As an ex-president, and especially in comparison to modern politicians, George H W BushGeorge H.W. Bush has been respectfully silent about those who have served after him.  Now, however, that’s changing, and Bush Sr. has been criticizing some big (and unexpected) names.  In the new Jon Meacham biography, “Destiny And Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush”, the former president has some less-than-nice things to say about his son’s tenure in the White House, in particular to how Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld reacted to 9/11.

According to Bush Sr., his son’s administration was too “hawkish” in the aftermath of the tragedy, and their “harsh, inflexible” stance that emphasized fighting seriously damaged America’s reputation abroad.  Bush Sr. believes that Cheney acted too independently of his son, due in part to the national security team he assembled.  In Meacham’s biography, Bush suggests that Cheney, who had been his defense secretary before serving as his son’s Vice President, may have been driven to that harder line by his conservative wife and daughter.

In response, Cheney has laughed off claims that he was driven to be more conservative by his family, taking full responsibility for his actions.  Although Bush Sr. criticized Cheney for being an “iron ass”, Cheney took the comment as a mark of pride, feeling that America needed an aggressive response to 9/11.  As a whole Cheney says he enjoyed the new book, which features, among other things, audio diaries that Bush recorded during his presidency.

Bush Sr. is even harder on Rumsfeld, calling him “arrogant” and saying that his lack of humility and empathy hurt his son’s presidency.  Rumsfeld hasn’t commented on the book.  In an official response to the book, the younger Bush defended his right-hand men, having only good things to say about them.  In addition to his criticisms about his son’s administration, the elder Bush claims to have “mellowed” in his stance on same-sex marriage, saying that people have a right to be happy without discrimination, even if he still believes in traditional marriage.

If you’d like to learn more about George H.W.’s book, you can click here!