George W. Bush may not hear many voices of dissent at the sanitized-for-his-protection events he attends, but his father got an earful in Abu Dhabi today. After George H.W. Bush delivered a speech in which he spoke with pride about his family's accomplishments, a woman rose from the audience to say: "We do not respect your son. We do not respect what he's doing all over the world."
According to a report from the Associated Press, the elder Bush seemed "stunned" when the audience full of young business leaders "whooped and whistled in approval." His voice "quivering," Bush told the woman: "This son is not going to back away. He's not going to change his view because some poll says this or some poll says that, or some heartfelt comments from the lady who feels deeply in her heart about something. You can't be president of the United States and conduct yourself if you're going to cut and run. This is going to work out in Iraq. I understand the anxiety. It's not easy."
Would the former president handle the situation in Iraq differently than his son is? Bush wouldn't say. But even in declining to answer, he suggested that the answer was probably yes. "I have strong opinions on a lot of these things," he said. "But the reason I can't voice them is, if I did what you ask me to do -- tell you what advice I give my son -- that would then be flashed all over the world ... If it happened to deviate one iota, one little inch, from what the president's doing or thinks he ought to be doing, it would be terrible. It'd bring great anxiety not only to him but to his supporters."