(In acknowledgment of the perfect poem for our time, by Robert Browning.)
(Kennebunkport, Maine) Russian President Vladimir Putin, above right, bows to Bush clan tradition and dons the coveted "Kennebunk Kimono of Shame" at ceremonies held recently.
Last worn by Florida Governor Jeb Bush when his wife Columba lied to U.S. Customs officials about $19,000 in new clothing and jewelry she tried to sneak into the country after a Paris vacation, the victory fell to him instead of the Sunshine State's First Lady because rules stipulate Bush bloodlines.
Experts say President Bush long ago earned the shameful silk on matters of Iraq, huge tax cuts for the wealthy, and disregard for the environment, while others believe it was the Terri Schiavo affair that iced the honor. The White House cited scheduling conflicts for the delay in bestowing the family prize, and noted it was wonderful that the Russian -- a man whose very soul the president says he has seen -- could participate.
The colorful garb was first worn in 1942 by the president's grandfather, Prescott Sheldon Bush, when the federal government ordered the seizure of Prescott's Union Banking Corporation property under the "Trading With The Enemy Act." He was an owner and Director of the firm, and other Americans of wealth were also involved.
Union Banking Corporation (UBC) was essentially a U.S. holding company controlled by a German tycoon who'd funded Hitler's rise to power, and the President of UBC was George Herbert Walker, Prescott Bush's father-in-law. Walker was a big golfer, a president of the USGA, and the famed Walker Cup (begun in 1921) is his namesake.
The Walker/Bush gang basically functioned, through UBC, as American business emissaries for the German. Their financial involvement with the Nazis included, among other things, Polish mining operations that used slave labor from the town of Auschwitz.
Thus the original Kennebunk Kimono of Shame was sewn.
The seizure order against Prescott was published on a lazy Saturday in the relative obscurity of the Federal Register. It was not widely known or reported for over 60 years until news outlets, including Fox News, finally brought it mainstream (by which time Prescott was forgotten and both his son and grandson had already ascended the presidency).
The assets were held by the government for the duration of World War II, after which Prescott was reimbursed a cool $1.5 million for his one stock share, which would be used in the 1950's to launch energy investments when his son George H.W. Bush moved to Texas. It's all in the history books.
As for the latest Kimono recipient, it's impossible to know what future generations will discover about this particular Bush. Seamstress Kitty Gonzalez may have put her finger on it when she noted backstage, "It's uncanny how the robes seem to fit the president and Mr. Putin so comfortably."
Further inquiries to the family compound were unanswered at press time.
(additional reporting courtesy Aunt Lavinia's Costuming)
UPDATE November 2010: This original blog entry in 2007 had a link to the official USGA website page devoted to the Walker Cup, which proudly explained that the founder was George W. Bush's great-grandfather. Funny, but the USGA has removed that page -- and all Walker Cup history -- from its website, so the relevant link has now been changed to the generic Wikipedia entry.