Peggy Keener: Guess who laughed last

Published 5:30 pm Friday, October 15, 2021

George Bush’s return to Midland, Texas, after a 30-year absence, was a disappointment. The old town just wasn’t the same and his oil wells along with his spirit were drying up. As his dream of becoming a millionaire dwindled, George turned to his second plan: politics. In 1978, he stunned everyone by preempting his brother Jeb and announcing a run for Congress.

But, there was a dark cloud hanging over his reality. In the past, had he or had he not used cocaine … and would he admit it if he had? And just imagine what a bombshell it would be if during a campaign his opponents produced a witness!

Thus his tainted past kept him from entering public life while ironically at the same time releasing him from the pressure of having to achieve in order to uphold the Bush family honor. So, with the political weight off his shoulders and his business ambitions derailed, he decided to create his version of a normal life. In his climb upward, his greatest accomplishment was marrying Laura Welch. He figured that even if he did lose any unlikely future political runs, he would never lose her.

He, furthermore, joined a group of men in a weekly Bible study class where he found the beginnings of a strong faith. Then in 1986, after a rousing 40th birthday party bash, he awakened the next morning with an excruciating hangover. From that moment on he would never drink another drop of alcohol again for the rest of his life.

Now as a born-again man, George felt renewed and at peace. Still his abundant raw energy was bursting at the seam, so the next year he moved to Washington, D.C. to help his father make a second run for the presidency. There he announced that he would no longer be called “Junior.” From then on, he was to be addressed as “G.W.” with no “George” in his name, thereby no mistaking him for his father. G.W. had at last established his own identity.

(The name change held until years later when in 1994 he ran for public office in Texas. Once again he would reinvent himself as “George W. Bush.” It was all a part of his ongoing life struggle to literally make a name for himself.)

In 1987, a contented G.W. seemed to have matured. Indifferent to the drama swirling about in Washington and relieved from the pressure of being a part of it, he put together an investment team to buy the Texas Rangers baseball team. Meanwhile little brother Jeb was in the family spotlight having become a multimillionaire in Florida real estate. Additionally Jeb was State Secretary of Commerce. Father George stated that there was no question that Jeb would become a major political figure. “But what about George?” someone asked. “Oh,” came the reply, “he’s the family clown.”

After being defeated by Bill Clinton in 1992, Father George tearfully retired from politics. Jeb, who was now positioned in a run for governor of Florida, was startled to learn that brother George was himself considering a run for governor of Texas. Both his father and mother encouraged Jeb to run, but warned G.W. not to even try.

Mother Barbara stated that he couldn’t win and told the press, “Jeb is more like his father, if truth be known.” Since Jeb showed more signs of winning, George and Barbara spent twice as much time fund-raising in Florida than in Texas. The family simply assumed Jeb would win and George would lose. But in 1994, Jeb went down in defeat and George, the born-again family clown won. When Father George called to congratulate him, his father, albeit, was not as happy for his first son as he was overwhelmed with grief over Jeb’s loss.

The final victory came in 2001 when G.W. became the forty-third president of the United States. After the inauguration, he entered the Oval Office for the first time. As he looked around, he heard footsteps outside the door. In a breaking voice his father walked in and announced, “Mr. President.” The son shot back, “Mr. President.” The men wept as they embraced.

Then in a further signal that he was his own man, the new president moved his father’s desk out and asked the staff to bring in J.F.K.’s desk.

At Kennebunkport, Maine, that summer, in a grand and dramatic move, Father George stood up and offered his president son the seat of honor at the head of the table. It was a moment of grand symbolism in a family bound by its traditions.

Inasmuch as Father George adored Prescott—his own highly accomplished father—he himself was even more powerful and accomplished. But it was George Junior, the Bush who seemed to hold no promise, who surprised everyone. Not only was he elected president once, but twice! In many respects he turned out to be more superior and more highly evolved than all three of the Bush men.

Although George Junior was a poor public speaker and lacked his father’s gift for building networks, he was nonetheless an excellent strategist with ruthless self-discipline. He had worked unnoticed for years in street level campaigns for a number of politicians, as well as working in virtually all of his father’s campaigns. There he quietly learned and honed his political skills. But, what no one knew was that during all of that time he was nervously coiled and ready to strike when his moment came. And when it did, G.W. went from ground level to millionaire, to governor and then to president in only ten years!

“I’m the black sheep of the family,” he once told Queen Elizabeth. But no longer. He was now the leader of the free world and, perhaps even more significantly, he had been offered the seat at the head of the Kennebunkport table.

The End

All the information came from the book, “The Raising of a President” written by New York Times bestselling author, Doug Wead.