The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty,
by Kitty Kelley
(Click for Amazon book review)
Massscorecard.org BOOK REVIEW:
This is a joint biography of President George H. W. Bush Sr., and his son President George W. Bush Jr. It's also a briefer biography of Governor Jeb Bush (George W.'s brother) and Senator Prescott Bush (George H.'s father).
Of primary importance in understanding this biography is the author -- Kitty Kelley, who was also the biographer for Jackie Onassis, Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra, and her other famous joint biography of the British royal family. In particular, Nancy Reagan told the Bush family to NOT participate with Kitty Kelley, because Kelley had some negative things to say about Nancy Reagan. Kelley has many, many negative things to say about the Bush family --perhaps more so because they listened to Nancy Reagan and forced Kelley to write an unauthorized biography.
Kelley digs up a lot of dirt about the senior President Bush in this book. (She digs up a lot of dirt about the junior President Bush too, but most of that dirt was already well-known.) For the senior President Bush, Kelley digs back to the 1960s, when Bush Sr. ran for Congress and the Senate in Texas.
At issue was that Bush was a "progressive Republican" in the mold of other Republican New Englanders like Sen. Olympia Snowe (R, ME) and Gov. Linc Chafee (R, RI). When Bush moved from New England to Texas, he had to change some of his stances in order to be eligible for high office -- in particular on civil rights, contraception, and other social issues. Then when he ran as Reagan's Vice President in 1990, he had to change his stances again, to fit better with Reagan.
Kelley undertakes the clean method of digging up Bush's issue stances from old elections and comparing them to his current stances -- that's real reporting, not gossip and not attacking. Readers might know Kitty Kelley from her past at People magazine and other gossip-focused reporting -- and hence might (incorrectly) assume that this is a gossip-oriented biography. Kelley does summarize the gossip of the day -- about Bush Senior's "girlfriend" while in office (never fully substantiated) and Bush Junior's well-known peccadilloes as well. But the real reporting vastly overwhelms the gossip -- Kelley establishes herself as a serious biographer and a serious political reporter.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, Massscorecard.org, April 2012
| Massscorecard.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
George Bush Sr.: 1950: Father lost for CT Senate due to Birth Control League.
George Bush Sr.: 1970: Introduced Family Planning Services Act.
George Bush Sr.: 1980: Supported Equal Rights Amendment, but not as V.P.
George Bush Sr.: 1964: Advocated states' rights over Civil Rights Act.
Dan Quayle: 1989: Misquoted United Negro College Fund's slogan.
George Bush Sr.: 1990: Signed Americans with Disabilities Act.
George Bush Sr.: 1959 home carried a restrictive racial covenant.
George Bush Sr.: 1963: Civil Rights Bill violates constitutional rights.
George Bush Sr.: 1983: Debated Geraldine Ferraro; "We kicked a little ass".
George Bush Sr.: No professional women on Bush staff, nor in Bush family.
George Bush Sr.: 1990: vetoed Civil Rights Act & voter registration bill.
George Bush Sr.: Signed 1991 Voting Rights Act after 1990 veto.
Jeb Bush: 1981: Left Houston based on prejudice against Mexican wife.
George Bush Sr.: 1988: "Willie Horton" TV ads attacked furlough program.
Jeb Bush: I'm a hang-'em-by-the-neck conservative.
George Bush Sr.: 1989: Convicted Panamanian dictator in drug trafficking.
George W. Bush: Never denied using illegal drugs, just "hard drugs".
George Bush Sr.: 1980: As Reagan's V.P., supported school prayer.
Energy & Oil|
George Bush Sr.: 1948: Moved to Texas to make fortune in oil fields.
George Bush Sr.: 1956: Deregulation encourages more natural gas exploration.
George Bush Sr.: 1950s goal: financial success in oil; then politics.
George Bush Sr.: Became UN Ambassador after campaigning against UN.
George Bush Sr.: 1971: Argued for dual UN representation for China & Taiwan.
George Bush Sr.: US gives Israel $1,000 for every Israeli citizen.
George Bush Sr.: 1987: Visited concentration camps in Poland.
George Bush Sr.: 1980s: Secretly assisted airlifting Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
Gerald Ford: 1986: Iran-Contra covert operation deserves condemnation.
Jeb Bush: 1990: Defended anti-Castro terrorist as patriot in exile.
Jimmy Carter: 1986 Iran-Contra paid ransom for kidnapped hostages.
Ronald Reagan: Nicaraguan Contras: moral equal of our Founding Fathers.
Ronald Reagan: 1986: Angered Jewish groups by visiting Nazi cemetery.
Clarence Thomas: Opposed the Voting Rights Act & affirmative action.
George Bush Sr.: 1967: Fundraising not necessarily corrupt; misuse is.
George Bush Sr.: GOP county chair, 1962; redistricted for Congress, 1964.
George Bush Sr.: 1976: Appointed CIA Director by Pres. Ford.
George W. Bush: 2001: Blocked release of father's presidential documents.
George Bush Sr.: 1995: Ripped up NRA card for calling feds jack-booted thugs.
Ronald Reagan: I'm an NRA member & I support the Brady Bill.
George Bush Sr.: 1964: Medicare is socialized medicine.
Dick Gephardt: 1989: Dance on the Berlin Wall with joy that it fell.
George Bush Sr.: 1983: tie breaking vote to being producing nerve gas.
George Bush Sr.: 1986: Changed US policy for Iran arms-for-hostages deal.
George Bush Sr.: 1989: "Very pleased" that the Berlin Wall fell.
Ronald Reagan: 1983: Introduced & pushed through bill to produce nerve gas.
Principles & Values|
George Bush Sr.: 1953: Daughter Robin died of childhood cancer.
Bob Dole: 1988: Attacked in TV ads as "Senator Straddle".
Dan Quayle: 1988: Why VP? young, Midwestern, and good on defense.
Dan Quayle: 1988 V.P. debate opponent: "You're no Jack Kennedy".
George Bush Sr.: 1968: Sought V.P. slot; became Nixon appointee instead.
George Bush Sr.: Donates annually to Yale Skull and Bones chapter.
George Bush Sr.: 1972: Appointed chair of the Republican National Committee.
George Bush Sr.: 1980: We've got the momentum; we've got the Big Mo.
George Bush Sr.: OpEd: One vice presidential secretary was Bush's mistress.
George Bush Sr.: 1981: Denied rumors of "George and his girlfriend".
George Bush Sr.: OpEd: Maintained calm in 1981 Reagan assassination attempt.
George Bush Sr.: 1988 diary: I blew it by deciding on Dan Quayle for V.P.
George Bush Sr.: 1989: 1st Lady's "Millie's Book" was #1 bestseller.
George Bush Sr.: I'm President now and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli.
George W. Bush: Mother related to 14th president Franklin Pierce.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 1989: First Cuban-American elected to Congress.
Jeb Bush: 1967: Repeated the 9th grade at Andover Prep School.
Jeb Bush: Married high school sweetheart, exchange student from Mexico.
Richard Nixon: 1952 Checkers speech: a "respectable Republican cloth coat".
Richard Nixon: 1974: Watergate tapes had deliberate 18-minute gap.
Ronald Reagan: OpEd: Had a message, and delivered it masterfully.
Ronald Reagan: 1981 assassin Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity.
Ronald Reagan: Hid seriousness of 1981 assassination attempt.
George Bush Sr.: Cut capital gains tax on those earning over $200K per year.
War & Peace|
George Bush Sr.: 1990: Misled Saudis that Saddam massed troops on border.
George Bush Sr.: 1964: Any and all weapons in Vietnam, including nukes.
Jimmy Carter: 1990: Urged UN Security Council against use of force in Iraq.
Colin Powell: Politicians' sons in Guard is raw class discrimination.
George Bush Sr.: 1942: Enlisted as naval aviator upon high school graduation.
George Bush Sr.: 1944: Two crewmates killed while piloting bombing mission.
George Bush Sr.: 2003: Invasion of Iraq undid a lifetime of work.
George Bush Sr.: 1968: Vietnam War is moral; South Vietnam will triumph.
George Bush Sr.: 1987: I oppose creation of an independent Palestine.
George W. Bush: Enlisted in Texas Air National Guard in 1968.
Jeb Bush: 1972: considered conscientious objector status.
Ronald Reagan: WWII Army Air Force captain in motion-picture unit.
Ronald Reagan: 1988: Opposed ousting Panamanian dictator Noriega by force.
Welfare & Poverty|
George Bush Sr.: 1968: Supported open housing (against racial discrimination).
George Bush Sr.: 1964: Opposed War on Poverty.
The above quotations are from The Family
The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty,
by Kitty Kelley.
Biographies of past presidents:
- President George W. Bush
- Decision Points, by George W. Bush
- A Charge to Keep, by George W. Bush
- President Bill Clinton
- Back to Work, by Pres. Bill Clinton
- The Agenda, by Bob Woodward
- President George H. W. Bush
- All the Best, My Life in Letters, by George Bush Sr.
- The Family, (the Bushes) by Kitty Kelley
- William & Mary Environmental Law Review, by Cameron Lynch
- President Ronald Reagan
- Dutch, a Memoir of Ronald Reagan, by Edmund Morris
- Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation, by Pres. Ronald Reagan
- President Jimmy Carter
- An Hour Before Daylight, by Jimmy Carter
- Jimmy Who?: biography of Jimmy Carter
- President Gerald Ford
- Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate,by Bob Woodward
- A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford
- President Richard Nixon
- Seize the Moment, by Richard Nixon
- The Watergate Transcripts, by The Washington Post