Bush ’41 Unloads: Unsparing Critique of Cheney, Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Former President George H. W. Bush has finally revealed what he really thinks of his son’s presidency, faulting George W. Bush for setting an abrasive tone on the world stage and failing to rein in hawkish Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense chief Donald Rumsfeld.

In a years-long series of interviews with biographer Jon Meacham, the elder Bush frowned on the sometimes “hot rhetoric” of George W. Bush, saying such language may get headlines “but it doesn’t necessarily solve the diplomatic problem.”

The elder Bush faulted Cheney and Rumsfeld for their hawkish views, calling Rumsfeld an “arrogant fellow” and saying Cheney had changed markedly from the days when he served in the first Bush administration.

As vice president, Cheney “had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer,” the elder Bush said, adding: “He just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with.”

Ultimately, the elder Bush assigned fault to his son for Cheney’s over-reach and for fostering a global impression of American inflexibility.

“It’s not Cheney’s fault, it’s the president’s fault,” the elder Bush said. “The buck stops there.”

For all of that, though, the elder Bush did not suggest that he disagreed with his son’s decision to invade Iraq, saying Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein “is gone, and with him went a lot of brutality and nastiness and awfulness.”