Politics have been the family business for more than one family in the United States. The familiar family of several generations is the Kennedy family who remains in the political spotlight for fifty-three years and running. As Elizabeth Dole attempts to gain the Republican nomination for the 2000 presidential race she hopes to continue the forty-nine year Dole family streak. Coming close to twenty-five years in politics Bill Clinton prepares to turn the scepter over to Hillary Clinton as she prepares for a possible seat in the United States Senate. Perhaps the most interesting dynasties are those carried on by father-son teams.
Both John Adams and John Quincy Adams were United States Presidents. It also appears as though former President George Bush may be able to watch one of his two Governor sons take the presidential oath in the near future. His namesake child, the current governor of Texas, has recently announced his bid for the Republican nomination on the 2000 ballot. However, even if he makes it past the primaries it will take more than a ‘brand name’; to win this election. According to the June 21, 1999 issue of Newsweek 65% of voters they polled still knew nothing or little of George W. Bush.
When looking at a possible future President of the United Sates of America it is not uncommon to start with their past and work forward to see their progress and failures. George W. Bush attended a preparatory school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Like many young men he was interested in sports and he selected to the men’s basketball team at Phillips Academy. Envied by his peers the young man was chosen to be part of a team that was exclusive to the best. However young George sat on the bench that year and only played one game.
The next year he opted not to try out for football and instead became the head cheerleader. He made many friends at this elite school considered to be the toughest in the country at that time. He successfully finished and the following year attended Yale. During George’s time at Yale he barely seemed to notice his father had been elected to Congress (1966). George, ‘W’; as many refer to him, was not interested in any of the political organizations at the University. George W. Bush seemed to be more concerned with social matters than political matters.
He knew stories about most people that would pass him by on the campus and was a fan of his school’s sports teams. In the late 1960’s he joined a fraternity of Delta Kappa Epsilon, a fraternity for sportsmen and those who loved to watch them. They were called Dekes. This brings about a controversy that Bush himself may have been involved in overseeing harmful hazing rituals such as branding. Both Bush and other members of the fraternity have denied these rumors. Most members say the branding was a scare tactic that never actually happened. What did happen?
A close friend of Bush’s at the time stated, ‘…there was a lot of watching sports, girls, and beer drinking (Duffy). ‘; This is also where Bush had his first encounter with the law. Bush stated, ‘ We had a little too much Christmas cheer and for some reason we really thought we needed that wreath (Duffy). ‘; George and some of the other members of the Dekes were charged with theft as a misdemeanor and the misdemeanor was later dropped. During Bush’s junior year at Yale he surprised his family by announcing his engagement to a young woman from Rice University named Cathryn Wolfman.
They engagement did not last long after George decided that he was too young to settle down. While attending a Princeton, Yale’s rival, versus Yale football game in which Yale won, George encountered his second encounter with the law. As friends were leaving the game they turned around to see young George standing in the middle of the goal posts as he and his friends tore them down on the Princeton field. The mayor of Princeton, New Jersey told the young men as punishment to leave Princeton and never return and he has not to this day.
After graduating Yale George moved to Houston to live at the ritzy Chateaux Dijon, a popular place for late baby bloomers to live in the 1970’s. Not only was he changing girlfriends rapidly he was also changing jobs frequently. When he joined the Air National Guard in Texas he was criticized by many that he was allowed to override the long waiting list. The young man denied receiving any special favors from the Guard because of his father’s status. George worked in for an agriculture company at this time and then left calling the work dull and boring.
He then worked for a group that mentored young minority athletes but also left that job not being fulfilled. After applying for University of Texas Law School and being denied he applied to Harvard School of Business. George W. Bush graduated from Harvard with his Masters in Business in 1975. After Harvard George returned to Midland, Texas where he grew up. There he thought that he would try his hand at the oil business. He had no experience in this field yet he insisted on jumping into to it without working his way up the ranks. At the same time he started the oil firm he married a young lady by the mane of Laura Welch, a quiet librarian.
Laura and her new husband spent much of their honeymoon on the campaign trail. In Midland George thought that he might run for Congress and in the 1977 race he went up against Kent Hance. He won much support in the Midland area but Hance took a huge lead in Lubbock and won the 1977 election. That wasn’t the only misfortune he experienced during that period in his life. The gas prices were plummeting causing the price of oil to be forced down. Many people in the Midland area were losing jobs and very few oil companies could survive on their own. In 1982 George W. Bush sold 10% of his oil firm to a Panamanian investor.
As prices began to fall further Bush began drinking heavier and more steadily. In 1984 he merged the rest of his company with Spectrum 7. Even after Bush took 25% pay cut the oil prices continued on a downward spiral. Now Spectrum’s best offer was to be bought by an energy company by the name of Harken. In return Bush received $320,000 in stock and was retained as a consultant at a salary of $80,000 a year, $5,000 more than what he was previously earning (Pooley 36). He also convinced Harken to employ most of his former employees and he found jobs for the employees that were not taken on by Harken.
Other changes were also taking place in his life. After a joint 40th birthday party in Colorado Bush woke up with a hangover severe enough to cause him to quite drinking cold turkey. He also had twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, to take care of. Now that he had money and no day job he was free to think on an offer that had been made to him several months before the Harken deal. In 1985 Lee Atwater spoke to George Bush about helping run his father’s (the Vice President of the United States from 1984-1988) presidential campaign.
In 1987 Bush packed up his family in Midland and moved to Washington, D. C. to help his father. The younger George spent countless hours defending his father from harsh journalist, unfaithful staff, and critics. He acted as a surrogate speaker on behalf of his father around the country. All of his hard work on the campaign not only helped his father win the 1988 presidential election; it also brought him in to the political spotlight as a serious man for the first time. After the elections Bush and his family returned to Dallas, Texas. After being in Dallas for a few years he received a hot tip that the Texas Rangers Baseball team was for sale.
Quickly Bush rounded up a group of investors and purchased a portion of the team and was made a manager. The money he used to buy the team he borrowed from a Midland bank where he was a director using his Harken stock as collateral. His initial $500,000 investment grew to $606,000 and his final return was over $15 million (Pooley 36). He was finally in the spotlight as a politician, a businessman, a sportsman, a family man, and as a down home man. He attended all 80 Ranger home games. He would often stay hours after the game to sign autographs and he did wonders for the stadium.
He and his partners renovated The BallPark in Arlington with bond money. His public relations were rising but things in Dallas were not going as smooth as in Arlington. When Bush sold all 212,140 of his Harken stocks in June of 1990 he received $848,569, more the 2 the original value (Pooley 41). Less than two months later Harken made the quarterly report and they stated that the company lost more than $23 million dollars. Bush says he did not know that Harken was going to announce the loss yet he was still criticized by many who said that as a director he should have know.
He compounded the problem by not filing a SEC form. After a SEC investigation he was cleared of all charges. One month later Bush resigned from Harken and declared for Governor. George took a leave of absence from the Rangers to spend time campaigning for Governor. He traveled the state as a well-known man separate from his father, at least in personality. George’s social circle drew him crowds of the elite oil and businessmen to the down home baseball fans throughout Texas. George also gained a tart sense of humor when his sister died in 1953 of leukemia.
His mother said that since more was expected from George, the oldest son, he diverted their attention by wisecracks and nicknames, a trait that he carries with him to this day. According to the June 1999 issue of Texas Monthly that may also of helped people relax and relate to him as a man and not just a politician while on his campaign trail. After George won the Governor election to Ann Hutchinson he put all of his Rangers assets in to a blind trust and did not sell the team until 1998. In 1998 he received over $14. illion dollars for his share of the team.
As a second term Governor of Texas George W. Bush has had a well-kept record. Although the governor of Texas has very little power he and legislation passed the largest tax cut in the states history. He has won praises from teachers by allowing for large teacher pay raises. Crime rate is down and although he did not back a hate-crimes bill the President Clinton urged him to sign his inclusive rhetoric and multicultural appointments have please the Hispanic and African American communities.
His pulling together of political factions saying it is better to work together than to work alone has impressed many leaders of both major parties. Bush is quoted in Time magazine saying, ‘I’m proud to be a compassionate conservative. I welcome this label, and on this ground, will make my stand (Duffy). ‘; According to the Washington Post’s Governors Guide strong families, local control, individual responsibility, and limited responsibility are principles guiding Governor Bush’s major initiatives. He continually states the importance of family and education in society.
He says that education is his number one priority. He believes for our society to become compassionate and responsible we must first teach children to read and comprehend. According to this page he says, ‘Government is necessary, but not necessarily government. ‘; His staff knows that any proposal brought before him must encourage personal responsibility, local control, and fiscal responsibility. He has encouraged a voluntary clean up program for companies and individuals to participate in that has brought back $170 million dollars in property and has created 3,000 jobs (Gov. George).
Since his first term 115 older companies have reduced emissions by 100,000 each year. To make Texas a safer place he has aided in passing anti-stalking laws and no sex offender is allowed to live in Texas without registering first with local authorities. He has declared a zero tolerance for violent crimes on school grounds. If any youth is found in violation of a violent of sexually orientated law he or she must be reported to the teachers of that school and he or she pose a threat they may be placed in alternative education programs.
He supports the legal drinking age of 21 and has implemented one of the nations toughest anti-youth-smoking laws. He believes in the death penalty for those who have committed ‘horrible’; crimes. He also believes that Texas prisons are a place of work and punishment. All prisoners in Texas work either building houses for the needy, farming for food banks, making road signs, Braille books, government furniture, or laundry detergent.
He also supports welfare reform, creating jobs and not dependency for those in need, yet his 1997 legislation passed a bill not allowing government to interfere with private charity help for these people. Now Governor Bush will be able to make his stand on a national level. On June 12, 1999 Governor Bush announced he would run for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. He already has the backing of 15 Republican Governors. Even Kent Hance who beat him in the 1977 congressional elections has contributed money (Hance switched parties in 1985).
Although Bush has a long way to go until the elections he is already miles ahead of the other Republicans and Democrats (Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Brady) hoping to earn the nomination for his or her party. In the Republican race for presidential nomination he faces Elizabeth Dole, Dan Quayle, Steven Forbes, and John McCain. In a Time/CNN poll 55% of those polled would vote for Bush, and 42% for Al Gore, however George Bush has the Republican nominee vote 40% ahead of the runner-up, Elizabeth Dole, who has 14% of the vote according to the Time/CNN poll.
Governor Bush still has a long time before the 2000 election, if he is chosen as the GOP nomination. He has matured a lot form his past and has impressed enough people in high places to earn the most money in the shortest amount of time ever in an United States presidential campaign according to June 30,1999 edition of the Corpus Christi Caller Times. According to the Caller Times Bush has earned $20 million in just four months (Van Natta A-12).
Fortunate for Bush he has made a connection with many Americans and not including those who know nothing about him most like him…they just don’t know why. For Bush supporters it is not the ‘name brand’; that they believe will win him the Presidency, it is the values and policies he stands for. Right now the Republican Party’s worst nightmare is that if it is the name and if the name wares off their ‘school house built of straw will weaken and blow down. ‘; With the aide of family, Texas governor’s office veterans, and his fathers old aides, he hopes to prove them wrong before February.