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George Bush: Born on 3rd base, thought he hit a triple, and still got picked off
on July 9, 2009
The most perplexing political question of my life is how in 1988, right after the Iran-Contra scandal, Republicans nominated Vice President George Bush for the presidency. Was everyone else seeking the party nomination even worse, or was it that the G.O.P. thought Bush, despite his shortcomings, just had the best chance of winning? That the vice president won the '88 presidential election was mainly due to Republican operatives making the electorate think it had to choose between Bush and not Democrat Michael Dukakis but, rather, felon Willie Horton.
The stain of Iran-Contra notwithstanding, politically George Bush only got as far as he did by appointment, not election, the John Podhoretz book HELL OF A RIDE reminds us. Before becoming Ronald Reagan's 1981-89 vice president, the only elections Bush won were two terms as a Texas congressman, serving from 1966 to 1970. After losing his 1970 race for the United States Senate to Lloyd Bentsen, Bush spent the next seven years as a selection to:
- Ambassador to the United Nations (1971-1974);
- Special Envoy to China (1974-1975);
- Republican National Chairman (1975-1976); and
- Central Intelligence Agency Director (1976-1977)
The son of a United States Senator, George Bush was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. However, without Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford keeping him in high places, Bush was out of public work by 1977. As if he didn't get the hint, in 1980 Bush sought the Republican nomination for president only to have Ronald Reagan upend him. It was back to appointments for Bush as Reagan selected him to be his running mate.
Having Ronald Reagan pick him off third base in 1980 was not enough of a lesson for George Bush, and with Willie Horton's black magic helping, in 1988 Bush actually managed to win the presidency. But as HELL OF A RIDE recounts, in 1992 the clock struck midnight and Bush found himself riding a pumpkin as Bill Clinton sailed past him. With no one to direct him, President George Bush proved the captain of a rudderless White House ship, and the public was not to give him another four years to finally steer toward a destination, the book says.
Read HELL OF A RIDE.