Book Report: The Bushes. Peter and Rochelle Schweizer
George Walker Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut on July 6th, 1946, To George and Barbara Bush. His grandfather was Prescott Bush, who was a senator from Connecticut. He lived in New Haven for two years, moving to Midland, Texas after his father graduated from Yale University. He attended San Jacinto Junior High School in Midland and Kinkaid School, a preparatory school in Houston. Bush attended Phillips Academy from 1961 until 1964. He was accepted in Yale and attended from 1964 until 1968, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in history. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, and also a member of the secretive Skull and Bones society.
Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard in May of 1968. He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1970. During his career he flew the F-102 Delta Dagger interceptor. He transferred to the Alabama National Guard in 1972. He had committed to the guard for six years, but received permission to end his service six months early, so that he could attend Harvard’s business school.
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Bush graduated from Harvard with a Master’s in Business Administration. He moved back to Texas and entered the petroleum industry. He contacted his uncle, who managed to raise several million dollars from Yale graduates, family friends, and venture capitalists. By the middle of 1977 he was making a meager profit in the industry.
He was introduced to Laura Welch in the late summer of 1977. He was engaged to her five weeks later. They were married November 6th, 1977 at the United Methodist Church in Midland. Laura Bush gave birth to Barbara and Jenna Bush in 1981. They continued to live in Texas until the 1988 Presidential Campaign. They Moved to Washington, DC for the campaign and then moved back to Texas. He Purchased the Texas Rangers Baseball Team in 1989. He continued to live in Texas until his Presidential election caused his move the White House.
Bush’s political career started in Florida in 1968 when he took a leave from the National Guard to work on a republican senatorial campaign. In1972 he was approached by Jimmy Allison to work for Winton Blount, who was running for Senator of Alabama against John Sparkman. Bush requested and received a transfer to the Alabama Guard and eagerly moved. The campaign work consisted of organizing resources at the local level. He put stickers on cars, handed out leaflets, and worked the telephones to encourage people to vote. Even though Blount lost the election, Bush had received an education in retail politics.
With his father in China and then with the CIA, Bush stayed out of politics until 1976. His father suggested that he work for Ford’s presidential campaign. He became the Nineteenth District coordinator. Part of his responsibilities in that position was introducing the Vice Presidential candidate Bob Dole at a speaking event. Dole was his father’s political rival, having been chosen over him as Vice President by Ford when Nixon resigned. After Ford’s defeat, he stayed clear of politics once again, tiring of being constantly compared to his father in everything that he did.
On July 6, 1977, Texas Congressman George Mahon announced that hew was going to retire. Since this was coincidently Bush’s birthday, he took this as somewhat of an omen. After talking with his father, he announced days later to his family and friends that he was going to enter the race. This was immediately supported. He made the announcement publicly on July 19 at the Midland Regional Airport.
Another republican, Jim Reese, also entered the primary. Reese had backed Ronald Reagan against Gerald Ford years later, and Reagan owed him a favor. He backed Reese over Bush, appearing on television to endorse him. This strained the relationship between George H.
W. Bush and Reagan, which was not repaired for many years. Reese also attempted to sway public opinion by challenging Bush’s credentials as a Texan. He produced Bush’s Connecticut birth certificate on television, and noted the family’s connection to the Rockefellers.
Bush won the primary, but Reese refused to endorse him. The democratic candidate was Kent Hance. Hance was a local farmer, and used his knowledge of farming and ranching to his benefit. Hance’s campaign often attacked Bush’s family, which angered Bush more than questions about his qualifications. His family legacy and background became his Achilles Heel, and during the campaign he was never able to rise above it. He lost the election, with Hance receiving 53% of the vote.
In November of 1993 Bush officially announced his candidacy for Governor of the State of Texas. At the same time his brother, Jeb Bush, was running for Governor of the State of Florida. His opponent in Texas was Ann Richards, the incumbent democrat that many saw as too liberal for Texas. While family members were supportive of both Jeb and George W. Bush, they assumed that Jeb Bush would win and George W. Bush would lose. In the end, quite the opposite would be true. George W. won by 300,000 votes and Jeb lost the election.
Bush served his four year term, announcing his bid for reelection in December of 1997. Bush’s popularity was greater than 70%. The Democrats had a tough time finding anyone that had the political experience necessary to defeat him to actually run against him. In the end the Democratic candidate was Gary Mauro. Bush had been endorsed by several leading Democrats, and won reelection by almost 70 percent.
In 1999 Bush announced his candidacy for President. The republican field was already full. By the end of 1999, Bush had the endorsement of 94 republican congressmen and the Republican Governors. Bush would face Al Gore in the presidential election. On election night, Gore called
Bush to concede the election, but called back shortly thereafter and canceled the concession. The vote in Florida was too close to call, and the electoral votes that Florida represented would mean the difference in the race. After weeks of movements, recounts, and legal action that blackened the eye of the American election system, the Supreme Court declared George W. Bush the winner and President of the United States.
While Bush is a member of a dynastic political family, he has the ability to be in his own element when it suits him. One of his most notable accomplishments was simply getting elected as the Governor of Texas. He had held no previous political office, had no experience in the politics of Texas, and was running for office at the same time his brother was in Florida. His father campaigned heavily for Jeb Bush, but only appeared once in Texas for George W. Bush. Even his family assumed that he would fail. He kept to the narrow campaign issues of tort reform, education, and welfare. He won reelection easily because he kept to these campaign issues.
The other notable political accomplishment was his initial war on terrorism. He realized that America was at war and, for the first time since the War of 1812, the first battle had been on domestic soil. Bush reacted with a calm exterior that many initially regarded as inept. He became more serious, more focused, and decisive. He also became driven. In the ensuing months he would mount an aggressive campaign to eliminate world wide terrorism. Security changes were enacted that have the ability to affect the daily lives of the citizens. It should be noted that even with the ever present threat of further acts of terrorism; there have been no successful acts on American soil since 9/11. The book was published in 2004, before the operations in Iraq had reached the level they are at today. It was also published before his successful reelection as President. I
Schweizer, Peter, and Rochelle Schweizer. The Bushes. New York: Doubleday, 2004.