Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Oedipus Tex 

If you have nothing else to do while you're waiting for Ben Barnes to tell 60 Minutes how he squeezed George Bush into the TXANG in front of thousands of better-qualified applicants, why not read the article everyone will be linking to tomorrow if they haven't already linked to it tonight?
Before there was Karl Rove, Lee Atwater or even James Baker, the Bush family's political guru was a gregarious newspaper owner and campaign consultant from Midland, Texas, named Jimmy Allison. In the spring of 1972, George H.W. Bush phoned his friend and asked a favor: Could Allison find a place on the Senate campaign he was managing in Alabama for his troublesome eldest son, the 25-year-old George W. Bush?

"The impression I had was that Georgie was raising a lot of hell in Houston, getting in trouble and embarrassing the family, and they just really wanted to get him out of Houston and under Jimmy's wing," Allison's widow, Linda, told me. "And Jimmy said, 'Sure.' He was so loyal."

Linda Allison's story, never before published, contradicts the Bush campaign's assertion that George W. Bush transferred from the Texas Air National Guard to the Alabama National Guard in 1972 because he received an irresistible offer to gain high-level experience on the campaign of Bush family friend Winton "Red" Blount. In fact, according to what Allison says her late husband told her, the younger Bush had become a political liability for his father, who was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, and the family wanted him out of Texas. "I think they wanted someone they trusted to keep an eye on him," Linda Allison said . . . .

Allison's account corroborates a Washington Post investigation in February that found no credible witnesses to the service in the Alabama National Guard that Bush maintains he performed, despite a lack of documentary evidence. Asked if she'd ever seen Bush in a uniform, Allison said: "Good lord, no. I had no idea that the National Guard was involved in his life in any way." Allison also confirmed previously published accounts that Bush often showed up in the Blount campaign offices around noon, boasting about how much alcohol he had consumed the night before. (Bush has admitted that he was a heavy drinker in those years, but he has refused to say whether he also used drugs).

"After about a month I asked Jimmy what was Georgie's job, because I couldn't figure it out. I never saw him do anything. He told me it basically consisted of him contacting people who were impressed by his name and asking for contributions and support," Allison said . . . .

The break happened not long after a boozy election-night wake for Blount, who lost his Senate bid to the incumbent Democrat, John Sparkman. Leaving the election-night "celebration," Allison remembers encountering George W. Bush in the parking lot, urinating on a car, and hearing later about how he'd yelled obscenities at police officers that night. Bush left a house he'd rented in Montgomery trashed -- the furniture broken, walls damaged and a chandelier destroyed, the Birmingham News reported in February. "He was just a rich kid who had no respect for other people's possessions," Mary Smith, a member of the family who rented the house, told the newspaper, adding that a bill sent to Bush for repairs was never paid. And a month later, in December, during a visit to his parents' home in Washington, Bush drunkenly challenged his father to go "mano a mano," as has often been reported.
Ms. Allison's description of the graciousness and politesse of Barbara Bush is in itself worth the price of a subscription to Salon, if you do not already subscribe.

And we would be remiss in the extreme if we did not commend to your attention this item from The Blue Lemur (courtesy of Suburban Guerrilla).

Not to mention this fine catch by our Jack-Vancian colleague Emphyrio, quoting Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC:
George Herbert Walker Bush sure opened up to Imus today. Notoriously gun-shy about “going on the couch,” as he’s always told Maureen Dowd, ‘41 (with whom he told Don “I have a very unusual relationship, you might say”) reacted for the first time to his son’s saying “He didn’t cut and run like they did in 1991.”

“Yeah, I didn’t like that much....I’m sure there was some background around that statement because I saw that and frankly it hurt a little bit...”

And when Imus asked whether the President’s admission that he miscalculated about Iraq had more to do with the Rumsfelds and Cheneys and the other neo-cons, Bush said: “Look, I told you I don’t like to differ with my son, his team, or anything else. I have to surrender. I have to have my own opinions in a blind trust as Doonesbury said about me one time, in which case it’s true. If I said something to you and I look different from the President, everybody would rush over to the New York Times or to Maureen or to somebody else and say ‘Look, the president differs.’ What do you say down in the White House press room about the nutty father unleashed out there. We don’t need that. I had my chance.”

We want more of the nutty father! Bush ‘41 is so careful about not getting in his son’s way, but the absence of his foreign policy team (Scowcroft, Baker, Powell, except for Cheney) makes the generational divide pretty clear.

And it’s not just Iraq. The former CIA Director whose name graces HQ at Langley (Bush) can’t appreciate all the CIA bashing coming out of this administration.

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