FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Handling the Bush Family’s Baggage

Nowadays, it’s awfully expensive to get all your baggage onto an airliner.

Unless your name is Bush and the plane is Air Force One.

In fact, the mainstream media has a long history of bending over backwards to help handle the Bush family’s substantial pile of baggage. Like a team of personal skycaps, they’ve dutifully stored it in the deep, dark memory hole we call “the past.”

Perhaps that is why Jeb “the Smart One” Bush expressed the utmost confidence that, despite a rather disastrous eight years under Brother George, he wouldn’t be weighed down by the Bush name if or when he makes a run at the White House.

No doubt, Jeb is counting on the media to handle the baggage.

His brother slid right by the media’s security checkpoint in 2000. Drug abuse, de facto draft evasion, National Guard hi-jinx, connections to the Bin Laden family, unbelievable financial “luck” from a failed business, bogus education reform…you name it, the media glossed over it.

Nothing seemed to stick in 2004, either. The only carry-on allowed by the gatekeepers was George’s proclamation that he answered to a “higher father,” which wasn’t really considered “baggage” by his God-fearing base of support in Red State America.

But those were just George’s “personal belongings.”

The family’s brimming baggage cart didn’t impede his ascent, nor has it troubled those who came before him.

Long-serving Senator Prescott Bush suffered no ill-effects for his role in the Union Banking Corporation, which was hit by Henry Morgenthau in 1942 for violating the Trading with the Enemy Act.

His son, the weepy, genial patriarch of the Bush clan—GHW “Poppy” Bush—never seemed weighed down by his own long, strange trip through the Cold War. Poppy is the Whack-a-Mole of post-WWII fun and games. His name “pops up” in the Bay of Pigs, the United Fruit Company, the Kennedy assassination and the assassination of Orlando Letelier, Watergate, the October Surprise, Iran-Contra, a POW-MIA cover-up, the illegal arming of Saddam’s Iraq and, most telling of all, as CIA director for less than a year.

In 1988, “the Company” broke with its “do not confirm or deny” policy to vociferously deny Poppy was ever a spook. Oddly enough, CIA headquarters in Langley would eventually be re-named “The George Bush Center for Intelligence.”

No one questioned it. Go figure.

This is exactly why it made sense for Jeb Bush to begin his nascent run for president at the Reagan Library. Really, that “library” is America’s ultimate baggage carousel. We wait and wait for the hard truths and bitter realities of Reagan’s Presidency to pop up. But, like a bad airline experience, the carousel just spins and spins—and the baggage is never delivered.

Yet, people keep on buying tickets on “Air Ronnie.”

Like the re-naming of CIA headquarters, perhaps it is no accident that Washington, D.C.’s airport was re-christened “Ronald Reagan National Airport.”

Iran-Contra, the Savings and Loan Scandal, massive deficits, Central American death squads, the October Surprise, a racially-biased War on Drugs, homelessness, the AIDS crisis—all that baggage has been mostly lost down the memory hole. As time passes and memory fades, Reagan’s approval ratings soar above 70%.

Even Democrats feel the need to occasionally bow with approbation at the political prowess of the Great Gipper in the sky.

And many of Reagan’s more nefarious lieutenants—Elliott Abrams, John Negroponte, Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle and a host of others—not only survived, but later thrived under Jeb’s brother.

As Jeb checks his “Bush baggage” in advance of 2016, the load must seem a bit lighter.

Already, his brother’s team is largely rehabilitated. Condi Rice is widely hailed as a rising star. Imagine her on a ticket with Jeb! Dick Cheney commands attention with little scrutiny. Most of Team Bush landed on their feet—in think tanks and onto corporate boards or in the media.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of “the war formerly known as Iraq,” the media focuses more on Brother George painting 50 dogs than on the relentless suffering and carnage both he and, by extension, we all left behind in Iraq. Too bad he didn’t literally “paint 50 dogs.” The media might actually obsess on that story. They sure as shootin’ don’t want anything to do with covering the chaos and death playing out every single day in Iraq.

Here’s a news flash: America destroyed a country under false pretenses.

Sure, the “truth” is “finally out.” Nope, there weren’t any WMDs. And nope, Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. And yes, those troubling details are often treated as if they weren’t known until it was already too late. But too many asked too little as they eagerly “handled” the Administration’s press releases and left specious claims unchallenged.

Now, those mistakes are compounded daily as the mainstream media ignores the price paid by Iraqis and the toll yet to be exacted on future generations. Nor has the blatherati been bothered by the way Obama quickly said, “Move along, there is nothing to see here.”

The real baggage here—the heavy historical baggage—is not simply the few “personal belongings” left behind on Air Force One by George and his band of Neo-Con artists. Rather, it is an ongoing indictment of America as a nation. Something we will carry for a long, long time.

Like all wars of aggression, the nation that marches into folly behind a demagogue, a tyrant or a salesman must also be accountable. But in the case of Iraq, like Vietnam before it, the media, the political establishment and many Americans cannot wait to let the past fade like America’s signature on the Geneva Conventions.

So, keep this in mind when pundits and prognosticators discount the likelihood of another Bush presidency. If the last fifty years have proven anything, it’s that there is no amount of baggage that cannot be buried deep into the dark recesses of American history.

Just ask Henry Kissinger.

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, published historian, radio co-host and documentary filmmaker (The Warning, 2008). His credits include a stint on the Newshour news desk, C-SPAN, and as newsmagazine producer for ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs under the pseudonym “the Newsvandal“.

More articles by:

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, published historian, radio co-host and documentary filmmaker (The Warning, 2008). His credits include a stint on the Newshour news desk, C-SPAN, and as newsmagazine producer for ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs under the pseudonym “the Newsvandal“.

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail