Friday, November 06, 2015


Over at Slate, John Dickerson tells us that the new Jon Meacham biography of George H.W. Bush is causing problems for Jeb's campaign:
Father and son relationships are tricky when everyone is in the same profession, but in a household that is thick with presidents, the awkward moments are inevitable. A new one has arrived with the publication of Jon Meacham’s book about George H.W. Bush in which the former president weighs in on his son George W. Bush’s presidency.

In the book, Destiny and Power: The America Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president says that “iron-ass” Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld didn’t serve his son, the 43rd president, well. Cheney, who was secretary of defense under the elder Bush, “set up his own State Department,” according to the 41st president, and Rumsfeld was “arrogant,” never taking into account the views of those who disagreed with him.

This is probably not what Jeb Bush wants anyone to be talking about right now as his campaign struggles: the mistakes associated with the Iraq invasion and the fascinating complexities of his family tree.
But why didn't anyone in the Bush campaign anticipate that this would be a problem?

It's not as if the publication of this book was an unforeseeable event. Here's a Publishers Weekly article from 2010 noting that Meacham was "under contract at RH [Random House] for ... a biography of George H.W. Bush." Here's Meacham telling The Hill in 2012, "I am doing a biography of George H.W. Bush. It’ll be [out in] four or five years." (Well, it turned out to be three.)

Here's "Fall 2015 Announcements: Memoirs: True Tales," from the June 19, 2015, issue of Publishers Weekly:
Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham (Nov. 10, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-4000-6765-7). Pulitzer Prize–winning author Meacham pens a biography of George H.W. Bush based on research, private interviews with Bush, and exclusive access to his diaries.
So it was known at least as far back as June that the book was scheduled to be published on November 10 of this year. And the fact that Poppy was cooperating with Meacham was no secret, as we've known for quite some time via the book's Amazon page:
Drawing on President Bush’s personal diaries, on the diaries of his wife, Barbara, and on extraordinary access to the forty-first president and his family, Meacham paints an intimate and surprising portrait of an intensely private man who led the nation through tumultuous times.
How could Jeb not be prepared for the publication of this book? How could he not have consulted with his father and learned what his father told Meacham, and then carefully crafted a response? For that matter, why did Poppy, a cagey old political pro, get into these matters with Meacham at all when he knew there were still presidential races to be run by the Bush family?

This crisis in the Bush campaign was as predictable as the "would you have invaded Iraq?" question. And, of course, Jeb bungled that as well. It seemed as if he had no idea it was coming. The same can be said for this book.


Never Ben Better said...

You do have to wonder whether Bush senior decided that no son of his was going to show him up at presidenting.

Feud Turgidson said...

Looks like whatever mojo Jeb had back in his governor days curled up somewhere & died. And no matter how Jeb sez otherwise, seems he just can't hunt no more without that old dog, and don't wanna besides.

In the interests of piling on ... the roots of Poppy's dislike of Rummy go back to when Poppy was CIA Director. Rightly or wrongly, Poppy learned or figured out something about Rummy then, & from then on til Preznit Dubya, Rummy was basically shut out of Republican government til Dubya. It's been said the issue was Rummy running for the GOP nomination in 1980 & shit he said on the campaign trail & to insiders about both Reagan & Poppy, and maybe so: but I think Rummy running then & the shit he said then was a consequence not the cause.

The thing with Dick is more Godfather like. The 10 member Iraq Study Group were figureheads: the product came from James Baker, Poppy's BFF Brett Scowcroft & Poppy himself. The part of the plan not disclosed publicly was the political side: Rummy would be asked for his resignation (except Rove came up with the bright idea of leaving Rummy in place until after the 2006 midterms) & Cheney would resign "for health reasons" - & Cheney refused. Poppy was burned by Rove decades before and ever since the 2006 midterms debacle Poppy's blamed each of Rove, Rummy & Cheney for screwing up junior's legacy. I doubt the old guy's able to separate his bile for any one of them from his bile for the other two.

Unknown said...

The quotes I've seen from Poppy on W's presidency are remarkably brief. Is "arrogant" really all he has to say about Rummy? Might as well inform us that water is wet.

Dark Avenger said...

They figured by now that Bush would be first or in the top 4 in the polls, so the book wouldn't do much damage to the campaign this far out. The intervention of Trumps' campaign is what they refer to as a Black Swan, an event that comes out of nowhere and changes things irrevocably.

I really think that JEB! thought that the nomination would be his for the taking. But he hates campaigning, and even when campaigning he has all the charisma of a wet paper bag. Those things can't be 'fixed'.