On the Kennebunkport Clan

George and Barbara Bush, in Houston on Oct. 11, were introduced ahead of Game 3 of the American League Division Series between the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals. CreditBob Levey/Getty Images

Former President George Bush, 91 and frail, is straining to understand an election season that has, for his son and the Republican Party, lurched sharply and stunningly off script. And he is often bewildered by what he sees.

“I’m getting old,” he tells friends, appraising today’s politics, “at just the right time.”

These are confounding days for the Bush family and the network of advisers, donors and supporters who have helped sustain a political dynasty that began with the Senate victory by Prescott Bush, the older Mr. Bush’s father, in Connecticut 63 years ago. They have watched the rise of Donald J. Trump with alarm, and seen how Jeb Bush, the onetime Florida governor, has languished despite early advantages of political pedigree and campaign money.


AR is a trusted commenter Virginia
It is so nauseating, on so many levels, to read this kind of tripe about the Bush family. John Sununu, a truly nasty man who declared on TV that Barack Obama "should learn to be an American," is puzzled by the current GOP electorate? George H.W. Bush, the father of a hawkish non-participant in the Vietnam War (George W. Bush) who happily had his dirty operatives smear the war record of opponent John Kerry in 2004, can't understand how voters support Trump after he said negative things about John McCain? How about trying to understand how on earth anybody could vote for your own son over Kerry in 2004 after the Swift Boat attacks?

George H.W. Bush, I am sorry to say, is a pioneer among New England Yankee WASPs who decided to pander to the worst instincts of voters in ex-Confederate states like Texas and Florida. He hired junkyard dog of the first order Lee Atwater to run his despicable 1988 campaign for president. His two sons followed in his footsteps, with Jeb earlier this year declaring to a bunch of people in South Carolina that he wouldn't give "free stuff" to blacks. Never mind the sheer ludicrousness of a WASP child of privilege who was born with "free stuff" making a comment like this about the descendants of slaves.

The Bushes are like silk stockings filled with mud, some of the nastiest campaigners out there. Their demise in politics can't come soon enough, and that demise should be interpreted as a victory for all non-elite, non-wealthy Americans.

Hugh Centerville Wappingers Falls, NY
Poppy's memory must be failing. He fumed when Trump belittled McCain's service but when George II was running against John Kerry and the campaign needed George I to belittle Kerry's military service, Poppy was there for them.

Dave Monroe NY
I don't even know how to begin a response to this article! First, Neil Bush? Shouldn't he have done prison time for his role in the 1990s Savings & Loan scandals? Second, George H.W. Bush - he didn't lose because of Ross Perot; he lost because professional workers with advanced degrees (like me) couldn't get an interview or temporary job in 1992, and he seemed unaware and unconcerned about it. As for George W. Bush - well, books will be written for decades to come about his failures. Prescott Bush? The lawmaker who tried to remove FDR? I wish the Bushes would ride their motorized chairs into the sunset, never to be heard from again.

Steve CA
What Bush the Elder apparently fails to recognize is that he fathered not just a president and a presidential candidate, but in some ways the current Republican campaign as well. The Willie Horton issue that he exploited against Michael Dukakis in 1988 helped begat the scurrilous racial rumor-mongering that W employed about John McCain's child to win the South Carolina primary in 2000 and Karl Rove's swift-boating of Kerry that same year. Bush the Elder's campaign strategist, Lee Atwater, took dirty tactics to another level, and Karl Rove built on that for W.

Now, there is much more to the roots of the current Republican race than what George H.W. Bush did, not least in terms of the evolution of social media as a whole, right-wing blogging and the nastiness of Fox, Limbaugh, et al. And to his credit, the first President Bush (warts and all) really was a kinder, gentler and more policy-oriented soul than some current Republican contenders and many right-wing politicians. But if he wants to see who's partly responsible for his party's state of affairs, he need only look in the mirror.

V is a trusted commenter Los Angeles
"The elder Mr. Bush was fuming at the news of the day: Mr. Trump had belittled Sen. John McCain of Arizona for being taken prisoner in Vietnam.

“I can’t understand how somebody could say that and still be taken seriously,” said Mr. Bush."

Really, Mr. Bush?

Where was your outrage at the Swiftboating of war veteran Kerry in the 2004 election?

You Bushes with your Willie Horton ads and Swiftboating tactics have laid the groundwork for this disgusting political environment. And by the way, Jeb! is a lousy candidate with nothing to offer, except a Bush pedigree, which means nothing now. And the temerity of any Bush running after one of the worst presidencies in our history is breathtaking.

Thank you Donald Trump for this great public service you've accomplished in bringing down this political dynasty.

x WA
Better we should 'deeply wound' the Bush family pride than their family should do more damage to America.

California Teacher Healdsburg
Does his bewilderment also come from a place of entitlement? He can't understand what's happening because the populism fueling the GOP revolt is, in part, directed against the Bushes, who have for decades exercised the right to land their sons in coveted positions on the justification of nothing but birthright entitlement. Moreover, wasn't Bush's 1988 scorched earth campaign a harbinger of some of this nastiness in American politics? That slash-and-burn campaign prayed on emotions, focused on flag burning, the pledge, race cards, etc.

If George H.W. Bush is confounded by his party's turn from the mainstream, he can look at his son, George W. Bush. In spite of having Ivy-league degrees (however unmerited), he wore his ignorance on his sleeve. He referred glowingly to his then-foreign-policy tutor, Condi Rice, as explaining things in a way he can understand. He ran a nasty primary against John McCain which included insinuations that the Senator had fathered an illegitimate black child. He ascribed listening to "a higher father" for his reckless war policy. The bottom dropped out with George W. Bush's Presidency.

RealDeal New York, NY
Papa Bush has always had a hard time seeing over the walls of the family compound. His one-termer status is evidence of that. I'm not at all surprised that Fox News is how he gauges the nation -- let alone the GOP.

jlalbrecht Vienna, Austria
"Bush...is straining to understand an election season that has...lurched sharply and stunningly off script."

Nothing could be better for this country than for us (US) to throw away "the script" and get back to electing leaders that have the support of the majority of citizens, and not just a majority of major donors or the press.

No comments:

Blog Archive