tv The Bush Years Family Duty Power CNN March 17, 2019 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
>> we cities enveloped in smoke and americans hating each other, fighting each other, killing each other at home. a long dark night for america is about to end. after years spent in the shadow of others, george h.w. bush has finally made it to the top. >> the people have spoken. >> achieving power is one thing. wielding it is another. in office, bush faces momentous global challenges. >> this will not stand. >> the challenges of being a parent weigh just as heavily. >> this is not easy for me, father. >> if george h.w. bush is going to keep hold of the presidency, he will need the help of his entire family.
bush has worked for, driven for for so long. >> george h.w. bush is on the inaugural platform. the first person he went to was his mother. his whole family is around him. >> and president reagan. >> george bush comes in office in many ways in ronald reagan's shadow. >> president reagan, i thank you for the wonderful things you have done for america. the question for bush was could he play the role of president, which of course reagan, the great actor, had filled to the brim. >> america is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in a moral principle. we are going to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world. my friends, we have work to do.
>> it's kind of surreal that your father is now the one person in the world to be the president of the united states. >> when our grandfather became president, i asked my friends when her grandfather's inauguration would be. i thought everyone's grandfather had one. >> you could tell from all of them it wasn't just a victory for george herbert walker bush, this was a victory for the bush family. >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states, mrs. bush. >> george bush and barbara bush had to go to lots of inaugural balls. >> now -- >> and i know the president is not a great fan of dancing. in, in fact, if you look carefully even though it looks like he's leading, you really know she's in charge. >> i think it's clearly barbara. she played a role through the
endless campaigning and accompanying him to new york and beijing and wherever he wanted to go. >> i have a great question. >> barbara bush is someone people can relate to because she speaks her mind and looks the way everyone's favorite grandmother looks. people are drawn to that. >> i will never forget when she became first lady, some reporter asked not thinking who will your designers be? who will you get your clothes from? she said, i'm bringing my clothes with me. typical barbara. >> within the next couple days, 250 members of the bush family descended upon the white house. >> the first visitor to the oval office is president bush's mother, dorothy walker bush. >> i'm glad to have my mother here. >> i can only imagine how proud
she must have felt sitting in the oval office and how proud dad must have felt that raised him so well to become president of the united states. >> what are your thoughts today? >> the sense of public service that animated him as president came from his parents. now, george herbert walker bush had a chance to take the family's legacy to a much higher level. but it was up in the air what direction. >> astonishing news from east germany where the east german authorities have said in essence the berlin wall doesn't mean anything anymore. >> i was sitting in the oval office with the president and i turned the tv on and there were berliners hacking at the wall, coming through the wall. >> the united states and the
soviet union have been locked in a cold war for over 40 years. and all at once, it seems to have disappeared. >> the world as we had known it all of our adult lives changed fundamentally as the wall came down. marlin fitswater, who is the press secretary comes into the office and says, mr. president, you need to give a statement. bush issushoos him away. i don't know what i would say at this moment. i'm still trying to process it. >> he knows it's an important moment of his presidency but also knows it's a crucial moment for gorbachev. >> george bush understood he and the world needed gorbachev. if you wanted the leader to stay in power and help create a soft landing for the cold war, you
didn't want to humiliate him. george bush is desperately worried he is going to say the wrong thing, he will provoke some form of crackdown or some form of response from the communist world, therefore, bush has to walk the most incredible dangerous tightrope of all. ♪ ♪ ahhh, ha. ♪ ♪ oh yeah, baby. ♪ ♪ like a fool i went and stayed too long. ♪ ♪ now i'm wondering if your loves still strong. ♪ ♪ ooo baby, here i am, signed, sealed, delivered, i'm yours ♪ applebee's 3 course meal starting at $11.99. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. mimini was born extraordinary,
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>> the world's media eagerly awaits statement from the white house. >> he knows anything he could say at that point could undermine the government or gorbachev. >> they brought in members of the press in and hoping to get a picture of the president pounding on the desk in joyful jubilation. >> i welcome the decision by these german leaders to open the borders. >> he didn't sing hosanna. it would not have been in his character for him to have started shouting and screaming, it's just not him. >> the wall built in '61 will have very little relevance. >> it looked like he was indifferent. this was tremendously frustrating to the reporters there. >> you don't seem elated.
i'm wondering if -- >> he's a very emotional guy. >> i'm handling this properly with allies. >> george herbert walker bush was experienced at diplomacy and some advice from his mother, told him that fist pumping was not always the smart thing to do. >> i remember the president saying, look, this is a great development but it's not something we should be gloating about. >> during the following days, weeks and months, george h.w. bush leads a series of delicate negotiations with the soviet union. >> president bush managed that whole process, especially how he handle the russians and gorbachev was, i thought, masterful. he managed to be thoughtful,
generous, and at the same time, understanding of the problem from gorbachev's perception. >> i think if we hadn't sat here and talked we might not have understand this, how each other feels on these important questions. the cold war ends because of mikhail gorbachev. the cold war ends peacefully because of george herbert walker bush working with mikhail gorbachev. >> it isn't just the president who finds himself in the media spotlight. >> when you're in public service your children pay such a terrible price. they're shortchanged in many ways. they have to give up a lot, their freedom in many ways is curtailed. >> some of them have no interest in being a public figure. marvin for example and dora largely stay away from the
limelight. >> dora was engaged in charity work and raising beautiful children. i don't think she's ever thought about being in politics. >> of all my siblings, my brother, marvin, has probably done the best at dodging public attention. there's a lot of wisdom in marvin's approach. >> george w. bush does not process that kind of aversion. >> when the queen of england comes to the united states and comes to the white house for a state visit, barbara bush tells the queen that she's going to put her son, george w. bush, as far away from the queen as possible. >> the queen asks if george w. is the black sheep? barbara bush says, yes. after which, the queen says, every family has one. >> there are still people who think of george w. bush as the guy who does not possess discipline, kind of all over the place. in the summer of 1985 he has a
kind of spiritual awakening with kennebunkport with billy graham, the famous minister. >> billy graham says to w., are you right with god? and w. says, no, but i'd like to be. >> i think this one conversation inspired him to understand faith, live faith, incorporate it into his life. we talk about faith all the time, in fact, we text about it everyday. >> the bush family has always been -- gone to church built low-key episcopal religion. w. becomes evangelical, accepts christ as his savior unlike the quiet religiosity of his family. >> i think it grounded him, gave him more of a moral compass. he was better equipped and more able to serve.
my mom and dad celebrated my brother turning over this new leaf. >> george w. bush has measured himself against his father throughout his entire life. he becomes a pilot, then goes on to yale. he goes into the oil business. his father is his model, his father is his standard. >> did george w. feel his shadow? i imagine he did because everybodifeld overshadowed by h.w. >> george w. worked hard, his company grew and future was bright. >> his oil business was not a complete home run and he wanted to do something in business and have the opportunity to be succesul. baseball is the bush game. george was captain of the yale baseball team. >> one thing his father wanted to do he never got to do. >> get a load of that catch.
>> which is own a baseball team. >> george w. bush, give him a hand, folks! >> the bush years, family, duty, power. brought to you by -- everyone's got to listen to mom. when it comes to reducing the sugar in your family's diet, coke, dr pepper and pepsi hear you. we're working together to do just that. bringing you more great tasting beverages with less sugar or no sugar at all. smaller portion sizes, clear calorie labels and reminders to think balance. because we know mom wants what's best. more beverage choices, smaller portions, less sugar. balanceus.org
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w. bush has brought together a team of investors to buy the texas rangers. he's appointed managing partner. >> he was helped greatly by his father because the guy that owned it was a great admirer of his father. i think big george probably helped him get that team. >> he needed his connection with his father to pump up the publicity about the team. he asked dad to wear a texas ranger hat when he goes out on his fishing expeditions and has his mother, the first lady, come and throw out the baseball for a game. >> he gets in on the act and shows a kind of kaniness that people had not expected of george w. bush. >> he is also really good with the media. he's great at managing people. he's decisive. he loves being around players. gives them all nicknames. he has this encyclopedic statistical knowledge about the sport of baseball. he's really loving the job.
>> thank you for being with us and welcome to abilene. >> thanks, guys. nice to be back. >> actually a brilliant public relations move, perfect bridge from being what he had been before and what he would soon become. >> there's amazing parallels between politics and baseball. you have to be able to communicate to your fans. if you're running in politics you have to be able to community skate to your voters. while george w. benefits from the family name, his brother neil, finds being a bush has its drawbacks. >> new questions surfacing about the role of neil bush and the failure of silverado savings and loan. >> by 1990, the savings and loan business in america is foundering. it so happens that neil bush, the third son of george and barbara bush, was on the board of silverado, a colorado-based savings and loan institution. >> silverado was one of many savings and loans companies that have collapsed after funding loans through increasingly risky
investments. >> was worth a million six and after running through the silverado buzz saw, i'm a person who has roughly $7 and a grocery repeat. >> silverado is an example of a poorly managed savings and loan. when it gets scrutinized, neil bush's life is thrown into turmoil. >> the president's son has denied any wrongdoing and scheduled to testify tomorrow. >> the savings and loan industry was failing, yet one institution was selected for the board of directors to be brought before congress, to be made a spectacle of. i honestly believe i was being used as a political kind of tool to get at my father. >> you have in washington a democratic house of representatives, a democratic senate. and i think they see in neil bush a political opportunity, to
use the savings and loan crisis against neil bush, by extension his father. >> mr. kennedy, i for one am not somebody that would necessarily like to see some son of a famous political leader under the gun this morning, neil. >> neil is accused of acting improperly as a board director, by approving loans from silverado to his personal business partners. >> i was interrogated by congress. joe kennedy was one of the congressman at the time. my friend who worked with the kennedys before, said, joe, he will be good, don't worry about joe. >> it was in fact a great deal of emotional by the leaders of silverado. >> joe comes out of the blocks and attacks me. >> you're saying there was no conflict of interest even though you're saying there was a conflict of interest on 2/27? >> yes. >> well -- >> there never was a conflict of interest in 1987.
>> my brother, marve, saw joe kennedy at a congressional barbecue at the white house. he basically challenged him. they almost went to fisticuffs. i think our family would do anything for each other. >> as president, george h.w. bush must let the investigation take its course, whatever the outcome. >> i agree the president ought to stay out of it and that the system ought to work. i have great confidence in the integrity and honor of my son. this is not easy for me, the father. it's easy for me as the president because the system's going to work. >> george bush doesn't say the system is against my son. george bush says i have respect for the system and the system will decide if my son is guilty or innocent. >> i will not intervene. i've not discussed this with any officials, suggested any outcome.
>> saying that is difficult for him. >> thank you all very much. >> not because he thinks his son is guilty but because he's a father. he wants to protect his son. >> in a lawsuit filed by federal regulators, neil bush and the other silverado directors are accused of acting with gross negligence. neil agrees to pay $50,000 in an out of court settlement. >> i was given a slap on the hand as an administrative action, yet signs were put all over the place, throw the bum in jail. my life in denver as a business guy was kind of destroyed. >> it's so painful for both president bush and first lady, barbara bush. they know sometimes some of the attention that's drawn to their children is because they are in the white house and george bush is president of the united states. that doubles the pain for them. >> a little warmer today.
>> george bush is also facing a dramatic down turn in the economy. >> george herbert walker bush is facing a yawning federal deficit and a collapsing property market in the american southwest. so, he went to his tough to economic advisors and said, tell me what we can do about the deficit. > so he did what he had to do, which was raise taxes. >> read my lips. >> breaking his pledge from the convention, and many republicans never for gave him. >> we had been promised something, told something emphatically. he had given us his word, and then he pulled the rug out from under us and made fools out of us. >> he understood this might make him a one term president, but he felt that the national debt and the budget deficit were so
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emergency talks at camp david. >> this is a terribly serious problem. it's about the most serious problem that i have faced as president, because the down side is so enormous. it could have the magnitude of a new world war. >> he's just received news that the iraqi dictator, saddam hussein, has invaded kuwait. >> there was concern about how we should respond. >> saddam hussein was impoverished at the end of the iran-iraq war and needed to generate wealth quickly and wanted more oil. kuwait had a lot of oil. if he manages to take saudi arabia as well, which appears to be quite like there in first days after the invasion, then, he will control more than gift% of the globe's petroleum export. >> the president worked the telephones extensively to talk to the saudis to find out
exactly what was going on but also suggest the united states be permitted to deploy forces. >> bush gets off the helicopter from camp david, comes to reporters and gives what i would say is the most famous line of his entire presidency. >> this will not stand. this will not stand, this aggression against kuwait. >> he says, this will not stand. >> i have to go to work. i've got to go to work. >> bush is not known for being chill chilean, but it sound like it. the national security advisor in the "situation room" say, where did you get that? bush says, it was my own. >> this will not stand. this was bush speak for, we're going to throw that man out of kuwait whether he likes it or not. >> the first thing we had to do was make sure the iraqis would
not continue to saudi arabia and seize the oil fields. so we started sending troops not to protect saudi arabia but the other way. >> bush embarks in a mission from the united states. >> what followed was a master class in american diplomacy. >> he was the best desk officer we had because he knew all these guys and they trusted him and had great respect for him. >> by the time they are done, more than half a million coalition troops from all kinds of countries poised on the borders of kuwait, there hasn't been a mobilization like that of coalition forces since normandy. >> saddam hussein must know the stakes are high, the cause is just -- >> in public, though, bush conducting this very aggressive conversation with saddam. you must leave, you must get out, you must withdraw, while at
the same time, trying to get a resolution out of the united nations backing the coalition effort. >> i recommended to the president that we try to get a security council resolution authorizing this action. he was very very much in favor of that. >> after weeks and month of diplomacy, george bush and james baker, secretary of state, to security a u.n. resolution which gives america and its allies the opportunity to essentially eject saddam hussein if he will not leave within the next few weeks. >> you can choose peace, but if you fail to do so, you will risk all. >> as christmas eve approaches, george h.w. bush knows that the prospect of war is looming. >> merry christmas! >> i clearly remember christmas,
1990, being with the family. it wasn't the typical bush family, open the stockings and, you know, have fun and put on skits and that kind of thing. >> bush attends service with his own family but he can't concentrate. >> the weight of this decision to mobilize troops all the way to the middle east to help liberate kuwait was weighing very heavily on dad. he wrote us a note at the time which of course i've read that note many times since then, talking about the decision to put men and women in harm's way. >> dear jorge, jeb, neil and darrow -- george -- we have tried hard for peace. i guess what i want you to know as a father is this. every human life is precious.
>> until the very last week, he was trying to avoid a war. the advice he got from me, if you can avoid a war, avoid it. >> i was situated behind the camera. the president is sitting at his desk. he doesn't like to give speeches. this is not going to be an easy speech to give. >> just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in iraq and kuwait. >> it looks like a fourth of july display. whoa. holy cow. that was a large air burst. >> president bush's deadline for the withdrawal of iraqi troops from kuwait has passed. >> five months ago, saddam hussein started this cruel war against kuwait. tonight, the battle has been joined.
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defense, dick cheney. dick cheney tells him. >> we sent out 57 aircraft, we got back 57 aircraft, everybody is safe and sound and accomplished the mission. >> the aerial bombing lasts 37 days and nights. before the half million strong ground forces launched their attack. >> our strategy to go after this army is very very simple. first, we're going to head it off and then we're going to kill it. that was it. >> saddam hussein is shocked to discover american forces had driven hundreds of miles into the desert in order to get behind his army. he immediately orders his troops to retreat, never to surrender, but to retreat. >> thousands of saddam hussein's troops withdraw along the main highway back to iraq. >> it is a long stretch of flat land with thousands upon
thousands of iraqi vehicles in a traffic jam. >> this is the ultimate shooting gallery for american allied air power. >> we were starting to see some ugly things on television. the trail of death. all those trucks being blown up. >> there is simply untold amount of death and destruction along this highway of death. george bush and those around him are worried when footage of this comes out it will make it look as if the united states has simply massacred iraqi troops, because they essentially had. >> i suppose there will always be monday morning quarterbacks about what you could do or why didn't you do this or why didn't you do that. i don't thinkey can legitimately be accused of having done anything un-wise or unprincipled. we did a good job to achieve our objective at minimal cost to us,
and that's what happened. >> how americans and how iraqis experienced the war is radically different. american troops have very little loss of life, very little bloodshed opposed to the iraqis foot soldiers and civilians. >> on february 27th, the president meets with his closest advisors in the oval office. >> many advisors said, take baghdad. you still have a bad actor in saddam hussein. why not finish the job? >> he could have decided to capture saddam hussein but his legal mandate was to liberate kuwait from iraqi rule, and george bush knew, having years of large scale occupation of a foreign country, would only result in disdain for the united states, disgust for the united states and body bags.
>> i said, mr. president, in the next couple of days, i will probably bring you a recommendation to bring this to a closure. and the president's response was, if it's only another couple of days, is there any reason we can't do it now? >> kuwait is liberated. iraq's army is defeated. our military objectives are met. >> it turned out to be a textbook example of the way to fight a war. you go out, you tell the world what you're going to do, you do it, you get their support for it and you bring your troops home. what better way to fight a war? >> were the kuwaitis going to alous to go to baghdad, yes? for years i had to answer this question. we went to baghdad in 2003 and nobody ever askedmy that question again. the end of the war was the high
point of bush's presidency. his public approval rating soared. >> barbara is thrilled for her husband and she wishes she could freeze that moment because she knows that his popularity may never be higher. >> the great british commander of the duke of wellington said nothing except a battle lost has melancholy as a battle won. president bush feels the same way. i knew the euphoric 85% ratings are nothing. they could go away tomorrow. >> he has this kind of odd melancholy that takes over him. after decades of public service he's worn out. h's out of gas. >> the president starts to wonder for himself if he's up to the challenge of another run to the presidency. >> h.w. suffers an unfortunate start to the election year. the president and mrs. bush
travel for a state visit to tokyo to see the japanese prime minister. in the midst of dinner, he begins to feel faint, and as he faint to the floor, he vomits on the prime minister of japan. >> these are pictures coming from the hall where the president suddenly did take ill. >> the president has a case of gastroenteritis and probably will feel okay tomorrow. >> i can't explain what happened to george because it never happened before. i'm beginning to think it's the ambassador's fault. he and george were badly beaten in tennis today. and we bushes aren't used to that. >> it's just food poisoning or bad flu but it's not great when the leader of the free world passes out at a banquet. >> as the president hurtles towards the 1992 election, he continues to have these second thoughts. >> unfortunately, american presidents send to view their
reelection as a referendum on their success as president. bush didn't really figure out why he wanted to run again, he felt he ought to, he felt that's what you do. >> we have tough to be grateful for in these troubled times and i want to be your leader for four more years. >> he felt so-called to service, and they had done so many positive things, that i think they really wanted to see them to completion. >> by plane 92, bush is used to being viewed as a very popular president and a successful president, especially after the success of the gulf war. >> things are moving nationally. good news in the national polls today. >> he was at 90% in the polls. a lot of prominent democrats decided to take pass on the presidential race. bill clinton saw an opportunity and he seized it. >> i want to be president so we
can invest in our people and produce again and win again. >> the president isn't overly concerned about the young governor from arkansas. >> bill clinton was not seasoned, inexperienced, he'd be able to clean his clock. >> here was george bush seeing the prospect he would run against someone his son's age. he just couldn't take bill clinton seriously. as he said to his key people in the white house, can you imagine bill clinton sitting at this desk? and they all laughed. thanksmrs. murphy. unitedhealthcare, hi, i need help getting an appointment with my podiatrist. how's wednesday at 2? i can't. dog agility.
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the irony of the election of '92 was that george bush looked invincible after the gulf war. >> bush was convinced from the beginning that he would win, and most of the bush people were equally convinced. >> george bush represents the greatest generation, the world war ii generation. >> i have big differences with him. >> and he views bill clinton, as many people did, as a draft dodger. >> when your country is in a
war, you don't go to another country and lead demonstrations against your country. >> but there is a lot more to bill clinton than he had imagined. and bush made the terrible mistake of underestimating his adversary. >> if you want to be the chief executive, you got to roll up your sleeves and go to work and take responsibility. this guy's budget was so political and so bad and so inadequate, he wants you to trust him to lead this country? >> clinton was all fresh air and beauty and handsome and positive style. and george had been there for a long time. >> governor clinton, you're chomping at the bit. >> bill clinton was the portrait of empathy and connection, all raw nerve endings. >> bill clinton has a kind of vision of the future -- >> i'm not sure i get it, help me with the question and i'll try to answer -- >> and bush has trouble articulating his. >> my agenda for american renewal shows where we should go and how we can get there. >> whatever was in his heart,
the sense that people got was he just didn't get it. he didn't know what was going on in their lives. >> bill clinton isn't the only opponent that george bush finds himself up against. >> we had a little guy from dallas, texas, jump in the race as an independent. and that was ross perot. >> ross perot jumped in. and scrambled the entire landscape. and so it was a perfect storm. >> the texan self-made billionaire with no political experience says he'll cut back federal government. and eliminate the deficit. >> here we got the chicken man from arkansas. and we got the potato chipman from maine who claims he's a texan. and what the heck does their experience have to do with anything about putting america back on the track? not much.
>> there were a lot of people that were so sick of the way the american economy was going that they went with perot. >> mr. president, comment on the economy? >> the pressure is not just getting to george h.w. bush. >> what do you think of it in general of what's going on this year? >> but to the whole family. >> i think it's a pretty ugly campaign. it's been tough on our supporters, frankly, to be out there watching your man get just absolutely hammered in the press every single day. >> grandfather did not enjoy the campaign. i could remember feeling this sadness. i think his heart just wasn't in the campaign. >> are you glad this is ending? >> i'll be very glad when it's over. >> not been easy on the kids, you mean? >> no, not on my wonderful sons, all four of them, and my daughter, and my wife. >> i remember election night very well. it's rare that you are with all of your family members,
particularly adults, our grandparents, our aunts and uncle, my parents. and there was a feeling of sadness, of course, because my grandfather lost the election. >> i just called governor clinton over in little rock and offered my congratulations. he did run a strong campaign. >> i think what ultimately happened was that ross perot got into the race and carried 18%, 19% of the vote. and that vote were basically republican votes that he got. and that had a significant impact on the outcome. >> he was beat by a better candidate who just had a gift. i mean, clinton had a gift. maybe a once in a generation gift. and bush was no match for it. >> he not only lost, he lost very badly. one of the worst showings for any incumbent president in american history. >> thank you so much. >> marvin said that his father felt that he might have let people down, and how hard that was for him.
and the family were just devastated. it was almost like a truck hit them. like where did that come from? >> bush had a lot of personal pride. but he also believed that he and his administration had done a good job. >> president bush turned to me and says, colin, it hurts, it really hurts. it really hurts. >> president bush, just two weeks after the crushing blow of losing his re-election campaign, takes a call from his sister who tells him that their beloved mother is probably very close to passing. >> president bush suddenly visited connecticut early today to see his mother. she was very close to death. and after the president returned to washington, dorothy walker bush, who was 91, finally succumbed to old age and a series of strokes. >> i think my grandmother instilled in dad a sense of
values to lead with love and kindness and gentleness that survived throughout his entire life. >> george bush's ambition had driven him from one step to another on the ladder to the presidency of the united states. had george bush announced in 1992 that he was not going to run for a second term, he would be remembered as the american statesman who helped create the soft landing for the end of the cold war. sadly, however, he chose to run for a second term, and he lost. which made him, for the moment, a footnote in american presidential history. next on "the bush years" -- >> the positions had been reversed. supposed best politician in the family, jeb, who was tagged for the presidency, had to take a back seat to george.
>> and i intend to be the next president of the united states. >> george w. bush believes he has a purpose, and this is his destiny. >> i can hear you! >> when you saw him on that pile of rubble, most americans said, we're going to get behind him, and we're going to hope he leads us out of this. >> announcer: the following is a cnn special report. malaysian 370. >> it's been five years since a state-of-the-art aircraft disappeared. >> nobody expects a 777 to vanish. it just doesn't happen. >> where is malaysia airlines flight 370? >> hundreds of loved ones gone missing. years of searching. >> it's in exactly the most remote part of the world. >> the surprises.