Tags: jon meacham | biographer | bush 41 | dick cheney | rumsefield

Author Meacham: Bush 41 Knew 'Exactly What He Was Saying'

(MSNBC's "Morning Joe")

By    |   Friday, 06 Nov 2015 10:27 AM

Former President George H.W. Bush "knew exactly what he was saying" when he criticized his son's Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and his Vice President Dick Cheney, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a controversial new biography about the elder statesman said Friday.

"In late 2014, I went back to him with the [book] transcript, and told him that 'if you want to say, I've rethought my position, or if you want to make any clarification and make a note of that,' and he looked me dead in the eye and said 'that's what I said,'" author Jon Meacham told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program about his book, "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush." 

In the book, Bush 41 calls Cheney an "iron-ass," Rumsfeld "an arrogant fellow," and even criticizes his son, former President George W. Bush for the decisions made to go to war in the Middle East following the 9/11 attacks.

The younger Bush on Thursday denied that Rumsfeld and Cheney had too much influence on his decisions, while Cheney called the "iron-ass" label a point of pride, saying that people then and now believe he was aggressive in defending "what I thought were the right policies."

Rumsfeld, meanwhile, said that Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43, who I found made his own decisions," reports The New York Daily News.

But on Friday, Meacham said the elder Bush made the comments in a series of interviews that began back in 2008, and that the former president, now 91, made a tape-recorded diary that drew on all four years of his presidency, as he "cares about history."

"I think he wanted to make the point that his son's administration had an overly hawkish image, and the style of swagger that he believes Cheney and Rumsfeld in particular, but also his son, played into, was not a style that would wear particularly well."

But even more than the words about Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush 43, the new book is a biography of the Bush patriarch, who is the last president to come from America's "greatest generation."

"He had five children, lost a daughter to leukemia, and was shot down over the Pacific," said Meacham.

"He went from the Pacific to Texas. He tried to build his own life there. He goes into Texas politics. If he hadn't moved to Texas we wouldn't be having this conversation. He would been a New England Republican and we know how well that worked out for a lot of Republicans."

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Former President George H.W. Bush "knew exactly what he was saying" when he criticized his son's Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and his vice-president, Dick Cheney, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a controversial new biography about the elder statesman said Friday.
jon meacham, biographer, bush 41, dick cheney, rumsefield
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2015-27-06
Friday, 06 Nov 2015 10:27 AM
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