We'll probably never know what is at the core of the strange relationship the President has with his father. Armchair psychiatrists always guess that he is trying to outdo his old man. Whatever. One thing everyone can agree on is the younger Bush has created a collossal mess that could have been avoided if he'd bothered to chat with his father. Why he didn't is a question for the ages.
From Helen Thomas:
"Former President George H.W. Bush is in a tough spot. He anguishes when his son, the president, is criticized. But he is reluctant to give him any advice, even when the president may need it.
Bush and his wife, Barbara, gave their views to Hugh Sidey, Time magazine's former columnist, for the magazine's "Man of the Year" issue with the current President Bush on the cover.
The former president has loosened up since leaving office 12 years ago, as evidenced by his blast at Michael Moore, whose movie, "Fahrenheit 9-11," presented an unflattering portrait of the current president.
Moore is a "slimeball," said Bush senior.
Seemed to me like the former president has picked up a freewheeling style from his wife, already known for her provocative comments. The couple seem to have fun saying what they think after years of restraint imposed by politics and protocol.
The former president is still simmering over a 1988 remark by former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who said George W. Bush was "born with a silver foot in his mouth."
The current president defeated Richards when she ran for reelection in 1995, prompting Bush senior to say, "We showed her what she could do with that silver foot, where she could stick that now."
The senior Bushes are simply reaffirming the old truism that parents are usually defensive about their children, especially when they are under fire. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, told Sidey: "It's the pride of a father in a son and it transcends or avoids the issues."
He said that he does talk with his son about "issues, but it's not real in-depth. It's not his saying to me, 'What do I do now?'"
There has been speculation that the younger Bush wanted to run for the White House to outdo his father, who successfully prosecuted the first Gulf War in 1991 when U.S. forces evicted Iraq from Kuwait.
That commander-in-chief wisely chose not go on to Baghdad, fearing that U.S. forces would end up in a quagmire of urban fighting. Imagine that.
Bush senior vehemently rejects such personal motivations on the part of his son.
Of course, one can expect a father to be very protective of his son. But there are indications that Bush senior had been urging caution on his son in the runup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, speaking through surrogates like former Secretary of State James Baker and former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft.
Both Baker and Scowcroft felt diplomacy was the best way to deal with Saddam Hussein. The neoconservatives -- who persuaded the current president to invade Iraq -- tried but were unable to sell their war plans to the elder Bush. That's because Bush-41 had wiser advisers around him.
The senior Bush also knew it was important for the United States to have friends and allies around the world, a goal that somehow has eluded his son.
The former president said he has certain ideas that he would like to discuss with his son but is reluctant do so, fearing the press would make much of it.
He said the thing that "was perhaps the most hurtful to me was the theme that the president doesn't know what he's doing, that he's dumb, that he's some know-nothing cowboy from Texas."
Bush said he sat with his son at Camp David and at his ranch at Crawford, Texas, and heard him "with intelligence people and asking the appropriate questions," adding, "I was surprised at how broad the vision and grasp are. But he gets no credit for that."
Bush said he and his wife "talk a lot" to the president and he usually calls at 6 a.m. from the Oval Office on a speakerphone.
Barbara Bush explained the rules governing those early morning chats: "No repeating what he tells you, No. 1, and not giving unsolicited advice."
That's too bad. Bush-41 might have passed on a rule that is well known to history buffs -- the Middle East is a tinderbox.
And his son would have done well to listen to his father."