Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Book About a Republican President Written by a Republican President Is As Good As It Gets

George W. Bush. 41:Portrait of My Father. New York, N.Y.: Crown Publishers, 2014.

Prescott Bush (grandfather of the author and father of the book’s subject) attended Yale and served as a field artillery officer in World War I. He later served as a U.S. Senator He denounced Nelson Rockefeller in 1963 for divorcing his wife. Time magazine called his denunciations “one of the most wrathful public lashings in memory.”

Prescott’s son, George H.W. Bush was a Navy pilot.. He flew over a circus causing an elephant to stampeded into town. Bush’s nickname became “Ellie the Elephant”. During World War II, his plane came under Japanese attack. His plane’s oil pressure dropped and the plane crashed into the ocean. Bush and his crew escaped into a life raft that was saved by an American destroyer.

Bush’s plane was hit while flying to Chichi Jima. He completed the bombing mission, hit his target, yet later had to bail out. His head hit the plane’s tail. American pilots shot at and kept Japanese boats from reaching Bush in the water, A submarine saved him. Bush spent a month in the submarine volunteering for duties.

Bush spent much “quality time” with his children. He showed his children the oil rigs in which he invested.

In 1930, U.S. Senator Raymond Baldwin resigned to be in the Connecticut Supreme Court. Prescott Bush, who was a major fund raiser for the Republicans, was nominated to run in a special election. A false charge by Drew Pearson that Prescott Bush was President of the Birth Control League hurt him as contraceptives were then illegal in Connecticut. The author blames this charge for causing Prescott Bush to love by one tenth of one percent of the vote.

Prescott Bush ran for the same seat for its full term in 1952. He lost the primary in a close race Less than two months later, Connecticut’s other Senator died. Bush won the special election for that seat.

During the 1952 campaign, Sen. Joseph McCarthy appeared at a Connecticut Republican event. Prescott Bush stated to a booing crowd “while we admire his objectives in the fight against communism, we have very considerable reservations concerning the methods which he sometimes employs.” Prescott Bush also returned a campaign contribution from McCarthy.

Prescott Bush frequently golfed with President Eisenhower. Bush’s 1956 Democratic opponent Thomas Dodd declared “I notice Senator Bush seems to have a lot of time to play gold. I can’t afford to play golf.” When Dodd later stated his favorite pastime was horseback riding, Bush declared “Well, I congratulate my opponent. I’ve never been able to afford a horse.”  Bush won reelection by ten percentage points. Prescott Bush did not seek reelection in 1962 at age 67 for health reasons. His health improved and the author thinks he questioned his retirement decision.

George H.W. Bush was elected Chairman of the Harris County, Texas Republican Party after visiting each of the 200 precincts. He tried to bring John Birch Society members into the Republican Party organization, asking people to stop referring to them as “nuts”. Bush appointed Birchers to several key precincts. The Birchers refused to work with Bush. So Bush purged the Birchers from their leadership positions.

G.H.W. Bush ran for U.S. Senate in 19764. He ran into a four man Republican Primary. He led in the first round with 44% to 32T% for former State Rep, Jack Cox, a Democrat who switched parties. Bush won the run off with 62% of the vote. Bush lost to “liberal populist’” Sen. Ralph Yarborough in the general election.

G.H.W. Bush ran for Congress in 1966. He defeated District Attorney Frank Briscoe. He became the first freshman member of Congress in 36 years placed on the Ways and Means Committee. He was chosen President of the Republican Freshmen Class.

Rep. Bush toured Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. He learned war must have a defined mission.

Rep. Bush changed his mind of civil rights issues. He opposed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and supported the Fair Housing Act in 1968. Angry mail made him the member of Congress to receive the most mail in 1968. Bush presented his views to his district and received a standing ovation. He was reelected in 1968 without opposition.

G.H.W. Bush met former President Lyndon Johnson and asked his advice on running for the U.S. Senate. Johnson replied “The difference between the Senate and the House is the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit.” Bush ran for the Senate. Yarborough, who Bush hoped to run against as a conservative alternative, lost the Democratic Primary to the more conservative Lloyd Bentson. Bentson won the general election.

G.H.W. Bush arranged a blind date between the author and Tricia Nixon. The author drank, knocked over a wine glass, and smoked. Tricia Nixon asked to be returned to the White House.

President Nixon appointed G.H.W. Bush U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. After the 1972 elections, President Nixon then appointed him Republican National Chairman. When Bush sought the advice of current Chairman, Sen. Robert Dole, he learned no one had informed Dole he was being replaced. G.H.W. Bush realized the Nixon White House was either dysfunctional or too secretive.

President Gerald Ford appointed G.H.W. Bush to represent the United States in China. He was later appointed Central Intelligence Agency Director.

President Jimmy Carter replaced Bush as CIA Director. The author believes this was a mistake noting that G.H.W. Bush retained William Webster, President Reagan’s appointee and that the author retained President Bill Clinton’s appointee, George Tenet. The author was disappointed when President Barack Obama did not retain his appointee Michael Hayden.

G,H.W. Bush was on the Board of Directors of Eli Lilly, Texas Oil, and First International Bancshares. He turned down going back into the oil business from H. Ross Perot.

The author ran for Congress. His brother Neil was his campaign manager. The author defeated former Odessa Mayor Jim Reese, who was supported by Ronald Reagan, in the primary. The author lost to Democratic State Sen. Kent Hance who received 53% of the vote to the author’s 47%.

G.H.W. Bush ran for President in 1980. He won the Iowa Caucus with over 30% of the vote. This propelled Bush into national attention.

In the New Hampshire Primary, a debate was organized. The Reagan campaign coordinate the event. It was a debate between the two front runners, Reagan and Bush. At the debate, Reagan declared the other candidates should be included. Bush made no statement which upset supporters of the other candidates and led many to criticize his silence. When the moderator threatened to turn off Reagan’s microphone while Reagan denounced the debate rules, Reagan responded “I am paying for this microphone”, a statement responded with applause and general popular approval.

Reagan won the New Hampshire Primary 50% with Bush second at 23%. Bob Dole and John Connally withdrew from the race.

Bush’s campaign slogan was “A President We Won’t Have to Train” which was a criticism of Governor Reagan’s limited national political experience. Bush also described Reagan’s economic plan of cutting taxes while balancing the budget as “voodoo economics.”

Bush won primaries in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut yet could not stop Reagan. Reagan won the Texas Primary with 53% of the vote to 46% for Bish. Bush withdrew and endorsed Reagan.

Reagan picked Bush as his running mate for Vice President, Bush gave the ticket foreign policy experience. Reagan defeated Carter by carrying 44 states with 489 Electoral votes. This was the most Electoral votes ever won by a non-incumbent.

As Vice President, Bush led a task force on deregulating businesses and another on fighting drug trafficking in South Florida.

Bush found Soviet Union leader Gorbachev as wiling to improve relations with the U.S.

Bush became the first Acting President for eight hours under the 25th Amendment while Reagan had surgery. Bush deliberately kept a low profile and played tennis.He hit his hand and briefly blacked out yet was fine.

Bush became the first sitting Vice President elected President since Martin Van Buen in 1836. His campaign was marred by a arms sale to Iran to release hostages which was made with the knowledge of Reagan and Bush. This was an illegal sale and contrary to the policy of not paying ransom demands. It was then disclosed that half the funds from that sale went to the Contras rebels in Nicaragua, which was illegal. Reagan and Bush denied knowing about the funds to the Contras.

Bush was elected pledging “I am not going to raise your taxes --- period.” He lost the Iowa Caucus to Bob Dole at 37% with Pat Robertson finishing a strong second at 25% with Bush at 19%. Bush won the New Hampshire Primary with 38% to 29% for Dole. Bush went on to win the Republican nomination.

Bush notes Jim Baker brought “structure and clarity” to the Bush campaign. Bush selected Dan Quayle as his running mate yet kept the selection to himself. When it was announced, staff were not prepared to deal with many of the questions the press had about Quayle.

The 1988 campaign saw the rise of independent campaign groups An independent group ran an ad hat Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis had, as Massachusetts Governor, furloughed an American American prisoner Willie Horton who later raped a woman. Bush was upset at the ad’s racial tones, which was something Bush had pledge himself not to do.

Bush won carrying 40 states.

As President, Bush eased relations with Russia by providing them with economic aid. He also had troops drive Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who engaged in drug trafficking, out of office and into prison.

Bush sent troops to liberate Kuwait when Iraq invaded it.

Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Bush’s son won on the Board of Directors of the Silverado Banking Savings and Loan which went insolvent. Neil became one of the best known names in the savings and loans financial crisis.. Bush considered not running for reelection when he saw how hurt his son was.

Pat Buchanan challenged Bush’s renomination. Buchanan received 37% of the New Hampshire Primary vote. While Buchanan later withdrew and endorsed Bush, his race “energized independents” which allowed Ross Perot to enter the general election race. Bush lost to Bill Clinton. Like John Adams, no sitting Vice President has ever been then been elected to two terms as President.


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