Page 21


SHARON STEWART Four Years of Bush BY RICHARD MEEKER “If the average American voter had been reading the alternative press’s coverage of Election ’88, the candidacy of George Bush would be finished by now.” from a special AlterNet pre-election report four years ago AS PRESIDENT, GEORGE BUSH HAS WILL-ingly violated his own stated notions of ethical conduct. He has proven him self to be so uninterested in the real job of being President that he has failed to follow through in key areas of environmental and foreign policy. He is so short-sighted that he has damaged the interests of those he’s pledged to protect. Readers of the alternative press know of these core weaknesses in their President. Americans who get their information from the daily newspaper and evening TV do not. Bush & Co. Four years ago, when George Bush was running for President, he declared his intention to become the “Ethics President.” Said Bush during his first week as President, “It’s a question of knowing right from wrong, avoiding conflicts of interest, bending over backwards to see that there’s not even a perception of conflict of interest.” Such protestations notwithstanding, if any single characteristic emerges from the alternative press’ coverage of Bush’s presidency, it is a soullessness manifest by the complete absence of moral authority. Lacking any grounding in policy or principle, Bush has relied instead on loyalty to those who’ve helped him get where he is today. Earlier this year, for example, Common Cause Magazine and the Village Voice presented accounts of the so-called “Team 100” people who contributed at least $100,000 to the Bush election effort in 1988. Among the 249 members of the team, reported James Ridgeway in the Voice, were “famous deadbeat Donald Trump, S&L stickup man Charles Keating, and Wall Street takeover artist Henry Kravis [as well as] top executives from major investment firms, government contractors, multinational corporations, and oil companies.” Common Cause Magazine’s writing staff of six spent three months searching through the federal bureaucracy to examine how members of Team 100 fared in their post-election dealings with the Bush administration. They found Richard Meeker is the publisher of Willamette Week in Portland, Ore. Bush fading in Houston that the Bush administration: *Killed a two-year-old criminal tax investigation against the Southern Company, whose president was a Team 100 member. Extensive phone work produced a knowledgeable source who explained how the case was taken care of in the top levels of the Justice Department. *Gave the green light to a massive aviation-field expansion project in Denver that seemed to serve no purpose save to benefit an adjacent business park whose backers included Team 100 member William Lloyd Davis. The project also presented a serious financial threat to the new Denver International Airport that already had received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. *Revised the Clean Air Act to favor reformulated gasoline after Lodwrick Cook, a Team 100. member and head of Atlantic Richfield, spoke to Bush. Between 1988 and 1992 Arco and two of its key officers gave the Republican Party $862,360. In return, they got a last-minute change to Bush’s clean-air plan that allowed reformulated gasoline, an experimental Atlantic Richfield product that requires more oil than traditional gasoline and emits more pollutants than other fuels, to be marketed in this country. * Reversed a 26-year government stance and its own free-trade rhetoric by imposing stiff antiimport tariffs on foreign cement at the behest of Southdown, Inc., a cement maker whose general counsel, Edgar Marston III, also was on Team 100. Where instances like these suggest outright impropriety, the conduct of George Bush’s children these past four years raises a different concern. They have profited enormously, questionably and with little conventional media attention from their father’s position. Nothing in the sordid accounts of their conduct in Denver’s Westword, Miami New Times or the Austin Chronicle suggests that their father has blocked prosecutions or otherwise conducted himself improperly. Rather, they show that he has produced children whose judgment and conduct merit the President’s recent shrill characterizations of Bill Clinton. The Village Voice and Mother Jones magazine have provided more global accounts. Wrote the Voice’s Curtis Lang last April, “[P]residential son Neil Bush has become the personification of the looting of America’s S&Ls. Another presidential son, Jeb Bush, Republican fundraiser and unofficial White House liaison to Miami’s Cuban exile community, did business with, socialized with, and got campaign contributions from a cast of characters who are a living commercial for the Miami Vice lifestyle. First son George Bush, Jr., recently imported from Texas to Washington to kick-start the Bush re-election campaign, has been up to his eyeballs in business dealings with members of the CIA-connected BCCI Arab mafia…. Presidential sons Neil, George and Jeb have all been involved in business dealings with members of the worldwide financial underworld that 16 OCTOBER 30, 1992