Let’s call it Todo por poderEverything for Power. Kelley begins in the late 19th century with Samuel Bush in Ohio and George Herbert Walker”the real founding father and spiritual progenitor of the Bush clan,” to borrow a phrase from Kevin Phillipsin St. Louis. The story gets rollingslowlywith Prescott Bush, former senator from Connecticut, father of George Bush, Sr., and the epitome of the Big Man on Campus at Yale. As the story progresses from generation to generation, and the financial ties shift from Connecticut to Texas, Kelley reaches the same broad conclusion reached by many others before her: With each generation, there’s a good deal more noblesse and a lot less oblige. The book ends with W. \(referred to at one point as “the Sonny Corleone” of USS Lincoln in Operation Flight Suit, to borrow a phrase from Paul Krugman. The Family is chock full of chisme, good, old-fashioned gossip, as well as extensive archival research and interviews \(nearly 1,000 by Kelley’s count; frustratingly, there’s only a listing of sources for each chapter, many are unnamed, and it’s often impossible to range from Ron Reagan, Jr., who speaks freely about the Bushes’ sense of entitlement; to Kent Hance, the former Texas legislator-turned-lobbyist who defeated George W. Bush in 1978 in his first run for political office, who offers a few country yarns; to Yoshi Tsurumi, the president’s macroeconomics professor at Harvard Business School, who recalls very clearly George W. Bush as a young man with “no sense of compassion, devoid of social responsibility?’ When the professor announced his plan to show the film The Grapes of Wrath \(it was the 1970s and people did that sort discussion of poverty, Bush objected: “Why are you going to show us that Commie movie?” “I laughed because I thought he was kidding,” Tsurumi says, “but he wasn’t?’ After we viewed the film, I called on him to discuss the Depression and how he thought it affected people. He said, “Look. People are poor because they are lazy.” A number of the students pounced on him and demanded that he support his statement with facts and statistics. He quickly backed down because he could not sustain his broadside. …I did not judge him to be stupid, just spoiled and undisciplined. …so abysmal that I once asked him how he ever got accepted in the first place. He said, “I had lots of help.” I laughed and then inquired about his military service. . He said he had been in the Texas National Guard. “My dad fixed it so that I got into the Guard. I got an early discharge to come here.” While Tsurumi’s story has since been picked up by Salon. com , and Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times has also quoted the professor, most of the media buzz, of course, has centered on First Ex-Sister-inLaw \(or should that be Ex-Firstaccusationswhich she later denied ever making to Kelley that W. and the youngest Bush brother, Marvin, did cocaine at Camp David when their father was president. \(Neil, whom Kelley refers to as the “Fredo Corleone” of the family, and Sharon were in the midst of a bitter, highly publicized divorce. Kelley and Doubleday can back up their claims that Sharon said what she said, but ultimately, the story goes nowhere but down Despite what the book jacket copy portends, The Family is far from literally being the “Tell All” book about the Bushes. While reading it in tandem with American Dynasty often wondered who will be W.’s Robert Caro. And God bless the poor soul who would even think of undertaking such a project, not just because it’s so daunting, but also because there are serious questions about the availability of records. Perhaps the most valuable thing to take from The Family is the author’s warning in the introduction: W. placed his records as Texas Governor in his father’s presidential library in College Station. On November 1, 2001, he signed an executive order that blocks the release of all presidential documents. “Under Bush’s new rules,” Kelley writes, “presidents now have the right to prevent the public from ever viewing their papers, even after they have died?’ If that happens, we all flunk. 10/22/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25
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