Hey! Randy

Well, It Could Be

Posted by heyrandy on March 6, 2009

Family of Secrets, Russ Baker, Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2009.  494pp.

It seems that the family of our 41st and 43rd presidents has been quietly busy for a long time.  Well at least for three generations.  This book is the convoluted, tangled, and byzantine story of the Bush family machinations and intrigues.  The tale begins with Prescott Bush, continues through George H.W. (Poppy) Bush and ends with George W. (W.) Bush.  Along the tortuous path odd alibis,  business deals involving assorted miscreants, international intrigues, and hints of what happens to presidents  and newsmen who resist the powers that be.

Baker reveals the oddities of the three generation of Bushes that have had such influence in American and world politics.  Baker shows that the Bushes are really different from the rest of us.  They are elites who have little in common with the hoi polloi. All three men were Yale graduates and members of its elite and secret Skull and Bones Society.  All had high government positions.  All were members of that nebulous group politically connected elites.

This is all well known.  Here the book just restates the obvious.  Yes, Yale, Skull and Bones, snobby preparatory schools and a long history of political connections. So?  The real story, which Baker does tell is the one that cannot be confirmed.  It is the tale of the connections, the deal, the plot.  This fills the book.  It is also all based on rumor and incomplete evidence.

If we remove from the book the gossip and the already known , what do we have?  Only the it could be, but we are not sure if it is.  This is not much.

The famous Air National Guard letters disparaging W’s service are an example.  Baker implies that the letters were a deliberate trap set by Bush family operatives to exact revenge on Dan Rather and to deflect criticism of W’s suspect Guard service.  Bakers adverts to the fact that the woman who delivered the copies of the letters to a known Bush hater was later found by Baker to be living in a new house in a new subdivision and to have a new car in the drive way.  The woman would not talk to Baker.  This is curious, but it is evidence of nothing.

Baker also points to the speed with which internet bloggers attacked the letters, pointing to the obvious flaws.  This is interesting but not convincing.  CBS was certainly stupid, but there is little in all this to link any Bush or one of their operatives to this.  It is more likely a case of rushing to air the story.  CBS had learned that a major newspaper also had copies of the letters and was planning to soon publish.  Not wanting to be scooped, CBS ignored the pleas of producer Mary Mapes for more time to evaluate the letters and aired the story.

The book is full of such theories about business deals, political ploys, other nefarious doings.  It is to be expected.  Politics is well known for its intrigues.  At least Baker hits both sides of the aisle: Lyndon Johnson does not come out too well.  No one comes out too well, especially the media.  Baker repeatedly points out missed opportunities by reporters to follow leads, to ask serious questions, and to go beyond the press release.   Baker acknowledges the risks in such writing.  If they took down CBS News and Dan Rather, what would they do to him?

This fear is much like Baker’s speculation that John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King could not have been killed by a “lone nut’ because that theory is too neat.  Great reading, but where is the proof?  So far, Baker is alive, well, and ignored.  This is as it should be.


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