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Here, the family legacy was certainly not a curse. It bought Bush the chance to furnish his name and about $600,000 to buy a piece of the Texas Rangers, which he sold nine years later for $14 million. His mother still didn't think he was up to winning a Governor's race, and she said so, but W. was intent on trying in 1994. It was all the richer that his opponent would be Ann Richards, who had managed in 1988 to take the poisonous cartoon of the Bushes and serve it up to a national audience. "Poor George," she had cooed at the Democratic National Convention in 1988, "he can't help it...he was born with a silver foot in his mouth." The old man had spent his life trying to shake the Greenwich out of his cowboy boots, but W. had already immunized himself. He was a real Texan, and he had the squint to prove it. Bush won with 53% of the vote.
W. had come a long way from Prescott and Dorothy of Greenwich, but the path looked a lot like a huge circle on the morning of his inauguration in 1995. His dad passed the family torch to his firstborn, presenting W. with a pair of cufflinks that his own father Prescott had given him when he went off to war. He had called them "my most prized possession." "At first I didn't think about the continuity, the grandfather part," Bush says, recalling that busy, glorious day. "The main thing I thought was that it was from my dad. He was saying that he was proud of me. But later I reread the letter and thought about it. It ended with, 'Now it's your turn.'"
MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Along with a set of cufflinks and a sense of duty, Prescott Bush passed along something else that is still at work today: an addiction to politics that would not subside even after leaving office. After less than two terms in the Senate, Prescott retired in 1962 for health reasons. He had suddenly begun to lose weight, and a doctor told him, "You'd be a fool to run." So Prescott complied, a decision he would regret. "Once you've had the exposure to politics that I had," he said later, "...it gets in your blood, and then when you get out, nothing else satisfies that in your blood. I mean, there's no substitute diet for it, you see? It's like the old song, 'How you going to keep him down on the farm after he's seen Paree?'"
George W.'s dad couldn't shake the habit either. After he lost in 1992, the President announced that he was going to exit the scene, write his memoirs and play with his grandchildren. He would be, in short, the graceful loser Dorothy had taught him to be. But as the years passed and Clinton's personal problems increased, it was hard to shake the feeling that he had lost to a lesser man. If President Bush was disciplined about holding his tongue, you have to wonder whether it was because he had an even better revenge in mind than just sniping from the sidelines. On the day in 1998 when both Jeb and George were on the ballot, the father was thinking back to his own loss six years before and how far they had all come. He sat down that morning and wrote of his enormous pride. "Tomorrow I might well be the dad of the Governors of the second and fourth largest states in the Union. But there will be no feeling of personal vindication, no feeling of anything other than pride in two honest boys who, for the right reasons, want to serve--who fought the good fight and won."