In a biography of the 41st president set to hit bookstores next week, George H.W. Bush heavily criticized former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as well as his son, George W. Bush, for giving them too much power.
Bush Sr. told his biographer, Jon Meacham, that Cheney had too much “hard-line” influence on George W. Bush, according to a copy reviewed by the New York Times.
“He had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer,” Bush Sr. said of Cheney. “It just showed me that you cannot do it that way. The president should not have that worry.”
He added that Cheney changed after serving as Bush 41’s secretary of defense and following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to the Times.
“He just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with,” he said. “Just iron-ass. His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East.”
The elder Bush maintained that Cheney is “a good man,” and added that some of the fault lies with George W. Bush for allowing Cheney to have so much say.
“The big mistake that was made was letting Cheney bring in kind of his own State Department,” he said. “I think they overdid that. But it’s not Cheney’s fault. It’s the president’s fault.”
“The buck stops there,” Bush added, referring to his son, according to the Times.
Bush 41 also railed againt Donald Rumsfeld, who he said “served the president badly.”
“I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the president having his iron-ass view of everything. I’ve never been that close to him anyway. There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks. He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that,” he said. “Rumsfeld was an arrogant fellow and self-assured, swagger.”
But the elder Bush did not criticize his son’s administration when it came to the Iraq War, according to the New York Times.
“Saddam’s gone, and with him went a lot of brutality and nastiness and awfulness,” he said.
When asked about George H.W. Bush’s comments by Meacham, Cheney said, “I never heard any of this from 41.”
“He would sometimes stick his head in and we’d talk, but he never indicated anything like this,” Cheney added, according to the Times.
George W. Bush also commented to Meacham on his father’s comments.
“He certainly never expressed that opinion to me, either during the presidency or after,” Bush 43 said. “I valued Dick’s advice, but he was one of a number of my advisers I consulted, depending on the issue.”
“And in any event, I disagree with his characterization of what was going on. I made the decisions. This was my philosophy,” he added.