Footage a few weeks back of the Lord of the Bush Dynasty, former president George WH Bush, sobbing openly, wracked with tears, as he made a speech about his family was one of the most powerful glimpses we've ever had behind the tall high walls of Bush Co.
This was a father, a man so normally in control of his emotions that he spent more than a decade as vice-president and then president without show anything of himself except his easy-prick bluster when criticism came too close to his truth.
It doesn't take a psychiatrist to realise that while Bush Snr was talking about his other son, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, when he broke down, it was George Jnr who was on his mind, and punching his emotions.
The failed son of the president has become the failed president. The Bush Dynasty was not supposed to go this way.
Jeb Bush was supposed to be president next, for two terms. That was the ultimate dream for Bush Snr. To produce two great presidents of the United States. What could make a father prouder?
But now that long troubled son has got the whole country, and put at risk the vast wealth of America's true royalty, in terrible trouble in Iraq. That Afghanistan is slowly becoming a satelite state of the Pakistan Taliban is one nightmare too many.
George Snr sent his best men to guide Jnr back onto a track that would see, at the very least, the oil supplies of Iran and other Gulf states, secured now that Iraq was slipping beyond corporate lockdown.
But George Jnr all but directly insulted his father's men, and one woman, by talking about other possible reports during the first press conference he gave to discuss the Iraq Study Group report.
No doubt the tears are flowing easily, and regularly, for Bush Snr these days. He can't even tune into Fox News to escape harsh criticism of his son. Fox News talkers don't like what George Jnr is doing, or not doing, about illegal immigration. And they're not all out in support for the Iraq War either. They've broadened the debate to include defeat and talks with Syria and Iran. As Bush Snr would want them to.
Enough of all that. Here's an excellent story from the Washington Post that explains just how George W. Bush threw the whole Bush Family Franchise into risky chaos.
From the Washington Post :
The elder Bush has always been a softie, but this display of emotion was so over the top that it had to be about something other than (his son) Jeb’s long-ago loss.Does the President feel humiliation, or even slight embarrassment, that he has screwed up so utterly, so totally, that his own father had to call in his friends to help get his son out of trouble?
The former president was reflecting on how well Jeb handled defeat in 1994 when he lost his composure. “He didn’t whine about it,” he said, putting a handkerchief to his face in an effort to stifle his sobbing.
That election turned out to be pivotal because it disrupted the plan Papa Bush had for his sons, which may be why he was crying, and why the country cries with him.
The family’s grand design had the No. 2 son, Jeb, by far the brighter and more responsible, ascend to the presidency while George, the partying frat-boy type, settled for second best in Texas.
The plan went awry when Jeb, contrary to conventional wisdom, lost in Florida, and George unexpectedly defeated Ann Richards in Texas. With the favored heir on the sidelines, the family calculus shifted. They’d go for the presidency with the son that won and not the one they wished had won.
The son who was wrongly launched has made such a mess of things that he has ruined the family franchise.
Without getting too Oedipal, it’s fair to say that so many mistakes George W. Bush made are the result of his need to distinguish himself from his father and show that he’s smarter and tougher.
His need to outdo his father and at the same time vindicate his father’s failure to get re-elected makes for a complicated stew of emotions.
The irony is that the senior Bush, dismissed by Junior’s crowd as a country-club patrician, looks like a giant among presidents compared to his son.
The Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by (Bush Snr close friend, James) Baker, pulls no punches in calling Bush’s policies a failure.
It’s a statement of the obvious, but when you have a collection of Washington wise men, plus retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor...it’s the equivalent of last rites for Bush’s Iraq policy, along with his presidency.
This president has lost all capacity to lead. Eleven American servicemen died in Iraq on the day Bush was presented the report...
He has little choice but to accept the fundamental direction of the Iraq Study Group. He’s up to his neck in quicksand, and they’ve thrown him a rope. It’s trendy to make fun of the over-the-hill types in Washington, but they’ve done a noble thing in reminding us that war is not just about spin and a way to win elections.
It’s about coming together to find a way out, however unpalatable.
Not from what we see of Bush on the news. He just looks tired and angry. But not sad. And certainly not humiliated.