President George W. Bush has written a personal biography of his father, President George H.W. Bush
Bush said he wanted his father to be alive to read the book and understand how his son feels about him
Bush also said it "would be awesome" if his brother Jeb Bush runs for the White House in 2016
Former President George W. Bush said Tuesday that he wanted to publish his personal biography about his father, former President George H.W. Bush, now because “I wanted Dad to be alive – to be able to see how much not only I care for him but a lot of people care for him.”
“His presidency in many ways was overshadowed by his predecessor, and that’s understandable,” Bush said. “[But] people are beginning to reassess the presidency of 41 and I want to be a part of that process and I wanted him to know that that process was going to take place.”
Bush’s comments came at an event with his father Tuesday marking the launch of the 43rd president’s personal biography of the 41st president.
The discussion was moderated by former George W. Bush chief of staff Andy Card and held at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College Station. It was a heartfelt tribute to the elder Bush, who left the White House 22 years ago and is now 90.
The younger Bush called “41: A Portrait of My Father,” “a pretty good read” about the man he said is the best one-term president in U.S. history.
He said the inspiration came from a conversation with the daughter of renowned presidential biographer David McCullough, who told him that her father had always wished he could have read a book by John Quincy Adams about his father, John Adams.
Bush said he thought: “Well, I can do that.”
During the 45-minute event, the younger Bush told a number of stories about his father – some funny and some touching.
He said his father thinks about the men he served with when he was a pilot during World War II – including radio man John Delaney and gunner Ted White, who died when their plane was shot down. The elder Bush was the only survivor.
Bush said he didn’t know until he started researching for the book that his father had invited the sisters of Delaney and White to visit him in the Oval Office.
“That’s one of the most difficult aspects of the presidency is to be the comforter-in-chief, and I learned at the knee of the master,” he said.
He also discussed the friendship his father developed with his 1992 rival and then successor, former President Bill Clinton.
That relationship, he said, speaks to “Bill Clinton’s great respect for George H.W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush’s great humility that he wouldn’t allow an election to intercede a unique friendship.”
And he told several humorous childhood stories – including the young family’s move from Yale University to Odessa, Texas, where they lived in a duplex and shared a bathroom with two “ladies of the night.”
He said his father once discovered that a 6-year-old George W. Bush had stolen toy soldiers from a local shop, and made him return them and apologize to the store’s owner. “It wasn’t just putting them back in this little bowl that I’d taken them from,” he said. “It was apologizing and learning responsibility.”
He said when he was 18, his parents invited him to dinner one-on-one, and it became clear that his mother had something she wanted to discuss. “I discovered and ash tray under your bed. You smoke,” Barbara Bush said.
“And Dad looked at her and said, ‘So do you.’”
The event came amid increased focus on the Bush family as another member, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, considers a run for president – with a decision expected late this year or early next year.
Bush said it “would be awesome” if his brother Jeb runs for the White House – and that his brother and Hillary Clinton are “the two most qualified people in being able to tell you what it’s like to be president.”
“He ought to run for president and would be a great president should he win,” Bush said of his brother.
But he said his brother is making a “very personal decision” about whether a presidential campaign would be right for his family, and that outside pressure isn’t going to influence his decision.
Also, he said, his brother is troubled by the idea of a political class.
“The idea of Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Bush troubles him,” he said. “… I said, ‘How’s this sound: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Clinton?’ The point is, you don’t get to pick the environment in which you run.”