I was appalled by the callous reporting on the book Fortunate Son (“Knee Deep in Eufaula,” by Michael King, February 18). It’s amazing to me that in your efforts to offer fair opinions of the book, you completely ignore the mounting evidence that there has been something wrong with the Bush spin on his past. Example: the fact that George W. Bush got a new Texas drivers license number (No. 00000005) sometime between his inauguration in January 1995 and March 31, 1995. That is supporting evidence that he needed to hide something significantly incriminating. More proof that gives the lie away of his obtaining the new license for security is the fact that he fails to get one for his wife or daughters. The proof that he got a new number is underscored by the sudden disappearance from his record of an admitted minor crime – he was convicted and fined for killing a protected wildlife species, as reported on September 2, 1994, in the Houston Chronicle. Additionally, you fail to keep the facts straight on a simple matter of Lake Eufaula being in Oklahoma, not Arkansas! There are other glaring omissions, but to list them I’d be here for some time.
In future, I hope you will be more fair in mentioning the growing list of evidence against Bush and in support of Jim Hatfield. There are some of us who have been keeping track of the events, e.g., his failure to maintain his flight status, and his Yale transcripts, as well as his driver’s license change.
I’m very disappointed in the Observer’s coverage of this story. It falls far short of the usually great reporting we have come to rely upon. If this is any example of where your publication is heading, I will be hesitant to refer people to your newspaper.
At the very least, I feel Michael King owes Jim Hatfield and the readers of the Observer an apology for sloppy reporting obviously biased toward George W. Bush. If you care to find out about the candidate, please check out the stories under “politics” at www.onlinejournal.com.
Linda Starr Via internet
I have read your article on Mr. Hatfield’s Fortunate Son. I am astonished that your organization has handled this critical information in such a manner. I am listing information below that clearly corrects the mistakes you made in this article.
1. First paragraph of the article states that in 1972, GWB’s father was “then-Congressman Bush.” Error. He was U.N. Ambassador.
2. Paragraph eight states that Hatfield’s quotations were “lifted directly (usually without attribution) from previously published sources.” They are attributed in the chapter-by-chapter source notes.
3. Paragraph nine condemns the fifty-plus pages of source notes as “a list: no citations, no attributions, no page references.” It is chapter-by-chapter, and is a format used consistently by New York Times best-selling biographer Christopher Andersen in Jackie After Jack: Portrait of the Lady; and Jack and Jackie: Portrait of an American Marriage. It is also used by Kitty Kelley in The Royals; My Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra; Nancy Reagan — and many, many other biographers.
4. Once again, in paragraph eleven, Texas Monthly reporter Pamela Colloff’s quotes she obtained from Bush friends are acknowledged in the chapter-by-chapter source notes.
5. Also in paragraph eleven, several previously interviewed subjects have since denied talking to Hatfield. Over a year ago when he was working on the book, he told them he was writing the “definitive George W. Bush biography,” and they were all willing to contribute. But when the book was published in October, they all distanced themselves because of the highly publicized Afterword (Bush’s drug arrest) and, of course, the reporting of Hatfield’s checkered past. Ironically, the elder Bushes denied telling Reagan biographer, Edmund Morris, that they were “not welcomed upstairs in the White House residential quarters.” Recently, Betsy Wright, Clinton’s former gubernatorial chief of staff in Arkansas, denied giving Gail Sheehy the “negative” quotes about the Clintons in her biography of Hillary.
6. In paragraph thirteen, King describes the Afterword as being written in his “pop-gothic, soap-opera prose (replete with brooding references to The Godfather).” Hatfield has repeatedly stated in numerous interviews (and backed up with e-mail between him and his editor) that he wrote a straightforward account of Bush’s alleged drug arrest, but St. Martin’s Press editor Barry Neville asked him to make it more “dramatic.” And in fact, it was Neville who personally penned the Godfather-like scene.
7. In paragraph fourteen, King describes one of the sources “pausing occasionally to spit tobacco juice into the ever-present Styrofoam cup.” Hatfield told Salon magazine that he added that characteristic on the urging of his editors and their lawyers to help protect the identity of the source.
8. In paragraph fourteen, King writes that Lake Eufaula is in Arkansas. The huge lake is in Oklahoma, if King had bothered to do his homework or read the Afterword more carefully.
9. In paragraph sixteen, King states that Hatfield “refused to reveal his uncorroborated ‘sources’ even to them [his editors] or their lawyers.” Barry Neville told Salon magazine that Hatfield had confided in him the name of one of his sources. In addition, Hatfield was quoted on 60 Minutes as stating that he attempted to tell the attorney for St. Martin’s who vetted the book, but she didn’t want to know.
When is the press going to accept this information for what it really is? The Truth! Don’t tell me that you too have decided to hide this information from the public in order to protect this man. We are deciding who will run this country. The position of president is very important, and George Bush and his daddy’s money does not qualify him for this job. Soon, very soon, you will have egg on your face concerning this information. I am very disappointed in how you presented this story and the unnecessary attack on Mr. Hatfield. Mr. Bush states he has been redeemed, saved, etc. and you accept that. Mr. Bush is no better than Mr. Hatfield. Both of these men have obviously made past mistakes. What concerns me is that the Observer is willing to accept and go as far as to hide Mr. Bush’s past and attack or try to destroy the messenger. The truth will come out. I believe that with all of my being. I will never patronize your paper ever again, based on the terrible job you did in reporting this information to the public.
Kathy Schroeder Port Aransas
Michael King responds:
I thank Linda Starr and Kathy Schroeder for the opportunity to correct my inadvertent transposition of Lake Eufaula from Oklahoma to Arkansas. I apologize to our readers for the confusion. Otherwise, my thoughts on J.H. Hatfield and Fortunate Son remain unaltered.
Mike King, a good person all the time and on occasion even a saint, editorially writing about that horse’s ass Henry Kissinger (“Good Riddance,” February 18) used the word “Consigliere,” which would have caused my father (who coined the word “gobbledygook”) to have turned over in his grave.
Maury Maverick Jr. San Antonio
Michael King responds:
Maury Maverick, a maverick all the time and on occasion the shining light of Texas independent journalism, confessed to me on the phone that he hasn’t seen a movie in twenty years, which is why he doesn’t recognize pop-culture references to gangster films, e.g., the malevolent “consigliere” (legal counsel) to The Godfather’s Don Corleone. Perhaps only Robert Duvall could do justice to the malebolge that is Henry Kissinger.
STARS AND BARS FOREVER
There’s been considerable discussion lately about Texas’ numerous public memorials to the Confederacy, and how George W. Bush might respond to this issue (Left Field, “The Bush Beat,” March 3). One controversy involved the refurbished Texas Supreme Court Building, which has a prominent plaque with a very visible Confederate flag in raised bronze. There’s also another very conspicuous plaque there, with the Seal of the Confederacy, “Dedicated to Texans Who Served the Confederacy.”
Why do these plaques occupy such prominence in the Supreme Court Building, and why were they recently placed there when the building was refurbished? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for the walls to exhibit something about equal justice – perhaps the 1972 Texas Equal Rights Amendment, that “Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because sex, race, color, creed, or national origin?” Most high court buildings in the nation proclaim equality, but not in Texas. Rather, ours recalls a period of slavery. Nor is there any memorial in the Supreme Court Building honoring Texans who fought to abolish slavery, or who were its victims.
Perhaps Governor Bush and the Texas Supreme Court should attend to this issue. And while they’re at it, they ought to consider why all but one of the seventy elegant portraits of jurists hung on the court walls as part of the renovation are white men. Symbols are important in our justice system, and those in the Supreme Court building are contrary to Texas’ rich and diverse history. The Confederate seal and flag need to come down, and the portraits need to be changed out so they reflect all Texans.
James C. Harrington, DirectorTexas Civil Rights Project, Austin
STUCK INSIDE OF MOBIL
It appears every time the oil companies decide to jack up the price of gasoline there is sure to follow a ridiculous story about how little Americans pay for gas compared to other countries. The comparisons are totally wrong. You do not compare apples to oranges. Such a story popped up in the Austin American-Statesman March 10. As usual the writer used Europe and Asia as examples of high gas prices. Let’s take Germany, for example. Texas is twice the size of that country; in other words, Texas would cover several European countries. Consider that within 450 miles from the center of our state, we could drive to several foreign countries as Germans can do.
But let us remember that we are not in Europe. Americans commute many miles to work each day, even those living in so-called rural areas, working in towns some distance away. Europeans do not commute distances like that. Let us also remember American cities have extremely poor public transportation systems. Not so in Europe. Also, inter-city transportation in Europe is great, trains running frequently and on time. Not true here. Our train system is a joke. In Europe people travel by train because they are fast and inexpensive. Travel by car is not needed to the extent it is needed here. Train service like Europe’s would be impossible because of our land mass, thus making the auto our only real mode of travel. Oil companies know that.
The writer of the March 10 article also mentioned the price of gas in Hong Kong. Come on! How far are you going in Hong Kong? It is like New York, filled with cabs. Most people who reside in one of the boroughs of N.Y.C. do not own cars. In the U.S.A. we find N.Y.C. is one of the few cities having a reasonable transit system with its subway system. With all the cars on the road in our country burning fuel, does the petroleum industry expect us to believe it is not making money when the price of gasoline was eighty-five cents a gallon as it was last summer? I remember reading of the profits by oil companies last year.