George H.W. Bush Relishes the Twilight

George H. W. Bush during an event in the East Room of the White House July 15, 2013 in Washington, DC.
George H. W. Bush during an event in the East Room of the White House July 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

The 41st President talks about how he is remembered. "It's 'kinder and gentler' all over the place," he says, enjoying a change in regard for his presidency and being witness to another Bush boomlet

He loved it all—the friendly, eager faces, older now; the war stories, remembered, but not too much, with advantage; the barbecue and the country music and something new, the selfies, through which he gallantly grinned, delighted to be in the thick of things again. But then George Herbert Walker Bush has always been happiest in a swirl. Last weekend, during a three-day celebration at his presidential library in College Station, Texas, of the 25th anniversary of his 1989 inauguration, he was asked how he liked the flood of warmly generous words about his time at the pinnacle of American power. “Hard to believe,” the former president said in a voice hoarse with age. His eyebrows rose mischievously. “It’s ‘kinder and gentler’ all over the place.”

Approaching his 90th birthday, confined to a wheelchair by a form of Parkinson’s that prevents his brain from telling his legs want to do, the 41st president of the United States is in the midst of a unique autumnal chapter of life, at once savoring a favorable shift in the popular view of his own administration’s performance while, in classically Bushian fashion, looking forward. Temperamentally disinclined to introspection or even much retrospection, Bush long ago adopted the view that no setback, particularly in the turbulent world of politics, is permanent. “Time,” he often says, “marches on.”

It is a congenial season for the Bushes writ large. As the years pass from the tumult of the first decade of the century, George W. Bush seems less polarizing, and his new display of paintings of world leaders at his own library, in Dallas, offers the country—or at least a small part of it—the opportunity to consider him in a different, less glaring light. Bush 41’s grandson, George P. Bush, the son of Columba and Jeb, is running a textbook campaign for land commissioner in Texas. (He won the GOP primary in March with 73 percent of the vote.) And most intriguing of all is whether George P.’s dad, Jeb, will seek the presidency in 2016, possibly setting up yet another Bush-Clinton race in what’s become the American version of the Wars of the Roses.

In an interview with Fox News’s Shannon Bream that closed the festivities in College Station, Jeb Bush spoke very much in terms his father appreciated. “We need … candidates that are organized around winning the election, not making points,” Jeb said. “Campaigns ought to be about listening and learning and getting better. I do think we’ve lost our way.” Bush 41 very much hopes Jeb will run; Barbara Bush has said on several occasions that she suspects Americans are tired of Bushes even as she asserts that Jeb would be the best imaginable president. In College Station Jeb said that he would decide on a bid by year’s end. “Can one do it joyfully?” he asked rhetorically.

It is the kind of question that his father answered in the affirmative over three decades in public life, from the 1964 U.S. Senate race in Texas through the grim 1992 re-election bid. Often seen as a reluctant campaigner, George H.W. Bush actually adored politics and privately believes he was better at the game that people generally think. Did he enjoy pitching horseshoes with foreign leaders than shaking hands in Iowa? A bit, perhaps—but he knew that the latter made the former possible, and that without the demands of the campaign trail there would have been no cold-war diplomacy.

What, I asked the former president recently, does the conventional wisdom about you get wrong? “I’m not sure I know anymore,” Bush replied. “The common wisdom when Nixon was around and right after was that I wasn’t tough enough, you know, wasn’t strong enough, maybe you want to say mean enough. I don’t know how widespread that was … but publicly it may have been that, may still be for all I know. It’s hard to tell now, but I think there’s been a certain revisionism. It seems to blend into ‘Thank you for your public service,’ not ‘Hey, why’d you do this or that on taxes, or right wing or non-right wing.’ I’m surprised people remember because I feel like I’ve gone away, out of the game, all that kind of stuff. I haven’t been particularly interested in the legacy thing, except hoping that historians get it right, which I think they will.” He knows, too, that as the shadows lengthen for him, his family’s story in the arena is not over. And for the aging Bush, that sure and certain knowledge makes the twilight sweet.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: April 7

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the News: Obama to attend Ft. Hood memorial, 'promising lead' in Malaysia Airlines search, Afghan elections see huge turnout, Jeb Bush talks immigration, and the GOP's 'credentials caucus'

  • “A New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.” [NYT]
  • Jeb Bush: Many illegal immigrants come out of an ‘act of love’ [Washington Post]
  • In the ‘credentials caucus,’ GOP’s 2016 hopefuls study policy and seek advisers [Washington Post]
  • Who’s ‘emotional’—Feinstein or the CIA? [The New Yorker]
  • Obama to attend Ft. Hood memorial [MSNBC]
  • Afghan elections point to runoff, waning Karzai influence [WSJ]
  • “Defying a campaign of Taliban violence that unleashed 39 suicide bombers in the two months before Election Day, Afghan voters on Saturday turned out in such high numbers to choose a new president and provincial councils that polling hours were extended nationwide, in a triumph of determination over intimidation.” [NYT]
  • “It’s all but certain a bipartisan unemployment benefits extension deal will pass through the Senate on Monday after a last-minute effort by Republicans to add an amendment failed.” [BuzzFeed]
  • America’s fiscal health affirmed as Treasuries demand rises [Bloomberg]
  • “At the White House Tuesday, President Barack Obama will sign two new executive actions on equal pay as Senate Democrats move for a show-vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act — launching Democrats’ first large-scale coordinated message effort ahead of this year’s midterms.” [Politico]
  • Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: A “most promising lead” in search area [CBS News]
  • Lawmakers, officials debate letting soldiers carry guns on base [TIME]
TIME 2014 Election

@JoeBiden Gets Political Again

Vice President Joe Biden listens to remarks at a news conference on Feb. 6, 2014, at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.
Vice President Joe Biden listens to remarks at a news conference on Feb. 6, 2014, at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Matt Rourke—AP

Vice President Joe Biden’s Twitter account is getting new life. Dormant for more than a year, @JoeBiden will tweet again in an effort to assist Democratic midterm candidates who are looking vulnerable

Vice President Joe Biden‘s Twitter account is getting new life. Dormant for more than a year since the second Obama presidential campaign closed its doors last January, @JoeBiden will tweet again. On Monday, it will reawaken under the auspices of the Democratic National Committee, according to a spokesperson.

The latest sign of the White House stepping up its efforts to assist vulnerable Democrats this fall, the Biden account will be deployed to assist Democratic candidates. This makes the Veep’s account differ from @BarackObama, which is controlled by the ostensibly apolitical Organizing for Action, which advocates for issues supported by the president but does not directly engage in electioneering activities.

The Vice President himself is maintaining an official Twitter presence at @VP, where his tweets are signed “-VP.”

“@JoeBiden will be another way for the Vice President to engage our supporters, spread the Democratic message and support our candidates heading into the midterm elections,” a DNC spokesperson said. Biden is seen as an important surrogate for Democrats on the ground this fall, particularly in states where President Barack Obama’s presence would do the party more harm than good. Biden told TIME earlier this year he has committed to helping at least 150 candidates this year.

Biden’s account has nearly 550,000 followers, almost as many as the combined total of @GOP and @TheDemocrats, the official accounts for the two major political parties. Yet it pales in comparison to the 1.2 million followers of @HillaryClinton and more than 42 million followers of @BarackObama.

Should Biden decide to run another campaign, digital campaign veterans said he could be required to pay up to reclaim his account from the DNC.

TIME Military

You’re in the (Shrinking) Army Now!


With its ranks being slashed, and the pressure to find recruits easing off, the U.S. Army is tightening up on tattoos, dental grills and grooming, and no longer issuing waivers to recruits who have used drugs or committed similar no-nos

In the bleak days during the war in Iraq, the Army was hungry for troops. So the service eased up on some of its grooming standards and issued waivers for recruits who had used drugs or committed similar infractions that used to be sufficient to keep them out of uniform.

But after peaking at 570,000 troops in 2010, the Army is now slated to fall to as low as 420,000 over the next several years — a reduction of more than 25%. And that means the Army is getting increasingly picky. So waivers are disappearing, along with some of the relaxed personal-appearance regulations that the Army tolerated during its toughest years fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The new regulations, issued last week, clamp down on tattoos, haircuts, sideburns, fingernails, teeth and jewelry.

Tattoos are a big deal in the military. But from here on out, tattoos are barred from a soldier’s head, face, neck, wrist, hands and fingers (existing tattoos in those locations are permitted). Any enlisted soldier with such tattoos will not be eligible for promotion to warrant officer or officer ranks.

Also controversial are rules for female hairstyles, which some soldiers say are “racially biased” against minorities. More than 13,000 people have signed a White House petition seeking to change the Army’s new ban on hairstyles that include “twists, both flat twists as well as two strand twists; as well as dreadlocks, which are defined as ‘any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair.’”

The tightened regs “give soldiers and leaders the responsibility for ensuring our appearance reflects the highest level of professionalism,” says Lieut. Colonel Justin Platt, an Army spokesman. “All adjustments made within these regulations went through an extensive decisionmaking process with continuous input from various levels of Army leaders.”

Among other excerpts from the new regulations:

  • Males may not wear nail polish.
  • Attaching, affixing or displaying objects, articles, jewelry or ornamentation to, through or under their skin, tongue or any other body part is prohibited.
  • The use of gold caps, platinum caps or caps of any unnatural color or texture (permanent or removable) for purposes of dental ornamentation is prohibited.
  • Unnatural shaping of teeth for nonmedical reasons is prohibited.
  • Soldiers are prohibited from willful mutilation of the body or any body parts in any manner. Examples include, but are not limited to, tongue bifurcation (splitting of the tongue) or ear gauging (enlarged holes in the lobe of the ear, which are beyond the post hole size for conservative earring wearer, no more than 1.6 mm).
  • Soldiers are not authorized to wear wireless and nonwireless devices like earpieces while wearing Army uniforms.

And, in a sure sign the nation is returning to a peacetime Army:

“Personnel on official travel and traveling by commercial travel means will wear the service uniform or appropriate civilian attire. Combat uniforms are no longer authorized.”

TIME 2016 presidential election

Jeb Bush Will Decide on 2016 Presidential Bid This Year

Jeb Bush
Peter Foley—Bloomberg/Getty Images

At an event celebrating the 25th anniversary of his father's term in the White House, the former Florida governor said he would make up his mind about running before the end of the year, reports the Washington Post

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has said he will decide by the end of the year whether he will run for President in 2016.

The son of former President George H.W. Bush and younger brother of former President George W. Bush gave a long statement at an event marking 25 years since his father’s presidency about a potential presidential bid, saying his decision would ultimately rest on whether a candidate in 2016 can “run with a hopeful, optimistic message, hopefully with enough detail to give people a sense that it’s not just idle words and not get back into the vortex of the mud fight,” the Washington Post reports.

At the event, which was moderated by Fox News, Bush also said he was weighing the pressure a presidential run would place on his family, saying running a campaign would be a “huge sacrifice.” Bush also cited a grueling primary struggle as a consideration about whether to run.

Donors have already begun courting Bush and his aides and planning a possible fundraising strategy as speculation increases around presidential hopefuls like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

[Washington Post]

TIME Military

Lawmakers, Officials Debate Letting Soldiers Carry Guns on Base

In the aftermath of the deadly shooting at Fort Hood, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas suggested arming soldiers would be a good way to prevent shoot-outs, but retired admiral Michael Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it would be a bad idea

Lawmakers and military officials weighed in on Sunday morning on the wisdom of allowing soldiers to carry private weapons on bases, after the deadly shooting at Fort Hood last week prompted a debate about base security.

Representative Michael McCaul, the Republican from Texas, suggested arming soldiers would be a good way to prevent shoot-outs. “We need to talk to the commanders about whether it would make sense to have not all but maybe some of our senior leadership officers, enlisted men on the base, carrying weapons for protection,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

But Pentagon officials and military commanders have said it would likely be a poor idea, said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to President Obama, on Face the Nation. And Michael Mullen, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said he was not in favor of the idea. “I’m not one, as someone who’s been on many, many bases and posts, that would argue for arming anybody that’s on base,” Mullen said on NBC’s Meet the Press.


Ex-CIA Chief: Feinstein Too ‘Emotional’ On Interrogations Report

Michael Hayden questions the objectivity of a report which the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to make public this week, that reportedly accuses the CIA of inflating the effectiveness of 'enhanced' interrogation practices

Michael Hayden, the former CIA and National Security Agency director, told Fox News Sunday he doubts the objectivity of a Senate report detailing CIA interrogation tactics.

The motivations of Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for compiling the report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices “may show deep, emotional feeling on the part of the senator,” he said, “but I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted on Thursday to declassify key elements of its report this week, which reportedly concludes that the CIA inflated the effectiveness of its “enhanced” interrogation practices, misleading the Justice Department, Congress and the public.

The report was at the center of a rift between the CIA and Senate investigators, after Feinstein accused the agency of spying on Senate computers used to compile the investigation. The CIA, in turn, said investigators illegally accessed internal documents.

TIME White House

Obama Aims to Close Wage Gap for Women With Executive Orders

The President will sign two executive actions that seek to close the gender wage gap. The aim of the orders is to make it easier for underpaid women to discover unfair differences in pay, but they'll apply only to federal contractors

President Obama is set to announce two executive actions Tuesday to increase wage transparency for federal contractors as part of a wider effort to close the wage gap for women.

The President will sign an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation, with the aim of providing workers a way of discovering violations of equal-pay laws. A second order will require the Secretary of Labor to collect data on federal contractors’ worker compensation, organized by race and sex.

The aim of the Executive Orders is to make it easier for underpaid women to discover unfair differences in pay. But the measures would only apply to federal contractors, not to women in the broader workforce.

The President has timed the Executive Orders ahead of this week’s Senate debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would allow women in the general workforce to seek remedies similar to those brought for racial discrimination. The bill is part of a broad push on equal pay by the Democratic Party, in a bid to shore up support from female and liberal voters ahead of this fall’s midterm elections.

“This is a huge victory for the 1 in 5 American workers employed by federal contractors,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel. “Congress still needs to do its part and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, but we’re one step closer to achieving pay equity thanks to this White House.”


Send in the Drones: Judge Tosses Case Against Obama Officials Over Deadly Strikes

Predator Drone
Maintenence personel check a Predator drone on March 7, 2013 in Sierra Vista, Arizona. John Moore—Getty Images

A federal judge said that U.S. officials can't be "held personally responsible in monetary damages for conducting war." The drone attacks in question killed U.S. citizens in Yemen, including an al-Qaeda cleric

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Friday against Obama administration officials that was brought by family members of U.S. citizens, including an al-Qaeda cleric, killed in drone attacks in Yemen.

District Judge Rosemary Collyer raised questions over the killings without due process during oral arguments last July, but ultimately ruled that the plaintiffs could not bring a case against individual officials.

The “defendants must be must be trusted and expected to act in accordance with the U.S. Constitution when they intentionally target a U.S. citizen abroad at the direction of the President and with the concurrence of Congress,” she wrote. “They cannot be held personally responsible in monetary damages for conducting war.”

A drone strike in Sept. 2011 killed U.S.-born al-Qaida head Anwar al-Awlaki and propagandist Samir Khan, and another one killed al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son a month later.

The lawsuit was filed against then-Defense Scretary Leon Panetta, then CIA-director David Petraeus and two Special Operations commanders by the father of the elder al-Awlaki and the mother of Khan.


TIME Congress

Video: Congressional Committee Hijinx

Since the dawn of the C-SPAN era, members of Congress have used the ever-present cameras to their advantage: for fundraising, for television ads, for testimonials on their websites.

But the flip side of that is those same cameras catch some scenes no elected member would like to have out in the public domain: flippant statements, mental flubs or, as Senator Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican, found out this week, wandering into the wrong hearing and asking off topic questions.

Let the record show: Congress can be incredibly whacky, as these videos prove.

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