Friday, November 24, 2006



For a man who likes portrays himself as old, weak and not much of a fighter anymore, with the every ready, and extremely handy, "failing memory", former president George HW Bush managed to rouse enough of the old fire last week to loudly, vehemently defend his son, George W. from some fairly mild criticism during a Q & A session following a speech in the United Arab Emirates.

From the Washington Times :
Former President George Bush, an angry father, took on Arab critics of son President George W. Bush during a testy exchange at a leadership conference.

A woman in the audience told the former president: "We do not respect your son. We do not respect what he's doing all over the world."

Mr. Bush, 82, appeared stunned at first as the audience whooped and whistled in approval, then replied sharply: "My son is an honest man."

When a college student told Mr. Bush that U.S. wars were aimed at opening markets for American companies and that globalization was contrived for America's benefit at the expense of the rest of the world, Mr. Bush shot back: "I think that's weird, and it's nuts. To suggest that everything we do is because we're hungry for money, I think that's crazy. I think you need to go back to school."

The hostile comments came during a question-and-answer session after Mr. Bush finished a folksy address on leadership, telling how deeply hurt he feels when his presidential son is criticized.

"This son is not going to back away," Mr. Bush said, his voice quivering. "He's not going to change his view because some poll says this or some poll says that, or some heartfelt comments from the lady who feels deeply in her heart about something. You can't be president of the United States and conduct yourself if you're going to cut and run. This is going to work out in Iraq. I understand the anxiety. It's not easy."

The oil-rich Persian Gulf was once congenial territory for the 41st president, who brought Arab leaders together in a coalition that drove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's troops from Kuwait in 1991.

But gratitude was scarce at the conference held Tuesday. Hostility toward his son, whose 2003 invasion of Iraq and support for Israel are deeply unpopular in the region, bubbled quickly.

He's proud of his sons, he said. He described as the happiest day of his life Election Day in 1998, when the younger Mr. Bush and Jeb Bush were elected governors of Texas and Florida. He described as acute the pain he feels when his sons are attacked.

When one questioner asked Poppy Bush what sort of advice he gives his son on Iraq, he refused to answer, blaming the presence of the media from allowing him to speak honestly.
However, he did not deny, as he has always done previously, that he is now actually giving his son direct advice. The old line was that George W. didn't ask his dad for help, and he didn't offer, because he didn't want to interfere.