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The Tally Ho

Friday, June 11, 2004

Another Point in the Reagan Legacy

The Bush family ascends to the most powerful political family probably since the Kennedy’s.

I was chatting about the legacy of Reagan with a guy on the way back from a sandwich shop yesterday. He made a very interesting point about the Reagan legacy that I had not heard this week (though I have been ignoring much of it), George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Obviously I am not talking about policy (did you look at Bush's webpage most of last week?). As Krugman’s Monday op-ed pointed out, Reagan raised taxes several times, something that junior Bush will never do. But the Bush part of Reagan’s legacy started when George H.W. Bush was chosen as Vice President in 1980 after losing the GOP primary to Mr. Reagan. Kevin Phillips, in his book American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, comments that the main reason why senior Bush was selected as Reagan’s running mate was to ease the Northern moderate Republicans concerns over Reagan and his South/West conservatism. Bush seemed like a good choice by their estimation. Prescott was a Wall Streeter turned Connecticut Senator, dubbed a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. The Bush family was an elite New England, Anglican, family with successful businessmen on both sides (I will have to check, but I believe the Walker’s were successful in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Kansas City – someone has my Phillips book!). Phillips made another statement that I remember. When the Bush family left the Northeast they moved to Texas, Midland I believe (where some streets are named after Ivy League institutions – again, I want my Phillips book back). Phillips made the comment that the difference between the Bush family and other influential families was the Bush family chose the right state. Junior Bush, however, seems very different from his father. He is evangelical Methodist. He seems to reject his Northeast background and the social moderates, etc., etc.

But anyway, I think this guy made a good point. The junior Bush presidency cannot be left out of the Reagan legacy. As Phillips pointed out in his book, the Bush political power comes from the marriage between the military industrial complex, the intelligence community, and big business. I guess you now can add religious and social conservatism to that mix.

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