The news that former President George W. Bush is coming out with a biography of his father, former President George H. W. Bush brought out the snark on Sunday in the New York Time’s acerbic columnist Maureen Dowd. Dowd is pretty sure, without having read a line about of the new book, that it is more about the son than about the father. To wit, it is going to be about making people forget about the son’s youthful drunkenness and adult foreign policy.
“Just as his nude self-portraits are set in a shower and a bath, this book feels like an exercise in washing away the blunders of Iraq, Afghanistan and Katrina.”
Dowd has likely not had time to read Bush’s previous book, “Decision Points,” in which he covers these subjects and much else besides in a frank and illuminating way. Bush examined the various important decisions in his life, which included leaving behind the hard partying, hard drinking days of his misspent youth. The younger Bush’s story is not so much related to Oedipus, a creepy literary metaphor at best that Dowd nevertheless brings up, but rather Shakespeare, more specifically Henry V, another prince who gave up carousing for glory.
Politico was a little bit less caustic about the news, suggesting that the new biography was going to be unique in that it will constitute not just a look at a father by his son, but a president by another president. It will no doubt be an illuminating look at the life and career of the 41st president of the United States as much as it will be a look at the relationship between him and the 43rd. The book will also come out against the backdrop of other members of the Bush family carving out their own places in history.
The younger Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, is contemplating a run for president, or so it is rumored. Jeb’s son. George P. Bush, is currently running for Texas land commissioner, a state wide but minor office that is clearly a step on the modern day cursus honorum that may lead to bigger and better things. The point of course is that the Bush family has become a Republican version of the Kennedys, without the tragedy of assassination and the hyped up glamor of Camelot.
Most of the commentariate, like Dowd, have concluded that the younger Bush’s foreign policy especially in Iraq, was an unmitigated disaster. But the Cheneys, Dick and his daughter Lynn, pointed out recently that George W. Bush left Iraq pretty much peaceful and stable, giving that country a chance, at least, of having a republic, if it could keep it. It is now blowing apart on the watch of Bush’s successor, a man who has long since inspired those famous posters of a smiling George W with the caption “Miss Me Yet?”
The younger Bush’s rising poll numbers, which match Obama’s sinking ones, suggest that more and more people are saying, “Yes, we do.”