Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Kitty Kelley Book is #1

THE GUARDIAN - After weeks of bracing by the Bush White House, the category 5 storm has hit: Hurricane Kitty. Bestselling author Kitty Kelley's withering portrait of the Bush dynasty, The Family, is landing in bookstores on Tuesday - more than 720,000 copies of it. And the White House is already on high alert. "This book is fiction and deserves to be treated as such," snarled Republican spokeswoman Christine Iverson, as the RNC fired off an anti-Kelley talking-points memo to friendly media assets.

The media blowback against Kelley, author of controversial biographies of Nancy Reagan and Frank Sinatra, has already begun. On the Monday morning Today Show, host Matt Lauer showed how tough an interviewer he can be when not questioning presidents and other potentates, pressing Kelley on who she's going to vote for in November ("Who're you voting for?" Kelley shot back) and the timing of the book's publication, weeks before the November election ("Why not? It's relevant," countered the author, who's been working on the book for four years).

The hottest dispute sparked by the book involves the allegation that George W Bush, who claimed to be clean and sober at the time, snorted cocaine with one of his brothers at the Camp David presidential retreat when his father was president. One of Kelley's sources - and the only one on the record - was Sharon Bush, the deeply aggrieved ex-wife of W's younger brother Neil. She is now in strong denial mode, even though her own publicist, who was present at a lunch where she told Kelley the story, confirms the accuracy of Kelley's account...

While the Camp David coke party is getting the headlines, Kelley's book is filled with many other tawdry stories about the Bush dynasty (from prostitutes to affairs, illegal drug use to covered-up abortions)...

But, as one of W's Yalie frat brothers tells Kelley, it's not the substance abuse in Bush's past that's disturbing, it's the "lack of substance ... Georgie, as we called him, had absolutely no intellectual curiosity about anything. He wasn't interested in ideas or in books or causes. He didn't travel; he didn't read the newspapers; he didn't watch the news; he didn't even go to the movies. How anyone got out of Yale without developing some interest in the world besides booze and sports stuns me." New Yorker writer Brendan Gill recalls roaming the Kennebunkport compound one night while staying there looking for a book to read - the only title he could find was The Fart Book....

While Kelley is being savagely attacked as a tabloid sleaze queen, her book is more heavily researched and documented than Bush advocates allege. On occasion, she relies on sources that are less than reliable - inserting the story Hustler publisher Larry Flynt tried to put in media play about a girlfriend's abortion that W allegedly paid for before it was legal. Kelley says she decided to put the story in her book after interviewing the two investigators Flynt had hired to track down the story. But despite her flaws, Kelley has vigorously pursued leads about the powerful American dynasty - from Bush senior's shady CIA past to W's missing National Guard records - that the rest of the media should have.

From an interview between Kelley and Salon:

[S:] What do you think W will do if he loses in November? Will he happily go back to baseball?
[KK:] No. You know something that I have found out from this family after four years - he doesn't plan to lose. They know how to win - no matter what.
[S:] What does that mean?
[KK:] That means these people can put the Sopranos to shame.
[S:] Does that mean vote stealing?
[KK:] That's a bit overt. But nothing will stand in the way of these people winning. Nothing. You start out looking at the Bush family like it's The Donna Reed Show and then you see it's The Sopranos.


Kitty Kelley is probably not the most respected journalist in town, but to her credit, she has never been successfully sued for libel despite her alleged "tabloid" style of reporting, meaning she knows what she's doing. I thought this article was interesting, in as far as it presents a different picture of "Georgie" than what you might typically see. But the biggest question I'm left with is this: Why is Norm MacDonald (of SNL fame) hanging out in a Bush family picture?


At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No interests but booze & sports...........MAN, if only I wasn't born in England.



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