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Thomas de Zengotita Headshot

Why Big George Broke Down Sobbing Today Over Medium George

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Down in Florida today, in case you missed it, Bush #I broke into tears while talking about his elder son Jeb's stoicism in the face of an election defeat--back in 1994.

Why break down and cry about that little piece of ancient history? Perhaps this is a clue: his moment of cracking came as he said that the "true measure of a man" is how you handle "victory and defeat."

Well, obviously, he wasn't really talking about Jeb. It was all about W.

Little George is hopeless, and always has been--and Big George knows it, and always has, and so has the whole family. Medium George may be nothing special, but he is a grown-up and, most important, he displays that wire-jaw air of moderated self-possession that is the very definition of Wasp manhood in the privileged precincts wherein the Bush tribe dwells.

Jeb was always the heir apparent. He was supposed to be The One.

Little George, on the other hand, was a profound embarrassment to the Bush clan, drunk or sober, oozing and leaking uncontrollable emotions, in triumph and defeat, ever since he earned his mother's lasting scorn throwing his tennis racket to the ground after flubbing shots on country club courts back when you had to wear whites to play that urgent (but discreetly so) pong-ponging game with those who bore so effortlessly the grace of timeless class.

In his heart, Big George blames himself for Little George's manic need to match and surpass him. In his heart, Big George knows that this Iraq insanity has been a long drawn out substitute for the fist fight a drunken Little George once challenged him to on the lawn of one of their stately manors back in the day when the world was young and the Atlantic stars shone down upon the estates of a virtuous American ruling class.

Don't believe me? Read this book--First Son, by Bill Minutaglio.

I am not usually a partisan of psychoanalytic family drama explanations of history, but this Bush saga is an exception to that rule.