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Realist GHW Bush dealt with the shock of his son’s neoconservatism by joking

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Did you read Michael Kinsley’s review of Bush’s memoir in the Sunday Times yesterday? I thought this part–

Speaking of a sense of humor and the Middle East, when Bush called for a new Palestinian leadership, Barbara Bush the elder (“Mother,” he invariably calls her) rang up to say, “How’s the first Jewish president doing?” Maybe I’m deficient in humor, but I don’t see why this is funny, as her son clearly believes it to be. I might even find it alarming if Bush didn’t crowd this book with maybe-you-had-to-be-there witticisms. After his first meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair, “a British reporter asked what we had in common. I quipped, ‘We both use Colgate toothpaste.’” Huh?

–was telling. I can see why Bush thought it was funny, and it’s a little window into the important mystery of how the realist Bush absorbed the shocking reality of his neoconnized son — after all, a question of huge historical import. I.e by gentle ribbing, in the hope that it might eventually make a difference. Perhaps it even did; Bush didn’t attack Iran. Jeffrey Goldberg reported that he began to call Kristol and Krauthammer “the bomber boys” in the last years of his presidency. I’m a little surprised that Kinsley would have thought it alarming.

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