With the challenges and obligations created by the Katrina disaster, some political commentators have declared that George W. Bush’s presidency is done, suggesting his agenda has been washed aside. That may not be so. He and Karl Rove may yet figure out how to exploit the tragedy in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to revive their Social Security plan, to sell more tax cuts for the well-to-do, and to justify their previously planned cuts in programs for low-income Americans. But if this is the end for a lame duck president, then perhaps it’s time to look at Bush: The Next Generation. After all, we are already into the second generation of Bush presidencies, and bad news does come in threes.
I’m not going to bother with Jenna and Barbara Bush. They’ve received enough attention. (And who wants to revisit their icky “speech” at the GOP convention last year?) So let’s turn the spotlight on the other Bush family in politics: the Jeb Bush clan–which just days ago had yet another brush with the law. Interestingly, every member of this family–with the exception of Jeb–has had legal trouble. In 1999, mother/wife Columba falsely stated on a Customs declaration form that she had bought only $500 in goods during a jaunt to Paris. Yet she had purchased $19,000 worth of merchandise while shopping in the City of Lights. Customs agents nabbed her, and she had to pay a $4100 fine (when the maximum penalty could have been a $19,000 fee). But we’re looking at the younger Bushes.
* John Ellis Bush, aka Jebby, age 21. This past weekend, he was arrested by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents on Sixth Street in Austin, Texas. He was stopped when the agents suspected he was drunk. He then, it seems, did not cooperate with these public servants, for he was arrested on two charges: public intoxication and resisting arrest. In the scuffle, Jebby received a chin injury and was treated at a hospital. He was released on a $2,500 bond. (Question: given George W. Bush’s DWI charge and Barbara’s and Jenna’s underage imbibing issues, is getting into legal trouble over alcohol considered a family rite of passage?)
This was not Jebby’s first encounter with the police. Five years ago–a month before the 2000 election–he was caught by security guards while in the act with a 17-year-old female in a Jeep Cherokee parked in a Tallahassee mall. Both were naked from the waist down, except Jebby was wearing his socks. The security guards called in the cops. A police officer arrived on the scene and investigated a possible crime of “sexual misconduct.” In the subsequent police report, the officer wrote, “I became aware of the political ties” of the suspect. He then “contacted the watch commander…to inform him of the incident.” After one of the security guards talked to Jebby’s father–who happened to be the governor of the state–this guard told the on-the-scene cop that he believed that his own supervisor would “pull” the preliminary report. The cop replied that he would still have to complete an incident report. And a report was written. Nothing happened after that. The incident did not become public until two days before the presidential election, when this police report was leaked to the local media and a London newspaper. (Only the London paper went with the story.) According to Artie Brown, one of the two security guards who nabbed Jebby that night, the young Bush spoke to his father after being caught and then remarked, “My dad will fix it.”
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* Noelle, age 28. In January 2002, on the day when her uncle was to deliver his first State of the Union address, Noelle was arrested for allegedly trying to use a fraudulent prescription to obtain the anti-anxiety drug Xanax at a drug store. She was sent not to jail but to drug rehab. Did she receive any preferential treatment? Seven years earlier, a woman with the same name was busted for shoplifting at a mall in Arizona. If the governor’s daughter did have a prior criminal record, she would have faced a stricter sentence than assignment to a drug rehabilitation facility. Then in September 2002, a fellow resident in Noelle’s drug rehab center anonymously called the Orlando police and complained that the “governor’s daughter” had been buying crack. Noelle received a ten-day jail sentence for crack possession. The following August, she was released from rehab and placed in the custody of her parents. Drug charges against her were dismissed.
* George P., 29. On December 31, 1994, George P. Bush, the much-hyped hunk of the Bush family and a fellow mentioned as a future prospect for politics, dropped by the Miami home of a former girlfriend. It was four in the morning and apparently he had not been invited. He broke into the house and began arguing with the woman’s father. He then departed. But 15 to 20 minutes later, Bush, a Rice University student, was back. This time he drove his Ford Explorer over the front lawn, causing damage. The father contacted the police, and a Miami-Dade police officer called on George P. and his parents that night. But as the subsequent police report noted, George P. “was not arrested on the scene” because the woman’s father did not want to press charges. The report also said that George P. and this woman broke up a year and a half earlier and that Bush “has been a problem ever since.”
We all know that all families have their share of troubles. And, of course, it is always tough to grow up in a dynasty. (Al Gore’s son was busted for speeding.) But what are the odds that in any family of prominence all three siblings will merit police reports? There is, however, good news for the children of Jeb and Columba Bush. Difficulty with the law was no career obstacle for their uncle, and it seems that with Bush family members there really is no such thing as a permanent record.
Research assistance was provided by Clarisse Profilet.