George the Shrub:
A Ruling Class Act
Revolutionary Worker #1065, August 6, 2000
He just showed up--early, very early, in the presidential race--and acted like he had a lock on his party's nomination--with that superior smirk that makes everyone remember their encounters with spoiled rich frat-rats.
But George W. Bush didn't show up at the presidential dance alone--he arrived with $70 million dollars in his pockets, so much money that he could reject federal matching funds and ignore campaign spending limits. And he showed up with the open endorsement of the so-called "Republican establishment."
Now, a year later, George W. Bush is the Republican candidate for president--a man within reach of the keys of the empire.
Every observer knows that Dub-ya Bush hasn't come this far on merit.
He is a man of few accomplishments. He was a failed oilman and the some-time owner of a baseball team. Parts of his biographies are labeled "the Lost Years"--where he apparently did little but party. He has held office a few years as Governor of Texas, where his main distinction has been presiding over the executions of 135 people.
Today, George W. Bush remains an untested and unremarkable bourgeois politician. It is hard not to ask: "What is the attraction? Who thinks this guy would make a good leader of the empire? Where does his support come from?"
The answers to these questions are revealing about this man who may be president, and they say a lot about this system, about how its leaders are picked and about who they serve.
Junior the Shrub
On one level it's clear how George Dub-ya got to the top: George Walker Bush rides the shoulders of his father George Herbert Walker Bush. Dub-ya is the son of the infamous CIA-chief-turned-President (and the grandson of a Senator Bush from Connecticut). He is George Jr. the Shrub, the offshoot of Daddy Bush.
Want to learn about "affirmative action" in America? Look at Dub-ya's resume. Every step of his life is marked with privilege and the shameless exploitation of the networks of ruling class connections. Here is old-school affirmative action for the rich and well-connected.
George W. was educated at Phillips Academy, the upper class boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts. He went to college at Yale, and then later got his MBA from Harvard Business School.
When he first got out of college, he was a conservative hawk, a war supporter in the hot days of the mid-'60s. Congressman Bush's son, George W. got a posting to the Texas Air National Guard--which meant that Dub-ya could avoid going to Vietnam by showing up for Guard duty on weekends.
Everyone knew that the Air National Guard was an easy-out. George W. had jumped over a waiting list of 100,000 men, and over a list of 150 pilot applicants. And he was not alone -- the unit that accepted Bush included the son of Lloyd Bentsen (Democratic Texas senator and vice presidential candidate), the son of John Connally (Democratic Texas Governor and Republican Presidential hopeful). The unit also included some Black National Guardsmen--members of the Dallas Cowboys football team.
In the all-American tradition of "rich man's war, poor man's fight"--George W. rooted for the imperialist invasion of Vietnam while partying in Houston.
At a certain point, ambitious young men of the ruling class stake out their turf. Lawrence Rockefeller went to rule Arkansas. Jay Rockefeller went to rule West Virginia. And like his father, George W. Bush decided to start in the city of Midland, surrounded by the West Texas oilfields.
To win in Texas politics, it helps to be a "self-made oillionare." So George W. created oil companies--largely on paper-- using a series of names like Zapata Oil, Arbusto Oil (Spanish for Bush), and Bush Exploration. And at 31, he ran for congress in Midland.
One skill was on display: he convinced large and influential members of the capitalist class that supporting his Daddy's boy would serve their interests. George W. haunted New York City and Connecticut, hitting up friends of the family and old pals from Harvard. All he had was his smirk and his last name--as he lined up investors from the CEOs of Prudential-Bache Securities, the Celanese corporation, and a half dozen other capitalist centers.
In the end, George W. brought millions of investment dollars back to West Texas. The plan was a failure: Bush was crushed in his 1978 bid for Congress. Afterward, his company's wells found little oil. Investors in Zapata Oil lost about $2 million.
For George W. Bush, this was still a success story -- thanks to the backing of powerful forces interested in a connection with the Bush family. When George W.'s company started sinking, he got a sudden "angel" investor -- a capitalist named Philip Uzielli, CEO of a Panamanian company and an associate of George Sr.'s right-hand man James Baker. Uzielli bought 10 percent of Arbusto Oil for $1 million (when the company had an estimated overall worth of $400,000).
Then in 1986 (as his father was preparing to run for president) George W.'s troubled company was bought by a larger company, Harken Energy (which Time magazine called "one of the most mysterious and eccentric outfits ever to drill for oil"). Harken was run by a multimillionaire named Alan Quasha, who was known as "a Republican fundraiser" within the ruling class. George W. was kept on as frontman and major stockholder.
Harken director E. Stuart Watson later said "We didn't have a fair price for oil, we just had George. And George was very useful to Harken.... It seemed like George, he knew everyone in the U.S. who was worth knowing."
Very useful. Harken never struck oil, but it struck a deal. The Persian Gulf emirate of Bahrain, decided to give them the exclusive 35-year contract to explore for oil in the Persian Gulf--turning down a bid from Amoco. This relatively small and unknown company, Harken, had never drilled for oil in water, had no visible resources for such a major project, and Dub-ya himself had a miserable record at oil exploration.
That deal inflated Harken stock. George W. cashed in by selling most of his stock--just a few months before President Bush began deploying troops to the Persian Gulf. Exploration plans crashed, and the stockholders of Harken oil lost much of their money. George W. walked away with a fortune, probably based on inside knowledge of the coming war. And Bahrain emerged as a main U.S. base in the region--with close ties to the Bush family.
George W. had become a millionaire, but hardly a "self-made" millionaire. He is a man born on third base who acts like he hit a triple.
The Reagan Model
Still the question remains: What took this ruling class con-man to the heights of the Republican Party? What brings him within reach of the oval office itself?
This is a man who openly says he hates meetings, briefings and long policy books. His knowledge of foreign policy is so thin, reporters started springing "quiz questions" on him: testing whether he knew the names of foreign countries and their leaders.
It was supposed to be reassuring when the Bush campaign revealed that George W. was being home-schooled by foreign policy heavyweights of the past Bush administrations--like the Gulf warmaker Colin Powell, the one-man think-tank Henry Kissinger, former CIA head Brent Scowcroft, former Secretary of State George Shultz and of course, behind the scenes, George Sr. himself.
And, in many ways, it is reassuring to sections of the ruling class, and perhaps this is even the point and the attraction of the George W. Bush campaign--for the ruling class.
In this year's presidential campaign, the policies and politics of the Democrat and Republican campaign are startlingly close. The Clinton/Gore administration has cut welfare, promoted cops and the death penalty, aggressively attacked other countries, and promoted all kinds of imperialist "free trade deals." The Bush campaign can do little more than promise to continue those policies.
But, at the same time, important sections of the ruling class have argued that Clinton has violated established principles of accountability to ruling class structures and procedures--in ways that damaged the larger interests of the system. They have worried that the bickering of recent years, the intense "partisan" polarization within ruling class politics, came from an absence of a "patrician force" within the ruling class capable of "rising above sectarian and partisan disputes" and acting as a "cohering center" upholding those larger interests.
USA Today ran a commentary "Lack of Wise Men Leaves the Nation Wanting," (Oct. 15, 1998) that captures that sentiment. It was a critique of the Clinton administration, but also a complaint about the direction and climate of the ruling class power structure.
For some in the ruling class, George W. Bush offers a solution to these perceived problems. Here is a smooth Texas politician, a man utterly loyal to their class, with a public willingness to listen to "wise men" of their system. George W. Bush is a man uncluttered with too many intense personal opinions--who is apparently willing to preside over a committee-style presidency.
It has worked before for the ruling class --in the Reagan years before Irangate. In the Reagan presidency the notoriously un-expert Ronald Reagan was the nerve center of a team of "seasoned" ruling class experts.
George W. is a man who comes with a built-in team of such "wise men." He may not know the names of foreign leaders, but he brings to the table the extensive ties the Bush family has around the world, especially to the Latin American ruling classes.
Class Memories of Daddy Bush
The campaign of George Walker Bush is, in short, an offer of "Bush Presidency, the Sequel."
For sections of the ruling class, apparently, the heyday of George Bush Sr. was the "good old days." And that too, is revealing in the class nature of this system's politics.
For the masses of people of the world, the name George Bush is linked to bitter memories of covert operations, heartless attacks on the people, brutality and invasion.
Bush Sr. was deeply involved in the dirty war to overthrow the Nicaraguan government in the early '80s. And he is believed to have been involved in the deals that sent cocaine into U.S. ghetto streets to finance secret weapons shipments to those covert operations. Bush Sr. was a key figure in U.S. preparations (and threats) to wage nuclear world war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. He was involved in sending U.S. advisers and Green Berets to Peru to fight the Maoist revolution there.
As president, George Bush led the savage U.S./UN attack on Iraq--to tighten the U.S. grip on Persian Gulf oil and on all the nations dependent on Persian Gulf oil. He and his team played a key role in the plots that shattered Yugoslavia and led to years of reactionary war in the Balkans.
Above all, and through it all, he was the central architect of the U.S. imperialist plans to dominate the whole world after the 1990 fall of the Soviet Union.
For the people of the world, this is a record of savage imperialism. The "trusted" men involved in these events--like Colin Powell, Admiral Scowcroft, George Shultz and Dick Cheney--are war criminals, enemies of the world's people, and representatives of the U.S. imperialist/capitalist class.
Enter Dick Cheney
"It speaks volumes that I'm willing to pick somebody who is as strong a man as he is, that I'm comfortable with having excellence by my side."
George W. Bush, July 26
"Mr. Cheney is an immensely respected political veteran..."
New York Timesfrontpage , July 28
"A Baby-Sitter for Junior"
Maureen Dowd on Cheney, New York Times July 26
On July 25, George W. selected Dick Cheney to be his Vice Presidential running mate. This choice is traditionally viewed as the first "test" of a presidential candidate's decision-making.
Cheney was a Wyoming congressman who became Secretary of Defense in the Bush Sr. administration. He was a key figure in the Gulf War and the earlier Panama invasion. And he helped craft plans for the "New World Order" that Bush Sr. envisioned after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Mainstream political commentators almost universally remarked that by choosing Cheney, George W. had shown remarkable wisdom.
The New York Times sounded a very common theme when they wrote that Cheney has "few obvious political advantages" for the campaign. What that means is that Cheney won't win Bush a single vote among the people. But, at the same time, this choice remains a highly political choice, because it helps consolidate Bush's support within the ruling class which means much more in the real-life presidential selection process than votes.
The choice of Cheney was also designed to calm lingering ruling class fears that George W. might still be too untested and immature to be trusted with the life-and-death decisions of its empire. Cheney's role is similar to the role that the George Bush Sr. played, in 1980, for an earlier presidential candidate -- the internationally untested Governor Ronald Reagan.
Cheney's Record and Bush's Politics
"I obviously thought about the record. And this is a conservative man. So am I."
George W. Bush, July 26,
upholding Cheney's voting record.
George W.'s short political life means that he is not yet connected with a long list of political crimes. Bush has promoted himself as a "compassionate conservative" -- and morphed himself into positions that suit his current needs.
But now, by choosing Cheney, the Bush campaign has acquired a long and intense record. Cheney served in three administrations--Nixon, Ford and Bush. And he was notorious rightwing "meat-eater" in Congress--known for extreme reactionary views.
Cheney voted against Head Start. He opposed women's right to abortion in every possible way. He voted six times against sanctions on South Africa's apartheid regime. In one infamous stand, he voted against a symbolic resolution calling for the release of South African political leader Nelson Mandela, who had served many years in prison for fighting racist apartheid. And as the head of the Pentagon, he left a bloody trail from Panama to the Persian Gulf.
His three heart attacks are the only known evidence that he has a heart.
Then, as this system waged war on "government handouts for the poor" during the 1990s, Cheney's career was a living example of "government handouts for the rich."
After leaving the Pentagon, Cheney became the chief executive of Halliburton, a mid-sized company specializing in oil production equipment. He cashed in on his official contacts with the oil industry and the reactionary governments of the Middle East. With Cheney as its $2 million-a-year "rain-maker," Halliburton became a powerhouse almost overnight --with $15 billion in annual sales and contracts in over 120 countries. Cheney ended up with about $43 million for about five years involvement.
For the masses of people of the world, such a man is an enemy. But for the ruling class, he is a trusted and experienced representative--and a man who they consider "gentlemanly" in his partisanship.
Even the New York Times (the house-organ of liberal sections of the ruling class) describes this monster as "an immensely respected political veteran" (July 28). This shows that--despite the often intense disputes within the ruling class--that they are a class, with common interests that are completely hostile to the people of the world.
And with such choices, George W. Bush offers himself to be the top political representative of the U.S. ruling class. He offers a refurbished version of the Old Bush team, using a refurbished version of the Old Reagan Team model. And it is because of the record and crimes of that Bush team, that George W. and Dick Cheney are seen as men worth considering for the top posts.
This is the stand and these are the class interests by which a criminal system measures and chooses its criminal representatives.
In future issues, we will examine and expose the political program and the class nature of the Democratic presidential campaign--headed by another ruling class "fortunate son," Al Gore.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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