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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Our Snopeses 

We are deep into Seymour Hersh and have not yet had a chance to open Kitty Kelley (and yes, we are speaking metonymically, thank you), but Zemblan patriot J.D. was kind enough to alert us that Bryan Curtis of Slate had assembled a puu-puu platter of delectable delicacies from The Family, of which the following tasty morsels are but a sample:
Page 253: At Andover, George W. Bush writes a morose essay about his sister's death. Searching for a synonym for "tears," he consults a thesaurus and writes, "And the lacerates ran down my cheeks." A teacher labels the paper "disgraceful."

Page 375-76: James Baker refuses to run Bush's 1980 presidential campaign if [Bush's mistress Jennifer] Fitzgerald is around; Bush concedes but pays her a salary. After becoming vice president, Bush gets into a traffic accident while riding with his "girlfriend"; he calls Secretary of State Alexander Haig to help him shoo away the Washington, D.C., police. Fitzgerald isn't Bush's only dalliance: A divorcee from North Dakota moves to Washington to be with the veep. Kelley says Nancy Reagan, who reviles the Bushes, delights in the gossip.

Page 257: Bush elects not to tell his friends back in Texas—where all-male Andover is derided as "Bend Over"—that he has become the school's head cheerleader.

Page 258-59: W. introduces [Andover] to the sport of pig ball, which involves throwing a football high in the air and then throttling a random player. As one ex-student puts it, "[T]o me he is the epitome of pig ball."

Page 534: After Bush loses the 1992 election, Barbara holds a White House rummage sale and hawks her lightly used ball gowns to staffers.

Page 227: George H.W., who runs hard against civil rights legislation in his 1964 Senate campaign, makes amends by sponsoring a black softball team in Houston called the "George Bush All-Stars." As he puts it, "Organized athletics is a wonderful answer to juvenile delinquency."

Page 252: George W. hangs a Confederate flag in his dorm room at Andover.

Page 22: W. isn't the first Bush with a dubious war record. Prescott writes a gag letter to an Ohio newspaper detailing his mock-heroics in World War I, which the newspaper takes as fact and prints in full on the front page. His mother later apologizes and the paper retracts the story.
Kelley also has a few choice quotes from Yoshi Tsurumi, who taught George W. at Harvard Business school. Tsurumi, who recently spoke to CNN about Bush's TXANG service, has now shared his recollections of Bush the scholar with Salon:
Bush, by contrast, "was totally the opposite of Chris Cox" [whom Tsurumi regarded as a "principled conservative"]. "He showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him." When asked to explain a particular comment, said Tsurumi, Bush would respond, "Oh, I never said that" . . . .

Bush once sneered at Tsurumi for showing the film "The Grapes of Wrath," based on John Steinbeck's novel of the Depression. "We were in a discussion of the New Deal, and he called Franklin Roosevelt's policies 'socialism.' He denounced labor unions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Medicare, Social Security, you name it. He denounced the civil rights movement as socialism. To him, socialism and communism were the same thing. And when challenged to explain his prejudice, he could not defend his argument, either ideologically, polemically or academically."

Students who challenged and embarrassed Bush in class would then become the subject of a whispering campaign by him, Tsurumi said. "In class, he couldn't challenge them. But after class, he sometimes came up to me in the hallway and started bad-mouthing those students who had challenged him. He would complain that someone was drinking too much. It was innuendo and lies. So that's how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk, that he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy."

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