In the new Jon Meacham biography, Destiny And Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president doesn't mince words when it comes to two familiar names from his son's administration.
Meacham had access to audio diaries Bush recorded as president, as well as current interviews with the 91-year-old. In an exclusive look at the book, Fox News reports that Bush told Meacham he felt both Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld were too hawkish after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "I don't know, he just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with," Bush said. "The reaction [to Sept. 11], what to do about the Middle East. 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...."
Bush also said he thought it was a "big mistake" to let Cheney "bring in kind of his own State Department," and suggested Cheney might have been egged on by his wife, Lynne, and daughter Liz. "You know, I've concluded that Lynne Cheney is a lot of the éminence grise here... tough as nails, driving." When talking about Rumsfeld, Bush took an even harsher tone, telling Meacham, "I don't like what he did, and I think it hurt the president." Bush said he was never that close to Rumsfeld, and believes he has "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. Rumsfeld was an arrogant fellow."
Cheney, who served as the elder Bush's defense secretary, told Fox News: "It's his view, perhaps, of what happened, but my family was not conspiring to somehow turn me into a tougher, more hardnosed individual. I got there all by myself." Rumsfeld did not comment. Destiny And Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush is out Nov. 10.