By Jwilkes from Eyes on Obama:
Love them or hate them, the Bushes are one of the most significant political families in American history, enduring for close to a century at the highest levels of government. Don't be fooled into thinking that relative unpopularity for one of its own today will spell the end of the family line. A look at what- and who- is to come for the Bushes.
The American experiment began as one of the only lasting governmental structures in modern history to eschew the politics of familial lineage for a system based strictly on popular election. And yet, throughout US history, a number of families have risen to power a number of times, with each successive generation building upon the power and influence of the last.
Following in the footsteps of the Adams, Harrisons, Udalls, and Roosevelts, the Bush family tree is one of the most significant in American history. Not only has it endured close to a century of rough and tumble politics, it has maintained its position at the very highest levels of government, boasting senators, governors, vice presidents, and presidents.
The family that began in New England and migrated south to become one of the most prominent houses in Texas society is at what some might see as its apex- two presidencies and two governorships in the past 20 years alone. But the emerging sons of the House of Bush may prove over the next decade or so that the prominence of its dynasty is far from over.
The Bush family tradition is one of the longest and most extensive of any in American history, rivaled in modern history only perhaps by the Kennedys on the other side of the aisle.
Paternally, the direct Bush line begins in the 1930's with Samuel Bush, a close advisor to President Herbert Hoover. His son, Senator Preston Bush represented Connecticut for just over a decade. The next generation featured, among others, George H.W. Bush, who built upon the family's existing political ties, rising from Congressman, to Ambassador, to national party chair, to CIA director, to vice president, and finally the President of the United States in a political career that spanned over 20 years.
Indirectly, the Bushes trace their heritage back beyond the turn of the 20th century. Genealogists connect the Bushes to as many as 13 other presidents. With the marriage of George H.W. to Barbara Pierce Bush, the family added a connection to the 14th U.S. President, Franklin Pierce.
Though recent years have been difficult ones for the popularity of the Bush name, a political family is nothing if not resilient. The relative unpopularity of a single member may indeed be potentially damaging in the short run. However, time and circumstance have proven to be mitigating factors in the past. In the long run, what's most likely is that the bevy of resources and persistence to maintain the status of political power will drive the Bush family into the hunt for the nation's highest offices again.
Certainly, the next four to eight years are most likely off-limits. But what happens in the years that follow the departure of George W. from Pennsylvania Avenue in 2008 may very well set the stage for the next crop of Bush leaders.
If John McCain's bid for the White House is ultimately successful, and if the current GOP nominee is popular two or four years into his tenure, a House, Senate, or gubernatorial candidate with the surname of Bush may fare rather well, particularly with the backing of the man who came up just shy of the GOP nomination in 2000. The same might be said if Barack Obama ends up in the Oval Office, and experiences any kind of a rough patch. Moreover, if Democrats lose their grip on the Congress, a Bush seeking a legislative seat in the federal government might find success.
The question before the Bushes is not whether it will continue on, but rather which of its members will carry forward its legacy. There is no shortage of candidates eager to receive the family torch.
John Ellis "Jeb" Bush is the only member of the third generation of Bushes to even approach the success of George W. He left the governor's mansion in Florida with an approval rating of 56% in a state with more registered Democrats than Republicans. During his tenure, he made considerable inroads with a number of new groups outside the traditional bloc of the Republican rank-and-file. He took decisive steps toward establishing and fostering free trade agreements, and made education a central focus of his administration. Plus, he made overtures to social conservatives by taking stances, for better or for worse, on controversial topics like gay rights and right-to-life issues. In any future campaign, he'll claim not only experience, but also success in those areas.
Had his older brother managed to leave the White House with a higher approval rating, Jeb would have been a top choice for the vice presidential slot for his executive experience, name recognition, and popularity in a big swing state. His reentry into politics will be a touchy issue. It's doubtful that he'd pursue anything but the big prize on Pennsylvania Avenue, but because the climate for Bushes in national politics is so questionable, his future will require a great deal of planning and strategy. And with his history and family connections, he'll have all the resources he needs to craft a formidable approach, if he chooses to pursue his political career any further at all.
George Prescott Bush
George P. just might be the Bush family's secret weapon. The 32 year-old lawyer and real estate developer is the son of Jeb and Columba Gallo Bush. Fluent in Spanish, he has an undergraduate degree from Rice University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas, and was recently commissioned as an intelligence officer in the US Navy. He's openly expressed interest in politics, and has been outspoken on a number of hot button issues, including US policy in Central and South America. He lives in Texas with his wife, now an attorney he met while they were both in law school.
George P.'s potential appeal is wide. His own Hispanic background (his mother is Mexican-born) builds on the popularity already enjoyed by his uncle in Washington and father in Florida. Plus, the active participation of both he and his father in the Catholic Church taps back into the Christian voting bloc that was so instrumental to his uncle's election. His involvement in the GOP could be a boon to the "big tent" effort Republicans have been after for years. Combining that with a commitment to the Reagan conservatism that carried his grandfather to the White House could be all he needs to launch a successful career. Put it all together- an outspoken, educated, multilingual naval officer/lawyer/businessman with the strongest political ties- and you'd be blind not to see an emerging heir to the Bush legacy. And with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson retiring at or before the culmination of her current term in 2012, his opportunity might be just around the corner.
The newest addition to the Bush family, Henry Chase Hager has political pedigree of his own. The son of the Chairman of the Virginia GOP, Hager served as an aide to the Republican Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and later to Karl Rove, before marrying First Daughter Jenna Bush on May 10, 2008.
Hager might be a long shot at this point, but the M.B.A. student has spent the last several years laying down political roots of his own. Certainly, with the influence of both his father and his father-in-law, Hager stands just as good of a chance of any to carry on the Bush line.
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