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“The ‘Toil And Trouble’ Of The Bush Dynasty”: The Resurrection Of A Dangerous Political Family

Here’s how I picture Jeb Bush, with his father George and his big brother George, huddled around a boiling cauldron: “When shall we three meet again?/in Florida, Texas or in Maine?”

Any resemblance to the Macbeth witches in thunder, lightning or rain is, of course, intentional. The Washington buzz that Jeb Bush will follow in his brother’s and his father’s footsteps in running for president is a bit scary for democracy. They are not done with us yet. Good and bad things come in threes.

Beware the current wave of nostalgia for Bush rule. They are not the brightest dynasty under the sun, but the House of Bush has staying power. If genial Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida runs, then we the people will be in for another pounding by an Eastern elitist family. They masquerade their cultural origins as south by southwest. But it all started with Prescott Bush, a Connecticut senator.

As the faithful gathered this past weekend in Texas to mark the 25th anniversary of the first Bush presidency, the Bush men are also re-engineering the family story with help from friends like Jim Baker and conservative cheerleaders in the national media. Even columnist George Will, who scorned the elder Bush, is on-message for Jeb as a moderate man of substance. He practically invented school choice. The rest of the story line goes something like this.

Apparently, the one-term president George H.W. Bush, aka “Poppy,” was a seasoned foreign policy hand who conducted the end of the Cold War with magisterial ease. Skeptics like me think it just happened to happen on his watch. His son, George W. Bush, upset a lot of China with wars of choice that proved feckless. But wait, we now know he has the perceptive sensibility of an artist. We know he could see into the soul of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, after Putin “dissed” Bush’s dog Barney. The 43rd president told this tale as he explained his portrait of Putin – which is rather good, actually.

A pity that W. missed his calling. He never should have been president of the United States, and not only for his military misadventures. He never lost sleep over commandeering civil liberties. The “war president” did not write home much to a beleaguered, rattled public in the years after 9/11, though his visit to the site of the fallen towers is seen as a high point. While Washington slept, New Orleans wept as Hurricane Katrina raged past the broken levees of the beguiling city. The lame presidential response was the domestic analogue of the haphazard way the wars were being waged abroad. And then came the economy’s pitch downward.

The Bushes set great store by winning, any which way. The fury of the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearing back in 1991 went down the way it did because H.W. Bush would not back down on a divisive nominee who made many women’s blood boil. If you remember the Willie Horton political ads against Michael Dukakis in 1988, that was also Poppy’s way of doing business. He has said he’ll do whatever it takes to win, though vision was never his thing.

The family penchant for winning at all costs came to a head in Florida in the Bush v. Gore showdown in 2000. Shakespeare could not have set the scene or the stakes better, with the fate of the nation hanging on a state governed by a brother Bush. All family human resources rushed down there, with Baker leading the way and strategy. If the fight seemed fierce, the outcome felt preordained. The Supreme Court stopped the vote count cold. It was all over, by a 5-4 vote. Indeed Thomas was “the best man for the job,” as Poppy put it in 1991.

Let it not be forgot, this is how the Bush dynasty defines “one man, one vote.”


By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, April 7, 2014

April 8, 2014 Posted by | Bush Family, Democracy | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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