Wead 'Deeply Regrets' Taping Bush

As national publications continued to focus on his secret taping of conversations with George W. Bush in the 1990’s, author Doug Wead told HUMAN EVENTS last week that he was “very sorry” he had recorded the future President and expressed regret that their conversations were now the subject of major news stories.

Reached at his home in Haymarket, Va., Wead told HUMAN EVENTS’ John Gizzi that “I was wrong and regret it all very much,” citing what he considered his own “arrogance” as the reason for making public the Bush tapes. Wead, who had taped conversations with Bush as part of a proposed book, has since turned over the recording to the White House. (Asked about the Wead tapes at his Tuesday morning briefing, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters the tapes were “in the hands of the President’s counsel.”).

A onetime aide to the elder George Bush during his presidency, Wead repeated to Gizzi his earlier reason for taping then Texas Gov. George W. Bush as he prepared to run for President that “I felt he was a decisive person in his own way” and that he would be a great historical figure. Wead, who is author of a book on presidential children, pointed out that “most children of Presidents have political ambitions of his own. John F. Kennedy, Jr., for example, told a college friend ‘I want to go home someday’–meaning live in the White House again. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. narrowly lost a race for governor of New York that might well have launched him into the presidency. I saw the same instinct in George W. Bush’s eyes.”

Wead told us he started taping Bush in 1987 and ’88, when they both assisted the elder Bush in his winning presidential race, “and I had George W. Bush’s permission.” When he resumed the conversations in 1998, however, Wead said he did not ask permission of the Texas governor. But, he insisted, his motives had nothing to do with eventual gain, that he taped Bush solely because “I couldn’t keep up with him by taking notes, as I tried, and I wanted an accurate account of his words.”

The author suggested that demands of his publishers forced him to play the tapes. “I would show them drafts of chapters and they would say ‘Those aren’t the President’s words,'” Wead told Gizzi. “They said unless you’re [Washington Post reporter and best-selling author] Bob Woodward, they aren’t going to accept the ‘ anonymous sources said’ line.”

When reporters asked what would happen to the Wead tapes now in White House hands, spokesman McClellan replied that “we now consider the matter closed.”