On Saturday, the White House responded to the cruel attacks on President Trump by former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that George H.W. Bush had widely condemned Trump in 2016 during his campaign for president.
Bush is quoted saying, “I don’t like him. 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.”
George W. Bush also told reporters that
he fears that Trump will be “the last Republican president.” Essentially, he feels that Trump is failing at maintaining the proper ‘Republican’ image.
After the Bushes’ comments
ere made public, Mike Huckabee came up with a GENIUS response to put them in their place:
“Beyond disgusting to see Bushes trash @realDonaldTrump who got more votes than them. Voted for Hillary-Reallary?”
“If one presidential candidate can disassemble a political party, it speaks volumes about how strong a legacy its past two presidents really had,” a White House official told CNN. “And that begins with the Iraq war, one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history.”
“President Trump remains focused on keeping his promises to the American people by bringing back jobs, promoting an ‘America First’ foreign policy and standing up for the forgotten men and women of our great county,” the official said.
Former President George H.W. Bush delivered a blunt assessment of Trump in historian Mark Updegrove’s new book, titled “The Last Republicans,” saying, “He’s a blowhard.” And former President George W. Bush also had harsh words for his Republican successor: “This guy doesn’t know what it means to be president.”
En route to Tokyo on Saturday, Trump was more restrained when asked for reaction to the Bushes’ comments. “I’ll comment after we come back. I don’t need headlines. I don’t want to make their move successful,” he said.
This is the first time the former presidents are speaking out about Trump in such stark terms. Both men went on the record to give Updegrove their candid assessment of Trump, as well as rare insight into their thoughts on the 2016 presidential race as the drama unfolded.
The most critical comments about Trump came from the elder Bush, now 93, who told Updegrove in May 2016, “I don’t like him. 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.”
In commenting about the Bushes’ remarks, Updegrove told CNN’s Jamie Gangel: “If you look at the Bush family, it makes perfect sense. Donald Trump is everything that the Bush family is not.”
“George Bush grew up thinking about the greater good. Donald Trump is manifestly narcissistic. It’s part of his brand. And that brand is the antithesis of the Bush brand,” Updegrove added.
George W. Bush echoed his father’s sentiments when he told Updegrove, “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).”
Updegrove told CNN: “When Donald Trump said, ‘I am my own adviser,’ Bush thought — and this is a quote — ‘Wow, this guy doesn’t know what it means to be president.’”
“I voted ‘None of the Above’ for president, and Republican down ballot in 2016,” he said.
He went on to say that concern with the former secretary of state’s judgment kept him from following his father’s lead. He told the author in the weeks leading up to Election Day, “The question for the country to decide — on both candidates, by the way — is to what extent should we be insisting upon integrity and solid character.”
George W. Bush described his relationship with Clinton, according to Updegrove, saying: “‘In my presence, she was polite … thoughtful,” he said, but alluding to her using a private email server as secretary of state, he added, “obviously tangled up in bad judgment. This email thing, putting confidential information out there in a world where all kinds of people can figure out how to get your emails was not good judgment.”
In the end, the younger Bush concluded it was “a strange election year,” and told Updegrove both candidates were “among the few in the country” who made each other “viable.”
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 Updegrove, 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.”
This isn’t the only notion Bush tries to dispel. When asked about the power and influence of former vice president Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his administration, George W. Bush replied that Cheney and Rumsfeld “didn’t make one fucking decision.”
Father and son
The relationship between father and son is what drove Updegrove, who is a historian and former director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, to write “The Last Republicans.”
“There are so many misconceptions about this relationship,” the author told CNN. “You have to get the story right, and I felt in order to do that, you had to talk to the principles themselves.” Updegrove spoke with both former presidents several times in the past few years in order to delve into their personal connection, which he repeatedly described as “very close.”
Even so, the author said that George H.W. Bush was careful not to interfere when his son became President. “Because he understands what it is to be president, and he doesn’t want to be a burden to his son,” Updegrove told CNN. “So what he is, instead, is a comforter in chief. He’s there for his son to be a loving presence in his life. That’s what he considers his most important role.”
The bottom line: Updegrove calls the relationship between the first father-son presidential duo in more than 150 years “a complicated love story, but a love story nonetheless.”
As for “The Last Republicans,” Updegrove said the idea came from a comment George W. Bush made after last year’s election.
“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.
When asked his thoughts on George W. Bush’s fear, Updegrove told CNN, “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.”