'I'm Doing Fine,' President Tells Worried Father

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

As the House gets ready to begin debating the Iraq war today, President Bush has a piece of advice for his father: Turn off the television.

It seems that former president George H.W. Bush has been getting agitated watching all the attacks on his son -- so much so that the current president said yesterday that he is worried for his father's well-being.

"I am actually more concerned about him than I have ever been in my life, because he's paying too much attention to the news," the president told C-SPAN in an interview to be broadcast this morning. "And I understand how difficult it is for a person who loves somebody to see them out in the political process and to kind of endure the criticism. My answer to him is: 'Look, don't pay attention to it. I'm doing fine.' "

That is advice he apparently intends to follow himself. Bush has no plans to watch the House debate his decision to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq.

"You know, I've got a full day," he said. "I mean, it's not as if the world stops when the Congress does their duty."

Besides, he added: "I already know what the debate is. I hear a lot of opinions."

Bush's comments were not the first hint at frustration inside the Bush family over his political troubles. After the November elections, which ousted Republican majorities from both houses of Congress, the elder Bush bristled at those disparaging his son. At a conference in the United Arab Emirates, he responded to Arab critics. "When your son's under attack, it hurts," he said. "You're determined to be at his side and help him any way you possibly can."

The president's travails may have brought father and son closer in some ways. In the interview yesterday, the younger Bush said he thinks his father is underestimated. Bush has identified politically more often with Ronald Reagan and Harry S. Truman. But he offered the 41st president as his first example when asked by C-SPAN's Steve Scully who is the most underrated president.

"Well, George H.W. Bush is one of them," the 43rd president said. "He followed President Reagan, who was such a really strong president that people have yet to take a look at my dad."

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