Former President George W. Bush offered a touching tribute Tuesday to his father, George Herbert Walker Bush – with wry humor, candor and love. The senior former President Bush served as chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People’s Republic of China and later head of the CIA under President Gerald Ford, vice president for eight years under President Ronald Reagan, and president himself for four years afterward. And for his 90th birthday this year, he jumped out of a helicopter.
“One of the things Dad taught me is that you’ve got to laugh,” the younger Bush said Tuesday. “And I’m convinced that one reason why both Mom and Dad have got such a wonderful sense of humor is because they don’t take themselves so seriously.”
The younger former President Bush unveiled a new biography of his dad – “41: A Portrait of My Father” – during a ceremony in Texas Tuesday. The senior former President Bush and his wife, Barbara, were in the audience.
The younger Bush said he wrote the book because he wanted his father to be alive to see how much he and other people care about him. The younger Bush also said he wanted to start the process of reassessing his father’s presidency.
Again and again, though, he told jokes his father told him. “A guy gets arrested for stealing a can of peaches, and he and his wife go before the judge. The judge says, ‘How many peaches in the can?’ He said, ‘Six.’ (The judge) said, ‘Fine, I’ll sentence you to six months in prison.’ Before he could leave, the wife raises her hand, (and said), ‘And he stole a can of peas (too),’” the younger Bush said.
The younger Bush also talked about the time when he was 18, and his parents invited him to dinner, it became clear that his mother had something she wanted him to discuss.
“She could barely contain herself. She said: ‘I discovered an ashtray under your bed. You smoke,’” he said. “And dad looked at her and said, ‘You do too,’ and that was the end of the conversation.”
George W. Bush also said it would be “awesome” if his younger brother, Jeb, seeks the White House. But he said Jeb is concerned about the idea of a ruling political class.
“The idea of Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Bush troubles him,” said “George W. Bush.” “I said: ‘How’s this sound? Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Clinton?’ The point is you don’t get to pick the environment in which you run.”