and made many more phone calls) with my key counterparts around the world. I invited fellow world leaders not only to the White House but also to Camp David, our ranch in Crawford, and Walker’s Point.
"In early 2007, I called Dad and asked him if he would invite President Vladimir Putin of Russia to Walker’s Point. I felt that it would be a perfect place to discuss the missile defense systems that we were planning to build in Poland and the Czech Republic.
"Dad was thrilled about the idea. 'Just let me know what you need, son,' he said.
"When Putin arrived on July 1, 2007, Dad met his plane at the airport in New Hampshire and accompanied him on the helicopter ride to Walker’s Point. Then he took both of us for a speedboat ride. Although initially startled by the idea of an eighty-three-year-old former President driving the boat at top speed, Putin loved the ride. (His interpreter looked like he was about to fly out the back of the boat.) The next morning, we had a long conversation about missile defenses, in which we found some common ground. We then went fishing. Fittingly, Putin was the only one who caught anything."
In a chapter titled "DIPLOMACY," the son recounts an anecdote about Watergate:
"The final straw came on August 5, 1974. The Supreme Court had ruled that the White House must turn over all the tapes to Leon Jaworski, the new Watergate special prosecutor and a friend of Dad’s from Houston. The tapes revealed that Nixon had spoken to one of his aides about thwarting the FBI’s investigation into the Watergate break-in. That was proof that he knew about the cover-up and that he had lied to the country. The revelation shattered Dad’s trust in Nixon.
"The day after the smoking-gun tape became public, Nixon held a meeting with his Cabinet and key political advisers. Dad attended the meeting and witnessed a surreal scene in which the President spent the meeting talking about the economy and other policy issues rather than confronting the only question that really mattered. Later that day, Dad gave Nixon’s Chief of Staff, Alexander Haig, a candid assessment. After speaking to some of his old friends in Congress, he had learned that the President would not have the votes to survive an impeachment proceeding.
"Despite his deep disappointment, my father refused to condemn Nixon publicly. While he might have benefited in the short run, Dad saw little point in “piling on,” as he put it. He voiced his opinion privately in a letter to the President on August 7. As far as I know, he is the only party Chairman in American history who has ever written such a letter.
"'I now firmly feel that resignation is best for this country, best for this President,' he wrote. 'I believe this view is held by most Republican leaders across the country.' Writing with his characteristic sympathy, Dad continued, 'This letter is made much more difficult because of the gratitude I will always have for you. If you do leave office, history will properly record your achievements with a lasting respect.' The next day, President Nixon announced that he would resign."
W discusses his father's influence on him throughout his own life, from his childhood in Texas to his early campaign trips with his father, and from his decision to go into politics to his own two-term Presidency.