Maybe it was that whole “low energy” thing.
In surprisingly undiplomatic terms for elder statesmen, George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, bash President Trump in a soon-to-be released book. While both of the former presidents vowed when they left office not to speak ill of their successors — a pledge they’ve kept for the most part — there’s just something about Donald J. Trump that they can’t stand.
Bush the elder, 93, was blunt, even crass, calling the president of the United States — a fellow Republican — a “blowhard.”
“I don’t like him,” Bush the Old said in May 2016, according to the upcoming book “The Last Republicans,” written by Mark Updegrove. “I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a blowhard. And I’m not too excited about him being a leader.” Rather than being motivated by public service, Mr. Bush said, Mr. Trump seemed to be driven by “a certain ego.”
George the Younger echoed his father, saying, “As you know from looking at my family, humility is a certain heritage. That’s what they expect, and we’re not seeing that” in Trump. (Note to truly humble people out there: It’s not humble to point out your humility.)
The White House shot back on Saturday. “If one presidential candidate can disassemble a political party, it speaks volumes about how strong a legacy its past two presidents really had. And that begins with the Iraq War, one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history.”
Trump in the 2016 campaign shredded Jeb Bush — sorry, Jeb! — by calling him “low energy.” He repeatedly bested the former Florida governor in debates, and Jeb, the man who would be president, slunk away after just a few primaries.
W. said the reason Trump won is because he was in tune with the electorate. Well, he didn’t really say that, but Trump played to the anger in America while Jeb offered more of the same old, same old. But to W., that’s what a mature politician does.
“You can either exploit the anger, incite it, or you can come up with ideas to deal with it.” Jeb offered real solutions, “but it didn’t fit with the mood,” George the Younger said.
“If you’re angry with the powers that be,” he added, “you’re angry with the so-called establishment, and there’s nothing more established than having a father and brother that have been president.”
Spot on. And that, by the way, is how W. got a guy named Barack Obama elected in 2008. After eight years of profligate spending and wars America didn’t need to fight, voters rejected the candidate from Mr. Bush’s party — Sen. John McCain — and took a chance with a first-term senator promising “hope and change.”
Now, in unnecessarily dramatic fashion, George the Younger says he fears he’ll be the last Republican president.
Said Updegrove: “George W. Bush himself said in 2016 privately, and then to me, that ‘You know, I fear that I will be the last Republican president.’ And it wasn’t just about Hillary Clinton becoming president, as the Republican Party was having a difficult time finding itself. It was because Donald Trump represented everything that the Bushes abhorred,” the author told CNN.
Asked about W. Bush’s fear, Updegrove said, “There’s no question that I think there’s a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. And the Republicans have to figure out who they are, and what they stand for.”
Neither Bush voted for his party’s candidate, Mr. Updegrove wrote. “I voted ‘None of the Above’ for president, and Republican down ballot in 2016,” W. said. George the Elder said he voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. No, seriously.
In the first chapter, George W. Bush calls the notion that he was the “prodigal son,” a reference to a wayward son in the Bible, “bullshit.” And in a 2012 interview with Mr. Updegrove, Mr. Bush told the historian he “chased a lot of pussy and drank a lot of whiskey” as a young man, but added, “I was never the prodigal son because I never left my family.”
Goodness. So much for the Bushes staying out of politics.
George Jr., by the way, also wanted to set the record straight. He said Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, “didn’t make one f*cking decision” while he was president.
“The fact that there was any doubt in anyone’s mind about who the president was, blows my mind,” the 43rd president said.
So much for stoic elder statesmen.
• Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @josephcurl.