"When Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President was published and subsequently recalled by St. Martin's Press (under pressure from Bush's legal eagles) in October 1999, everyone wanted to know who my sources were for the controversial afterword in which I alleged Dubya had been arrested for coke possession in 1972 and had his record expunged due to his father's political influence.Believing that principles only mean something if you stand behind them when it is inconvenient, I wouldn't oblige....My wife, friends, lawyer and anyone else that falls between a friend and a lawyer (let's not go there) said,...'You protected your sources' identity like you promised, but have they protected you? Just the opposite—they've threatened you and your family and tried to destroy your credibility.'...But thanks to the new introduction [in the July 2001 reprinting of the book] by my publisher, Sander Hicks, who "named names" and identified my sources, I was backed into a corner. When USA Today's Bob Minzeheimer point-blank asked me at the BEA press conference if Karl Rove, Dubya's chief strategist and dirty trickster extraordinaire, was indeed my major source—the so-called "Eufaula Connection"—I had to fess up to the truth, especially since Hicks was also handing out to the press copies of my private phone records along with the new version of Fortunate Son. ...And, of course, Rove "was traveling and could not be reached" for a comment. He can't go on the record and say it isn't true, because IT IS and the phone records speak volumes. How else would I have his private number at his home in Ingram, Texas, plus his fax machine and other unlisted numbers?...Although I had no choice but to identify the sources since my publisher had admittedly reneged on his promise "to take these names to the grave" (in his defense, he felt a professional and personal obligation to expose them since he believed I was the victim of one of Rove's notorious dirty tricks), the general consensus was that I divulged my sources only to heighten interest in the book and spike sells. In other words, I only did it to draw attention to the book and make the cash registers sing like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir....It's a classic case of damned if you do and damned if you don't." --James Hatfield, 6/11/01
POLITEX, although you never post James Hatfield's Online Journal columns on your web site, I think you better check out today's. Although I have faithfully read your site every day for a couple of years now, I have a problem with the way you seemingly go out of your way to dump on the author of the best bio written about Bush. Did you not teach a sense of fair play when you were an educator? If so, then post Hatfield's newest column about his press conference in Chicago as "rebuttal" to your scathing commentary about him last week. Several of us are beginning to wonder where your loyalties lie. Are you Bush's hitman against Hatfield? Come on, Politex, quit showing your pettiness. --my best, R.J., 6/11/01
Thanks for calling my attention to the Hatfield essay posted in yesterday's Online Journal (6/11/01), R.J. As you know, I've always depended upon loyal Bush Watch readers like yourself to call my attention to things I've missed. I have some questions about your comments. I've only discussed Hatfield three times on Bush Watch that I can recall, and all three discussions have been in relation to the publication of different versions of his book on Bush. I don't think that's "going out of my way." As for "dumping" on Hatfield, I can't agree with that, either. The criteria I've applied to Hatfield's book is the criteria I apply to any research. As for the Hatfield book being the best bio on Bush, I'm not sure that's saying much, even if we were to conclude that it's true. My feeling is that there aren't enough bios on Bush to determine any "best" and "worst" books. Of the three that I can think of (Hatfield's Mitchell's, and Minutaglio's), it's a fact (not an opinion) that Hatfield's bio is the most anti-Bush, the least documented, and the most controversial in its unproven allegations. Is that a "scathing" remark? How about this: George W. Bush is a liar and a hypocrite, he cares more about his corporate buddies and campaign contributors than the average citizen, and his tax cut bill is a calculated plan to screw poor people and the Democrat Party and will lead to deficit spending and be very harmful to the country. Is that a "scathing" remark? Talking about "scathing" remarks, what, exactly did I write in my essay on the new reprint of the Hatfield book (books.htm ) that you find "scathing"? Please copy and paste these remarks and send them to me, because I have no idea what you're talking about. And as for the 6/11/01 Hatfield essay being a "rebuttal" to my "scathing commentary" about him, why not copy and paste the specficic sentences in his essay that you think is a relevant "rebuttal" to those "scathing" remarks and send them to me as well. Finally, if you've been reading Bush Watch for two years and you honestly think that my comments upon Hatfield's book indicate that my leanings are pro-Bush, I can only suggest that you might want to read more carefully in the future. thanks and best wishes, jerry politex, 6/12/01
I own a copy of J.H. Hatfield's FORTUNATE SON (St. Martin's Press) and a copy of the revised reprint by Soft Skull Press. Both books were pulled from the shelves over fear of law suits. Now Soft Skull has published a second revised reprint which I'll eventually take a look at, and for the past month my e-mail box has received numerous press releases from Soft Skull Press. It appears that the most important addition to the second reprinted edition is that the Hatfield book names names. It is claimed that members of the Bush team provided Hatfield with inside information about an alledged Bush drug bust in 1972, but up until this edition neither author Hatfield nor publisher Sander Hicks has been willing to spill the beans about who these folks are and why they would tell tales out of school.. Now Hicks claims that one of the Bushies who provided Hatfield with privileged info was none other than the political brains behind the Bush outfit, Karl Rove, himself. Here's how it's described in a Soft Skull 5/9/01 press release:
"A Texas lawsuit shut down distribution of Soft Skull Press's new [first revised reprinted] edition of Fortunate Son, but with this new second edition (June, 2001), Publisher Sander Hicks reveals that Fortunate Son's destruction was part of Bush adviser Karl T. Rove's strategy to obscure the facts about Bush's 1972 drug arrest and spotty Texas Air National Guard record. Top Bush advisors Rove and Clay Johnson were the main 'anonymous' sources from whom Hatfield received his information on the controversial 1972 cocaine arrest. Rove and Johnson were acquainted with Hatfield's former employers in Dallas, and were aware of Hatfield's sensational 1988 felony conviction for solicitation of capital murder. In his new Publisher's Preface, Hicks connects the dots: knowing that Hatfield could be soon discredited was a great way to diminish the inevitable coverage on Bush's cocaine past and suspension from the Texas Air National Guard."
In yesterday's New York Post, reviewers explain how the Hatfield book brings up Rove in its latest reincarnation of the book that will not die: "Hatfield...has added a lengthy afterword intended to boost his credibility by detailing how and where he supposedly learned about Bush's alleged drug use and plea bargain. Hatfield claims three different sources confirmed the cocaine charge, including a former Yale classmate of Bush, a longtime Bush family friend, and 'a high-ranking adviser to Bush who had known the candidate for several years' and who met with Hatfield in Lake Eufaula, Okla. In a separate note, Hicks identifies the Lake Eufaula source as none other than Karl Rove, Bush's own White House political strategist. Rove was traveling and could not be reached." Keep in mind that one reason most critics found Hatfield's book bogus as originally published was that he refused to name his sources for the Bush drug bust story. Now that Hicks has done so, will the book be accepted as being any more credible?
First, Rove is not going to agree to the allegations in Hatfield's book. Secondly, Hatfield has previously said that he made up parts of the story to protect the identity of source #3, but he never made it clear what parts were made up and what parts were true. Here's what Jacob Weisberg wrote about that in his 10/19/99 review of Hatfield's book in Slate: "Why would three Bush supporters want to supply a hostile reporter with information that would destroy their friend's candidacy? More significant, when I questioned Hatfield about his sources, he acknowledged that some of what he says about them in the book isn't true....Here's how [Hatfield] describes [source #3] in the book... A 'high-ranking adviser to Bush who had known the presidential candidate for several years.' Hatfield says this source agreed to confirm information in the book and spent three days bass fishing with him in Eufaula, Okla....Hatfield recounts calling Source No. 3 to ask him to confirm the story he has from the first two. His 'Eufaula Connection' calls him back half an hour later. Here's what Hatfield writes about what Eufaula told him:
"'I can't and won't give you any names, but I can confirm that W.'s Dallas attorney remains the repository of any evidence of the expunged record. From what I've been told, the attorney is the one who advised him to get a new driver's license in 1995 when a survey of his public records uncovered a stale but nevertheless incriminating trail for an overly eager reporter to follow,' he said, pausing occasionally to spit tobacco juice into the ever-present Styrofoam cup.Spitting tobacco juice into the Styrofoam cup is a nice detail. But how, I asked Hatfield, could he see his source doing this in what he described as a telephone conversation? Hatfield made a spitting noise into the phone, and said that he knew the source chewed tobacco because he had spent time with him. But then he added: 'I might have put that in to protect him. He doesn't chew tobacco--I had to help him out a bit.' This is quite an admission. Nowhere in the book does Hatfield warn the reader that he has altered details or created composite characters to protect his sources. His admission about Source No. 3 raises the question of what else in his book is fictional."
Forget fictional, one wonders what in the Hatfield book has been documented. In his version of his meetings with #3 in the St. Martin's edition, Hatfield writes, "fearing that I might be a target of disinformation by someone sent by Bush or his campaign staff, I determined it would be in my best interest to query him on subjects which I could confirm with other sources." Yet, the very last paragraph of the book has #3 saying, "I've known George for several years..." Recall Hatfield's description of #3 in an above paragraph? A "high-ranking adviser to Bush who had known the presidential candidate for several years." Numerous sources available to Hatfield at the time note that Karl Rove has been a close political advisor and friend to Bush since 1974, which is hardly "several years." Even assuming Rove was being ironic about his length of time around Bush, Hatfield was not in his description of source #3. What "sources" did Hatfield use to "confirm" that #3 only knew Bush for "several" years? There are none if #3 is Karl Rove. Of course, another possible explanation does even more damage to Hatfield's newest version of his book. Source #3 is not Karl Rove. Finally, Hatfield can always say that the Rove identification was made by Hicks, not him. However, Hatfield's had numerous public opportunities in Hicks' presence to reject the idea that Rove is #3, and he has not, according to Soft Skull press releases. Are you beginning to get the picture? Perhaps Hatfield will be in a position to clarify these contradictions in a future revised and reprinted version of his book. --Jerry Politex, Bush Watch, 6/5/01
"He was a poor student who somehow got into the finest schools. He was a National Guardsman who somehow missed a year of service. He was a failed businessman who somehow was made rich. He was a minority investor who somehow was made managing partner of the Texas Rangers. He was a defeated politician who somehow was made governor. You can hardly blame him for expecting to inherit the White House.
"Is Our Children Learning? examines the public life and public record of George W. Bush and reveals him for who he is: a man who presents the thinnest, weakest, least impressive record in public life of any major party nominee this century; a man who at every critical juncture has been propelled upward by the forces of wealth, privilege, status, and special interests who use his family's name for their private gain. A Texan, political analyst, strategist, and partisan, Paul Begala has written a devastating assessment of the Bush brand of politics." --Amazon Review
I just got my copy of "Is Our Children Learning?" by the redoubtable Paul Begala (Simon & Schuster). Begala alternately cautions the reader about his personal bias, then eviscerates George W. Bush, before again warning the reader about his bias.
It also is a good read. He seems able to take a lot of information and weave it together into a very readable hit piece. I had to rip it out of my thirteen year old's hands, so I could read some more of it. He particularly enjoyed the fun Begala had with Bush's unintentional misstatements.
I pointed out to my son the importance of words, and of clarity, since in my opinion the Gulf War was caused by miscommunication between the then-US Ambassador to Iraq and Saddam Hussain. The US Ambassador was called in for a consultation, where Iraq thought it was feeling out how the US would react to it invading Kuwait, and somehow the parties so misunderstood each other that Iraq thought it had our "OK" to go ahead. Not a completely unreasonable idea, since Iraq acted as our surrogate in their war with Iran and we provided them with logistic and intelligence support during that war. Taken in context, the Gulf War was a falling out among friends. That misunderstanding cost hundreds of thousands of lives, sixty Billion dollars (and counting), the destruction of large areas of Kuwait AND Iraq.
Anyway, Begala's book, is a hoot. My only critique is the same as my critique of Molly Ivins, in that both of them dwell on the term "bidness" and tell the reader one time too often that, "Texans really do speak that way." So what? I don't want to dump on Texans for having a regional accent, or for any other reason. There are lots of things I like about Texas. Do Texas liberals have a a self-loathing thing? Forget it. I just want to hear about George W. Bush, in all his glory or lack thereof. A small complaint about an impressive little book, and really my only one. A well-written book like this is about ten times as likely to affect people as one that isn't.--Arthur Leeper, 9/13/00
Revenge of the Bush Dynasty A new book by George magazine executive editor Elizabeth Mitchell. With Poppy's career as background, covers Junior from birth in 1946 up to his Texas gubernatorial race against Ann Richards in 1994. A short, sketchy final chapter covers the years since. The "revenge" in the title has to do with Junior's desire to get even with Clinton's defeat of Poppy by defeating Clinton's surrogate. Unlike the revised Hatfield Dubya biography, this book has end notes connecting specific pages and quotes to documented sources.--Politex
Kirkus Review (excerpts) "First Son : George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty"
Dallas Morning News political reporter Bill Minutaglio "takes readers through Bush's unremarkable life (scion of a wealthy family, Phillips Andover, Yale, Harvard Business School)....Emerging from all of this is a view of the first son that will not please the Bush family or supporters of the governor's presidential candidacy. It's not that Minutaglio has unearthed anything too sordid;...nothing more than accounts of temper tantrums, collegiate drinking, womanizing, and general adolescent stupidity. (A bit more troubling are veiled and largely unsubstantiated allegations of string-pulling to secure a safe spot in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, of possible hard drug use, of some ethical hanky-panky when he unloaded some shares of oil stock just before the value plummeted.)... The George W. Bush whom Minutaglio describes is a man with no intellectual interests (and few academic attainments), a man with limited work experience (most of which was arranged for him by his father or rich family friends), a man who spent his early adulthood cultivating wealthy donors and trying to find a palatable political message. Bush appears to be attractive, affable . . . and very limited--a Stepford candidate."
In "First Son: George W. Bush and the Family Dynasty, Dallas Morning News reporter Bill Minutaglio says George Bush Sr. referred his son to Project P.U.L.L. after an incident in which George W. drove drunk with his younger brother Marvin in the car."--Salon
WHY DID BUSH CHANGE DRIVER'S LICENSE, HAVE RECORD PURGED?
On 8/30/99, MSNBC's Jeanette Walls was told by the Texas DMV that such a change was "highly unusual," but that it was done for unspecified "security reasons."
Earlier, Online Journal's Linda Starr and Bev Conover report that getting a new, low-numbered license, #000000005 and issued on 3/31/95 in Bush's case, did not appear to be a "common practice" of past Texas Governors, since none of the holders of lower numbers were in that category.
Writing in the "Los Angeles Times" in August, USC Journalism Lecturer Norman Miller commented on such concerns by asking, "If the cocaine-rumor story is valid, where does it end? Bush has admitted he was a heavy drinker until he swore off when he turned 40. Did he drive under the influence, an action probably more endangering to others than using cocaine? God save us from some scandal-hungry reporter asking that question, even though its hypothetical foundation surpasses the cocaine question."
Editorial Policy: All entries are dated and documented as needed.
Text (c) Politex. Permission of author required for reprinting.
Duration of working link not under our control.
Updated daily at various times.
Send all e-mail to Politex.