From the Archive: The past often is prologue – making it especially important to know how a politician built his career and who helped him. In 2000, too little attention was paid to George W. Bush’s personal history and how it might shape his disastrous presidency, a void that Sam Parry tried to fill.
By Sam Parry (Originally published on Aug. 15 and 19, 2000, as Parts 2 and 3 of a series)
At times grudgingly, George W. Bush traced virtually every early step his father took. Like his father, George W. went to both Andover Academy and Yale and joined the secretive Yale fraternity Skull and Bones. Like his father, George W. joined the armed forces. Like his father, George W. benefited from wealthy family connections while starting out on his own.
But the most important similarity between the careers of George W. and his father is the link between oil and politics. Like his father, George W. made his first business investments in West Texas oil ventures in Midland. Like his father, George W. sought to establish his political career by seeking elected office in Texas, where he ran for Congress at an early age.
While the cadence and direction of his steps match, George W.’s early record seems like a child walking around in his father’s oversized shoes. In school, George W. was a C student, while his father graduated Phi Beta Kappa. In sports, George the father was captain of the Yale baseball team while George the son was captain of the cheerleading squad. In the oil business and politics, too, George W.’s early record was eclipsed by his father’s.
But what George W. may have lacked in accomplishments, he made up for in ambition and charm, two traits that served him well in both oil and politics. In 1978, this ambition led George W. to embrace both family legacies, oil and politics. To some, this decision to pursue both goals at the same time might smack of bravado or even cockiness. But George W. was…