A shambling account of the Bush family’s ascent to political prominence.
Hoover Institute fellow Peter (Reagan’s War, 2002, etc.) and media-consultant coauthor Rochelle Schweizer promote this as “the untold story of the remarkable rise of America’s most powerful family.” Fortunately, that’s not so; Kevin Phillips does the same work, and vastly better, in American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush (Jan. 2004). The authors portray the latter-day Bushes as a political clan that would do medieval Scotland proud, full of closely guarded secrets, walled off to outsiders, and shy of attracting attention (“the Bushes . . . have a disinterest [sic] in publicity because they consider themselves to be the ‘un-Kennedys’ ”)—very much like most other rich, powerful families, in other words. The authors trade in categorical statements that seldom hold up under scrutiny from one page to the next: “the Bushes by and large don’t believe in love at first sight,” they aver, before going on to describe Poppy and Bar’s, and later Dubya and Laura’s, whirlwind romances, textbook examples of, well, love at first sight. The Schweizers offer one useful thought: that the Bushes represent a model of devolution, or “inverse social climbing,” at work, with each generation becoming less patrician and cultured than its predecessor, a downward spiral from Wall Street to WalMart. Otherwise, this work is remarkably short on ideas, delving mostly into People magazine territory, whether writing of Laura’s bookishness (“she had a massive collection of books . . . and enjoyed thought-provoking literature like Dostoyevski’s Brothers Karamazov”), Dubya’s affability (“His ability to befriend his political opposites carried over from Austin”), or the clan’s making hay in whatever sun happens to be shining (“perhaps what separates them most from other political families is there [sic] sheer ability to adapt”).
Exclusively for true believers. But even then . . .