We've often wondered what it would be like to be the father of man who fell so hard and fast from grace. Funny, how both of them -- George H.W. Bush and Dubya -- squandered such grand opportunities, the former after America's triumph in the first Gulf War, and the latter, for how he could have brought the nation and world together following the September 11 attacks, but instead chose an ill-fated invasion of Baghdad.
Now, Old George is out with a new book, released yesterday, that offers a number of poignant and painful ruminations about the low points of his son's presidency.
Here's a look at some of the more memorable ones from
All the Best, George Bush; My Life in Letters and Other Writings:
"My heart went out to him. Here is a guy who cares deeply. Who wants every possible resource of the federal government brought in to bear to help people, yet he is being roundly accused of not giving a damn ... the critics do not know what is in 43's heart, how deeply he feels about the hurt, the anguish, the losses affecting so many people, most of them poor."
The elder Bush remains bitter over the level of fury No. 43 withstood for slow execution of recovery efforts in Louisiana, which came to a head in Sept. 2005, when Kanye West blasted Bush during a nationally broadcast relief telethon, claiming he "didn't care about black people."
Bush comes to his son's defense in the book, calling the critics "nasty," and recalls that his son had come under fire exactly 61 years after his own Navy plane had been shot down by the Japanese.
"I was a scared kid back then," Bush writes. "Now I am just an angry old man hurting for my son."
Bush spends a good deal of attention reprising the 2000 election, which many will argue to the day they die, that Al Gore would have won had the all the votes been counted in Florida.
The night before the election, the father sent an e-mail to his son Jeb, who was then-governor of Florida, praising him for working tirelessly to help his brother in the presidential campaign.
"I just want you to know that your mother and I have never been prouder of you," the elder Bush said. "I don't know what will happen in Florida tomorrow. But I do know no one could have done more than you to help George carry the state, and to help in other states as well..."
Bush went on, "I hope God will bless us with victory in Florida and across the land; but whatever happens our family will be strong and solid and your brother George and your Dad will say Jeb gave it his all and we love that guy. Devotedly, DAD."
After the Supreme Court handed Bush the Younger the presidency in December 2000, Bush wrote to long-time friend and journalist Hugh Sidey, "The fat lady sang. The ordeal ended."
Bush also told Sidey he called the White House and asked to speak with Gore, and that the vice president quickly called back.
"I congratulated him, just a sentence or two, just a few words," Bush wrote to Sidey. "I suddenly felt for him, saw him as a man whose disappointment had to be overpowering. I knew he must be hurting. He was very gracious. The conversation was over in a flash, but I suddenly felt quite different about Al Gore.
"The anger was gone, the competitive juices stopped flowing. I thought back to my own feelings of years before when I lost, when I had to go out and accept my defeat. He did it better than I did, and his ordeal had to be tougher because the election was so close. True I had to actually give up the Presidency that he was now seeking, but still he had been in public life a long time and he and his family were shattered."
An emotional Bush revisits the feelings that overcame him after Saddam Hussein fell in April 2003.
In an e-mail to his son, Bush remembered comments he made to friends saying, "I shamefully choked up, the tears tumbling down my aging cheeks. I was embarrassed; but then I realized that I shouldn't worry if people see this visible manifestation of a father's concern, a father's love. It was pride, yes, but it was also an overflowing of joy from all that you have given your mother and me over the years..."
Bush continued, "...Bar (Barbara) and I are at your side. I hope you can feel it. We will stay out of the way, but I am there beside you, my heart overflowing with happiness on this day of vindication."