Andrew Sullivan is a journalist I often agree with. He's a Brit who's made it big in the US but still writes a Sunday Times column each week. This week he's written a long article for the Sunday Times News Review on the relationship between George W Bush and his father. You can read it HERE. A good friend of mine from Washington DC, Daniel Forrester (a Republican) thinks Sullivan is on the money. He just emailed me this...
It is about as clear an interpretation to the reality that is the Bush family that I have seen. It is biting, sets context, connects many dots, offers balance and in the end left me thinking thank God my father was a decent and good man who I need only emulate as a father, friend and husband. In other words, thank God my dad was never President.
W's relationship with his father is as complex as any in US history-- at the root of their relationship we see dysfunction that helps bring the world the "wisdom" of Rumsfeld. The only thing that Andrew misses is Cheney who is the yang to the yin of Rumsfeld. Those two collectively promoted empty reasoning and governing madness that failed to offer the intellectually non curious president many options as to how he should govern. If I wrote a book on the Bush Presidency my title would be "The Echo Chamber" with a picture of Rumsfeld and Cheney briefing the President.
I was blown away by what Andrew wrote. Couple this article with Maureen Dowd this week and you get a picture that shows the arrogance, pain, boldness and missed opportunity that is this Presidency.
I beg to differ. This is my response...
Daniel, you and I rarely disagree on political issues, but on this one we must. Sullivan’s article is a few thousand words of mindless psycho-babble. I am by no means Dubya’s greatest fan, as you know, but Sullivan’s analysis really doesn’t stand up to examination. He makes great play of all the leading people from Bush 1 who W appointed as if it were in some way a plea for approval from Daddy. He then undermines his own argument by making clear that Daddy hates Rumsfeld. So I suppose sacking Rumsfeld was also a plea for approval? Bizarre analysis.
The only piece I found interesting was the supposed conversation between Barbara Bush and the Senator. If it is true that GHWB was so concerned about Iraq, it ought to have been through a feeling of guilt that had he done his job properly, the current conflict would never have happened.
IMHO Dubya showed great wisdom by appointing a strong Cabinet in 2001, full of people who made up for his own shortcomings, especially in foreign affairs. His greatest strength has been that the world has regarded him as stupid. Sure, one or two of his decisions may have been daft, but what President hasn’t made daft decisions.?
His administrations’ greatest failure was to conduct a military conflict without planning for what came after. And that can be laid at Rumsfeld’s door, but not his alone. But this single failure of policy has led to a situation from which it is difficult to forecast how we can extricate ourselves. That has absolutely nothing to do with the relationship between Dubya and his Daddy. And Sullivan should know that.