Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bush's Heartland values

Here at what may be the low point of the Bush presidency, it seems an odd time to begin touting a project to restore the old Bush family home in Midland.

There is no denying that people in West Texas are diehard Bush backers. I’m sure a lot of the 38 percent of the U.S. population that still thinks W. is doing a bang-up job in Washington resides thereabouts. But it seems they are in a bit of a quandry about how to promote the Bush family house:

Promoters of the house as a historic landmark acknowledge that defining its particular story line has not been easy. Although the house itself suggests modest beginnings, the young couple that occupied it belonged to one of the most powerful families in contemporary American history, combining the wealth and power of Wall Street with a record of high public office.

George H.W. Bush's father, Prescott Bush, had been a U.S. senator from Connecticut, for instance, and the family tree included an original partner of financier J.P. Morgan. In some ways, the family compound on the ocean at Kennebunkport, Maine, may be a more authentic symbol of who the Bushes are.

"We've understood throughout the project that we cannot portray them as coming from a lifting-yourselves-by-the-bootstraps background with no resources," said Bill Scott, a Midland real estate broker and one of the organizers of the Bush home project. "We do not want to portray them as coming from humble backgrounds."

Instead, in addition to honoring the family that — perhaps more than even oil and high school football — put Midland on the map, developers suggest that this is where the Bush family may have learned Heartland values.

Of course, those Heartland values. That’s why the Bush clan moved out to dusty West Texas, not so much to make their fortune, which they already had, but to ground themselves in the American Heartland values that would give them the political spit-shine that they needed to make themselves more politically viable and to distance themselves from their real New England patrician roots.

There is no doubt that it worked. Much of George W.’s political success can be attributed to his image as a West Texas good ol’ boy. Nevermind that he went to private schools in Andover and then on to Yale and Harvard, when people think of Bush they think of him in boots and jeans and wearing a cowboy hat.

The Bush’s have ridden that wave a long way and today you will find no place where Bush loyalty runs stronger than in solid Red-State West Texas.

So then, how does Bush repay these fine people for giving his political career the gloss of midwestern authenticity that it required? Why, by giving them the back of his hand, of course. I still can’t get over the fact that Bush would put his presidential library anywhere but in West Texas. What an ingrate! Texas Tech University in Lubbock had by far the best bid of any place seeking to host the library. It would have been the ideal place for the Bush library, in the town where Bush Sr. would often turn for poll results favorable to his presidency and where Bush Jr. launched his political career with a run for Congress.
But now after all the excitement and anticipation they are left heartbroken and disappointed.

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