Bush Family Values: War, Wealth, Oil

Four generations have created an unsavory web of links that could prove an election-year Achilles' heel for the president.

Published: 09-Feb-2004

WASHINGTON -- Despite February polls showing President Bush losing his early reelection lead, he's still the favorite. No modern president running unopposed in his party's primaries and caucuses has ever lost in November.

But there may be a key to undoing that precedent. The two Bush presidencies are so closely linked, especially over Iraq, that the 43rd can't be understood apart from the 41st. Beyond that, for a full portrait of what the Bushes are about, we must return to the family's emergence on the national scene in the early 20th century.

This four-generation evolution of the Bushes involves multiple links that could become Bush's election-year Achilles' heel — if a clever and tough 2004 Democratic opponent can punch and slice at them. Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, the clear Democratic front-runner, could be best positioned to do so. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he investigated the Iran-Contra and Bank of Credit and Commerce International scandals, both of which touched George H.W. Bush's Saudi, Iraqi and Middle Eastern arms-deal entanglements.

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