the 43rd President of the USA and son of a lifelong intelligence operative, George (H. W.) Bush Sr., the 41st US President. He was sent to Yale university where (like his father and grandfather) he became a member of the Skull and Bones society. He went to Harvard Business school, but showed little aptitude for business. George W. was in a primary school in Florida when 9/11 occurred, and after being informed that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, he continued to read a story to the class of primary children. He followed 9/11 by flying the Bin Laden family home when no other planes were allowed to fly, declared a phony War on Terror”, created a false WMD story to support the Iraq War at a cost of trillions of dollars and millions of lives.
George W. Bush wasn’t born a cowboy. He entered the world in New Haven, Connecticut, hallowed hamlet of Yale. His bloodlines include two presidents and a US senator. The cowboy act came later, when he was famously re-birthed, with spurs on his boots, tea in his cup and the philosophical tracts of Jesus of Nazareth on his night table. Bush is a pure-blooded WASP, sired by a man who would later become the nation’s chief spook, a man frequently called upon to clean up the messes left by apex crooks in his own political party, including his own entanglements (and those of his sons) with the more noirish aspects of life. His grandfather was a US senator and Wall Street lawyer, who shamelessly represented American corporations as they did business with the Nazi death machine. Old Prescott narrowly escaped charges of treason. But those were different times, when trading with the enemy was viewed as, at the very least, unseemly.
His mother, Barbara, is a bitter and grouchy gorgon, who must have frightened her own offspring as they first focused their filmy eyes onto her stern visage. She is a Pierce, a descendent of Franklin, the famously incompetent president, patron of Nathaniel Hawthorne and avowed racist, who joined in a bizarre cabal to overthrow Abraham Lincoln. (For more on this long neglected episode in American history check out Charles Higham’s excellent new book Murdering Mr. Lincoln.)
Understandably, George Sr. spent much of his time far away from Barbara Bush’s icy boudoir, indulging in a discreet fling or two while earning his stripes as a master of the empire, leaving juvenile George to cower under the unstinting commands of his cruel mother, who his younger brother Jeb dubbed “the Enforcer.” This woman’s veins pulse with glacial melt. According to Neil Bush, his mother was devoted to corporal punishment and would “slap around” the Bush children. She was known in the family as “the one who instills fear.” She still does…with a global reach.
How wicked is Barbara Bush? Well, she refused to attend her own mother’s funeral. And the day after her five-year old daughter Robin died of leukemia Barbara Bush was in a jolly enough mood to spend the afternoon on the golf course. Revealingly, Mrs. Bush kept Robin’s terminal illness a secret from young George, a stupid and cruel move which provided one of the early warps to his psyche.
Her loathsome demeanor hasn’t lightened much over the years. Refresh you memory with this quote on Good Morning America, dismissing the escalating body count of American soldiers in Iraq. “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many,” the Presidential Mother snapped. “It’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”
Even Freud might have struggled with this case study. Imagine young George the Hysteric on Siggy’s couch in the curtained room on Berggasse 19. The analysand doesn’t enunciate; he mumbles and sputters in non-sequential sentence fragments. His quavering voice a whiny singsong. The fantasy has to be teased out. It’s grueling work. But finally Freud puts it all together. This lad doesn’t want to fuck his mother. Not this harridan. Not this boy. He wants to kill her and chuckle in triumph over the corpse. Oh, dear. This doesn’t fit the Oedipal Complex, per se. But it explains so much of George the Younger’s subsequent behavior. (See his cold-blooded chuckling over the state murder of Karla Faye Tucker.)
Perhaps, Freud isn’t the right shrink for Bush, after all. Maybe the president’s pathology is better understood through the lens of Freud’s most gifted and troubled protégé, Wilhelm Reich. (I commend to your attention Dr. Reich’s neglected masterpiece Listen, Little Man.) Sadly, we cannot avail ourselves of psychological exegises of either Freud or Reich. So Justin Frank, the disciple of Melanie Klein, will have to substitute. In the spirit of his mentor, Frank, author of Bush on the Couch, zeroes in on the crucial first five years of W’s existence, where three factors loom over all others: an early trauma, an absent father and an abusive mother. It is a recipe for the making of a dissociated megalomaniac. Add in a learning disability (dyslexia) and a brain bruised by booze and coke and you have a pretty vivid portrait of the Bush psyche.
With this stern upbringing, is it really surprising that Bush evidenced early signs of sadism? As a teenager he jammed firecrackers in the orifices of frogs and snickered as he blew them to bits. A few years later, as president of the DKE frathouse at Yale, Bush instituted a branding on the ass-crack as an initiation ritual. Young pledges were seared with a red-hot wire clothes hanger. One victim complained to the New Haven police, who raided the frathouse. The story was covered-up for several decades until it surfaced in Bush’s first run for governor of Texas. He laughed at the allegations, writing the torture off as little more than “a cigarette burn.” From Andover to Abu Ghraib.
In his teens, this man child was shoved into a distant boarding school. It must have been a relief for him. The squirrely adolescent with the pointy ears did just enough to get by. At Andover they called him “Bushtail.” Ambition wasn’t his thing. And he didn’t have the athletic talent or thespian skills to do much more than play the role of class goof. So he went on to an undistinguished academic career, highlighted only by his ebullient performances as a cheerleader and a reputation for selling fake IDs. Even in his youth he was adept at forgery.
George the Younger snuck into Yale on a legacy admission, a courtesy to his father and grandfather. He was a remedial student at best, awarded a bevy of Cs, the lowest score possible for the legacy cohort. Repositories like Andover and Yale know what to do with the dim children of the elite. George nestled in his niche. No demands were made of him. He spent much his time acquainting himself with a menu of designer inebrients. He was arrested twice. Once for petty theft. Once for public drunkenness. No one cared.
When Vietnam loomed, Lil’ George fled to New Haven for Houston and the safe harbor of the Texas Air National Guard, then jokingly known as Air Canada–a domestic safe-haven for the combat-averse children of the political elite. It was a deftly executed dodge. His father pulled some strings. Escape hatches opened. The scions of the ruling class, even the half-wits, weren’t meant to be eviscerated in the rice paddies of the Mekong–that’s why they freed the slaves.
But soon George grew bored of the weekend warrior routine. And who among us wouldn’t? He slunk off to Alabama, and promptly went AWOL for a year and a half. Nobody seemed to miss him. He wasn’t a crucial cog in anyone’s machine. George? George Bush??
How did the president-in-training fritter away those idle days? Supposedly he was lending his expertise to the congressional campaign of Winton “Red” Blount. But he apparently soon went AWOL from this assignment as well. Other campaign staffers recall young George ambling into the campaign office in the late afternoon, propping his cowboy booted heals on a desk and recounting his nocturnal revels in the bars, strip joints and waterbeds of Montgomery. The other staffers took to calling him the “Texas Soufflé.”. As one recalled, “Bush was all puffed up and full of hot air.”
Precisely, how did he wile away those humid nights on the Gulf Coast? According to the intrepid Larry Flynt, he spent part of his time impregnating his girlfriend and, like a true southern gentleman, then escorting her to an abortion clinic. Checkbook birth control, the tried and true method of the ruling classes. A year later, according to Bush biographer J.H. Hatfield, George W. got popped in Texas on cocaine possession charges. The old man intervened once again; George diverted for six months of community service a Project PULL in a black area of Houston and the incident was scrubbed from the police blotter and court records. Today, Bush denies all knowledge of those squalid indiscretions. Just two more lost weekends in George’s blurry book of days.
Speaking of cocaine, Bush, by many accounts, had more than a passing familiarity with the powder. Several acquaintances from his days at Yale tell us that Bush not only snorted cocaine, but sold it. Not by the spoonful, but by the ounce bag, a quantity that would land any black or Latino dealer in the pen for at least a decade. Young Bushtail had become the Snow Bird of New Haven.
Even the Bush family, so smugly self-conscious of its public image, didn’t seem to care much. Jr wasn’t the star child. They just wanted him alive and out of jail. (The habitual drunk driving was already a nagging problem. On a December night in 1973, George came up from Houston to visit his family in DC. He took his younger brother Marvin out drinking in the bars of Georgetown. Returning home after midnight, Bush, drunk at the wheel, careened down the road, toppling garbage cans. When he pulled into the driveway, he was confronted by his father. Young Bush threatened to pummel his old man, mano-a-mano. Jeb intervened before young George could be humilated by his father. A couple of years later, the drunk driving would later land him in the drunk tank of a Maine jail-his fourth arrest.) No need to plump up his resumé with medals or valedictory speeches. Anyway back then, the inside money was riding on Neil, who they said had a head for figures, or perhaps young Jeb, whose gregarious looks hid a real mean streak. (Neil, of course, came to ruin in the looting of the Silvarado Savings and Loan (though he deftly avoided jail time), while Jeb proved his utility in Florida and amplified his presidential ambitions.)
By all accounts, the family elders saw George as a pathetic case, as goofy as a black lab. They got him out of the National Guard eight months early (or 20 months, if you insist on counting the Lost Year) and sent him off to Harvard Business School. He didn’t have the grades to merit admission, but bloodlines are so much more important than GPA when it comes to prowling the halls at the Ivy League. The original affirmative action, immune from any judicial meddling. In Cambridge, he strutted around in his flight jacket and chewed tobacco in class. The sound of Bushtail spitting the sour juice into a cup punctuated many a lecture on the surplus value theory. At Harvard, one colleague quipped that Bush majored in advanced party planning and the arcana of money laundering. George met every expectation.
Then came the dark years. Booze, drugs, cavorting and bankruptcy in dreary west Texas. There he also met Laura Welch, the steamy librarian who had slain her own ex-boyfriend, by speeding through a stop sign and plowing broadside into his car with a lethal fury. (Rep. Bill Janklow got 100 days in the pen for a similar crime; Laura wasn’t even charged.) They mated, married, raised fun-loving twins. In 1978, George decided to run for congress. His opponent cast him as carpetbagger with an Ivy League education. It worked. And it didn’t help his chances much that Bush apparently was drunk much of time. After one drunken stump speech, Laura gave him a tongue lashing on the ride home. Bush got so irate that he drove the car through the garage door. He lost big.
Eventually, Laura got George to quit the booze–though the librarian never got him to read. It wasn’t a moral thing for her. Laura still imbibes herself, even around her husband. She smokes, too. Refreshingly, so do the Bush Twins, who have both been popped for underage drinking.
George was Laura’s ticket out of the dusty doldrums of west Texas. She sobered him up and rode him hard all the way to Dallas, Austin and beyond. “Oh, that Welch girl,” recalled a retired librarian in Midland. “She got around.” Wink, wink.
If the son of a millionaire political powerbroker can’t make it in Midland, Texas, he can’t make it anywhere. George was set up in his own oil company in the heart of the Permian Basin. His two starter companies, Bush Exploration and Arbusto, promptly went bust, hemorraghing millions of dollars. His father’s cronies in a group called Spectrum 7 picked up the pieces. It flatlined too. A new group of savoirs in the form of Harken Oil swooped in. Ditto. Yet in the end, George walked away from the wreckage of Harkin Oil with a few million in his pocket. One of the investors in Harken was George Soros, who explained the bail out of Bush in frank terms. “We were buying political influence. That was it. Bush wasn’t much of a businessman.”
Flush with unearned cash, George and Laura hightailed it to Arlington, the Dallas suburb, soon to be the new home of the Texas Rangers, perennial also rans in the American League. Bush served as front man for a flotilla of investors, backed by the Bass brothers and other oil and real estate luminaries, who bought the Rangers and then bullied the city of Arlington into building a posh new stadium for the team with $200 million in public money, raised through a tax hike, for which Bush, the apostle of tax-cuts for the rich, sedulously lobbied. Here’s a lesson in the art of political larceny. The super-rich always get their way. When taxes are raised, public money is sluiced upward to the politically connected. When taxes are cut, the money ends up in the same accounts. As William Burrough’s hero Jack Black (the hobo writer, not the rotund actor) prophesied, you can’t win.
The Rangers deal was never about building a competitive baseball team for the people of Dallas/Ft. Worth. No. The Bush group seduced the city into building a stadium with nearly all the proceeds going straight into their pockets. It was a high level grifter’s game, right out of a novel by Jim Thompson, the grand master of Texas noir. Bush played his bit part as affable con man ably enough. Even though he only plunked down $600,000 of his own cash, he walked away from the deal with $14.7 million-a staggering swindle that made Hillary Clintons’s windfalls in the cattle future’s market look like chump change.
As team president, Bush printed up baseball cards with his photo on them in Ranger attire, endulging his life-long fetish for dress-up fantasies. He would hand out the Bush cards during home game. Invariably, the cards would be found littering the floors of the latrines, soaked in beer and piss.
George W. Bush came to office in 2001 through a Supreme Court decision following a contested plurality of 537 votes in Florida, and his defeat by over half a million votes in the popular election. Most Americans know how narrow the vote was in Florida, but not why.
Five months before the election, George Bush’s brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, had 57,700 people purged from the voter rolls—ostensibly for being convicted felons, who were not allowed by Florida law to vote. As it turns out, over 90% of the voters on the hit list were not felons at all. Some of their supposed felonies were actually dated in the future. It was an overwhelmingly Democratic list of voters—over half blacks and Hispanics. Had these citizens not been prevented from voting, Al Gore would have been elected President of the United States.³
With six years in public office as Governor of Texas, Bush was new to foreign affairs, as evidenced by an interview during the campaign in which he could not identify a number of leaders of major countries. But savvy political handler Karl Rove knew that Bush’s surplus of style could make up for his deficit of substance with many American voters. Rove groomed Bush’s image as a Washington outsider (though a Yale-educated President’s son), born again Christian, and down home cowboy.
The cowboy image required a “ranch,” a la Reagan, so in the year before the 2000 election, Bush purchased one in Crawford, Texas. Although no actual ranching ever went on there, the President busied himself clearing brush and riding his mountain bike around the property. He liked his “ranch” so much that he spent a greater percentage of his time on vacation than any President in American history.4
But then, George W. Bush had many cares of the office to escape. While at the ranch on a six week vacation in August, 2001, he received a memo from Condoleeza Rice entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”
That’s what happened a few weeks later on September 11 —apparently after no special effort by the White House to step up protection against the hijackings that were being predicted by intelligence reports. Several days after the attacks, when U.S. air space was still closed, Bush authorized special flights back to Saudi Arabia for Osama bin Laden’s relatives and other wealthy Saudis, “for their safety.” The White House then vigorously fought creation of the 9-11 commission, which Bush and Cheney finally testified before together (try that at your local police station). With 14 of the 18 hijackers from Saudi Arabia, the administration redacted multiple pages of the commission’s report on Saudi involvement in the attack.
Although US President at the time of the attacks and although he used the event as an excuse for a lot of blustering later on, George W. Bush appears not to been deliberately sidelined during the 9-11 event, notwithstanding the suggestions (for example, by Mark Gorton) that 9/11 was planned by his father). George W. was in a primary school in Florida when the events occurred, and after being informed that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, “he does not even turns his head, it is obvious he knew what was up, if he were really surprised his first reaction would have been to look in the eyes of the person whispering to him”. Bush continued to read a story about a goat to the class of primary children, reportedly because he didn’t want to upset them. The US Secret Service also apparently saw no problem with leaving him where he was, strongly suggesting that they did not perceive the events of that day as a threat. Bush appears therefore to have been kept out of the way and out of the loop by his handlers.
Four years later, while on another extended vacation at the “ranch,” Bush was briefed on the destruction about to be unleashed on the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, including the likelihood that levies in New Orleans would be breached. In the videotaped meeting, Bush asked no questions. He then flew to California to raise money for Republican candidates.
The man he left in charge, his politically appointed director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, was woefully unprepared to handle the disaster that ensued when the levies broke and New Orleans flooded. (The only thing he’d managed before the FEMA job was Arabian horse shows.)
In between 9-11 and Katrina, Bush’s “War on Terror” lost track of Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and turned its attention to invading Iraq. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was imperative, Bush said, because (a) he had weapons of mass destruction, (b) was linked to Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the U.S. on 9/11, and (c) needed to be removed to make that country safe for democracy. All of the reasons given for the war were soon discredited by real events, but Bush dug America in for the long haul, saying that “future Presidents” would decide when we’d leave Iraq.
After all, there was much to be gained by staying. Halliburton, the firm formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, was one of the biggest beneficiaries, gaining multi-billion dollar contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as America’s ravaged gulf coast, by sealed, noncompetitive bids. In gratitude, in 2007 the company moved its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai, thereby avoiding U.S. taxes.
Other Bush scandals include: the secret meetings of Cheney’s “Energy Council,” followed by systematic weakening of America’s environmental laws and staffing of the EPA and other agencies with industry insiders, the attempt to dismantle Social Security, the dumbing down of American education through No Child Left Behind, an inherited budget surplus turned into record deficit by waging two wars while cutting taxes–with the vast majority of benefits going to the super-rich, the torture of prisoners and loss of American goodwill overseas, the bullying of administration whistle blowers such as Joseph Wilson (whose wife was outted as a CIA agent), another tainted election with Ohio voting irregularities in 2004, the arrest of White House appointees for assorted crimes, the mistreatment of returning war veterans at Walter Reed and other hospitals, and for a grand finale, a leading role in the collapse of the economy through its aggressive deregulation and non-policing of the financial markets.
With so much bad news for Americans to handle over eight years of corruption and incompetence, Karl Rove and other White House insiders took to calling any favorable news events that could help people forget bad news as “page turners.” Historians may well judge the Bush scandals as more extensive than any that disgraced Grant, Harding, Nixon, or any other American president, due to their sheer scale. He ranks 39th out of 43 presidents in the Siena Institute’s survey of 238 presidential scholars released in July, 2010.
Bush was found guilty of war crimes, including the authorization of torture, which is illegal under the United Nations Convention Against Torture which the USA has ratified. Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak has given expert opinion that Bush has no immunity as a former head of state. US attorney Vincent Bugliosi, forcefully argued in his 2008 book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder that since Bush intentionally misled Congress and the US population about the reasons for invading Iraq, under the felony-murder rule the deaths of over 4,000 American soldiers and 100,000 Iraqi civilians amount at the very least to second-degree murder. Bugliosi has argued for Bush’s impeachment and offered to work with any US State’s Attorney General interested in pursuing the prosecution.
Bush was tried in absentia and convicted by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission both for crimes against peace and conspiracy to commit war crimes, specifically torture, after the Iraq War and torture carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. No sentence was pronounced, but the tribunal referred their findings to the chief prosecutor at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Chronological History of Events Involving George W Bush
State Funeral of President George HW Bush at the National Cathedral in Washington DC and the Envelope Affair: A Trump / Bush Truce?
A Report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy Analyzes News Coverage of President Trump’s First 100 Days
The People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War: A Grassroots Tribunal Exposing the Lies and Crimes of the Iraq War