Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Jon Meacham sat down with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric on “Yahoo News Live” to discuss “Destiny and Power,” his revealing new book on the political odyssey of President George Herbert Walker Bush. He weighed in on the political firestorm the book has created, the impact it has on Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign and what George H.W. Bush, or “Bush 41,” as the Bush family calls him, thinks about it all.
The comments from Bush 41 that have made the most headlines are those about former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
On Cheney, Meacham told Couric said, “[President Bush] admired Dick Cheney … but he believed after September 11 that Cheney became harder-lined, more hawkish and did not believe that that fed the impression he wishes his son had.”
On Rumsfeld, Meacham said, “I think he disagreed with Rumsfeld’s apparent inability to revisit tactical and strategic initiatives in Iraq.”
On what Bush 41 thinks about the fallout from the comments, Meacham said, “I think he is following it very closely. He knew everything that was here. … He had no right of approval and did not read the book, but the comments that I knew would be controversial I took back to him. … He looked at me dead in the eye and said, ‘That’s what I said.’”
On the impact the fallout might have on Jeb’s campaign for president, Meacham told Couric, “This is the difference between politics and history. I can see the argument about the political impact on Jeb, but if you look at it, all this is a public service.”
On the Bush family dynasty and what it might mean for the future of Jeb’s campaign, Meacham said: “No Bush became president without going negative in a really strong way. … We use the dynasty word, but they were not simply crowned one after another. You have to fight for it. In that sense, the next few months will be the decisive hour.”
On the current GOP candidates, Meacham said, “I have written a book about the un-Trump. It is almost impossible to imagine that in the last 26 years or so, you’ve gone from a Republican nominee who was a naval aviator, a member of Congress, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, the U.N. ambassador, the ambassador to China, the director of the CIA, the vice president of the United States for eight years. That was the Republican nominee in 1988; in 2016 we are looking at a real estate developer and neurosurgeon and people who have not spent their lives training for this job.”
Finally, on what George Bush, the elder, wants his legacy to be, Meacham told Couric: “That he put the country first.”