February 24th, 2006

Bush Family Values

by Philip Baruth

Listening to George W. Bush is nearly always an enlightening experience. That enlightenment is almost never intentional on Bush’s part, of course, but it’s the best that can be managed under the circumstances.

Today Bush attempted to quiet the furor over the Dubai Ports World deal:bush

“The more people learn about the transaction that has been scrutinized and approved by my government,” Bush said, “the more they’ll be comforted that our ports will be secure.”

Maybe it’s picking nits, but the last I heard it was our government, all of us collectively. Bush had an administration, at the head of the executive branch of our government, but that was supposed to be it.

But let that go for a second. For me the central conundrum of the Dubai Debacle is this: Bush seemed suddenly livid, not that the deal would be scrapped, but that it might be marginally postponed, for a few weeks, while Republicans in Congress made an appearance of doing due diligence. The threat of a mere postponement was enough to elicit a nasty veto threat.

Only three things make Bush that angry that fast: 1) A threat to his re-election, 2) a threat to his family, and 3) a threat to his wallet. Given that re-election is no longer among the options, that leaves #2 and #3. And wouldn’t you just know it: here comes CNN with a well-researched segment arguing that it’s actually both — a threat to the family’s wallet.

“CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT [voice over]: The oil-rich United Arab Emirates is a major investor in The Carlyle Group, the private equity investment firm where President Bush’s father once served as senior adviser and is a who’s who of former high-level government officials. Just last year, Dubai International Capital, a government-backed buyout firm, invested in an $8 billion Carlyle fund.

“Another family connection, the president’s brother, Neil Bush, has reportedly received funding for his educational software company from the UAE investors. A call to his company was not returned.”

Suddenly Bush’s pugnacity makes a certain low-rent sense — as does his ditching the standard rhetoric about security and evil-doers, and talking suddenly and indignantly about people that “work hard and play by the rules” and shouldn’t be penalized.

He wasn’t talking about DPW, or the United Arab Emirates. He was talking about Dad and Neil. People want to keep them from making tidy new piles of money. And that makes W. angry.

And brother Jeb too: he came out with his own statement in favor of the Dubai deal yesterday.

Bush Senior has taught them all well, the whole sprawling, rapacious extended Bush clan.

“The parents are a child’s first teacher; the home a child’s first classroom,” his son George wrote in his 1999 campaign autobiography A Charge to Keep.

Truer word never spoken.