The Breakfast Table

The Bushes: A Whole New Teeming Clan

Dear Ted:

Thinking about all the cult-of-celebrity stories people are writing now and how frightened folks are at the prospect of wrestlers, developers, and movie stars entering politics. I remember all the George Murphy and early Reagan jokes (Jack Warner: “No, not Reagan for president. Jimmy Stewart for president and Ronald Reagan as his best friend”). When you think about it, none of the three current “serious” boys arrived at fame through public-policy acumen. Gore and Bush had famous (eponymous) daddies. And Bradley was a hoop wizard. Once in the public eye, these fellows parlayed their chips. It’s like all of American society, really. Privilege has its advantages, as they say. Famous sons of famous men are remarkable when they don’t take their place at the top of things. JFK Jr. was remarkable for not being remarkable. Folks couldn’t get over that he wasn’t in office or, at least, in the movies. His death reminded people that the later chapters of his life were not going to play out as they had dreamed them. I don’t think we ever completely got over the allure of royalty. Our favorite soap operas seem to be about dynasties; generations handing down traditions of abuse and debauchery of various kinds.

So, I think Georgie excites us with the notion of the whole teeming Bush clan moving back into the limelight. It won’t be the stale Bush administration we knew. We now have a panoply of archetypes we know and are, I think, already responding to. The young slacker Bush, called by his country, avenging his father against the sinful pretender. The ardent, pious wife, taming the young prince, guiding him to his glorious destiny. The chuckle-headed old king, jumping from planes, bouncing grandchildren on his knee. The powerful and benevolent queen mum. The equally ambitious younger brother who will not take a cabinet post (will there be family rivalry?). And finally, the two beautiful twin daughters. Who will date and/or bed them and move in to the circle? Ah, we breathlessly await the next exciting episode.

How could Warren Beatty, let alone any of the others compete, with that? You say it’s policy you want to discuss? Campaign-finance reform? Welfare? NAFTA? What channel are you watching?

Don’t wake me,