One of the benefits of being 91 is you don’t have to hold back anymore—you can say what you want. And in a new biography, former President George H.W. Bush tells Jon Meacham just what he thinks about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld’s work in his son’s administration, as reported by Fox News and The New York Times.
“He just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with,” the elder Bush said of the man who served as his secretary of defense. “Just iron-ass. His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East.” He said Cheney built “his own empire.”
“I’ve concluded that Lynne Cheney is a lot of the eminence grise here—iron-ass, tough as nails, driving,” George H.W. Bush said. He made the comments during interviews for Meacham’s forthcoming biography Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. (One takeaway from the book is Bush’s love of the phrase “iron-ass,” which seems at once like a dated Yankee descriptor and also delightfully vivid.)
He was even harsher about Rumsfeld, who he deemed an “arrogant fellow.”
“I think he served the president badly,” Bush said. “I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the president having his iron-ass view of everything. I’ve never been that close to him anyway. There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks. He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that.”