President Trump is not a favorite in the extended Bush household. Former President George Bush considers him a “blowhard,” only interested in feeding his own ego. Former President George W. Bush, his son, thinks Mr. Trump fans public anger and came to office without any understanding of the job.
And both worry that Mr. Trump has blown up a Republican Party that they spent two lifetimes building, a party that was once committed to removing boundaries to trade and immigration, promoting democracy and civil society and asserting a robust American leadership role in the world, according to an author who has interviewed them.
A new book on the two Bushes who served in the White House provides a glance at their apprehension over Mr. Trump’s rise to power and what it means for the country. The first book ever written with their cooperation about their relationship, it also opens a window into the only father-and-son tandem to hold the presidency since John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
In “The Last Republicans,” Mark K. Updegrove chronicles an era that feels almost dated in today’s reality-show politics, when the Republican establishment controlled the party and Washington, and when a single family could occupy the presidency and vice presidency for a combined 20 years.
Neither of the two Republican former presidents voted for Mr. Trump — the father voted for Hillary Clinton and the son voted for “none of the above,” as he told Mr. Updegrove.
Indeed, at one point during the 2016 presidential campaign, the younger Mr. Bush confided to the author, “I’m worried that I will be the last Republican president.”
That inspired the title of the book — which will be published Nov. 14 by HarperCollins — as a quote that seemed to carry a double meaning.
“At the time, I think he was concerned that Hillary Clinton would win,” Mr. Updegrove, the author of several books on the presidency, said in an interview. “But if you look at his values and those shared by his father and Ronald Reagan, they are very much in contrast to the values of the Republican Party today, in particular the platform that Donald Trump ran on, which is essentially protectionism and a certain xenophobia.”
The White House fired back with a statement on Saturday arguing that American voters chose an outsider to change a system of lifelong politicians beholden to special interests. “If they were interested in continuing decades of costly mistakes, another establishment politician more concerned with putting politics over people would have won,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.
In discussing Mr. Trump with Mr. Updegrove, the elder Mr. Bush was blunter. “I don’t like him,” Mr. Bush said in May 2016. “I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a blowhard. And I’m not too excited about him being a leader.” Rather than being motivated by public service, Mr. Bush said Mr. Trump seemed to be driven by “a certain ego.”
The younger Mr. Bush was more circumspect, but also clearly disapproving. The Bushes felt stung by Mr. Trump’s ground-burning attacks that helped destroy the campaign of Jeb Bush, the son and brother of the presidents.
“You can either exploit the anger, incite it,” George W. Bush told Mr. Updegrove, “or you can come up with ideas to deal with it.” Jeb, he said, came up with solutions, “but it didn’t fit with the mood.”
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Source: New York Times