Maureen Dowd | Escape From Bushworld

Maureen Dowd, New York Times:

Starting with 41, the family saga was the arc of bluebloods trying to seem red-blooded. They wanted what they saw as their due, as the royal family of Republican politics. But they also wanted to come across as self-made men, men who struck out south from Kennebunkport and Greenwich to make their way in the world. They all had elaborate mythologies to prove they were their own men, even as they made business deals thanks to the family name and connections, and mined Bar’s Christmas card list for donors.

The Bush men always recast themselves to woo voters. Poppy Bush shed his preppy striped watchband and pretended that pork rinds, rather than popcorn, was his favorite snack. W. acted like the heir of Ronald Reagan rather than of his own dad, who had alienated the conservative base and failed to win two terms. And Jeb tried to pep up — getting contact lenses and belatedly punching harder against Trump.

When Poppy Bush ran against Bill Clinton, he simply assumed that the public would not choose a draft-dodging womanizer over him. “His ambient reality was that a president was above all a figure of dignity and decorum,” Bush senior biographer Jon Meacham said. “Clinton went on Arsenio Hall. Bush 41 probably thought Arsenio Hall was a building at Andover.”

Just as the political ground had shifted under his father, leaving him befuddled and looking at his watch, so it shifted under Jeb, leaving him befuddled and tapping his foot.


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