Getting Bush—and His Dad—Right

Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush and James Cromwell as George H.W. Bush in W.

Just so there’s not a lot of hubbub over not very much, let me reiterate what I said about the father-son relationship. I thought it was somewhat overplayed and exaggerated in the movie. I didn’t say that there was nothing to it. Clearly, it has been a defining relationship for 43, both as a president and a man, as I’ve reported—and it has been a central feature in Junior’s impulse to “make things personal” as a way of organizing a complex world. I thought the relationship was more nuanced than the movie indicated, and was overstated as the driving force in Bush’s architecture, especially in terms of Iraq. In the first few years of his presidency, in fact, Bush was actually feeling somewhat liberated from his long, uneven relationship with 41, making it less of a causal force in his march to war.