During the heat of the senate campaign, Bush’s redistricting lawsuit had progressed in a way that must have provided him much solace amidst the bitterness of his defeat. When Bush won his suit in the Houston federal district court, there was a loud squawk from Governor John Connally, who called that august tribunal as a “Republican court.” Bush whined that Connally was being “vitriolic.” During Bush’s primary campaign, a three-judge panel of the federal circuit court of appeals had ruled that the state of Texas must be redistricted. Bush called that result “a real victory for all the people of Texas.” By March, Bush’s redistricting suit had received favorable action by the US Supreme Court. This meant that the way was clear to create a no-incumbent, designer district for George in a masterpiece of gerrymandering that would make him an elected official, the first Republican Congressman in the recent history of the Houston area.
The new Seventh District was drawn to create a liberal Republican seat, carefully taking into account which areas Bush had succeeded in carrying in the senate race. What emerged was for the most part a lilly-white, silk-stocking district of the affluent upper middle and upper crust. There were also small black and Hispanic enclaves. In the precinct boxes of the new district, Bush had rolled up an eight to five margin over Yarborough. [fn 1]
But before gearing up a Congressional campaign in the Seventh District in 1966, Bush first had to jettison some of the useless ideological ballast he had taken on for his 1964 Goldwater profile. During the 1964 campaign, Bush had spoken out more frankly and more bluntly on a series of political issues than he ever has before or since. Apart from the Goldwater coloration, one comes away with the impression that much of the time the speeches were not just inventions, but often reflected his own oligarchical instincts and deeply-rooted obsessions. In late 1964 and early 1965, Bush was afflicted by a hangover induced by what for him had been an unprecedented orgy of self-revelation.
The 1965-66 model George Bush would become a moderate, abandoning the shrillest notes of the 1964 conservative crusade.
First came an Episcopalian mea culpa. As Bush’s admirer Fitzhugh Green reports, “one of his first steps was to shuck off a bothersome trace from his 1964 campaign. He had espoused some conservative ideas that didn’t jibe with his own moderate attitude.” Previous statements were becoming inoperative, one gathers, when Bush discussed the matter with his Anglican pastor, John Stevens. “You know, John,” said Bush, “I took some of the far right positions to get elected. I hope I never do it again. I regret it.” His radical stance on the Civil Rights bill was allegedly a big part of his “regret.” Stevens later commented: “I suspect that his goal on civil rights was the same as mine: it’s just that he wanted to go through the existing authorities to attain it. In that way nothing would get done. Still, he represents about the best of noblesse oblige.” [fn 2]
It was characteristically through an attempted purge in the Harris County GOP organization that Bush signalled that he was reversing his field. His gambit here was to call on party activists to take an “anti -extremist and anti-intolerance pledge,” as the Houston Chronicle reported on May 26, 1965. [fn 3] Bush attacked unnamed apostles of “guilt by association” and “far-out fear psychology, and his pronouncements touched off a bitter and protracted row in the Houston GOP. Bush made clear that he was targetting the John Birch Society, whose activists he had been eager to lure into his own 1964 effort. Now Bush beat up on the Birchers as a way to correct his right-wing profile from the year before. Bush said with his usual tortured syntax that Birch members claim to “abhor smear and slander and guilt by association, but how many of them speak out against it publicly?”
This was soon followed by a Bush-inspired move to oust Bob Gilbert, who had been Bush’s successor as the GOP county chairman during the Goldwater period. Bush’s retainers put out the line that the “extremists” had been gaining too much power under Gilbert, and that he therefore must go. The Bush faction by now had enough clout to oust Gilbert on June 12, 1965. The eminence grise of the right-wing faction, State senator Walter Mengdon, told the press that the ouster of Gilbert had been dictated by Bush. Bush whined in response that he was very disappointed with Mengdon. “I have stayed out of county politics. I believed all Republicans had backed my campaign,” Bush told the Houston Chronicle on the day Gilbert fell.
On July 1 the Houston papers reported the election of a new, “anti- extremist” Republican county leader. This was James M. Mayor, who defeated James Bowers by a margin of 95 votes against 80 in the county executive committee. Mayor was endorsed by Bush, as well as by Senator Tower. Bowers was an auctioneer who called for a return to the Goldwater “magic.” GOP state chair O’Donnell hoped that the new chairman would be able to put an end to “the great deal of dissension within the party in Harris County for several years.” Despite this pious wish, acrimonious faction fighting tore the county organization to pieces over the next several years. At one point the Ripon Society, a nationwide liberal Republican grouping which claimed to be part of a moderating rebuilding effort after the Goldwater debacle, intervened in the county to protect Mayor against the right-wing opposition. In so doing, the Ripon Society was also intervening in favor of Bush. The Ripon people pointed to the guerilla warfare against Mayor as “another demonstration of the persistent strength of the far right within the Texas GOP.” Shortly after this scaramouche, the dissident faction of the Harris County GOP controlled 87 of 189 precinct chairs.
But at the same time Bush took care to police his left flank, distancing himself from the beginnings of the movement against the war in Vietnam which had been visible by the middle of 1965. A remarkable document of this manuever is the text of the debate between Bush and Ronnie Dugger, the writer and editor of the Texas Observer. The debate was held July 1, 1965 before the Junior Bar of Texas convention in Fort Worth. Dugger had endorsed Bush–in a way Dugger said was “not without whimsical intent” in the GOP senate primary the year before. Dugger was no radical; at this point was not really against the Vietnam war, and he actually endorsed the policy of LBJ, saying that the President had “no easy way out of Viet Nam, but he is seeking and seeking hard for an honorable way out.” [fn 4] Nevertheless, Dugger found that LBJ had made a series of mistakes in the implementation of his policy. Dugger also embraced the provisos advanced by Senator Fulbright to the effect that “seeking a complete military victory would cost more than the requirements of our interest and honor.” So Dugger argued against any further escalation, and argued that anti-war demonstrations and civil disobedience could be beneficial.
Bush’s first real cause for alarm was seeing “the civil rights movement being made over into a massive vehicle with which to attack the President’s foreign policy in Vietnam.” He started by attacking Conrad Lynn, a “Negro lawyer” who had told students at “my old university- Yale University” – that “The United States white supremacists’ army has been sent to suppress the non-white people of the world.” According to Bush “The Yale Daily News reported that the audience applauded when [Lynn] annunced that several Negroes had gone to Asia to enlist in the North Viet Nam army to fight against the United States.” Then Bush turned to his real target, Martin Luther King. King, he said, who is “identified with the freedom of the Negro cause, says in Boston the other day that he doesn’t want to sit at a segregated lunch counter where you have strontium 90 in the milk, overlooking the fact that it’s the communists who are testing in the atmosphere today, the Red Chinese. It’s not the United States.” Then there was Bayard Rustin, “a leading individual in the Negro struggle for freedom, [who] calls for withdrawal from Viet Nam.” This is all hypocritical in Bush’s view, since “they talk about civil rights in this country, but they are willing to sacrifice the individual rights in the communist countries.”
Bush was equally riled up over anti-war demonstrations, since they were peopled by what he called “extremists:” “I am sure you know what an extremist is. That’s a guy who takes a good idea and carries it to simply preposterous ends. And that’s what’s happened. Of course, the re-emergence of the political beatnik is causing me personally a good deal of pleasure. Many conservatives winced during 1964 as we were labelled extremists of the right. And certainly we were embarrassed by the booing of Nelson Rockefeller at the convention, and some of the comments that referred to the smell of fascism in the air at the Republican convention, and things like this, and we winced.”
Warming to the subject, Bush continued: “Let me give you some examples of this kind of left wing extremism. Averell Harriman– surely not known for his reactionary views– speaking at Cornell University, talking about Viet Nam before a crowd that calls “Liar!” [They] booed him to the state he could hardly finish, and finally he got so frustrated he asked, ‘How many in the audience are communists?’ And a bunch of people there –small I will admit–held up their hands.”
So extremists, for Bush, were those who assailed Rockefeller and Harriman.
Bush defended the House Committe on Unamerican Activities against the demonstrations organized by James Foreman and SNCC, commiserated with a State Department official who had been branded a fascist at Iowa State, and went on to assail the Berkeley “filthy speech” movement. As an example of the “pure naivete” of civil rights leaders, he cited Coretta Scott King who “managed to link global peace and civil rights, somehow managed to tie these two things together philosophically” — which Bush professed not to fathom. “If we can be non-violent in Selma, why can’t we be non-violent in Viet Nam,” Ossie Davis had said, and Bush proposed he be awarded the “green Wiener” for his “absurd theory,” for “what’s got to be the fuzziest thinking of the year.”
Beyond this inevitable obsession with race, Bush was frankly a hawk, frankly for escalation, opening the door to nuclear weapons in Viet Nam only a little more subtly than he had the year before: “And so I stand here as one who says I will back up the President and military leaders no matter what weapons they use in Southeast Asia.”
During 1964, 1965 and 1966, Bush was still functioning as the full- time president of Zapata Offshore, although some of his co-workers complained that he was even less single-minded about making money. During this period, the company’s operations were rapidly expanding and LeTourneau’s Vicksburg yard turned out a series of offshore drilling platforms, including some of new design. Business had been good during 1964, with net income up 85% over the previous year. Bush wrote in the 1964 Zapata Petroleum Annual Report: “The offshore drilling industry in which we operate continues strong and active, with virtually all equipment in the Gulf of Mexico employed 100% of the time. Furthermore, other market around the world are active, and new markets are opening up.”
The latest LeTourneau drilling platform was the MAVERICK, which was at that time the largest self-elevating drilling barge in action anywhere in the world. The self-elevating barges were mobile rigs with legs that rested on the bottom of the ocean. “The maximum depth of water in which self-elevating barges can work is limited by the length of their legs,” Bush reminded the shareholders. Maverick went to work for the California Company. The MAVERICK design was so promising, Bush told the shareholders, that Zapata had completed negotiations to build two new rigs of the MAVERICK class,” which would go to work for Shell. Gulf oil was also anxious to hire one of Zapata’s new rigs.
The SCORPION, which had been the first of the self-elevating mobile barges, spent 1964 off the coast of Lousiana, under contract to Shell oil. The VINEGAROON spent the first half of the year off Trinidad, and then moved to a position off the coast of Louisiana. The SIDEWINDER, Zapata’s ship-shaped floating drilling vessel, had been towed by Royal Dutch Shell’s Brunei Shell Petroleum Compnay Ltd. to a position off the sultanate of Brunei on the north coast of Borneo. Bush wrote in the 1964 Zapata annual report that “Brunei Shell Petroleum Compnay, Ltd., has notified your company of Shell’s intention to exercise its option, contained in the drilling contract, to purchase the SIDEWINDER. Money derived from the sale of SIDEWINDER will be used to defray part of the cost of the new rigs. Shell plans to move the SIDEWINDER to the Persian Gulf where Seacat-Zapata, our Persian Gulf affiliate, will operate the SIDEWINDER with another Shell subsidiary.”
Among the older rigs, the NOLA I, the World War II freighter hull with a drilling apparatus built in, was now considered obsolete. The NOLA I was sold to a Mexican drilling company, presumably one connected to Diaz Serrano or one of his corporate fronts. The NOLA III, which had been sold in 1961 to Zapata-Seacat Offshore Company, one of Bush’s subsidiaries, was still active in the “relatively calm waters” of the Persian Gulf. “During 1964, NOLA III worked for Kuwait Shell Petroleum Development Company and Continental Oil Company,” Bush wrote in his 1964 annual report. So the Sultan of Brunei and the Emir of Kuweit were indeed Bush’s business partners.
The Zapata fleet of drilling rigs was undergoing continuous modernization, with the ship-shaped floating rigs being phased out in favor of the self-elevating drilling platforms. In 1964, three of Zapata’s five rigs were ship-shaped floaters, but by 1966, Bush wrote, only the NOLA III would remain active in this class. One threat to the Zapata fleet was posed by the hurricanes in the Gulf: in 1964 hurricane Hilda had done some damage to SCORPION, VINEGAROON, and the new MAVERICK.
Surveying the world market for drilling rigs, Bush pointed out that “discoveries off the coast of Nigeria are drawing rigs to that area.” There was also the recent discovery of oil in the North Sea, with the result that, “during the summer, the United Kingdom leased a vast area off its east coast for offshore exploration.” “Most of the world’s major oil companies are investing heavily in the North Sea,” Bush observed. There was also the Persian Gulf, where “a major lease sale off the Northern Coast of the Persian Gulf is being completed by the Iranian government as this report goes to press.” “All of these developments are expected to have a beneficial effect on Zapata’s business over the next several years,” Bush concluded.
In 1965, Bush was able to boast in his last Zapata Annual Report that earnings per share had risen for the sixth year out of the seven of his tenure. One severe setback had been the destruction of the MAVERICK platform by Hurricane Betsy in the Gulf. But Bush was able to reassure the shareolders: “I am pleased to note that within three weeks of Hurricane Betsy, your company had been paid the full value by the insurance companies. The coverage was carried with Lloyds of London and British Insurance Companies, and the offshore drilling business should be grateful for the way in which these companies have responded when disaster has struck.”
Bush’s world offshore drilling market survey now included the coast of Nigera, the Iranian leases in the northern Persian Gulf, Austrialian off-shore fields then opening up, the Gulf of Suez, and the beginning of drilling in the North Sea fields by both Britain and Norway. Zapata, said Bush, was keeping in close contact with British Petroleum, Continental, and Shell. On the world oil market overall, Bush quoted John Loudon, the senior managing director of the Royal Dutch Shell Group as saying that in 25 years the free world was going to require three times the current amount of oil for its consumption.
Later, the SIDEWINDER completed its trip from the Sultan of Brunei’s domains off the coast of northern Borneo, and began operating in the Persian Gulf. But to replace SIDEWINDER, Southeastern-Zaapata Drlling, a one-third owned affiliate, had built a new rig in Japan at a cost of some $6.5 million, and this rig had been moved to the Borneo coast under contract to Shell. Seacat Zapata’s NOLA III had left the Persian Gulf and was now operating in the Gulf of Tunis, whence it would proceed to the Red Sea coast of Ethiopia. VINEGAROON was working off the coast of Louisiana for Chevron, and a new rig, tentatively labelled RIG 8, was also destined for the Gulf of Mexico. Opportunities seemed imminent in Australia, where Zapata had set up a special relationship with Oil Drilling and Exploration Ltd. of Australia.
In 1966, the year that Bush says he left the management of Zapata to devote himself full-time to politics, Zapata experienced another increase in earnings per share. According to the 1966 Zapata Annual Report, Zapata’s “net profits for 1966 exceeded the net profits of several Fortune 500 companies.” The value of Zapata’s offshore drilling fleet was an estimated $34 million, and the company’s stock was now trading on the American Stock Exchange. With departure of George H.W. Bush as chairman of the board, the corporate personalities of Zapata underwent a shakeup. Along with Bush departed his maternal Uncle Herbie, aka G.H. Walker Jr., the Managing Director of G.H. Walker and Co., New York. J.W. Gardner was out as president, replaced by William H. Flynn. The new chairman of the board and chief executive officer was now D. Doyle Mize, who had previously been a member of the board. The Underwood, Neuhaus Co. interests kept their seat on the Zapata board, but their representative changed from Milton R. Underwood to William Stamps Farrish III, Bush’s Beeville hunting partner and the grandson of the Standard Oil executive who had been exposed for dealing with Nazi firms. Added to the board were also two representatives of leading Houston law firms, including R.P. Bushman of Vinson, Elkins, Weems, and Searls and B.J. Mackin of Baker, Botts, Shepherd and Coates. Judging from the presence of Farrish and the Houston lawyers, we may conclude that although Bush had departed from the formal structure of Zapata, he still had board members to represent his interests, which was important in light of the Zapata stock he continued to hold. The sole New Yorker on the post-Bush board was also a new face, Michael M. Thomas of Lehman Brothers.
New drilling platforms included the ENDEAVOUR, HERON, and CHAPPARAL, plus a 60% share of a ship-shaped floating vessel off the coast of Austrialia. Gulf Oil of Denmark had signed a $9 million contract for a new platform called the MAERSK EXPLORER, the first of a new generation of LeTourneau drilling units. CHAPPARAL was under contract to AGIP, a subsidiary of the Italian state oil compnay ENI, for operations in the Adriatic Sea. VINEGAROON was under contract to Petrobras of Brazil. Zapata’s offshore drilling activity by now comprehended areas off Denmark, Brazil, Italy, England, the Persian Gulf, Australia, and Louisiana.
Turning to the world drilling market, the new post-Bush management offered the following overview: “The offshore drilling industry, in which Zapata is a significant participant, has undegone a substantial change in character and scope in the past five years. Five years ago, almost all the offshore drilling units were operating in one geographical area, the Gulf of Mexico. Today, six separate offshore provinces have emerged as showing solid evidence of having major hydrocarbon deposits.” World horizons were vast, with the Zapata mangement counting seventeen countries with offshore oil or gas production already underway, and fifty other countries exploring or drilling for oil. Zapata’s ability to operate in such places as the North Sea, Austrialia, and Kuwait is indicative not just of a very close relationship between Zapata and the seven sisters oil cartel, but of an excellent entree with the inner sanctum of that cartel, the Royal Dutch Shell-British Petroleun nexus, which exercised the decisive influence on the policies and contingency planning of the cartel. Royal Dutch Shell was for example the company that availed itself of the services of Lord Victor Rothschild for its future planning.
The 1966 Zapata Annual report estimated that about 50% of the company’s profits came from US operations, 20% from the North Sea, 10% from the Middle East, 10% from Austrialia, and 10% from a subsidiary called Williams-McWilliams, which carried on dredging operations in the Gulf of Mexico and the lower Mississippi River. One can imagine that George Bush had to some degree participated in the negotiations for these operations. During his years with Zapata, it would thus appear that he had been able to extend the scope of his activity from the Cuban-Caribbean arena to the Persian Gulf, other parts of the Arab world, Brazil, Scandinavia, and the Adriatic waters between Italy and Yugoslavia.
As the 1966 Congressional election approached, Bush was optimistic about his chances of finally getting elected. This time, instead of swimming against the tide of the Goldwater cataclysm, Bush would be favored by the classic mid-term election reflext which almost always helps the Congressional candidates of the party out of power. And LBJ in the White House was vulnerable on a number of points, from the escalation of the Viet Nam war to stagflation. The designer gerrymandering of the new Houston congressional district had functioned perfectly, and so had his demagogic shift towards the “vital center” of moderate conservatism. Because the district was newly drawn, there would be no well-known incumbent to contend with. And now, by one of the convenient coincidences that seem to be strewn through Bush’s life , the only obstacle between him and election was a troglodyte Democratc conservative of an ugly and vindictive type, the sort of figure who would make even Bush look reasonable.
The Democrat in question was Frank Briscoe, a former district attorney. According to the Texas Observer, “Frank Briscoe was one of the most vicious prosecutors in Houston’s history. He actually maintained a ‘ten most wanted convictions list’ by which he kept the public advised of how much luck he had getting convictions against his chosen defendants then being held in custody. Now, as a candidate for Congress, Briscoe is running red-eyed for the right-wing in Houston. He is anti-Democratic,; anti-civil rights; anti-foreign aid; anti-war on poverty. The fact that he calls himself a Democrat is utterly irrelevant.” By contrast, from the point of view of the Texas Observer, “His opponent, George Bush, is a conservative man. He favors the war in Vietnam; he was for Goldwater, although probably reluctantly; he is nobody’s firebrand. Yet Bush is simply civilized in race relations, and he is now openly rejecting the support of the John Birch Society. This is one case where electing a Republican to Congress would help preserve the two-party balance of the country and at the same time spare Texas the embarrassment” of having somebody like Briscoe go to Washington. [fn 5] Bush’s ideological face-lifting was working. “I want conservatism to be sensitive and dynamic, not scared and reactionary,” Bush told the Wall Street Journal.
Briscoe appears in retrospect as a candidate made to order for Bush’s new moderate profile, and there are indications that is just what he was. Sources in Houston recall that in 1966 there was another Democratic candidate for the new Congressional seat, a moderate and attractive Democrat named Wildenthal. These sources say that Bush’s backers provided large-scale financial support for Briscoe in the Democratic primary campaign, with the result that Wildenthal lost out to Briscoe, setting up the race that Bush found to his advantage. A designer district was not enough for George; he also required a designer opponent if he was to prevail– a fact which may be relevant to the final evaulation of what happened in 1988.
One of the key points of differentiation between Bush and Briscoe was on race. The district had about 15% black population, but making some inroads here among registered Democrats would be of decisive importance for the GOP side. Bush made sure that he was seen sponsoring a black baseball team, and talked a lot about his work for the United Negro College Fund when he had been at Yale. He told the press that “black power” agitators were not a problem among the more responsible blacks in Houston “I think the day is past,” Bush noted, “when we can afford to have a lily white district. I will not attempt to appeal to the white backlash. I am in step with the 1960’s.” Bush even took up a position in the Office of Economic Opportunity anti-povety apparatus in the city. He supported Project Head Start. By contrast, Briscoe “accused” Bush of courting black support, and reminded Bush that other Texas Congressmen had been voting against civil rights legislation when it came up in Congress. Briscoe had antagonized parts of the black community by his relentless pursuit of the death penalty in cases involving black capital defendants. According to the New York Times, “Negro leaders have mounted a quiet campaign to get Negroes to vote for [Bush].”
Briscoe’s campaign ads stressed that he was a right-winger and a Texan, and accused Bush of being “the darling of the Lindsey [sic]- Javits crowd,” endorsed by labor unions, liberal professors, liberal Republicans and liberal syndicated columnists. Briscoe was proud of his endorsements from Gov. John Connally and the Conservative Action Committee, a local right-wing group. One endorsement for Bush that caused Briuscoe some difficulty was that of Bush mentor Richard M. Nixon. By 1966, Nixon was on the comeback trail, having wihstood the virtual nervous breakdown he had undergone after losing his bid for the governorship of California in 1962. Nixon was now in the course of assembling the delegates that would give him the GOP presidential nomination in Miami in 1968. Nixon came to Houston and made campaign appearances for Bush, as he had in 1964.
Bush had brought in a new group of handlers and image-mongers for this 1966 race. His campaign manager was Jim Allison from Midland. Harry Treleaven was brought in design Bush’s propaganda.
Treleaven had been working at the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency in New York City, but he took a leave of absence from J. Walter to come to work for Bush in Texas. At J. Walter Thompson, Treleaven had sold the products of Pan American, RCA, Ford, and Lark cigarettes. He was attracted to Bush because he had plenty of money and was willing to spend it liberally. After the campaign was over, Treleaven wrote a long memo about what he had done. He called it “Upset: The Story of a Modern Political Campaign.” One of the basic points in Treleaven’s selling of Bush was that issues would play no role. “Most national issues today are so complicated, so difficult to understand, and have opinions on that they either intimidate or, more often, bore the average voter…Few politicians recognize this fact.” In his memo, Treleaven describes how he walked around Houston in the hot August of 1966 and asked people what they thought of George Bush. He found that many considered Bush to be “an extremely likeable person,” but that “there was a haziness about exactly where he stood politically.”
For Treleaven, this was an ideal situation. “There’ll be few opportunities for logical persuasion, which is all right– because probably more people vote for irrational, emotional reasons than professional politicians suspect.” Treleaven’s approach was that “politicians are celebrities.” Treleaven put 85% of Bush’s hefty campaign budget into advertising, and 59% of that was for television. Newspaper ad got 3%. Treleaven knew that Bush was behind in the polls. “We can turn this into an advantage,” he wrote, “by creating a ‘fighting underdog ‘ image. Bush must convince voters that he really wants to be elected and is working hard to earn their vote. People sympathize with a man who tries hard: they are also flattered that anyone would really exert himself to get their vote. Bush, therefore, must be shown as a man who’s working his heart out to win.”
As Joe McGinnis summed up the television ads that resulted: “Over and over, on every television set in Houston, George Bush was seen with his coat slung over a shoulder; his sleeves rolled up; walking the streets of his district; grinning, gripping, sweating, letting the voter know he cared. About what, was never made clear.” [fn 7]
Coached by these professional spin doctors, Bush was acting as mainstream, fair, and conciliatory as could be. In an exchange with Briscoe in the Houston Chronicle a few days before the election, he came out for “a man’s right to join a union and his right to strike, but I additionally would favor fair legislation to see that no strike can cripple this nation and endanger the general welfare.” But he was still for the Texas right to work law. Bush supported LBJ’s “present Vietnam position.. I would like to see an All -Asian Conference convened to attempt to settle this horrible war. The Republican leadership, President Johnson, and Secretary Rusk and almost all but the real ‘doves’ endorse this.” Bush was against “sweeping gun control.” Briscoe wanted to cut “extravagant domestic spending,” and thought that money might be found by forcing France and the USSR to finally pay up their war debts from the two world wars!
When it came to urban renewal, Bush spoke up for the Charles Percy National Home Ownership Foundation, which carried the name of a leading liberal Republican senator. Bush wanted to place the federal emphasis on such things as “rehabilitating old homes.” “I favor the concept of local option on urban renewal. Let the people decide,” he said, with a slight nod in the direction of the emerging New Left.
In Bush’s campaign ads he invited the voters to “take a couple of minutes and see if you don’t agree with me on six important points,” including Vietnam, inflation, civil disobedience, jobs, voting rights, and “extremism” (Bush was against the far right and the far left). And there was George, billed as “successful businessman…civic leader…world traveler..war hero,” bareheaded in a white shirt and tie, with his jacket slung over his shoulder in the post-Kennedy fashion.
In the context of a pro-GOP trend that brought 59 freshman Republican Congressmen into the House, the biggest influx in two decades, Bush’s calculated approach worked. Bush got about 35% of the black vote, 44% of the usually yellow-dog Democrat rural vote, and 70% in the exclusive River Oaks suburb. Still, his margin was not large: Bush got 58% of the votes in the district. Bob Gray, the candidate of the Constitution Party, got less than 1%. Despite the role of black voters in his narrow victory, Bush could not refrain from whining. “If there was a disappointing aspect in the vote, it was my being swamped in the black precincts, despite our making an all-out effort to attract black voters. It was both puzzling and frustrating,” Bush observed in his 1987 campaign autobiography. [fn 6] After all, Bush complained, he had put the GOP’s funds in a black-owned bank when he was party chairman; he had opened a party office with full-time staff near Texas Southern a black college,; he had worked closely with Bill Trent of the United Negro College Fund, all with scant payoff as Bush saw it. Many black voters had not been prepared to reward Bush’s noblesse oblige and that threw him into a rage state, whether or not his thyroid was already working overtime in 1966.
When Bush got to Washington in January, 1967, the Brown Brothers, Harriman networks delivered: Bush became the first freshman member of the House of either party to be given a seat on the Ways and Means Committee since 1904. And he did this, it must be recalled, as a member of the minority party, and in an era when the freshman Congressman was supposed to be seen and not heard. The Ways and Means Committee in those years was still a real center of power, one of the most strategic points in the House along with the Rules Committee and a few others. By Constitutional provision, all tax legislation had to originate in the House of Representatives, and given the traditions of committee organization, all tax bills had to originate in the Ways and Means Committee. In addition to the national importance of such a committee assignment, Ways and Means oversaw the legislation impacting such vital Texas and district concerns as oil and gas depletion allowances, and the like.
Later writers have marvelled at Bush’s achievement in getting a seat on Ways and Means. For John R. Knaggs, this reflected “the great potential national Republicans held for George Bush.” The Houston Chronicle, which had supported Briscoe in the election, found that with this appointment “the GOP was able to point up to the state one benefit of a two-party system.” [fn 8]
In this case, unlike so many others, we are able to establish how the invisible hand of Skull and Bones actually worked to procure Bush this important political plum. This is due to the indiscretion of the man who was chairman of Ways and Means for many years, Democratic Congressman Wilbur D. Mills of Arkansas. Mills was hounded out of office because of an alcoholism problem, and later found work as an attorney for a tax law firm. Asked about the Bush appointment to the committee he controlled back in 1967, Mills said: “I put him on. I got a phone call from his father telling me how much it mattered to him. I told him I was a Democrat and the Republicans had to decide; and he said the Republicans would do it if I just asked Jerry Ford.” Mills said that he had asked Ford and John W. Byrnes of Wisconsin, who was the ranking Republican on Ways and Means, and Bush was in, thanks once again to Daddy Warbucks, Prescott Bush. [fn 9]
Wilbur Mills may have let himself in for a lot of trouble in later years by not always treating George with due respect. Because of Bush’s obsession with birth control for the lower orders, Mills gave Bush the nickname “Rubbers,” which stuck with him during his years in Congress. [fn 10] Poppy Bush was not amused. One day Mills might ponder in retrospect, as so many others have, on Bush’s vindictiveness.
On one occasion Mills prolonged the questioning of Walter Reuther of the UAW, who was appearing as a witess in hearings before the committee, to let George Bush get a few questions in and look good for the home-town press. Mills’ career in public life was destroyed during the Ford Presidency when he was found cavorting drunk in public with the dancer Fanny Foxe. This came in an era when the Church and Pike committees of Congress had been pounding the CIA, and when George Bush was about to take over as CIA Director. The fall of Wilbur Mills, together with the Koreagate scandal of alleged Congressional influence peddling, appeared at the time as retaliation designed to knock the Congress on the defensive.
George and Barbara claim to have bought a home on Hillbrook Lane in northwest Washington sight unseen over the telephone from Sen. Milward Simpson of Wyoming, the father of Sen. Al Simpson, the current GOP minority whip. Later the family moved to Palisade Lane.
Bush’s Congressional office in the Longworth Building was run by administrative assistant Rose Zamaria, with Pete Roussel acting as the Congressman’s presse secretary, and Jim Allison and Aleene Smith also on the staff. Bush says that his closest cronies in those day included Bill Steiger of Wisconsin, Rep. Sonny Mongomery of Mississippi, liberal Republican Barber Conable of New York (later attacked as “Barbarian Cannibal” in some developing countries when he was President of the World Bank in the Reagan-Bush years), Tom Kleppe of North Dakota and John Paul Hammerschmidt of Arkansas (a long-term ally).
In January, 1968, LBJ delivered his State of the Union message to Congress, even as the Viet Cong’s Tet offensive was making a shambles of his Vietnam war policy. The Republican reply came in a series of short statements by former President Eisenhower, House Minority leader Jerry Ford, Rep. Melvin Laird, Senator Howard Baker, and other members of Congress. Another tribute to the efforts of the Prescott Bush-Skull and Bones networks was the fact that amid this parade of Republican worthies there appeared, with tense jaw and fist clenched to pound on the table, Rep. George Bush.
The Johnson Administration had claimed that austerity measures were not necessary during the time that the war in Vietnam was being prosecuted. LBJ had promised the people “guns and butter,” but now the economy was beginning to go into decline. Bush’s overall public rhetorical stance during these years was to demand that the Democratic administration impose specific austerity measures and replace big- spending programs with appropriate defecit-cutting rigor. Here is what Bush told a nationwide network television audience on Jan. 23, 1968:
- “The nation faces this year just as it did last a tremendous deficit in the Federal budget, but in the President’s message there was no sense of sacrifice on the part of the Government, no assignment of priorities, no hint of the need to put first things first. And this reckless policy has imposed the cruel tax of rising prices on the people, pushed interest rates to their highest levels in 100 years, sharply reduced the rate of real economic growth and saddled every man and woman and child in American with the largest tax burden in our history.
“And what does the President say? He says we must pay still more taxes and he proposes drastic restrictions on the rights of Americans to invest and travel abroad. If the President wants to control inflation, he’s got to cut back on Federal spending and the best way, the best way to stop the gold drain is to live within our means in this country.” [fn 11]
Those who wanted to read Bush’s lips at a distance back in those days found that he was indeed committed to a kind of austerity. In May of 1968, with Johnson already a lame duck, the Ways and Means Committee approved what was dubbed on Capitol Hill the “10-8-4” defecit control package. This mandated a tax increase of $10 billion per year, coupled with a $4 billion cut in expenditures. Bush joined with four Ways and Means Republicans (the others were Conable, Schneebeli, and Battin) to approve the measure. [fn 12]
But the principal focus of Bush’s activity during his tenure in the House of Representatives centered on a project that was much more sinister and far-reaching than the mere imposition of budget austerity, destructive as that demand was at the time. With a will informed by the ideas about population, race, and economic development that we have seen current in Prescott Bush’s circles at Brown Brothers, Harriman, George Bush would now become a protagonist of a series of institutional changes which would contribute to that overall degradation of the cultural paradigm of western civilization which was emergent at the end of the 1960’s.
The backdrop for this transformation in the cultural matrix of North America, western Europe, and the rest of the world was the end of the global postwar economic boom that had begun at the end of the 1940’s. The expansion of the US economy had been exhausted by the time of the 1958 recession, although it had been revived to some degree by the impulse imparted to the space program by the Kennedy Administration. But even before the Apollo astronauts had reached the moon, NASA was in the process of being gutted by the cost- accountants of the Johnson regime. US capital structures were supported into the sixties on the basis of a round of investments in western Europe, but the Italian and Federal German recessions of 1964 and 1966 were the signal that the postwar reconstruction boom was over. In the fall of 1967, some months after Bush had entered Congress, the terminal agony of the British pound sterling as a reserve currency had gripped the currency exchanges of the world. In the spring of 1968, the gold and dollar crisis would bring the entire world monetary system to the brink of a panic collapse. The world was beginning to experience the first paroxysms of that collapse of the 1944 Bretton Woods monetary system which would become official at Camp David on August 15, 1971, when Nixon would announce the end of the gold convertibility of the dollar and also proclaim “Phase One” of a wage and price freeze austerity for the American labor force. [fn 13]
To understand Bush’s actions during these years, we must understand the highly subjective and ideologized reactions of the Anglo-American finance oligarchy to these events. As we have seen reflected in the mentality of Averell Harriman and Prescott Bush, the Anglo-American financier elite is fundamentally hostile to modern industrial-technological development and to large-scale modern urban life. The hopes of the Anglo-American elite for the postwar world were expressed in the Morgenthau Plan for the destruction of German industry and the depopulation of central Europe. These plans had proven to be untenable in the light of the Soviet threat to Europe, and the oligarchy had been obliged to accept a postwar European recovery which was very lucrative for Wall Street, brutally austere for the Germans, and which kept the Soviets at bay for the duration of the Cold War. But even within the context of the postwar boom, the Malthusian disposition of the oligarchy remained, as expressed in the accelerated looting of the former colonial sector, the rapine of the oil cartel, and the sabotage of industrial and infrastructural expansion inside the US to the extent that traffic would bear. As the postwar boom showed increased signs of exhaustion at the end of the 1960’s, the oligarchical elite felt that the moment had come to assert the Malthusian impulse more aggressively.
For the Anglo-American finance oligarchs, the leading problems of the world then as now could be summed up under the headings of overpopulation, especially among the non-white ethnic groups of the planet, and industrial pollution. The remedies, then as now, were to be sought in limiting population growth, or better yet reducing the existing population wherever possible, while at the same time shutting down indsutry. In this way the oligarchs sought to return to their bucolic and medieval dream world, and especially to a degraded and servile mass psychology agreeable to oligarchical forms of domination. For oligarchs like Bush are well aware that there are only two ways to organize human affairs, namely the republican and the oligarchical modes. The republican mode depends upon the presence of citizens– well educated, technology-oriented, mature, and courageous people who are willing to think for themselves. Oligarchical forms function best in the presence of a culturally pessimistic, hedonist, supersititious mass of passive witnesses to the passing scene.
Thus, at the end of the 1960’s, London financiers and their Wall Street counterparts made available abundant foundation funding for such projects as the Triple Revolution, which proposed the now- accomplished transition from a productive society to a post-industrial society, and the 1968 founding of the Club of Rome with its absurd “Limits to growth” hoax of a few years later, the international flagship for the Malthusian revival. What the oligarchy had in mind was not just a minor adjustment of the Zeitgeist: the greening of the western cultural paradigm made mandatory the quick erosion of the imperatives of subduing and dominating nature contained in the first book of Genesis, the demolition of the beliefs in education, science and progress which had animated the philosophy and nation building of St. Augustine, Charlemagne, the Italian Renaissance, Leibnitz, Franklin, and the American Revolution.
The implementation of this intent on the home front dictated the dismantling of a constituency-based political structure that assumed that the purpose of government was to manage economic development and equitably to distribute the fruits of material and cultural progress. This had to be replaced by an authoritarian-totalitarian regime whose main function was the imposition of austerity and sacrifices. Malthusianism at home also generated problems abroad, to which the Kissinger NSC and the Kissinger State Department were to prove themselves especially sensitive. Although the Malthusian oligarchy sought to deny that industry and population growth represented real power, they were at pains to slow demographic and industrial growth abroad, using various hollow pretexts. Alexander King, along with Aurelio Peccei one of the founders of the Club of Rome, once conceded that the real purpose of his institution was to block the demographic expansion of the non-white peoples of the world. For Prescott Bush and George Bush, the depopulation of the third world, the genocide of non-white populations, was and is a life-long and consuming obsession.
By any definition a racist like Bush might offer, the white race, or more precisely the Anglo-Saxon race, is a small and dwindling minority of humanity. Nevertheless, the compulsive imperative of the London-New York financiers is their committment to Anglo-Saxon domination of the planet. This means that in the view of the financiers, non-whites and non-Anglo-Saxons must be prevented from multiplying inside the imperial homeland and if possible decimated, so as to avoid challenges to Anglo-Saxon financier rule. Outside US borders, the Anglo-American elite prescribes war, famine, and pestilence to cut a bloody swath through the brown, black, red and yellow races so as to reduce their military and economic potential. If possible, in the view of the oligarchs, non-white populations in areas of great oil and other strategic raw materials wealth should be wiped out completely so that these areas can be re-colonized by the Anglo-Saxon master race, who will enjoy the use of the raw materials into the future. These are the points at which we see George Bush in action during his Congressional years.
The economics of Malthus, the Club of Rome, and of Yale economist George Bush lead inexorably to world depression and an economic breakdown crisis so severe as to put the future prospects of world civilization itself into the gravest jeopardy. Bush’s most fanatically held beliefs concerning Anglo-Saxon race superiority are equally bankrupt and grotseque. Human beings have no genetic-racial identity. Human beings belong to cultures, which are learned as children are reared in the home and educated in schools, but which have nothing to do with heredity or blood, as the American experience itself in its better moments most impressively documents. Indeed, there is no such thing as a race or breed among humans as these categories exist among dogs and horses. Among these animals, race or breed defines a fixed repertoire of behavior and reaction, a fixed mental disposition which rules out most changes that education might bring. Among human beings, it is just the opposite: any child of whatever color or ethnic backgrund, if placed as an infant in a family of a different color and language, will invariably be accultured into the civilization of the new family. This reflects the universality of the human personality beyond all distinctions of race, color, religion, culture, and nationality, and proves the thesis of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. The universality of apostolic Christianity as a world religion seeking to reach out to all ethnic groups on the planet without exception is expressed in the idea that each and every concrete human individual is very practically the living image of God, and no difference of color or “race” can change this in the slightest.
Oligarchical thinking rejects all this. Oligarchs have historically been obsessed with justifying and perpetuating the irrational and destructive domination of a feudal aristocracy, generally in the form of a titled nobility ruling through usurious banking practices, secret intelligence agencies, and militarism, at the expense of the progress of humanity. If the human personality is indeed universal, then there is no such thing as an herditary aristocracy, and the concept of oligarchy itself is in big trouble. But feudal aristocrats, breeding horses and dogs as their status symbols, are often imbecilic enough to think that they have become authorities on human genetics.
There is also a reason why American elitists like the Harrimans and the Bushes become such fanatics for eugenics and population reduction. This has to do with the position of such families as virtual parvenu upstarts within the Anglo-American hierarchy. In order to have standing in the oligarchy it is necessary to have a patent of nobility going back at the very least a century or two, with four to five hundred years being preferable. This puts families like Harriman or Bush into a virtual status frenzy. When W. Averell Harriman was a child, President Theodore Roosevelt publicly attacked his father, the railroad builder E.J. Harriman, as a robber baron and a public menace for the country. An associate of W. Averell Harriman in the State Department once recounted his impression that the younger Harriman and indeed the rest of his family had never gotten over the colossal humiliation of this incident. This interesting fact casts light on the tireless efforts of Averell’s mother to buy the family status and respectability by funding eugenics research to investigate the criminal tendencies of those incorrigible lower orders and mental defectives. The Harrimans were by implication a race apart. It also helped to explain what the associate described Averell’s life-long history as a compulsive liar whenever a situation emerged in which he could improve his image at the expense of others by lying.
Although perhaps impressive by American standards, George Bush’s pedigree displayed its own grave weaknesses when examined within the frame of reference of the trans-Atlantic Anglo-American oligarchy of the twentieth century, and this doubtless imparted extra fanaticism to George’s fanatical pursuit of racial purity in the halls of Congress.
In 1969 Bush told the House of Representatives that, unless the menace of human population growth were “recognized and made manageable, starvation, pestilence and war will solve it for us.” Bush repeatedly compared population growth to a disease. [9 bis] In remarks to the House July 30, 1969, he likened the fight against the polio virus to the crusade to reduce the world’s population. Urging the federal government to step up population control efforts, he said: “We have a clear precedent: When the Salk vaccine was discovered, large-scale programs were undertaken to distribute it. I see no reason why similar programs of education and family planning assistance should not be instituted in the United States on a massive scope.”
As Jessica Mathews, vice-president of one of Washington’s most influential zero-growth outfits, the World Resources Institute, later wrote of Bush in those years: “In the 1960s and ’70s, Bush had not only embraced the cause of domestic and international family planning, he had aggressively sought to be its champion…. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Bush shepherded the first major breakthrough in domestic family planning legislation in 1967,” and “later co -authored the legislation commonly known as Title X, which created the first federal family planning program….”
“On the international front,” Mathews wrote, Bush “recommended that the U.S. support the United Nations population fund…. He urged, in the strongest words, that the U.S. and European countries make modern contraceptives available “on a massive scale,” to all those around the world who wanted them.
Bush belonged to a small group of congressmen who successfully conspired to force a profound shift in the official U.S. attitude and policy toward population expansion. Embracing the “limits to growth” ideology with a vengeance, Bush and his coterie, which included such ultraliberal Democrats as then- Senator Walter Mondale (Minn.) and Rep. James Scheuer (N.Y.), labored to enact legislation which institutionalized population control as U.S. domestic and foreign policy.
Bush began his Malthusian activism in the House in 1968, which was the year in which Pope Paul VI issued his enyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which contained a prophetic warning of the danger of coercion by governments for the purpose of population control. The Pope wrote: “Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would be placed in the hands of those public authorities who place no heed of moral exigencies…. Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their people, the method of contraception which they judged to be most efficacious?” For poorer countries with a high population rate, the encyclical identified the only rational and humane policy: “No solution to these difficulties is acceptable which does violence to man’s essential dignity….The only possible solution … is one which envisages the social and economic progress both of individuals and of the whole of human society….”
This was a direct challenge to the cultural paradigm transformation which Bush and other exponents of the oligarchical world outlook were promoting. Not for the first time nor for the last time, Bush issued a direct attack on the Holy See. Just days after Humanae Vitae was issued, Bush declared: “I have decided to give my vigorous support for population control in both the United States and the world.” He also lashed out at the Pope. “For those of us who who feel so strongly on this issue, the recent enyclical was most discouraging.”
During his four years in Congress, Bush not only introduced key pieces of legislation to enforce population control both at home and abroad. He also continuously introduced into the congressional debate reams of propaganda about the threat of population growth and the inferiority of blacks, and he set up a special Republican task force which functioned as a forum for the most rabid Malthusian ideologues.
“Bush was really out front on the population issue,” a population- control activist recently said of this period of 1967-71. “He was saying things that even we were reluctant to talk about publicly.”
Bush’s open public advocacy of government measures tending towards zero population growth was a radical departure from the policies built into the federal bureaucracy up until that time. The climate of opinion just a few years earlier, in December 1959, is illustrated by the comments of President Eisenhower, who had said, “birth control is not our business. I cannot imagine anything more emphatically a subject that is not a proper political or governmental activity … or responsibility.”
As a congressman, Bush played an absolutely pivotal role in this shift. Shortly after arriving in Washington, he teamed up with fellow Republican Herman Schneebeli to offer a series of amendments to the Social Security Act to place priority emphasis on what was euphemistically called “family planning services.” The avowed goal was to reduce the number of children born to women on welfare.
Bush’s and Schneebeli’s amendments reflected the Malthusian- genocidalist views of Dr. Alan Guttmacher, then president of Planned Parenthood, and a protege of its founder, Margaret Sanger. In the years before the grisly outcome of the Nazi cult of race science and eugenics had inhibited public calls for defense of the “gene pool,” Sanger had demanded the weeding out of the “unfit” and the “inferior races,” and had campaigned vigorously for sterilization, infanticide and abortion, in the name of “race betterment.”
Although Planned Parenthood was forced during the fascist era and immediately thereafter to tone down Sanger’s racist rhetoric from “race betterment” to “family planning” for the benefit of the poor and blacks, the organization’s basic goal of curbing the population growth rate among “undesirables” never really changed. Bush publicly asserted that he agreed “1,000 percent” with Planned Parenthood
During hearings on the Social Security amendments, Bush and witness Alan Guttmacher had the following colloquy: Bush: Is there any [opposition to Planned Parenthood] from any other organizations or groups, civil rights groups?
Guttmacher: We do have problems. We are in a sensitive area in regard particularly to the Negro. There are some elements in the Negro group that feel we are trying to keep down thenumbers. We are very sensitive to this. We have a community relations department headed by a most capable Negro social worker to try to handle that part of the problem. This does, of course, cause us a good bit of concern.
Bush: I appreciate that. For the record, I would like to say I am 1,000 percent in accord with the goals of your organization. I think perhaps more than any other type of organization you can do more in the field of poverty and mental health and everything else than any other group that I can think of. I commend you.
Guttmacher [to Bush]: May I use you as a public speaker?
Like his father before him, Bush supported Planned Parenthood at every opportunity. Time after time, he rose on the floor of the House to praise Planned Parenthood’s work. In 1967, Bush called for “having the government agencies work even more closely with going private agencies such as Planned Parenthood.” A year later, he urged those interested in “advancing the cause of family planning,” to “call your local Planned Parenthood Center” to offer “help and support.”
The Bush-Schneebeli amendments were aimed at reducing the number of children born to blacks and poor whites. The legislation required all welfare recipients, including mothers of young children, to seek work, and barred increases in federal aid to states where the proportion of dependent children on welfare increased.
Reducing the welfare rolls was a prime Bush concern. He frequently motivated his population-control crusade with thinly veiled appeals to Willie Horton-style racism. Talking about the rise in the welfare rolls in a July 1968 statement, Bush lamented that “our national welfare costs are rising phenomenally.” Worse,he warned, there were far too many children being born to welfare mothers: “The fastest-growing part of the relief rolls everywhere is aid for dependent children–AFDC. At the end of the 1968 fiscal year, a little over $2 billion will be spent for AFDC, but by fiscal 1972 this will increase by over 75 percent.”
Bush emphasized that more children are born into non-white poor families than to white ones. Blacks must recognize, he said, “that they cannot hope to acquire a larger share of American prosperity without cutting down on births….”
Forcing mothers on welfare to work was believed to be an effective means of reducing the number of black children born, and Bush sponsored a number of measures to do just that. In 1970, he helped lead the fight on the Hill for President Nixon’s notorious welfare bill, the Family Assistance Program, known as FAP. Billed as a boon to the poor because it provided an income floor, the measure called on every able-bodied welfare recipient, except mothers with children under six, to take a job . This soon became known as Nixon’s “workfare” slave-labor bill. Monetarist theoreticians of economic austerity were quick to see that forced labor by welfare recipients could be used to break the unions where they existed, while lowering wages and worsening working conditions for the entire labor force. Welfare recipients could even be hired as scabs to replace workers being paid according to normal pay scales. Those workers, after they had been fired, would themselves end up destitute and on welfare, and could then be forced to take workfare for even lower wages than those who had been on welfare at the outset of the process. This was known as “recycling.”
Critics of the Nixon workfare bill pointed out that it contained no minimum standards regarding the kinds of jobs or the level of wages which would be forced upon welfare recipients, and that it contradicted the original purpose of welfare, which was to allow mothers to stay home with their children. Further, it would set up a pool of virtual slave- labor, which could be used to replace workers earning higher wages.
But Bush thought these tough measures were exactly what the explosion of the welfare rolls demanded. During House debate on the measure April 15, 1970, Bush said he favored FAP because it would force the lazy to work: “The family assistance plan … is oriented toward work,” he said. “The present federal-state welfare system encourages idleness by making it more profitable to be on welfare than to work, and provides no method by which the State may limit the number of individuals added to the rolls.”
Bush had only “one major worry, and that is that the work incentive provisions will not be enforced…. it is essential that the program be administered as visualized by the Ways and Means Committee; namely, if an individual does not work, he will not receive funds.” The Manchester School’s Iron Law of Wages as expounded by George Bush, self -styled expert in the dismal science..
In 1967, Bush joined with Rep. James Scheuer (D-N.Y.), to successfully sponsor legislation that removed prohibitions against mailing and importing contraceptive devices. More than opening the door to French-made condoms, Bush’s goal here was a kind of ideological succes de scandale. The zero- growth lobby deemed this a major breakthrough in making the paraphenalia for domestic population control accessible.
In rapid succession, Bush introduced legislation to create a National Center for Population and Family Planning and Welfare, and to redesignate the Department of the Interior as the Department of Resources, Environment and Population.
On the foreign policy front, he helped shift U.S. foreign assistance away from funding development projects to grapple with the problem of hunger in the world, to underwriting population control. “I propose that we totally revamp our foreign aid program to give primary emphasis to population control,” he stated in the summer of 1968, adding: “In my opinion, we have made a mistake in our foreign aid by concentrating on building huge steel mills and concrete plants in underdeveloped nations….”
One of Bush’s more important initiatives on the domestic side was his sponsorhip of the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, brainchild of Sen. Joseph Tydings of Maryland. Signed into law by President Nixon on December 24, 1970, the Tydings-Bush bill drastically increased the federal financial commitment to population control, authorizing an initial $382 million for family planning sevices, population research, population education and information through 1973. Much of this money was funnelled through private institutions, particularly local clinics run by Bush’s beloved Planned Parenthood. The Tydings-Bush measure mandated the notorious Title X, which explicitly provided “family planning assistance” to the poor. Bush and his zero-growth cohorts talked constantly about the importance of disseminating birth control to the poor. They claimed that there were over 5 million poor women who wanted to limit their families, but could not afford to do so.
On October 23, 1969, Bush praised the Office of Economic Opportunity for carrying out some of the “most successful” family planning projects, and said he was “pleased” that the Nixon administration “is giving them additional financial muscle by increasing their funds 50 percent–from $15 million to $22 million.”
This increased effort he attributed to the Nixon administration’s “goal to reach in the next five years the 5 million women in need of these services”–all of them poor, many of them from racial or ethnic minorities. He added: “One needs only to look quickly at the report prepared by the Planned Parenthood-World Population Research Department to see how ineffective federal, state, and local governments have been in providing such necessary services. There is certainly nothing new about the fact that unwanted pregnancies of our poor and near-poor women keep the incidence of infant mortality and mental retardation in America at one of the highest levels of all the developed countries.”
The rates of infant mortality and mental retardation Bush was so concerned about, could have been significantly reduced, had the government provided sufficient financing to pre-natal care, nutrition, and other factors contributing to the health of infants and children. On the same day he signed the Tydings-Bush bill, Nixon vetoed–with Bush’s support- -legislation that would have set up a three-year, $225 million program to train family doctors.
Bush seemed to be convinced that mental retardation, in particular, was a matter of heredity. The eugenicists of the 1920’s had spun their pseudoscientific theories around “hereditary feeble- mindedness,” and claimed that the “Kallikaks and the Jukes” by reproducing successive “feeble-minded” generations had cost New York state tens of millions of dollars over decades. But what about learning disorders like dyslexia, which has been known to afflict oligarchical familes Bush would consider wealthy, well-bred, and able? Nelson Rockefeller, Bush’s friend Nick Brady, and Bush’s own son Neal have suffered from dyslexia, a reading disorder. But these oligarchs are not likely to fall victim to the involuntary sterilization as “mental defectives” which they wish to inflict on those they term the lower orders.
In introducing the House version of the Tydings bill on behalf of himself and Bush, Rep. James Scheuer (D-N.Y.) ranted that whle middle-class women “have been limiting the number of offspring for years … women of low-income families” did not. “If poverty and family size are so closely related we ask, `Why don’t poor women stop having babies?'” The Bush-Tydings bill took a giant step toward forcing them to do so.
Among Bush’s most important contributions to the neo-Malthusian cause while in Congress was his role in the Republican Task Force on Earth Resources and Population. The task force, which Bush helped found and then chaired, churned out a steady stream of propaganda claiming that the world was already seriously overpopulated; that there was a fixed limit to natural resources and that this limit was rapidly being reached; and that the environment and natural species were being sacrificed to human progress. Bush’s task force sought to accredit the idea that the human race was being “down bred,” or reduced in genetic qualitys by the population growth among blacks and other non-white and hence allegedly inferior races at a time when the Anglo- Saxons were hardly able to prevent their numbers from shrinking.
Comprised of over 20 Republican congressmen, Bush’s Task Force was a kind of Malthusian vanguard organization which heard testimony from assorted “race scientists, sponsored legislation and otherwise propagandized the zero- growth outlook. In its 50-odd hearings during these years, the task force provided a public forum to nearly every well-known zero-growth fanatic, from Paul Ehrlich, founder of Zero Population Growth (ZPG), to race scientist William Shockley to the key zero-growth advocates infesting the federal bureaucracy.
Giving a prestigious Congressional platform to a discredited racist charlatan like William Shockley in the year after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King points up the arrogance of Bush’s committment to eugenics. Shockley, like his co-thinker Arthur Jensen, had caused a furore during the 1960’s by advancing his thesis, already repeatedly disproven, that blacks were gentically inferior to whites in cognitive faculties and intelligence. In the same year in which Bush invited him to appear before the GOP task force, Shockley had written: “Our nobly intended welfare programs may be encouraging dysgenics–retrogressive evolution through disproportionate reproduction of the genetically disadvantaged…We fear that ‘fatuous beliefs’ in the power of welfare money, unaided by eugenic foresight, may contribute to a decline of human quality for all segments of society.”
To halt what he saw as pervasive down breeding of the quality of the US gene pool, Shockley advocated a program of mass sterilization of the unfit and mentally defective which he called his “Bonus Sterilization Plan.” Money bonuses for allowing oneself to be sterilized would be payed to any person not paying income tax who had a genetic deficiency or chronic disease, such as diabetes or epilepsy, or who could be shown to be a drug addict. “If [the government paid] a bonus rate of $1,000 for each point below 100 IQ, $30,000 put in trust for some 70 IQ moron of 20- child potential, it might return $250,000 to taxpayers in reduced cost of mental retardation care, ” Shockley said.
The special target of Shockley’s prescriptions for mass sterilizations were blacks, whom he saw as reproducing too fast. “If those blacks with the least amount of Caucasian genes are in fact the most prolific and the least intelligent, then genetic enslavement will be the destiny of their next generation,” he wrote. Looking at the recent past, Shockley said in 1967: “The lesson to be drawn from Nazi history is the value of free speech, not that eugenics is intolerable.”
As for Paul Ehrlich, his program for genocide included a call to he US governmemt to prepare “the addition of…mass sterilization agents” to the US food and water supply, and a “tough foreign policy” including termination of food aid to starving nations. As radical as Ehrlich might have sounded then, this latter point has become a staple of foreign policy under the Bush Administration.
On July 24, 1969, the task force heard from Gen. William Draper, then national chairman of the Population Crisis Committee, and a close friend of Bush’s father, Prescott. According to Bush’ resume of his family friend’s testimony, Draper warned that the population explosion was like a “rising tide,” and asserted that “our strivings for the individual good will become a scourge to the community unless we use our God- given brain power to bring back a balance between the birth rate and the death rate.” Draper lashed out at the Catholic Church, charging that its opposition to contraception and sterilization was frustrating population -control efforts in Latin America.
A week later, Bush invited Oscar Harkavy, chief of the Ford Foundation’s population program, to testify. In summarizing Harkavy’s remarks for the August 4 Congressional Record, Bush commented: “The population explosion is commonly recognized as one of the most serious problems now facing the nation and the world. Mr. Harkavy suggested, therefore, that we more adequately fund population research. It seems inconsistent that cancer research funds total $250-275 million annually, more than eight times the amount spent on reproductive biology research.”
In reporting on testimony by Dr. William McElroy of the National Science Foundation, Bush stressed that “One of the crises the world will face as a result of present population growth rates is that, assuming the world population increases 2 percent annually, urban population will increase by 6 percent, and ghetto population will increase by 12 percent.”
In February 1969, Bush and other members proposed legislation to establish a Select Joint Committee on Population and Family Planning, that would, Bush said, “seek to focus national attention on the domestic and foreign need for family planning.’ We need to make population and family planning household words,” Bush told his House colleagues. “We need to take the sensationalism out of this topic so that it can no longer be used by militants who have no real knowledge of the voluntary nature of the program but, rather, are using it as a political steppingstone.” “A thorough investigation into birth control and a collection of data which would give the Congress the criteria to determine the effectiveness of its programs must come swiftly to stave off the number of future mouths which will feed on an ever -decreasing proportion of food,” Bush continued. “We need an emphasis on this critical problem… we need a massive program in Congress with hearings to emphasize the problem, and earmarked appropriations to do something about it. We need massive cooperation from the White House like we have never had before and we need a determination by the executive branch that these funds will be spent as earmarked.”
On August 6, 1969, Bush’s GOP task force introduced a bill to create a Commission on Population and the American Future which, Bush said, would “allow the leadership of this country to properly establish criteria which can be the basis for a national policy on population.” The move came in response to President Nixon’s call of July 18 to create a blue-ribbon commission to draft a U.S. population policy. Bush was triumphant over this development, having repeatedly urged such a step at various points in the preceeding few years. On July 21, he made a statement on the floor of the House to “commend the President” for his action. “We now know,” he intoned, “that the fantastic rate of population growth we have witnessed these past 20 years continues with no letup in sight. If this growth rate is not checked now– in this next decade–we face a danger that is as defenseless as nuclear war.”
Headed by John D. Rockefeller III, the commission represented a radical, government-sanctioned attack on human life. Its final report, issued in 1972, asserted that “the time has come to challenge the tradition that population growth is desirable: What was unintended may turn out to be unwanted, in the society as in the family.” Not only did the commission demand an end to population growth and economic progress, it also attacked the foundations of Western civilization by insisting that man’s reason had become a major impediment to right living. “Mass urban industrialism is based on science and technology, efficiency, acquisition, and domination through rationality,” raved the commission’s report. “The exercise of these same values now contain the potential for the destruction of our humanity. Man is losing that balance with nature which is an essential condition of human existence.”
The commission’s principal conclusion was that “there are no substantial benefits to be gained from continued population growth,” Chairman Rockefeller explained to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The commission made a host of recommendations to curb both population expansion and economic growth. These included: liberalizing laws restricting abortion and sterilization; having the government fund abortions; and providing birth control to teenagers. The commission had a profound impact on American attitudes toward the population issue, and helped accelerate the plunge into outright genocide. Commission Executive director Charles Westoff wrote in 1975 that the group “represented an important effort by an advanced country to develop a national population policy–the basic thrust of which was to slow growth in order to maximize the “quality of life.” The collapse of the traditional family-centered form of society during the 1970’s and 1990’s was but one consequence of such recommendations. It also is widely acknowledged that the commission Bush fought so long and so hard to create broke down the last barriers to legalized abortion on demand. Indeed, just one year after the commission’s final report was issued, the Supreme Court delivered the Roe v. Wade decision which did just that.
Aware that many blacks and other minorities had noticed that the population control movement was a genocide program aimed at reducing their numbers, the commission went out of its way to cover its real intent by stipulating that all races should cut back on their birth rates. But the racist animus of their conclusions could not be hidden. Commssion Executive Director Westoff, who owed his job and his funding to Bush gave a hint of this in a book he had written in 1966, before joining the commission staff, which was entitled From Now to Zero, and in which he bemoaned the fact that the black fertility rate was so much higher than the white.
The population control or zero population growth movement which grew rapidly in the late 1960s thanks to free media exposure and foundation grants for a stream of pseudoscientific propaganda about the alleged “population bomb” and the “limits to growth,” was a continuation of the old prewar protofascist eugenics movement, which had been forced to go into temporary eclipse when the world recoiled in horror at the atrocities committed by the Nazis in the name of eugenics. By the mid-1960s, the same old crackpot eugenicists had resurrected themselves as the population- control and environmentalist movement. Planned Parenthood was a perfet example of the transmogrification. Now, instead of demanding the sterilization of the inferior races, the newly packaged eugenicists talked about the population bomb, and giving the poor “equal access” to birth contol, and “freedom of choice.” But nothing had substantively changed–including the use of coercion. While Bush and other advocates of government “family planning” programs insisted these were stricly voluntary, the reality was far different. By the mid-1970s, the number of involuntary sterilizations carried out by programs which Bush helped bring into being, had reached huge proportions. Within the black and minority communities, where most of the sterilizations were being done, protests arose which culminated in federal litigation as a suit was brought.
In his 1974 ruling on this suit, Federal District Judge Gerhard Gesell found that, “Over the last few years, an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 low-income persons have been sterilized annually under federally funded programs. Although Congress has been insistent that all family planning programs function on a purely voluntary basis,” Judge Gesell wrote, “there is uncontroverted evidence … that an indefinite number of poor people have been improperly coerced into accepting a sterilization operation under the threat that various federally supported welfare benefits would be withdrawn unless they submitted to irreversible sterilization.” Gesell concluded from the evidence that the “dividing line between family planning and eugenics is murky.”
As we have seen, George Bush inherited his obsession with population control and racial “down breeding” from his father, Prescott, who staunchly supported Planned Parenthood dating back at least to the 1940s. In fact, Prescott’s affiliation with Margaret Sanger’s organization cost him the Senate race in 1950, a defeat his son has always blamed on the Catholic Church, and which is at the root of George’s lifelong vendetta against the Papacy.
Prescott’s 1950 defeat still rankled, as shown by Bush’s extraordinary gesture in evoking it during testimony he gave on the other side of Capitol Hill before Senator Gruening’s subcommittee of the Senate Government Operations Committee on November 2, 1967. Bush’s vengeful tirade is worth quoting at length:
- “I get the felling that it is a little less unfashionable to be in favor of birth control and planned parenthood today than it used to be. If you will excuse one personal reference here: My father, when he ran for the US Senate in 1950, was defeated by 600 or 700 votes. On the steps of several Catholic Churches in Connecticut, the Sunday before the election, people stood there passing out pamphlets saying, ‘Listen to what this commentator has to say tonight. Listen to what this commentator has to say.’ That night on the radio, the commentator came on and said, “Of interest to voters in Connecticut, Prescott Bush is head of the Planned Parenthood Birth Control League,’ or something like this. Well, he lost by about 600 votes and there are some us who feel that this had something to do with it. I do not think that anybody can get away with that type of thing any more.”
The Harriman family sponsored the creation of the eugenics movement in the United States, which successfully campaigned for the mass sterilization of the “feeble-minded” and “racially inferior” during the 1920s–practices later copied, not originated, by the Nazis. As part of this campaign, the Harrimans helped organize a series of international eugenics conferences. At the 1932 conference, held at the Museum of Natural History in New York, the guest of honor was none other than Dr. Ernst Rudin, the head of the German Society for Racial Hygiene, who, just a few years later, drafted the Nazi miscegenation laws against te Jews, gypsies, and Slavs.
Among the Americans who rubbed shoulders with Rudin at the 1932 conference was Gen. William Draper, a New York investment banker and close personal friend of Prescott Bush, who became one of the most influential crusaders for radical population control measures. He campaigned endlessly for zero population growth, and praised the Chinese Communists for their “innovative” methods of achieving that goal. Draper’s most influential outlet was the Population Crisis Committee (PCC)-Draper Fund, set up in 1965 by Hugh Moore, who had taken over the Human Betterment Association, a leading eugenics outfit, in 1937, renaming it the Association for Voluntary Sterilization.
In 1967-68, a PCC-Draper Fund offshoot, the Campaign to Check the Population Explosion, ran a nationwide advertising campaign hyping the population explosion fraud, and attacking those–particularly at the Vatican–who stood in the way of radical population control.
In a 1971 article, Draper likened the developing nations to an “animal reserve,” where, when the animals become too numerous, the park rangers “arbitrarily reduce one or another species as necessary to preserve the balanced environment for all other animals. “But who will be the park ranger for the human race?,” he asked. “Who will cull out the surplus in this country or that country when the pressure of too many people and too few resources increases beyond endurance? Will the death-dealing Horsemen of the Apocalypse–war in its modern nuclear dress, hunger haunting half the human race, and disease–will the gaunt and forbidding Horsemen become Park Ranger for the two-legged animal called man?”
Draper collaborated closely with George Bush during the latter’s congressional career. As noted above, Bush invited Draper to testify to his Task Force on Earth Resources and Population; reportedly, Draper helped draft the Bush-Tydings bill.
Bush felt an overwhleming affinity for the bestial and degraded image of man reflected in the raving statements of Draper. In September 1969, Bush gave a glowing tribute to Draper that was published in the cf2 Congressional Record cf1 . “I wish to pay tribute to a great American,” said Bush. “I am very much aware of the significant leadership that General Draper has executed throughout the world in assisting governments in their efforts to solve the awesome problems of rapid population growth. No other person in the past five years has shown more initiative in creating the awareness of the world’s leaders in recognizing the economic consequences of our population explosion.”
In a 1973 publication, Bush praised the PCC itself for having played a “major role in assisting government policy makers and in mobilizing the United States’ response to the world population challenge….” The PCC made no bones about its admiration for Bush; its newsletters from the late 1960s-early 1970s feature numerous articles highlighting Bush’s role in the congressional population-control campaign. In a 1979 report assessing the history of Congressional action on population control, the PCC/Draper Fund placed Bush squarely with the “most conspicuous activists,” on population-control issues, and lauded him for “proposing all of the major or controversial recommendations” in this arena which came before the U.S. Congress in the late 1960s.
Draper’s son, William III, has enthusiastically carried out his father’s genocidal legacy–frequently with the help of Bush. In 1980, Draper, an enthusiastic backer of the Carter administration’s notorious cf2 Global 2000 cf1 report, served as national chairman of the Bush presidential campaign’s finance committee; in early 1981, Bush convinced Reagan to appoint Draper to had the U.S. Export-Import Bank. At the time, a Draper aide, Sharon Camp, disclosed that Draper intended to reorient the bank’s functions toward emphasizing population control projects.
In 1987, again at Bush’s behest, Draper was named by Reagan as administrator of the United Nations Development Program, which functions as an adjunct of the World Bank, and has historically pushed population reduction among Third World nations. In late January of 1991, Draper gave a speech to a conference in Washington, in which he stated that the core of Bush’s “new world order” should be population reduction.
Bush was not reluctant to feature anti-black backlash themes in other parts of his political repertoire. In the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in April, 1968, large scale riots and looting broke out in Washington and other cities. Bush was quick to introduce a bill which provided that any person convicted of breaking the law during civil disorders would be henceforth prohibited from retaining or getting federal jobs. Bush claimed that during the Washington riot that followed the murder of King, of the first 119 riot suspects brought to court, 10% said they worked for the federal government.[fn 15]
Bush’s campaign autobiography and the authorized and adulatory campaign biography by Fitzhugh Green make virtually no mention of these Congressional activities in the service of racism, Malthusianism, and depopulation. Instead, Bush and his image-mongers prefer to focus on the Congressman’s heroic fight against racism as expressed in an April, 1968 opposition in Bush’s district against the bill that was later to become the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This bill contained “open housing” provisions prohibiting the discrimination in the sale, renting, or financing of housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Bush decided to vote for the bill. “Letters from the district were overwhelmingly against the bill. After I voted for it, the mail got heavier. And uglier,” he wrote later. “Threats were directed not only against me but against members of my staff.”
As Bush tells it, he then decided to confront his critics at a rally scheduled to be held in the Memorial-West section of his district. “The place was jammed. Judging from the boos and catcalls when I was introduced, it was also seething. The tone was set by another speaker on the program, who predicted that the open housing bill ‘will lead to government control of private property, the Communists’ number one goal.'”
In order to reduce the seething masses to docility, Bush began by citing the British Empire liberal, cultural relativistm, and theoretician of “organic change,” Edmund Burke: “Your representative owes you not only his industry, but his judgment,” Burke had said. Bush then recalled that blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities were risking their lives in the Vietnam war. How could they be denied open housing? “Somehow it seems fundamental that a man should not have a door slammed in his face because he is a Negro or speaks with a Latin American accent.” Open housing would be a ray of hope for blacks and other minorities “locked out by habit and discrimination,” Bush concluded. Bush says he looked at the now silent faces of the audience, and then turned to thank the moderator. “”It was then that the applause began, growing louder until there was a standing ovation. All the ugliness that had gone before seemed to wash away, and I sensed that something special had happened.” Conjuring up the vision of this alleged triumph in the late 1980’s, Bush had the gall to write: “More than twenty years later I can truthfully say that nothing I’ve experienced in public life, before or since, has measured up to the feeling I had when I went home that night.” His sycophant, the mythograph Fitzhugh Green, adds: “Bush had spoken from his personally held values. He clearly had found the decent core of those who had heard him. Complaints against his vote on this issue slowed to a trickle. This matter was another marker on his trail toward the acceptance of black Americans.” [fn 16]
These accounts have nothing to do with a true historical record, but rather illustrate the blatant, Goebbels-style big lies which are shamelessly dished up by the Bush propagandists. The mythologized accounts of this episode wish to leave the distinct impression of Bush as a 1960’s fighter for civil rights, in contradiction to his entire political career, from the 1964 civil rights bill to racist eugenics to Willie Horton. Comparing these fantastic accounts to the reality of Bush’s genocidal daily work in the Congress, we also obtain the proper framework in which to evaluate the truth of Bush’s public explanations of his role in Iran-contra and other scandals. Bush stands out as one of the most accomplished liars in the highly competitive field of postwar American politics.
But we shall not conclude that Bush devoted the entirety of his Congressional career to the promotion of race science and global depopulation. He was also concerned with providing constituent service. This service came in the form of Bush’s central role in the implementation of a sophisticated strategy by the oil cartel to maintain its ground-rent tax privileges at the highest rate that the climate of public opinion would permit. Within this strategy, Bush worked to protect the oil depletion allowance as the principal tax giveaway enjoyed by the cartel.
The oil depletion allowance was a 27.5% tax writeoff for oil producers that had been introduced in 1926, allegedly to strengthen the US petroleum industry. The impact of a 27.5% depeltion allowance was that many of the largest oil companies, including some of the wealthiest corporate giants, paid a very low rate of corporate income tax. On July 10, 1969, Congressman Bertram Podell of New York wrote an open letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Wilbur Mills in which he pointed out that, primarily as a result of the high oil depletion allowance, Gulf oil had paid an effective tax rate of only .81% on more than a billion dollars of 1968 income, while Mobil had paid 3.3%, and Atlantic Richfield had paid 1.2%. In his letter, Podell paid ironic tribute to the oil cartel’s “passionate devotion to old- fashioned virtues, such as greed” to the point that the “oil industry makes the mafia look like a pushcart operation” while “through our various tax loopholes, professional tax evaders like the oil industry churn like panzers over foot soldiers.” [fn 17]
In 1950, President Truman had declared that no tax loophole was “so inequitable” as the depletion allowance, and cited the example of one oilman who enjoyed a tax-free income of alomst $5 million thanks to this provision. Truman claimed that he wanted to cut the depletion allowance to 15%, but Congressmen opposed to the high depletion allowance later claimed that he had done very little to carry out this pledge. Senators of the stripe of Humphrey, Douglas, Williams of Delaware and other offered amendments to reduce the depletion allowance to 15%, or to restrict the 27.5% to oil producers with incomes below a certain level, but these efforts were defeated in 1951, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, and 1967. But in 1969 the issue was back in the form of a clamor for tax reform as the economy deteriorated, and a great deal of public heat was focussed on the 27.5% for Rockefeller’s oil cartel.
Congressman Charles Vanick of Ohio, who was profiling himself as a leading tax reformer, calculated that the oil depletion allowance had resulted in the loss of over $140 billion in tax revenues since the time it was instituted.
In response to this public hue and cry against the 27.5%, the public relations men of the oil cartel devised an elaborate public charade, with the depletion allowance to be cut slightly in order to turn off the public pressure and save the bulk of the write-off. In May of 1969 chairman Mills said that the 27.5% was a “symbolic” figure and could be slightly trimmed.
In July, the Ways and Means Committe reported out a measure to cut the depletion allowance to 20%. Congressman Vanick was happy to have something to show for his efforts: “We’ve really got a reform bill now,” he told the press. Bush was going along with the 20%, but defended the principle of a substantial depletion allowance. According to Bush, “unrefuted” expert testimony had proven that a tax incentive was necessary for oil and gas exploration “due to the serious gas reserve shortages in this country.” “Depletion,” said Bush, “has become a symbol to some people and without examining the reasons for its existence or its fundamental importance to this country, some want to slug away at it.” [fn 18]
On August 28, 1969 Congressman George Bush and Texas Senator John Tower flew to San Clemente to meet with President Nixon on this issue. Nixon had said during the 1968 campaign that he favored the 27.5% allowance, but he was willing to play ball with the oil cartel. Nixon, Bush and Tower were joined in San Clemente by Treasury Secretary David Kennedy, who was preparing to testify on oil taxes before the Russell Long’s Senate Finance Committee. Tower and Bush instructed Nixon that the oil cartel was willing to accept some reduction of the depletion allowance, and that the Administration should merely state that it was willing to accept whatever the Congress approved. According to one historian of the oil industry, “This was the first step in preparation for the ‘sting.’ But there was one slight stumble before the con men got their signals worked out perfectly.” [fn 19]
Kennedy got confused by the 20% figure that had been bandied about in the public debate. He told the Senate that while Nixon would prefer to keep the 27.5% figure, he was also willing to come down to 20%. This was more than the token concession that the oil cartel had been prepared to make. On October 7 the House passed the 20% figure by a vote of 394 to 30, with Bush voting for the cut. This entailed very little risk, since Senator Russell Long of the Senate Finance Committee, himself an oil producer through his participation in the Long family Win or Lose Corporation, was unwilling to reduce the depletion allowance below 23%. Nixon’s deputy White House counsel Harry S. Dent wrote a letter to a county judge in Midland, Texas, of all places, which stated that Treasury Secretary Kennedy had been in error about Nixon seeing two alternatives, 27.5% or 20%, and that “the President will abide by the judgment of Congress.” An aide of Senator Proxmire complained: “If the committee cuts back the depletion allowance by a modest amount–say to 23%–it may represent a low enough profile that Senate liberals will have a more difficult time cutting it further.” The 23% figure was the one that was ultimately accepted, and the reduction in the depletion allowance thus accomplished was calculated to have increased the tax bill of the domestic US oil and gas companies by the trifling sum of $175 million per year. The issue had been defused, and the cartel could resume its normal operations, thanks in part to the stewardship of George Bush.
By the time of the House Ways and Means Committe vote of July, 1969, referenced above, the New York Times was already touting Bush as a likely Senate candidate, and Bush was indeed to be a candidate for the Senate from Texas in 1970. In Bush’s campaign autobiography, he attempts to portray his decision to run for the Senate a second time as a decision assisted by former President Lyndon B. Johnson. That, we should say, is already bad enough. But in reality, the decisive encouragement, funds, and the promise of future advancement that moved Bush to attempt the leap into the Senate once again came from one Richard Milhous Nixon, and the money involved came from the circles of Nixon’s CREEP.
Nixon, it will be recalled, had campaigned for Bush in 1964 and 1966, and would do so also in 1970. During these years, Bush’s positions came to be almost perfectly alligned with the the line of the Imperial Presidency. And, thanks in large part to the workings of his father’s Brown Brothers, Harriman networks–Prescott had been a fixture in in Eisenhower White House where Nixon worked, and in the Senate over which Nixon from time to time presided– Bush became a Nixon ally and crony. Bush’s Nixon connection, which pro-Bush propaganda tends to minimze, was in fact the key to Bush’s career choices in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
Bush’s intimate relations with Tricky Dick are best illustrated in Bush’s close brush with the 1968 GOP vice-presidential nomination at the Miami convention of that year.
Richard Nixon came into Miami ahead of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and California Governor Ronald Reagan in the delegate count, but just before the convention Reagan, encouraged by his growing support, announced that he was switching from being a favorite son of California to the status of an all-out candidate for the presidential nomination. Reagan attempted to convince many conservative southern delegations to switch from Nixon to himself, since he was the purer ideological conservative and better loved in the south than the new (or old) Tricky Dick. Nixon’s defense of his southern delegate base was spearheaded by South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, who kept the vast majority of the delegates in line, sometimes with the help of the unit rule. “Thurmond’s point of reasoning with Southern delegates was that Nixon was the best conservative they could get and still win, and that he had obtained assurances from Nixon that no vice-presidential candidate intolerable to the South would be selected,” wrote one observer of the Miami convention. [fn 20] With the southern conservatives guaranteed a veto power over the second spot on the ticket, Thurmond’s efforts were successful; a leader of the Louisiana caucas was heard to remark: “It breaks my heart that we can’t get behind a fine man like Governor Reagan, but Mr. Nixon is deserving of our choice, and he must receive it.”
These were the circumstances in which Nixon, having won the nomination on the first ballot, met with his advisers amidst the grotesque architecture of the fifteenth floor of the Miami Plaza-Hilton in the early morning of August 9, 1968. The way Nixon tells the story in his memoirs, he had already pretty much settled on Gov. Spiro Agnew of Maryland, reasoning that “with George Wallace in the race, I could not hope to sweep he South. It was absolutely necessary, therefore, to win the entire rimland of the South–the border states–as well as the major states of the Midwest and West.” Therefore, says Nixon, he let his advisors mention names without telling them what he had already largely decided. “The names most mentioned by those attending were the familiar ones: Romney, Reagan, John Lindsay, Percy, Mark Hatfield, John Tower, George Bush, John Volpe, Rockefeller, with only an occasional mention of Agnew, sometimes along with Governors John Love of Colorado and Daniel Evans of Washington.” [fn 21] Nixon also says that he offered the vice presidency to his close friends Robert Finch and Rogers Morton, and then told his people that he wanted Agnew.
But this account disingenuously underestimates how close Bush came to the vice-presidency in 1968. According to a well-informed, but favorable, short biography of Bush published as he was about to take over the White House, “at the 1968 GOP convention that nominated Nixon for President, Bush was said to be on the four-name short list for vice president. He attributed that to the campaigning of his friends, but the seriousness of Nixon’s consideration was widely attested. Certainly Nixon wanted to promote Bush in one way or another.” [fn 22] Theodore H. White puts Bush on Nixon’s conservative list along with Tower and Howard Baker, with a separate category of liberals and also “political eunuchs” like Agnew and Massachusetts Governor John Volpe. [fn 23] Jules Witcover thought the reason that Bush had been eliminated was that he “was too young, only a House member, and his selection would cause trouble with John Tower,” who was also an aspirant. [fn 24] The accepted wisdom is that Nixon decided not to choose Bush because, after all, he was only a one -term Congressman. Most likely, Nixon was concerned with comparisons that could be drawn with Barry Goldwater’s 1964 choice of New York Congressman Bill Miller for his running mate. Nixon feared that if he, only four years later, were to choose a Congressman without a national profile, the hostile press would compare him to Goldwater and brand him as yet another Republican loser.
Later in August, Bush traveled to Nixon’s beachfront motel suite at Mission Bay, California to discuss campaign strategy. It was decided that Bush, Howard Baker, Rep. Clark MacGregor of Minnesota, and Gov. Volpe would all function as “surrogate candidates,” campaigning and standing in for Nixon at engagements Nixon could not fill. And there is George, in a picture on the top of the front page of the New York Times of August 17, 1968, joining with the other three to slap a grinning and euphoric Nixon on the back and shake his hand before they went forth to the hustings.
Bush had no problems of his own with the 1968 election, since he was running unopposed — a neat trick for a Republican in Houston, even taking the designer gerrymandering into account. Running unopposed seems to be Bush’s idea of an ideal election. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Bush ha[d] become so politically formidable nobody cared to tke him on,” which should have become required reading for Gary Hart some years later. Bush had great hopes that he could help deliver the Texas electoral votes into the Nixon column. The GOP was counting on further open warfare between Yarborough and Connally, but these divisions proved to be insufficient to prevent Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee, from carrying Texas as he went down to defeat. As one account of the 1968 vote puts it: Texas “is a large and exhausting state to campaign in, but here special emphasis was laid on ‘surrogate candidates’: notably Congressman George Bush, a fit-looking fellow of excellent birth who represented the space-town suburbs of Houston and was not opposed in his district–an indication of the strength of the Republican technocracy in Texas.” (Perhaps, if technocracy is a synonym for “plumbers.”) Winning a second term was no problem; Bush was, however mightily embarrassed by his inability to deliver Texas for Tricky Dick. “‘I don’t know what went wrong,’ Bush muttered when interviewed in December. ‘There was a hell of a lot of money spent,'” much of it coming from the predecessor organizations to the CREEP. [fn 25] As usual, Bush had a post festum theory of what had gone wrong: he blamed it on the black voters. In Houston, Bush found, there were 58,000 voters, and Nixon only got 800 of them. “You’d think,” said Bush, “that there would have been more people just come in there and make a mistake!” [fn 26]
When in 1974 Bush briefly appeared to be the front-runner to be chosen for the vice presidency by the new President Gerald Ford, the Washington Post pointed out that although Bush was making a serious bid, he had almost no qualifications for the post. That criticism applied even more in 1968: for most people, Bush was a rather obscure Texas pol, and he had one lost statewide race previous to the election that got him into Congress. The fact that he made it into the final round at the Miami Hilton was another tribute to the network mobilizing power of Prescott Bush, Brown Brothers, Harriman, and Skull and Bones.
As the 1970 election approached, Nixon made Bush an attractive offer. If Bush were willing to give up his apparently safe Congressional seat and his place on the Ways and Means Committee, Nixon would be happy to help finance the senate race. If Bush won a Senate seat, he would be a front-runner to replace Spiro Agnew in the vice-presidential spot for 1972. If Bush were to lose the election, he would then be in line for an appointment to an important post in the Executive Branch, most likely a cabinet position. This deal was enough of an open secret to be discussed in the Texas press during the fall of 1970: at the time, the Houston Post quoted Bush in response to persistent Washington newspaper reports that Bush would replace Agnew on the 1972 ticket. Bush said that was “the most wildly speculative piece I’ve seen in a long time.” “I hate to waste time talking about such wild speculation,” Bush said in Austin. “I ought to be out there shaking hands with those people who stood in the rain to support me.” [fn 27]
At this time Bush calculated that a second challenge to Yarborough would have a greater chance for success than his first attempt. True, 1970 was another off-year election in which Democrats running against the Republican Nixon White House would have a certain statistical advantage. 1970 was also the great year of the Silent Majority, Middle America backlash against the Vietnam war protesters. This was to be the year in which Pat Buchanan and William Safire of the Nixon White House would arm Agnew with a series of vulcanized, one-line zingers which the vice president would then take on the political low road: “pusillanimous pussyfooters,” “vicars of vacillation,” “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs,” “nattering nabobs of negativism,” “radic-libs” and “effete snobs,” so went the alliterating Agnew sound bites. This was the Congressional election year that peaked in the near- insurrection against Nixon in San Jose, California on October 29, 1970, when Nixon, Governor Reagan, and Senator George Murphy came close to being lapidated by and angry crowd in an incident so perfect for Nixon’s propaganda needs that perhaps only the most accomplished agents provocateurs could have carried it off. In such an atmosphere, Bush could see himself veering off sharply to hard-hat rhetoric , attacking Yarborough for being in league with violent and obscene demostrators after Yarborough’s endorsement of the very tame October, 1970 Moratorium demonstrations against the war in Washington.
In an obvious sleight of hand, Bush uses his campaign autobiography to make it look like it was LBJ, not Nixon, who urged him to run. He tells of how he had been the only Republican at Andrews Air Force Base to see LBJ off after Nixon was inaugurated. He tells us that he visited LBJ on his celebrated ranch on the banks of the Pedernales River, and was driven by the former President over dirt roads in LBJ’s Lincoln Continental at speeds of 80 miles per hour. All a cliche, as is the scene where Bush asks LBJ whether he should try ot unseat Yarborough. Bush has LBJ answer with the little story that every schoolboy knew in the late 1960’s, and which LBJ must have recounted ten thousand times over his career, which was that he had served in both the House and the Senate, and that “the difference between being a member of the Senate and a member of the House is the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit.” [fn 30] We should also recall that poor old LBJ in these declining years was a hated recluse, so desperate for companionship that he eagerly even welcomed the psychosexual analytic sessions of Doris Kearns of the Kennedy School of Government. Of course, Bush was angling to ingratiate himself wherever he could, of course LBJ still had some assets that might make a difference in a Texas senate race, and Bush would never be indifferent to marginal advantage. Part of it was George’s instinctive ploy of trading on Prescott’s old friendships: LBJ and Prescott had served together on the Senate Armed Services Committee in the 1950’s. But Bush’s account is ultimately, as is typical of him, a calculated deception. No, no, George: LBJ resented Yarborough for having opposed him on Vietnam, but LBJ was a has-been in 1970, and it was Tricky Dick who told you to make your senate bid in 1970, and who sweetened the pot with big bucks and the promise of prestigious posts if you failed.
In September, the New York Times reported that Nixon was actively recruiting Republican candidates for the Senate. “Implies He Will Participate in Their Campaigns and Offer Jobs to Losers”; “Financial Aid is Hinted,” said the subtitles [fn 28]. It was more than hinted, and the article listed George Bush as first on the list. As it turned out, Bush’s senate race was the single most important focus of Nixon’s efforts in the entire country, with both the President and Agnew actively engaged on the ground. Bush would receive money from a Nixon slush fund called the “Townhouse” fund, an operation in the CREEP orbit. Bush was also the recipient of the largesse of W. Clement Stone, a Chicago insurance tycoon who had donated heavily to Nixon’s 1968 campaign. Bush’s friend Tower was the chairman of the GOP Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Bush’s former campaign aide, Jim Allison, was now the deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Bush himself was ensconced in the coils of the GOP fund-raising bureaucracy. When in May, 1969, Nixon’s crony Robert Finch, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare met with members of the Republican Boosters Club, 1969, Bush was with him, along with Tower, Rogers Morton, and Congressman Bob Wilson of Califronia. The Boosters along were estimated to be good for about $1 million in funding for GOP candidates in 1970. [fn 29]
By December of 1969 it was clear to all that Bush would get almost all of the cash in the Texas GOP coffers, and that Eggers, the party’s candidate for governor, would get short shrift indeed. On December 29 the Houston Chronicle front page opined: “GOP Money To Back Bush, Not Eggers.” The Democratic Senate candidate would later accuse Nixon’s crowd of “trying to buy” the Senate election for Bush: “Washington has been shovelling so much money into the George Bush campaign that now other Republican candidates around the country are demanding an accounting,” said Bush’s opponent. [fn 31]
But that opponent was Lloyd Bentsen, not Ralph Yarborough. All calculations about the 1970 Senate race had been upset when, at a relatively late hour, Bentsen, urged on by John Connally, announced his candidacy in the Democratic primary. Yarborough, busy with his work as Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, started his campaigning late. Bentsen’s pitch was to attack anti-war protesters and radicals, portraying Yarborough as being a ringleader of the extremists.
Yarborough had lost some of his vim over the years since 1964, and had veered into support for more ecological legislation and even for some of the anti-human “population planning” measures that Bush and his circles had been proposing. But he fought back gamely against Bentsen. When Bentsen boasted of having done a lot for the Chicanos of the Rio Grande Valley, Yarborough countered: “What has Lloyd Bentsen ever done for the valley? The valley is not for sale. You can’t buy people. I never heard of him doing anything for migrant labor. All I ever heard about was his father working these wetbacks. All I ever heard was them exploiting wetbacks,” said Yarborough. When Bentsen boasted of his record of experience, Yarborough counter-attacked: “The only experience that my opponents have had is in representing the financial interest of big business. They have both shown marked insensitivity to the needs of the average citizen of our state.”
But, on May 2, Bentsen defeated Yarborough, and an era came to an end in Texas politics. Bush’s 10 to 1 win in his own primary over his old rival from 1964, Robert Morris, was scant consolation. Whereas it had been clear how Bush would have run against Yarborough, it was not at all clear how he could differentiate himself from Bentsen. Indeed, to many people the two seemed to be twins: each was a plutocrat oilman from Houston, each one was aggressively Anglo-Saxon, each one had been in the House of Representatives, each one flaunted a record as a World War II airman. In fact, all Bentsen needed to do for the rest of the race was to appear plausible and polite, and let the overwhelming Democratic advantage in registered voters, especially in the yellow-dog Democrat rural areas, do his work for him. This Bentsen posture was punctuated from time to time by appeals to conservatives who thought that Bush was too liberal for their tastes.
Bush hoped for a time that his slick television packaging could save him. His man Harry Treleaven was once more brought in. Bush paid more than half a million dollars, a tidy sum at that time, to Glenn Advertising for a series of Kennedyesque “natural look” campaign spots. Soon Bush was cavorting on the tube in all of his arid vapidity, jogging across the street, trotting down the steps, bounding around Washington and playing touch football, always filled with youth, vigor, action, and thryoxin. The Plain Folks praised Bush as “Just fantastic” in these spots. Suffering the voters to come unto him, Bush responded to all comers that he “understands,” with the shot fading out before he could say what it was he understood or what he might propose to do. [fn 32] “Sure, it’s tough to be up against the machine, the big boys,” said the Skull and Bones candidate in these spots; Bush actually had more money to spend than even the well-heeled Bentsen. The unifying slogan for imparting the proper spin to Bush was “He can do more.” “He can do more” had problems that were evident even to some of the 1970 Bushmen: “A few in the Bush camp questioned that general approach because once advertising programs are set into motion they are extremely difficult to change and there was the concern that if Nixon should be unpopular at campaign’s end, the theme line would become, ‘He can do more for Nixon,’ with obvious downsides. [fn 33] Although Bentsen’s spots were said to give him “all the animation of a cadaver,” he was more substantive than Bush, and he was moving ahead.
Were there issues that could help George? His ads put his opposition to school busing to achieve racial balance at the top of the list, but this wedge-monerging got him nowhere. Because of his servility to Nixon, Bush had to support the buzz-word of a “guaranteed annual income,” which was the label under which Nixon was marketing the workfare slave labor program already described, but to many in Texas that sounded like a new give-away, and Bentsen was quick to take advantage. Bush bragged that he had been one of the original sponsors of the bill that had just semi-privatized the US Post Office Department as the Postal Service. Bush came on as a “fiscal conservative,” but this also was of little help against Bentsen.
In an interview on women’s issues, Bush first joked that there really was no consensus among women — “the concept of a women’s movement is unreal–you can’t get two women to agree on anything.” On abortion he commented: “I realize this is a politically sensitive area. But I believe in a woman’s right to chose. It should be an individual matter. I think ultimately it will be a constitutional question. I don’t favor a federal abortion law as such.” After 1980, for those who choose to believe him, this changed to strong opposition to abortion.
One issue that helped Bentsen was “inflationary recession,” also called stagflation. “I think [the President] should use the moral persuasion of the White House to help keep wages and prices within reason, instead of following policies which have put nearly 2 million Americans out of jobs without stopping inflation,” said Bentsen. Bush was stuck with parrotting the lines of the 1970 model Nixon, which was about ready for a closeout.
Could Nixon and Agnew help Bush? Agnew’s message fell flat in Texas, since he knew it was too dangerous to try to get to the right of Bentsen and attack him from there. Instead, Agnew went through the follwing contortion: a vote for Bentsen, Agnew told audiences in Lubbock and Amarillo, “is a vote to keep William Fulbright chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” and that was not what “Texans want at all.” Agnew tried to put Bentsen in the same boat with “radical liberals” like Yarborough, Fulbright, McGovern, and Kennedy. Bentsen invited Agnew to move on to Arkansas and fight it out with Fulbright, and that was that.
Could Nixon himself help Bush? Nixon did campaign in the state. Bentsen then told a group of “Anglo-American” businessmen: Texans want “a man who can stand alone without being propped up by the White House.”
In the end Bentsen defeated Bush by a vote of 1,197,726 to Bush’s 1,035,794, about 53% to 47%. The official Bushman explanation was that there were two proposed amendments to the Texas constitution on the ballot, one to allow saloons, and one to allow all undeveloped land to be taxed at the same rate as farmland. According to Bushman apologetics, these two propositions attracted so much interest among “yellow dog” rural conservatives that 300,000 extra voters came out, and this gave Bentsen his critical margin of victory. There was also speculation that Nixon and Agnew had attracted so much attention that more voters had come out, but many of these were Bentsen supporters. On the night of the election, Bush said that he “felt like General Custer. They asked him why he had lost and he said “There were too many Indians.’ All I can say at this point is that there were too many Democrats,” said the fresh two-time loser. Bentsen suggested that it was time for Bush to be appointed to a high position in the government. [fn 34]
Bush’s other consolation was a telgram dated November 5, 1970:
- RICHARD NIXON
FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE I KNOW THE DISAPPOINTMENT THAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY MUST FEEL AT THIS TIME. I AM SURE, HOWEVER, THAT YOU WILL NOT ALLOW THIS DEFEAT TO DISCOURAGE YOU IN YOUR EFFORTS TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP FOR OUR PARTY AND THE NATION.
This was Nixon’s euphemistic way of reassuring Bush that they still had a deal. [fn 35]
Return to the Table of Contents
1. See Fitzhugh Green, George Bush, p. 92, and Bush and Gold, Looking Forward, p. 90.
2. Stevens’ remarks were part of a Public Broadcasting System “Frontline” documentary program entitled “Campaign: The Choice,” of November 24, 1988. Cited by Fitzhugh Green, p. 91.
3. For the chronicles of the Harris County GOP, see local press articles available on microfiche at the Texas Historical Society in Houston.
4. “George Bush vs. Observer Editor,” The Texas Observer, July 23, 1965.
5. Texas Observer, October 14, 1966.
6. Bush and Gold, Looking Forward, p. 91.
7. Joe McGinniss, The Selling of the President 1968 (New York, 1968), pp. 42-45.
8. See Knaggs, Two-Party Texas, p. 111.
9. Congressional Quarterly, President Bush: The Challenge Ahead ( Washington, 1989), p. 94.
10. Harry Hurt III, “George Bush, Plucky Lad,” in Texas Monthly, June 1983.
11. New York Times, Jaunary 24, 1968.
12. New York Times, May 7, 1968.
14. The following account of Bush’s Congressional record on population and related is issues is derived from the ground-breaking research of Kathleen Klenetsky, to whom the authors are pleased to acknowledge their indebtedness. The material that follows incorporates sections of Kathleen Klenetsky, “Bush Backed Nazi ‘Race Science,'” Executive Intelligence Review, May 3, 1991 and New Federalist, April 29, 1991.
15. New York Times, April 11, 1968.
16. Bush, Looking Forward, pp. 92-93, and Green, George Bush, pp. 106- 107.
17. See Robert Sherrill, The Oil Follies of 1970-1980 (New York, 1983) , pp. 61-65.
18. New York Times, July 22, 1969.
19. Sherrill, p. 64.
20. Norman Mailer, Miami and the Siege of Chicago (New York, 1968), pp. 72-73.
21. Richard Nixon, RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, p. 312.
22. Congressional Quarterly, President Bush (Washington, 1989), p. 94.
23. Theodore H. White, The Making of the President 1968 (New York, 1969), p. 251.
24. Jules Witcover, The Resurrection of Richard Nixon, p. 352.
25. Lewis Chester et al., The Presidential Campaign of 1968 (London: Deutch, 1969), p. 622.
26. Chester et al., p. 763.
27. Houston Post, October 29, 1970.
28. New York Times, May 13, 1969.
29. New York Times, Sept, 27, 1969.
30. Bush and Gold, Looking Forward, pp. 98-103.
31. Houston Chronicle, October 6, 1970.
32. See “Tubing with Lloyd/George,” The Texas Observer, October 30, 1970.
33. Knaggs, Two-Party Texas, p. 148.
34. Houston Post, November 5, 1970.
35. Bush and Gold, Looking Forward, page 102.