George H.W. Bush slams 'Iron-Ass' Cheney, Rumsfeld in new biography
George H. W. Bush. AP photo
BY CARRIE DANN, NBC News
(NBC News) - In a new biography, former President George H.W. Bush heaps criticism on former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying the two men were too rigid in their beliefs and held outsized influence in the White House.
According to the New York Times, the elder Bush told biographer Jon Meacham that Cheney "had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer." Calling the former vice president "iron-ass," the elder Bush said he "just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with."
The former president also called Rumsfeld "an arrogant fellow" and suggested that his lack of empathy made him a poor public servant in George W. Bush's White House.
"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."
"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," he said.
The former president's comments, detailed in Meacham's book "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush," are sure to be seen through the prism of the presidential run of his other son, Jeb. The former Florida governor is struggling to regain political momentum, in part after questions about the dynastic nature of his 2016 run.
In the book, George H.W. Bush doesn't shy away from criticism of George W. Bush, suggesting that some of his son's rhetoric - like describing North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an "axis of evil" - was ill-advised.
"I do worry about some of the rhetoric that was out there — some of it his, maybe, and some of it the people around him," he said of George W. Bush.