George H.W. Bush shares emotional reactions to son's election, Katrina

Former President George H.W. Bush gestures during an event in Berlin on October 31, 2009. MICHAEL GOTTSCHALK

In an updated version of his book "All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings," former President George H.W. Bush shares his personal -- and often emotional -- reactions to the historic events that took place during his son's presidency.

Mr. Bush describes being overcome with emotion when his son, former President George W. Bush, won the 2000 election. He also relates the heartache he felt when his son was attacked for his response to Hurricane Katrina.

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the elder Bush likened the attacks against his son to the attacks he endured as a Navy pilot during World War II, according to excerpts of the book published by CNN.

"Now I see some of his most nasty critics trying to shoot down my beloved son - shoot him down by mean spirited attacks," Bush wrote in a letter to journalist and friend Hugh Sidey. "I was a scared kid back then. Now I am just an angry old man hurting for my son."

Mr. Bush said in the letter that his son "cares deeply... yet he is being roundly accused of not giving a damn...the critics do not know what is in 43's heart, how deeply he feels about the hurt, the anguish, the losses affecting so many people, most of them poor."

Mr. Bush also wrote to Sidey in 2000, after the Supreme Court decided the 2000 election in his son's favor. After watching George W. Bush on television following the decision, "my body was literally wracked with uncontrollable sobs," the elder Bush wrote, according to an excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal.

The former president also commended former Vice President Al Gore's concession speech, writing, "Right up until Gore spoke to the nation I was not sure in my own mind what he would say, how he would say it. His speech was absolute perfection. He did it with grace and dignity and a genuineness that enthralled the nation. I know how difficult it was for him to do what he did."

The new version of the book, which was first published in 1999, shares letters from the former president's life. The book is the closest Mr. Bush ever got to publishing a memoir.

In addition to highlighting political moments, the updated version also shares personal letters, such as a 2003 note to his granddaughters, expressing concern over their possible spring break plans.

"I am worrying about three of my older granddaughters. Spring Break causes the worry," he wrote in March 2003 to his granddaughters Jenna, Barbara and Lauren. "I wonder--are all three off somewhere trying to get on the Wild College Women TV show? Are they having a good time? Are they sticking near their three campuses so they can do what, well, what I used to do during spring break back in the good old days, circa 1946-47-48. Namely, stick near the Library."

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