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The Quiet Dynasty

If you really want to understand someone, George W. Bush says, "you look at his family and where he was raised"

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George W. Bush wasn't officially notified that the White House was haunted until after his dad was elected President in 1988. He was sitting around the transition office with his aide Doug Wead, thinking about how much fun they had had during the campaign. "So what happens now?" Bush asked. Wead wondered if Bush would be interested in what becomes of Presidents' kids. Sure, said Bush, and Wead and his team went to work. They came back a few weeks later with a 44-page study that was so dark it might have been titled "The Curse," classified top secret and filed away forever, because none of it was promising for someone who was suddenly weighing his own future in politics.

The report detailed how Presidents' kids had a tendency to become drunks or get sick, have an accident or die young. Many of them gave their lives over to defending their fathers in history. Some quit their jobs or couldn't hold them; some couldn't get it together at all. George Washington Adams, the son of John Quincy Adams, is thought to have committed suicide at 28. Others walked away from colleges and universities, or they wrote bad papers and gave lectures about why Martin van Buren was right to oppose annexing Texas. Sixteen made it to Congress, but none had been elected Governor. Bush groaned when he heard that.

You could take it as a measure of his courage or his indifference to history that George W. Bush would even imagine that he could take up where his father left off. No one has ever tried a Restoration of the kind before us right now. The Adamses waited 24 years between presidencies, the Harrisons twice that long. But only eight years have passed since voters tossed a Bush out of office, and they have been eight years of rampaging prosperity. Al Gore has plenty of time to argue that going back to the future would be unwise or unreal. But it is remarkable that he is having to make his case against the son of the man he and Bill Clinton exiled. "It is time for them to go," Gore chanted famously at the convention in New York in 1992. Is it already time for them to come back?

On the surface, the Bushes seem the least likely family to lunge for a Restoration. By every appearance, they lack the Roosevelts' intensity or the Kennedys' unembarrassed ambition. Yet they are poised to surpass them all. Theirs is the Quiet Dynasty, the one that loves to surprise, that never shows its hand. Like old money, its assets are something it doesn't discuss in public. Instead the Bushes speak of service, as in, "We're just so glad our sons decided to follow us into public service"--and it's not insincere, because they are glad. The Bush code is not really about power; it is about winning and achieving, doing your best, better than the other guy. For them, dynasty is a fighting word, and it's no wonder, with its embedded insult of unfair advantage. "Dynasty means something inherited," W. told TIME. "We inherited a good name, but you don't inherit a vote. You have to win a vote."

If the family members manage to sound genuinely and sweetly surprised to find themselves onstage for their fifth of the past six Republican conventions, that's because even they find it "mind boggling" that it is W. who has brought them here. By the standards of the people who love him most, he lacks the temperament to wear the crown. Oh, he is fun, outrageous, the house rebel, great to have around. But when it came to the family business, it was brother Jeb who was supposed to take over and run the show.

So the fact that W. stands a chance of becoming the President with one of the thinnest resumes in a century is teaching the Bushes themselves a thing or two about how the game of politics can be played. George W. has relied heavily on the clan throughout his life, but he skipped basic training, wrote his own rules, and he has had enough experience rebelling against his family to understand why, in 1992, the country did too. The ways in which he is different from his dad may be as important a selling point as all that they have in common. George W. is the dynasty's accidental heir, and he isn't ashamed of using that fact as a calling card. "Can you imagine how much it hurt," W. once said to a crowd, "to know that Dad's idea of the perfect son was Al Gore?"


If George W. Bush has a tic that drives his critics crazy, it is his cocky impression of a self-made man. Texas Democrat Jim Hightower tossed off a lethal line about the father: that he was "born on third base and thought he hit a triple," which more than one adversary has applied to the son. Without the family connections, they argue, he would never have got into such elite schools, or found a slot in the National Guard during Vietnam, or got those jobs in the oil business or been given a second glance in politics.

Bush, however, sees it all differently. It was no picnic being the son of the chairman of the Republican National Committee during Watergate, or running for Congress in 1978 and having to spend all his time denying that his father was some sinister agent of the Eastern establishment. "It's a mixed blessing," he says. "Some folks will say, there's George and Barbara's son, he must be interesting, let me listen. Others may say, he's not done anything in his life, just running on his daddy's name." Wead's report spelled out the dilemma that W. faced after his father took office: "It may seem that the President's children can do nothing right. Try something great, and appear grandiose and presumptuous. Try to lead a normal life, and appear lazy or unambitious. Try something artistic, and offend those who believe in causes. Any success will be credited by some to the family tie."

And it gets worse: if the problem outside the family is that your father is President, the problem inside the family is that your father is perfect. A legendary Andover athlete, George Sr. went to war and became a hero, came home and became a husband, went to Yale and became a star: Phi Beta Kappa, baseball-team captain, fraternity president, Skull and Bones member--all in less than four years and always upholding the family code. At supper with parents Prescott and Dorothy, boys were expected to wear ties and use the right fork. There was lots of love but no sloppy affection--and certainly no sass, much less open rebellion. "See, Senior was never a child," a family friend argues. "He grew up always doing what Prescott expected. He never rebelled; he was always a responsible little man-child."

As formidable as Prescott was--6 ft. 4 in., movie-star handsome, a Wall Street legend and Connecticut Senator--it was Dorothy Walker Bush who pruned and staked the shrubbery. President Bush once described his mother, a championship-tennis player, as a "perfectionist, and a fierce competitor." She kept the Ping-Pong table in the entry hall of the Greenwich, Conn., house--the games were always front and center. Her rules? Never brag. Never quit. Never let 'em know you're hurting. Be honest. Be kind. Care about the other guy--help him. Don't look down on anyone. Compete hard. Play to win. Give the other guy credit. Until she died in 1992, her son the President telephoned her every day.

But one thing she could not prepare him for was having a son like George W. While the elder Bush was never really a child, his son was one for a long, long time. It was soon after they'd departed the East Coast for the wilds of West Texas that George Sr. wrote back to his father-in-law, "Georgie aggravates the hell out of me at times...but then at times I'm so proud of him I could die." A friend who went to school with the son but worked for the father says, "It's not that W. rebelled; he just was wilder than the old man expected--it was rowdiness. Not doing well in school when you could, being class funnyman--those were huge detours from the code."

The longtime W. watchers all have their theories about his place in the family and what made him this way. In part it was just his personality, drawn much more, they all say, from his mom than his dad. "I'm quick with the quip," he says now. "Dad gives me advice when I ask him for it, my mom when I don't. She can be blunt, like me. My dad's always gracious." But you can also make the case that if his father didn't exactly have a normal childhood, neither did W. The death of his three-year-old sister Robin in 1953, when he was seven, has been seen as one source of his breezy manner; when sorrow settled over the house, the little boy saw it as his job to lighten things up, especially to cheer up his mother, whose hair began to turn white in her 28th year. W. always denies planning his life, plotting to run for President since he was a kid. "I live in the moment," he says, and people who knew him as a child think that trait started with Robin.

It wasn't long before the son realized he was maybe a little too loose, too deep fried, for his father's taste--but he liked that. W. performed the most disgraceful stunts, the ones that would have angered the grandparents the most, the cigar chewing, the strutting, and swearing and smoking cigarettes in the dining room of the Nonantum Hotel in Kennebunkport when he was 12. He'd round up the younger brothers and say, "O.K., you little wieners, line up," and he'd shoot them in the back with his air gun, and they would all flail and pretend to collapse on the floor, and it hurt, but they'd all get up and do it again, because he was the oldest and the most fun and so outrageous. They'd go to church, and he wouldn't say, "Good morning, Mrs. Witherspoon"; he'd say, "Hiya, little lady, lookin' sexy!" and Mrs. Witherspoon would swoon, and the parents would roll their eyes and wonder how they were ever going to rein him in.

So even as he headed east to monogram his resume at Andover and Yale, even as he played on all the same fields his father had, he played by different rules and in a very different climate. He didn't have the talent to be the baseball-team captain, so he became commissioner of stickball, a rebel sport that upended Andover's jock culture and gave everyone a chance, however hopeless their natural gifts. He tried at first to impress his teachers, combing through the thesaurus for a synonym for tears to use in an English essay he was writing about his sister's death. But his account of lacerates streaming down his cheeks earned him a zero so emphatic that "it left an impression visible all the way through to the back of the blue book," Bush recalls in his autobiography. "So much for trying to sound smart."

If any of the Bush children seemed capable of making a name for himself the old-fashioned way, it was brother Jeb. He was the one on the fast track, the serious son, the Phi Beta Kappa, the one with the ambition and focus that W. disdained. A family adviser explains the relationship this way: "W.'s kind of like the guy who spends the night before the test in his Corvette, running around with two cheerleaders, and drives by the brainiac's house and says, 'Jeb, can I have your notes?' The brainiac gets an A, but W. slides by with a B."


The interesting thing about all this acting out was that to any stranger watching the Bush children grow up, W. still looks like an awfully faithful son, a much more faithful Xerox of his father than Jeb, who after all went to the University of Texas, not Yale, then married his Mexican wife, Columba, and settled in Florida rather than back home. W. followed his father step for step. "He is always anxious to please his father," one of the President's oldest and closest counselors said a few years ago, "and he has done it by emulation. He went to Yale. He was a combat pilot. He went into the oil business in Midland. He ran for Congress. In his way, he tried to relive segments of his father's life."

The Yale class of '68 offered George W. Bush a perfect chance to become his own man, as many sons of privilege did. Many of them forswore their trust funds, dodged the draft, grew their hair, switched from beer to pot. But in a way, the opposite happened with W. He may have been the family rebel, by their standards, but even from the earliest days, he was also the protector, fiercely defending his dad. His father ran for the Senate in Texas in 1964, opposing the civil rights bill and supporting Barry Goldwater all the way. His opponent, Senator Ralph Yarborough, lost no chance to paint Bush as a preppy-come-lately, not one of us. "Elect a Senator from Texas and not the Connecticut investment bankers," went the Yarborough campaign chants. As W. worked on his dad's campaign during his summer before college, he saw how poisonous the not-one-of-us stereotype could be. On election night, the narrow defeat was a huge blow. "I don't understand it," the father said at the time. "I guess I have a lot to learn about politics."

Back at Yale after the election, a famous story goes, W. ran into the school's high-profile chaplain, William Sloane Coffin, himself a blue-blooded Yale alum and contemporary of W.'s father's. "I knew your father," he told the son, "and your father lost to a better man." It was an appalling thing to say, Barbara Bush later noted, especially to a freshman, who would hardly be likely to darken the chapel doors after an encounter like that. But that was not the last time W. found himself defending his father in a climate in which pro-Vietnam Nixon men were not exactly popular.

In fact he found plenty to rebel against in college. He bridled at the "intellectual arrogance" he encountered, at those who "wrote him off because he was a legacy kid," says his classmate Robert Birge. W. upheld the tradition of the gentleman's C; when undergraduates renounced frat life as a waste of time, he made it the center of his social life. His run-in with the law came not during an antiwar sit-in or a civil rights march but on a raucous night when he and his fraternity brothers "liberated" a Christmas wreath from a local hotel to decorate Deke house. Though he was born in New Haven, it was at Yale he decided to tell people he was from Texas.

It would be easy to dismiss his choices in college as reflecting the apathy of one who would always rather party than protest, but some of his classmates have a different theory. The all-or-nothing, in-your-face politics of the street was uncomfortable for someone from a family who didn't like conflict of any kind. "If you were not with the pack, there was no room for you--all the gradations were lost," says a contemporary. "But he was skeptical of the groupthink; he stayed independent of the mob." One reason some classmates didn't realize how bright he was, argues Birge, was that he was glib and "almost always funny. He would essentially manipulate the environment to make it less confrontational and avoid conflict."

This was especially true when the subject turned to Vietnam. "He thought, if the decision had been made, you back up the country and stop whining," recalls Birge. "That comes as much from who his parents were and his respect for the system--he was unique among all my friends that he had that attitude." It also reflected a kind of efficiency, Birge notes, in someone whose temperament was far more practical than philosophical: "If this was something you couldn't do anything about, why waste your time worrying about it?"

"He always had to calibrate everything," observes a peer, "find the middle ground between the family code and the times he grew up in." He didn't enlist and head for Vietnam. But "leaving the country to avoid the draft was not an option for me," he explains in his book. "I was too conservative and too traditional." Like many sons of prominent pols, W. found a place in the National Guard, spending nearly two years learning to fly fighter jets. By that time the F-102 was increasingly obsolete, so there was not much chance he would ever be called to serve overseas. The duty left him time to work on various political campaigns and even have a quick leave from his base when a plane arrived to fly him to Washington for a date with Tricia Nixon. But if he was using the Guard to avoid more onerous military service, the Guard was not above using the famous son as well. He was their antidrug poster boy: "George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed," read a 1970 press release. "Oh, he gets high all right, but not from narcotics...As far as kicks are concerned, Lt. Bush gets his from the roaring afterburner of the F-102."

Through what he would later call his "nomadic years," he tried a series of jobs, some out of Dad's playbook, others way far away. He worked as a management trainee for an agribusiness company, delivered messages for a law firm, worked on an offshore oil rig and on a political campaign and on a ranch, and as a sporting-goods salesman at Sears. And with each passing year his parents grew a little more worried about him, and he knew it. It all famously came to a head at Christmas 1972, when he was home visiting and took his little brother Marvin, then 16, to a friend's house. They rolled home late and well oiled, banged into a neighbor's garbage can and roused Bush's father, who was reading in the den. He sent for W.

"I hear you're looking for me," the son told the father. "You wanna go mano a mano right here?" It was Jeb who tried to ease the tension by announcing to the Bush parents that W. had just been accepted at Harvard Business School. They hadn't even known he had applied, but they leaped at the idea until he told them, "Oh, I'm not going. I just wanted to let you know I could get into it."

But he did go after all, in the fall of 1973, wearing his flight jacket to class as a big I'M NOT ONE OF YOU sign to the lefty Cambridge crowd. He hadn't got into law school, training ground for polemicists, but business school suited him; it was for dealmakers. "He was trying to figure out what to do with his life," said classmate Al Hubbard. "He was there to get prepared, but he didn't know for what."


Through those years, W. had so much fun working on other people's political campaigns that it was inevitable he would want to try one of his own. He had considered a shot at the Texas state senate when he was 25 but, after talking to his father, decided against it. By 1978, though, he saw a chance to run for Congress in West Texas, and it was then that he ran headlong into the thicket of being named Bush.

The race was a tiny little frontier skirmish in the much larger war between Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush over who would control the G.O.P. heading into the 1980 presidential race. W. found that Reagan was actively supporting his primary opponent, Jim Reese, in hopes of weakening the Bush family hold on Texas. Though W. survived the primary, Democrat Kent Hance was far tougher, painting the son as a carpetbagger funded by East Coast fat cats and happily fueling constituents' concerns about the father as an agent of all those One World Government forces, such as the U.N. and the Trilateral Commission.

W. defended his father ferociously and even borrowed some of his moves as he crisscrossed the district morning to night in his white Oldsmobile. To the charge that he was not a real Texan, he replied that he would have liked to have been born in Midland, but at the time he wanted to be close to his mother, "and she happened to be in New Haven, Conn." It was similar to a line his dad had used in his losing race against Ralph Yarborough 14 years before. "Kent Hance gave me a lesson on country-boy politics," Bush says. "He was a master at it, funny and belittling. I vowed never to get out-countried again."

in the movie version of George W.'S life, 1986 is the mysti- cal year when everything came together. The story is all about faith and redemption; it's the year he turned 40 and quit drinking and found his faith reawakened after a walk on the beach with Billy Graham. The process of finally growing up and calming down, of course, had really begun when he married Laura, "the best thing he's ever done," says his cousin Elsie Walker. It was Laura who had issued W. the ultimatum about booze. "It's me or the bottle," she reportedly told her husband. The birth of his twin daughters also did a lot to steady him. The collapse of oil prices and the sobering effect of a near death experience in business did too. But all the stories of personal growth still don't explain how he managed to change his whole attitude about his father, his legacy, his own gifts, his ability to measure up. For that explanation, for the birth of W. the politician, you have to look at 1988.

As the campaign for the White House was gearing up, then Vice President Bush summoned his son to Washington to help keep an eye on things and make sure everyone was loyal, especially the wily genius campaign guru Lee Atwater. W. was going nowhere in Texas, so he came up, brought the family, moved into a town house not far from the old family place in Spring Valley and took an office downtown at the shabby campaign headquarters. And over the next 18 months, he discovered things about his father and himself and the oily internal workings of national politics that cleared the way for everything that would come after. It was as though he got to perform the ultimate act of synthesis: take his father's weaknesses--his sometimes excessive loyalty to people, his reluctance to fire or even confront anyone, his lack of feeling for what was uppermost in voters' minds and hearts--and apply his own instincts to solve the problem. It turned out W. was quite willing to be confrontational when it came to his father's honor--and survival. "I'm a warrior for my dad," he often says. And for once, he wasn't being asked to compete with his father; he was compensating for him.

This was especially true when it came to wooing the Evangelicals. It seemed odd to give W. that portfolio, the reformed playboy. But it worked. W. had gone through his own conversion by this time and could speak the language of the faithful heart fluently, at least compared with Dad. He met with the important ministers and Evangelical leaders, talking about the family's faith, even contributing a book explaining the father's spiritual journey. It was as though a light had gone on in W.'s head, not just about how vital the Christian vote was for his father but for his own prospects as well. Thanks in part to W., his father wound up with 80% of the Evangelical vote; and his son, recalled an aide, described this as a "huge eye-opener." The road to the Texas statehouse, after all, ran right through the narthex.

Then there was the sheer confidence that came from just being sent out as his father's surrogate. "Have you ever worked for your dad and been good at it?" asks a veteran of that campaign. "It gives me goose bumps to think about it. He was just extremely happy. Inside, he was working with his dad, if not as a peer, then an adult; and on the outside, he was giving speeches. He saw the reaction. He was a real success." When he left, he told an associate that it had been the best 18 months of his life.

By the time it was over, that life had changed. Dad had no sooner won than the new generation began to make its moves. Jeb had his eye on the Florida Governor's mansion, W. on Texas. But first there was a piece of the family code that his mother insisted he honor, one handed down all the way from Prescott, who made a fortune on Wall Street, through Dad, who struck it rich in the oil business. "My dad would talk about my grandfather's lesson," W. says, "which is that before you enter public service, you go out and make some money and take care of your family. But my grandfather believed...that if you had money, it came with an obligation to serve."

Here, the family legacy was certainly not a curse. It bought Bush the chance to furnish his name and about $600,000 to buy a piece of the Texas Rangers, which he sold nine years later for $14 million. His mother still didn't think he was up to winning a Governor's race, and she said so, but W. was intent on trying in 1994. It was all the richer that his opponent would be Ann Richards, who had managed in 1988 to take the poisonous cartoon of the Bushes and serve it up to a national audience. "Poor George," she had cooed at the Democratic National Convention in 1988, "he can't help it...he was born with a silver foot in his mouth." The old man had spent his life trying to shake the Greenwich out of his cowboy boots, but W. had already immunized himself. He was a real Texan, and he had the squint to prove it. Bush won with 53% of the vote.

W. had come a long way from Prescott and Dorothy of Greenwich, but the path looked a lot like a huge circle on the morning of his inauguration in 1995. His dad passed the family torch to his firstborn, presenting W. with a pair of cufflinks that his own father Prescott had given him when he went off to war. He had called them "my most prized possession." "At first I didn't think about the continuity, the grandfather part," Bush says, recalling that busy, glorious day. "The main thing I thought was that it was from my dad. He was saying that he was proud of me. But later I reread the letter and thought about it. It ended with, 'Now it's your turn.'"


Along with a set of cufflinks and a sense of duty, Prescott Bush passed along something else that is still at work today: an addiction to politics that would not subside even after leaving office. After less than two terms in the Senate, Prescott retired in 1962 for health reasons. He had suddenly begun to lose weight, and a doctor told him, "You'd be a fool to run." So Prescott complied, a decision he would regret. "Once you've had the exposure to politics that I had," he said later, " gets in your blood, and then when you get out, nothing else satisfies that in your blood. I mean, there's no substitute diet for it, you see? It's like the old song, 'How you going to keep him down on the farm after he's seen Paree?'"

George W.'s dad couldn't shake the habit either. After he lost in 1992, the President announced that he was going to exit the scene, write his memoirs and play with his grandchildren. He would be, in short, the graceful loser Dorothy had taught him to be. But as the years passed and Clinton's personal problems increased, it was hard to shake the feeling that he had lost to a lesser man. If President Bush was disciplined about holding his tongue, you have to wonder whether it was because he had an even better revenge in mind than just sniping from the sidelines. On the day in 1998 when both Jeb and George were on the ballot, the father was thinking back to his own loss six years before and how far they had all come. He sat down that morning and wrote of his enormous pride. "Tomorrow I might well be the dad of the Governors of the second and fourth largest states in the Union. But there will be no feeling of personal vindication, no feeling of anything other than pride in two honest boys who, for the right reasons, want to serve--who fought the good fight and won."

It was not lost on him that his namesake had become one of the hottest political properties around, that the son had in some ways surpassed the rest of the family at the game. Bush saw it for himself at W.'s final rally in Houston on his way to being re-elected with 70% of the vote. "He was the rock star--Mr. Charisma," the father observed to TIME's Hugh Sidey. "He is good, this boy of ours. He includes people. He has no sharp edges on issues. He is no ideologue, no divider. He brings people together, and he knows how to get things done. He has principles to which he adheres, but he knows how to give a little to get a lot. He doesn't hog the credit. He's low on ego, high on drive."

The problem now was that if he wanted to help his son get elected President, the best thing he could do was disappear for a while. There were lots of people outside Texas who didn't know whether it was the father running again or the son. An early 1998 poll revealed that 40% of the people backing Bush thought they were voting for the hero of the Gulf War. It was nice that Barbara had consistently topped the list of most popular women in the country and that the focus groups found people had warm memories of the clan--"Nice family. Honest. Decent." But too much emphasis on the family tie could do more harm than good.

There was the problem that conservative Republicans never much liked or trusted the President. Among Republicans who did like him, especially those who respected his foreign policy skills, there was a risk the son would suffer by comparison. And out in the electorate at large, there were still people who remembered something they didn't like about the Bush brand, who had actually voted against it, who had the impression that the whole clan lived in a rarefied world where no one knows the price of milk and recessions don't happen. The last thing Bush wanted was to convey any idea that this crown was his for the taking, something he had inherited like a life peerage or a seat on the board. "All the focus groups and polling say the same thing," says an insider. "Any sense of entitlement is a catastrophe."

And so the campaign decided early on to stay away from Mom and Dad. Father and son rarely appeared together. In fact, Bush and campaign manager Karl Rove did such a splendid job of changing the locks that by the time reporters started to ask, "How is the son really different from the father?" they knew just what to say. "Well, he's more ideological, more conservative. He's just much more interested in domestic policy than his father." The big guns from Dad's White House, the Bakers and Scowcrofts, would be heard but not seen, but all their younger, less visible deputies, like Condi Rice and Larry Lindsey, climbed onboard for a second tour. "The whole goal was to be different from the father," says an official who has worked for both father and son. "It didn't need to be written down. There weren't that many people who needed to know. The basic thing was to look more conservative than his father, but don't offer up any real red meat that is going to worry the swing voters."

It was a game played at both ends. "I will have a very inactive role," the former President told people. "This is his race, his issues and his destiny." And the Governor opened nearly every meeting he had with small groups of backers and donors in Austin that year with an abbreviated one-liner that said it all: "This is not going to be George H.W. Bush, Part 2. It's going to be George W. Bush, Part 1."

That was the story in public. In private, nothing much had changed. "My dad," George W. Bush once said, "plays a big role in my life as a shadow government." All through this campaign, the father has been in constant and close communication--"obsessed," Barbara admitted, e-mailing and making calls to his old state operatives and doing events with police officers. An old magician with a telephone, he worked the long lines behind the scenes, making suggestions about what a good idea it would be to do a national Hispanic event, helping with fund raising. You could hear the President speaking through the son on foreign policy, and a close friend says he repeatedly heard the Governor make reference to the old man in conversation. "Pop said that exact same thing this morning," Bush would say in a meeting or a telephone call.

The few public mistakes just confirmed the need for discretion. There was that event in Iowa at which Barbara Bush quipped, "One out of every 8 Americans is governed by a Bush, and with your help, we'll make that all Americans." And there was that awkward night, on the eve of the crucial New Hampshire primary, when the family gathered for a rally at a tennis club and the father majestically reappeared to praise "this boy, this son of ours." The criticism that followed seared the parents and forced them from the stage.

Last week, with the naming of Dick Cheney, you could almost watch the Dynasty stagger from one day to the next between wearing a mask and taking a bow. On the same day that the father told the New York Times that he couldn't remember whether he'd talked to his former Defense Secretary about becoming his son's running mate, George W. was telling USA Today that "it's no sign of weakness to talk to your dad."

They'll all be together onstage this week, but going into the final moments, it was still unclear whether even Barbara would be allowed a speaking part. Dad will be saluted Tuesday night, safely wrapped in a tribute to all past Republican Presidents. But certain traditions will still be honored: brother Jeb will be doing the talk shows; Laura speaks on Monday night; the star of the next generation, Jeb's son George P. Bush, is supposed to get a slot. "Every Bush family member is an asset," says convention co-chairman Andy Card, who was, as it happens, the President's deputy chief of staff. But, he added, "we want to be careful it doesn't turn into a Bush family reunion." The Quiet Dynasty didn't get this far by calling too much attention to itself.


Cover Date: July 31, 2000



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