Unlike father, unlike son


The recent edition of Time magazine contains a story describing the last days of the Bush-Cheney Administration. By then, Dick Cheney had developed a near-singular focus on obtaining a pardon for his former chief of staff, Scooter Libby. The issue was one of only a few on which George W. Bush disagreed with with his second-in-command. Libby had been found guilty of lying to investigators looking into the Valerie Plaine incident, in which Plame was outted as a CIA agent by officials in the administration. Cheney’s aide was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and to pay a fine of $250,000. President Bush, who had earlier vowed that he would fire anyone involved in the incident, decided to commute Libby’s prison term, to much criticism from the Democrats and the press. His decision nonetheless upheld the conviction, leaving Libby, a former high-profile lawyer, facing permanent disbarment.

Untrue to form, Mr. Bush had anticipated Cheney’s efforts to secure a pardon for Libby and had his White House counsel evaluate the ramifications of a decision to absolve Cheney’s aide. After reviewing the case, Fred Fielding concluded that the courts (including the Federal Court of Appeal) were correct in convicting and later upholding the verdict on appeal. He recommended no pardon. To Cheney’s considerable consternation, Bush agreed.

To outside observers who had long-ago concluded Cheney wielded undue influence over White House policy, Time‘s portrait may appear flattering to Bush. It was obvious from the outset that Cheney had emerged as the strongman of the administration. The president, known for his lack of curiosity, rarely challenged his second in command. The decision to invade Iraq was seen to be a Cheney-inspired one and later evidence would corroborate this thesis. That Bush held his own in the final days may help historians find some redeeming factors about his administration.

Since both left office, they seem to have gone their separate ways. Bush has largely stayed out of the limelight and refrained from criticizing the new administration, while Cheney, on the other hand, has opted for a more confrontational tack. Should Attorney General Eric Holder name a Special prosecutor and launch an investigation into the more unsavoury aspects of the Bush-Cheney years, we are sure to discover even more about the dynamics of the Bush-Cheney relationship .

The Time article piqued my curiosity and led me to consult an A&E production regarding President George H. W. Bush’s presidency. It was quite revealing and may actually say more about his son’s relationship with Cheney and affect the verdict on his Administration . The documentary came out in 1998, with noted British journalist David Frost conducting the interviews with Bush Sr. It is fair to remind readers that his assessment of his presidency took place three years before 9-11. Still, it does show some significant attitudinal and policy differences between the two men. For example, Bush Sr.’s premier advisors on national security and foreign policy matters were James Baker and General Brent Scowcroft, neither of whom emerged as staunch defenders of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy approach.

Bush Sr. was also a firm believer in diplomacy and multilateral initiatives. The coalition he built for the 1992 Gulf War is an eloquent expression of this approach. He resisted pressures to alter the international, UN-sanctioned mandate on Iraq and overthrow the brutal Saddam Hussein regime. It is quite revealing that Scowcroft, who remains close to Bush Sr., publicly argued against the Iraq invasion in a widely-circulated article in the New York Times. Was the father trying to send the son a signal? It is clear by the end of the documentary that Bush Sr. conducted his presidency very much in the tradition of post-WWII tradition of American foreign policy. America was to exercise restraint, but never shirk from its responsibilities to the free world. He defended this idea with passion and conviction. It was actually quite moving.

The saying “like father, like son” does not apply to the Bush presidencies. George W. Bush’s administration may have had to deal with the worst assault on American soil since Pearl Harbour with 9-11, but the invasion of Iraq was the beginning of the hijacking of his administration by neo-conservatives like Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In Bush father’s Administration, Cheney and Rumsfeld played secondary roles. At the end of the day, the story of George W. Bush and the verdict of history will have more to do with the fact that he was not like the father.


Unlike father, unlike son

  1. The common ' Narrative ' of late is that it was Iraq that caused all of this but somehow I think people fail to factor in Katrina and Abu GH.. the torture prison place – I think it was those 2 issues that really changed things the Iraq situation may have played out much differently had Bush upped his game during katrina and the Abu story never came out – then again you never know

  2. the ol'man was a wimp and the son is a fighter. We now have democracy in Iraq although it isfragile . But Saddam is gone . I never liked Clinton but at least , I knew he would beawimp. He'saDemocrat. The father should have won 1992 but he lost because he was out of touch and did not project an image of strength. W was not perfect but he was strong . The thing with Cheney is understandable because Cheney was Scooter's friend . Not a real fight .

  3. The father was by far a better man as President . His son was an embarassment . We are paying the price . And do forget the economy . It got screwed under Republicans like W.
    Now we have to wait for PALIN. Disgusted just thinking about it .

  4. Most definitely, I feel that Bush Sr was a better president than his son. What a surprise to me that joetheelectrician states that "the ol'man was a wimp and the son is a fighter". Yes, a fighter always loking for a fight at any cost. Is not the restraint of Sr towards Irak compared to the ill-placed and ill-timed aggressiveness of his son a prime example of the quality of both. Did not "Dubya" say at the beginning of his a first term that his model was not his father but Ronald Reagan? Wow, Joe, I derive satisfaction that your extreme position is indeed an extreme one and a very minority one! To Mr. Parisella, I say "Do not let comments like those of joetheelectrician detract you from keeping on with your brilliant and judicious comments on the US political scene. Bravo!

  5. The best part of George Walker Bush ran down his dads leg during his conception. George Walker Bush has been a major failure at everything he has done from being to much of a coward to fight in Vietnam by getting his daddy to get him into the Texas Air National Guard in 1968, 10 days before he was to be drafted and sent to Vietnam. As well George Walker Bush was suspended from flying in 1971 due to substance abuse as he was snorting Cocaine and also was AWOL the last year of his Guard service.
    As well George Walker Bush wasn't in the top third of his claas neither at Yale or Harvard, he was bottom third of his class. As well he ran three companies into the ground and was bailed out by the Saudi's. Oh and yes the Idiot in Chief George Walker Bush and his lying Administration with Vice President Five Time Deferment Dick Cheney have left the American Economy in the worst shape since the Great Depression. And finally the Idiot in Chief and his lying Administration let former Vice President Five Time Deferment Dick Cheney start a War in Iraq based on lies that Dick Cheney created which has cost the lives of over 4300 young Americans, 25,000 young Americans permanently damaged for life, over a million dead Iraqi's and a country of Iraq that is totally screwed.

    George Walker Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the liars from the former Bush Administration all need to have charges of International War Crimes to be laid against them by the International Courts in the Hague, Netherlands. If charged and are found guilty and are sentenced to death by hanging then let it be as the Bush Administration of the past eight years made the world a much unsafer place as they only created more tensions with the right wing Muslim World.