the choice 2000
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his father's son (transcript)
INTERVIEWER: What a lot of people have said is that if you want to get George W. in your face, you say something derogatory about his dad. What's that all about? Can you define that?

MARY MATALIN, Republican Political Advisor: They're a very tight, close family, and that father-son relationship is particularly close, and they both are pained--there's no other word for it--they're just pained to see the other criticize.

CLAY JOHNSON, High School and College Friend: George is protective not of the name. George is protective of the people. When you attack people that George loves, you're attacking him and he's very territorial about his parents. And was the attack dog in whatever it was, '88, when he was working in his dad's campaign in Washington. And took great offense at critical remarks made about him by members of the press. And it's not a protection of the name, of the aura, of the family. It's a protection of those individuals. His mother, his father.

MARY MATALIN: I think seeing the father stupidly labeled as a wimp has been helpful in getting through the son, stupidly, absurdly being labeled a lightweight. That never --he never internalized that. He scoffs at it and laughs at it. It was, I think, productive to have seen that kind of absurdity handled in a previous campaign.

RANDALL RODEN, Childhood Friend: I think he benefited from, and I think it certainly shows, later in life, when he did decide to choose politics, certainly the fact that his father had had this career, and that George had been an observer and participant during the course of that. I'm sure he's benefited enormously from that experience. But I don't think he was directed from childhood to do that.

JOHN ELLIS, Cousin: He followed the father's footsteps fairly exactly, with slight detours and stuff. And that was both good, in that he benefited from his father's -- the affection for his father everywhere he went, and that made life, I think, easier for him, certainly in business, but also in politics; and it was bad, not bad, but it was difficult because there was always the people measuring, even though no one ever said they were measuring, but of course, they were.

JIM PINKERTON, Advisor, Bush '88 Presidental Campaign: It was apparent that yes, he was literally the eldest son. Was he sort of the obvious future, once and future king, future inheritor of the Bush mantle? Not at all. I mean, I really didn't think of him that much in political terms back then. I thought of him as sort of a business man.

MARY MATALIN: In 2o years, I never saw, Oh, George has the name, George is our future. There was none of that. There was always--You know, and Mrs. Bush, of course, is the epitome of motherhood, and she just gives each of these kids the room to be who they are. I never saw any excessive expectations put on any of them.

RANDALL RODEN: Now, the fact that he chose to do some things that looked like things that his family valued because his father had done some of the same things, I don't think that's surprising. Lots of us do that. We do it unconsciously. It doesn't mean somebody tried to force you to do it. It just means that you were paying attention

JOHN ELLIS: I think he was the rebel in the family, and he was the one willing to talk back to his parents and make fun of them, very high-spirited, and a lot of fun. And I think also he was a companion to his mother, in the early--I mean, as Bar describes it, as a companion to his mother after Robin died.

RANDALL RODEN: I think he was slightly rebellious. I think he was slightly sort of a rambunctious kid, who wouldn't have done well with a tight leash. I don't think you could have done that. But I think that he did, in fact, get to do what he wanted.

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