The elder George Bush's surprising public slam of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld has resulted in what the Washington Post sees as a rarity: a "public quarrel," or something close to it, among a family known for its loyalty. Sons Jeb and George were busy trying to backtrack from their father's sentiment on Thursday:
- George W: "I am proud to have served with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Dick Cheney did a superb job as vice president and I was fortunate to have him by my side throughout my presidency. Don Rumsfeld ably led the Pentagon and was an effective secretary of defense."
- Jeb: "My brother is a big boy. His administration was shaped by his thinking, his reaction to the attack on 9/11. I think my dad, like a lot of people that love George, want to try to create a different narrative, perhaps, just because that's natural to do." He also praised Cheney in particular as VP, adding, "We have to get beyond, I think, this feeling that somehow 1991 is the same as 2001."
The New York Times has a similar story, asserting that the comments have "exposed rifts within America's leading political dynasty." The flap is only going to make things tougher for Jeb, who is now "caught in the middle" of the two Bush presidencies and their different styles, writes Peter Baker for the Times. Also pushing back against the elder Bush's views was Rumsfeld, who seemed to take a potshot at the 91-year-old's age. “Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43, who I found made his own decisions." (Cheney, on the other hand, took Bush's description of him as "iron-ass" to be a compliment.) The Times story notes that Jon Meacham, author of the book in which Bush airs his views, specifically asked Bush if he wanted to reframe his harsh comments on Cheney and Rumsfeld. Bush declined, noting, "That's what I said."