The Bush power family

The Big Story of the November election was the emergence of the Bush Power Family. Yes, much of it was already in place. George had been president; George W. was already a Texas governor. But with the election came the addition of Jeb as governor in Florida - plus what now has become the nearly certain prospect that George W. will run for president. With all that now on the horizon one can put together the possibility of two Bush presidents, father and then son.

Anyway, should that happen, this country would be treated to the first father and son presidents since John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

Yes, there are a lot of "ifs" there. But with Jeb at his side, his father and mother rooting for him, and an impressive record as governor, George W. is the clear favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination. And who can say that this formidable Bush team couldn't beat Al Gore - or whoever the Democratic opponent would be - in the final run for the White House?

A fantasy scenario, you say?

Well, what about a former president having a son who is governor of the second largest electoral-vote state and another son the governor of the fourth largest electoral-vote state? Who would have ever thought that could happen?

Indeed, someone could even dare to say the Bushes might sometime be able to say that they have accomplished more politically than the Kennedys who had a president and two senators - but not two presidents. But, no, the Kennedys, with the assassinations and Camelot, will remain in a category all their own.

I was in on the very beginning of what could become something that looks like a Bush political dynasty. I was visiting a World War II buddy of mine in Houston back in the early 1960s, and just before I left he said he'd like me to meet "someone who is going places in politics" who lived just down the street. My friend made a phone call and shortly thereafter I was knocking on the door of a youngish George Bush, who greeted me warmly as he ushered me into the living room of his unpretentious home.

This son of a US senator, Prescott S. Bush, had come to Texas after World War II and put together a successful career in the oil industry.

"Yes," he said to me, he was toying with the idea of going into politics. We talked for at least an hour and, before I left, it was clear to me that Bush was going to run for Congress. And that's what I wrote.

Years later, when Bush had become vice president under Ronald Reagan and I was interviewing him, he playfully poked me and said that article in the Monitor was the first public disclosure of his intention to go after a congressional seat.

Bush's four years in the presidency has not received acclaim from historians. But he may do better when the long view of history focuses on his record. Brent Scowcroft, Bush's national security adviser, met with Monitor breakfasters the other morning and, as one might expect, gave his old boss a high rating, particularly in his handling of foreign affairs. Mr. Scowcroft underscored Bush's decisiveness in dealing with Iraq.

What kind of a president would George W. be? I met both George W. and brother Jeb when they were just young fellows, hanging around the vice president's home. I remembered they liked to josh. And they laughed a lot. I thought here were a couple of "good kids"; but I can't say that I was perceptive enough to discern any "presidential material" there at that time.

Both Bushes call themselves "compassionate conservatives." That seems to mean that they can somehow remain conservative but at the same time reach out to groups that usually vote Democratic. The election results show they did attract a substantial number of votes from minorities in their governor victories. Could George W. do it in a presidential race? That's the big question.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.