"When Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President was published and subsequently recalled by St. Martin's Press (under pressure from Bush's legal eagles) in October 1999, everyone wanted to know who my sources were for the controversial afterword in which I alleged Dubya had been arrested for coke possession in 1972 and had his record expunged due to his father's political influence.Believing that principles only mean something if you stand behind them when it is inconvenient, I wouldn't oblige....My wife, friends, lawyer and anyone else that falls between a friend and a lawyer (let's not go there) said,...'You protected your sources' identity like you promised, but have they protected you? Just the opposite—they've threatened you and your family and tried to destroy your credibility.'...But thanks to the new introduction [in the July 2001 reprinting of the book] by my publisher, Sander Hicks, who "named names" and identified my sources, I was backed into a corner. When USA Today's Bob Minzeheimer point-blank asked me at the BEA press conference if Karl Rove, Dubya's chief strategist and dirty trickster extraordinaire, was indeed my major source—the so-called "Eufaula Connection"—I had to fess up to the truth, especially since Hicks was also handing out to the press copies of my private phone records along with the new version of Fortunate Son. ...And, of course, Rove "was traveling and could not be reached" for a comment. He can't go on the record and say it isn't true, because IT IS and the phone records speak volumes. How else would I have his private number at his home in Ingram, Texas, plus his fax machine and other unlisted numbers?...Although I had no choice but to identify the sources since my publisher had admittedly reneged on his promise "to take these names to the grave" (in his defense, he felt a professional and personal obligation to expose them since he believed I was the victim of one of Rove's notorious dirty tricks), the general consensus was that I divulged my sources only to heighten interest in the book and spike sells. In other words, I only did it to draw attention to the book and make the cash registers sing like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir....It's a classic case of damned if you do and damned if you don't." --James Hatfield, 6/11/01
"If there's any future for American democracy, the trashing of Fortunate Son and its author will eventually stand out as an important early episode in the history of the Bush reaction. It happened all too fast back in the fall of 1999, and then people pretty much forgot about it (which is the way things generally happen in the culture of TV). However, in the history textbooks of tomorrow, the fate of Hatfield and his valuable biography will get the close attention it deserves, for what it says about America--our politics and culture--at the end of the millennium. But right now, let's stop thinking about tomorrow, and take a good hard look at what it meant when Hatfield was hung out to dry, and Fortunate Son sent off for burning." --Mark Crispin Miller more
"All his life, George W. Bush has been allowed to cheat to get by. You see this in Fortunate Son, starting with the special favors Bush enjoyed in his youth, such as the family connections that shielded him from the ugly realities of Vietnam. The same pattern continued into his adulthood, when the careful, strategic handling of his advisors won him the Presidency." --Sander Hicks more
POLITEX, although you never post James Hatfield's Online Journal columns on your web site, I think you better check out today's. Although I have faithfully read your site every day for a couple of years now, I have a problem with the way you seemingly go out of your way to dump on the author of the best bio written about Bush. Did you not teach a sense of fair play when you were an educator? If so, then post Hatfield's newest column about his press conference in Chicago as "rebuttal" to your scathing commentary about him last week. Several of us are beginning to wonder where your loyalties lie. Are you Bush's hitman against Hatfield? Come on, Politex, quit showing your pettiness. --my best, R.J., 6/11/01
Thanks for calling my attention to the Hatfield essay posted in yesterday's Online Journal (6/11/01), R.J. As you know, I've always depended upon loyal Bush Watch readers like yourself to call my attention to things I've missed. I have some questions about your comments. I've only discussed Hatfield three times on Bush Watch that I can recall, and all three discussions have been in relation to the publication of different versions of his book on Bush. I don't think that's "going out of my way." As for "dumping" on Hatfield, I can't agree with that, either. The criteria I've applied to Hatfield's book is the criteria I apply to any research. As for the Hatfield book being the best bio on Bush, I'm not sure that's saying much, even if we were to conclude that it's true. My feeling is that there aren't enough bios on Bush to determine any "best" and "worst" books. Of the three that I can think of (Hatfield's Mitchell's, and Minutaglio's), it's a fact (not an opinion) that Hatfield's bio is the most anti-Bush, the least documented, and the most controversial in its unproven allegations. Is that a "scathing" remark? How about this: George W. Bush is a liar and a hypocrite, he cares more about his corporate buddies and campaign contributors than the average citizen, and his tax cut bill is a calculated plan to screw poor people and the Democrat Party and will lead to deficit spending and be very harmful to the country. Is that a "scathing" remark? Talking about "scathing" remarks, what, exactly did I write in my essay on the new reprint of the Hatfield book (books.htm ) that you find "scathing"? Please copy and paste these remarks and send them to me, because I have no idea what you're talking about. And as for the 6/11/01 Hatfield essay being a "rebuttal" to my "scathing commentary" about him, why not copy and paste the specficic sentences in his essay that you think is a relevant "rebuttal" to those "scathing" remarks and send them to me as well. Finally, if you've been reading Bush Watch for two years and you honestly think that my comments upon Hatfield's book indicate that my leanings are pro-Bush, I can only suggest that you might want to read more carefully in the future. thanks and best wishes, jerry politex, 6/12/01
I own a copy of J.H. Hatfield's FORTUNATE SON (St. Martin's Press) and a copy of the revised reprint by Soft Skull Press. Both books were pulled from the shelves over fear of law suits. Now Soft Skull has published a second revised reprint which I'll eventually take a look at, and for the past month my e-mail box has received numerous press releases from Soft Skull Press. It appears that the most important addition to the second reprinted edition is that the Hatfield book names names. It is claimed that members of the Bush team provided Hatfield with inside information about an alledged Bush drug bust in 1972, but up until this edition neither author Hatfield nor publisher Sander Hicks has been willing to spill the beans about who these folks are and why they would tell tales out of school.. Now Hicks claims that one of the Bushies who provided Hatfield with privileged info was none other than the political brains behind the Bush outfit, Karl Rove, himself. Here's how it's described in a Soft Skull 5/9/01 press release:
"A Texas lawsuit shut down distribution of Soft Skull Press's new [first revised reprinted] edition of Fortunate Son, but with this new second edition (June, 2001), Publisher Sander Hicks reveals that Fortunate Son's destruction was part of Bush adviser Karl T. Rove's strategy to obscure the facts about Bush's 1972 drug arrest and spotty Texas Air National Guard record. Top Bush advisors Rove and Clay Johnson were the main 'anonymous' sources from whom Hatfield received his information on the controversial 1972 cocaine arrest. Rove and Johnson were acquainted with Hatfield's former employers in Dallas, and were aware of Hatfield's sensational 1988 felony conviction for solicitation of capital murder. In his new Publisher's Preface, Hicks connects the dots: knowing that Hatfield could be soon discredited was a great way to diminish the inevitable coverage on Bush's cocaine past and suspension from the Texas Air National Guard."
In yesterday's New York Post, reviewers explain how the Hatfield book brings up Rove in its latest reincarnation of the book that will not die: "Hatfield...has added a lengthy afterword intended to boost his credibility by detailing how and where he supposedly learned about Bush's alleged drug use and plea bargain. Hatfield claims three different sources confirmed the cocaine charge, including a former Yale classmate of Bush, a longtime Bush family friend, and 'a high-ranking adviser to Bush who had known the candidate for several years' and who met with Hatfield in Lake Eufaula, Okla. In a separate note, Hicks identifies the Lake Eufaula source as none other than Karl Rove, Bush's own White House political strategist. Rove was traveling and could not be reached." Keep in mind that one reason most critics found Hatfield's book bogus as originally published was that he refused to name his sources for the Bush drug bust story. Now that Hicks has done so, will the book be accepted as being any more credible?
First, Rove is not going to agree to the allegations in Hatfield's book. Secondly, Hatfield has previously said that he made up parts of the story to protect the identity of source #3, but he never made it clear what parts were made up and what parts were true. Here's what Jacob Weisberg wrote about that in his 10/19/99 review of Hatfield's book in Slate: "Why would three Bush supporters want to supply a hostile reporter with information that would destroy their friend's candidacy? More significant, when I questioned Hatfield about his sources, he acknowledged that some of what he says about them in the book isn't true....Here's how [Hatfield] describes [source #3] in the book... A 'high-ranking adviser to Bush who had known the presidential candidate for several years.' Hatfield says this source agreed to confirm information in the book and spent three days bass fishing with him in Eufaula, Okla....Hatfield recounts calling Source No. 3 to ask him to confirm the story he has from the first two. His 'Eufaula Connection' calls him back half an hour later. Here's what Hatfield writes about what Eufaula told him:
"'I can't and won't give you any names, but I can confirm that W.'s Dallas attorney remains the repository of any evidence of the expunged record. From what I've been told, the attorney is the one who advised him to get a new driver's license in 1995 when a survey of his public records uncovered a stale but nevertheless incriminating trail for an overly eager reporter to follow,' he said, pausing occasionally to spit tobacco juice into the ever-present Styrofoam cup.Spitting tobacco juice into the Styrofoam cup is a nice detail. But how, I asked Hatfield, could he see his source doing this in what he described as a telephone conversation? Hatfield made a spitting noise into the phone, and said that he knew the source chewed tobacco because he had spent time with him. But then he added: 'I might have put that in to protect him. He doesn't chew tobacco--I had to help him out a bit.' This is quite an admission. Nowhere in the book does Hatfield warn the reader that he has altered details or created composite characters to protect his sources. His admission about Source No. 3 raises the question of what else in his book is fictional."
Forget fictional, one wonders what in the Hatfield book has been documented. In his version of his meetings with #3 in the St. Martin's edition, Hatfield writes, "fearing that I might be a target of disinformation by someone sent by Bush or his campaign staff, I determined it would be in my best interest to query him on subjects which I could confirm with other sources." Yet, the very last paragraph of the book has #3 saying, "I've known George for several years..." Recall Hatfield's description of #3 in an above paragraph? A "high-ranking adviser to Bush who had known the presidential candidate for several years." Numerous sources available to Hatfield at the time note that Karl Rove has been a close political advisor and friend to Bush since 1974, which is hardly "several years." Even assuming Rove was being ironic about his length of time around Bush, Hatfield was not in his description of source #3. What "sources" did Hatfield use to "confirm" that #3 only knew Bush for "several" years? There are none if #3 is Karl Rove. Of course, another possible explanation does even more damage to Hatfield's newest version of his book. Source #3 is not Karl Rove. Finally, Hatfield can always say that the Rove identification was made by Hicks, not him. However, Hatfield's had numerous public opportunities in Hicks' presence to reject the idea that Rove is #3, and he has not, according to Soft Skull press releases. Are you beginning to get the picture? Perhaps Hatfield will be in a position to clarify these contradictions in a future revised and reprinted version of his book. --Jerry Politex, Bush Watch, 6/5/01
POLITEX: BUSH LUCKS OUT BY HAVING HATFIELD AS HIS BIOGRAPHER. Bush watchers surely have read this quote before: "I can provide background material on my life today, tomorrow, and the next day, but it would never be enough to satisfy the media." Dubya talking about why he refuses to continue answering coke questions, right? Only this time it's by Jim Hatfield, author of the soon-to-be-shredded biography on G. W. Bush. The statement was included in a press release sent to us by "Jim" with no return address, providing Hatfield's side of the story. It seems that Hatfield neglected to inform his publisher, St. Martin's Press, that he was a paroled felon, convicted of hiring a hit man to car-bomb his boss because his boss suspected him of embezzlement. When the story broke late last week, just days after the publication of Fortunate Son, Hatfield's biography of Dubya, the biographer assured the publisher that the convicted felon was someone else with the same name. A further investigation proved otherwise, and St. Martin's requested that all unsold copies in the initial shipment of 70,000 be pulled off the shelves of bookstores throughout the nation and be returned for "furnace fodder." Hatfield's undisclosed criminal past, coupled with St. Martin's questions about what he claimed to have published in defunct Texas newspapers and his methods of documentation in the Bush book destroyed the publisher's faith in the truth of his biography.
It's ironic that in his biography Hatfield accuses Bush of stonewalling on details of his past life(p.302), but, when questioned about his own past, reverts to the very same defense, using nearly the same words as Bush, as quoted above. How in the world can Hatfield expect the public to believe him if he uses the very same stonewalling defense that he appears to criticize in Bush? Naturally, those who believe Bush is hiding something relevant to his credentials as president would also believe Hatfield is hiding something relevant to his credentials as biographer. While Hatfield is correct is saying that it's more important to concentrate on what he is saying about Bush's past, doesn't he understand that until he clears up legitimate questions about his ability to present the truth, questions that go beyond his prison record, no one will believe him?
Frankly, even without the questions surrounding Hatfield, his book is suspect. While St. Martin's has called the book "scrupulously corroborated and sourced" and includes a photo on the dustjacket of Hatfield sitting in front of boxes of files with a computer at his elbow, the fact is the book is poorly documented. While there are 54 pages of source notes at the end of the book, without footnotes or continuous references in the text there is no way to know what source goes with what fact in the book's text. The sources are organized by chapters and placed in categories: archives, books, articles, television, internet, interviews. Within each category the sources are simply run together, one after the other in paragraph form. There are numerous anyonymous sources. There is no index. The book has been called "largely a rehash of previously reported material," and while there's nothing wrong with a book that mainly gathers source material for later, less hurried, work, the lack of normal documentation makes the book even less than a "rehash." Hatfield calls his previous book, a biography of "Star Treck" actor Patrick Stewart, "pop-culture trivia." The lack of documentation in the Bush biography makes it political trivia.
This is not to say that the topics that Hatfield is concerned with are "trivia." It's important to learn more about Bush and drinking, middle Eastern money men, stock trading, the draft, Billy Graham, the Texas Rangers, and his business partners during his years as Governor. It's just that Hatfield has made it more difficult for others that follow to be believed. Surely, Hatfield must have known that he would be turned around every which way but loose by coming up with an unproven attack on Bush. (As the Benton Country (Ark.) Daily Record, Hatfield's local paper, describes it, "The biography's final chapter claims that George W. Bush, the current governor of Texas and front runner for the Republican nomination for the presidency, was charged with cocaine possession in Houston in 1972. Hatfield claims that because of the influence of George W’s father, former president George Bush, the charges were dropped and George W.’s record was expunged.")
A man who has spent 5 years in prison must know something about the way the real world works. How could he not know that his past would be found out and his attack would then be dismissed as so much hot air? Ruby Jean Jenson, a local friend, is in disbelief: “I can’t believe that someone of James’ intelligence would put himself in a position like that, if he thought his background could be gotten into so easily. I just can’t believe it.” Perhaps Hatfield is simply living in a journalist's dream world of his own making: "If it wasn’t for that mysterious, shadowy figure, Deep Throat, who assisted Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, we may have never learned the truth about Watergate and Richard Nixon may never have been forced to resign. Because of their proven credibility and close attachment to George W. Bush himself, I stand by my sources," he says in the press release. Hatfield forgets that Deep throat did not bring Nixon down, he pointed the reporters in the right direction to get the documentation. Hatfield needs to show us the documentation. A posturing press release does not take the place of documentation. Show us the documentation. Meanwhile, Dubya has lucked out again, now being able to use Hatfield as an example of the kind of people who delve into his past and criticize his record. 10/25/99
"Snow Falling off Bushes" by Mike Barnicle The peripatetic Boston columnist states conclusively that not only has George W. Bush done cocaine in the past -- he's doing it right now. "I scored for that guy so often he used to call me 'Snow Seal,'" Barnicle reveals. The hardy Irish-American, best known for his close personal relationship with the Kennedy family and his uncanny ability to write like other people, says his friendship with the Republican hopeful crosses party lines. "There's only one kind of lines we care about," he says. "We were talking possible vice-presidential candidates one day and I asked him if he'd consider McCain. 'Sure!' he said. 'Really? But Senator McCain hates you.' 'Aw,' he laughed, 'I thought you said cocaine.'"--Sean Elder
Talking about the Hatfield biography of Junior on "Fox News Sunday," Poppy said, "I was so outraged, I did something I seldom do and I asked our
attorney to talk to the man and they just brushed us off. We may not be finished with this yet, even though I'm a public
figure. It's outrageous." Meanwhile, asked if W. was considering a lawsuit, a spokesman for Junior said, "Attorneys are looking into it."--Reuters
"Politicians don't sue. By filing for libel,
a candidate or elected official would open himself to an
open-ended process of legal 'discovery.' In this case, George
W. Bush would be a fool to allow that to happen even if he
stood a chance of winning a judgment against St. Martin's. To
sue would mean that Bush would have to answer endless
questions about his past drug use, among other things." --Jacob Weisberg, Slate.
"Politicians don't sue. By filing for libel, a candidate or elected official would open himself to an open-ended process of legal 'discovery.' In this case, George W. Bush would be a fool to allow that to happen even if he stood a chance of winning a judgment against St. Martin's. To sue would mean that Bush would have to answer endless questions about his past drug use, among other things." --Jacob Weisberg, Slate.
"Texas author J.H. Hatfield claims the Republican front-runner did community service at a Houston center." "Oct. 18, 1999 | A new book by Texas author J.H. Hatfield claims that George W. Bush was arrested for cocaine possession in 1972, but had his record expunged with help from his family's political connections. In an afterword to his book 'Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President' (St. Martin's), Hatfield says he took a second look at the Bush cocaine allegations after a story in Salon reporting allegations that Bush did community service for the crime at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Houston's Third Ward. The center's executive director, Madgelean Bush (no relation to George W. Bush), had told 'Salon News' and others that Bush did not do community service there, and the Bush campaign likewise denied the allegation. But the Texas governor had admitted to working at Houston's Project P.U.L.L. in 1972, and Hatfield says he began to wonder if that was actually the community service sentence. Hatfield says he confirmed those suspicions with three sources close to the Bush family he had cultivated while writing his biography, which publishes Wednesday. Bush's campaign denied Hatfield's allegation Monday."Salon Staff
"Hatfield quotes 'a high-ranking advisor to Bush' who confirmed that Bush was arrested for cocaine possession in Houston in 1972, and had the record expunged by a judge who was 'a fellow Republican and elected official' who helped Bush get off 'with a little community service at a minority youth center instead of having to pick cotton on a Texas prison farm.'"--Salon
"Hatfield quotes a former Yale classmate who told him: 'George W. was arrested for possession of cocaine in 1972, but due to his father's connections, the entire record was expunged by a state judge whom the older Bush helped get elected. It was one of those 'behind closed doors in the judges' chambers' kind of thing between the old man and one of his Texas cronies who owed him a favor ... There's only a handful of us that know the truth.'"--Salon
Hatfield: "Why all of sudden would you quit flying your planes, quit drinking, quit chasing women and go mentor inner-city black kids? That piece never fit in. He was arrested. He was not charged as far as I know from my sources. What happened was he was picked up, taken to Harris County Jail. Within hours Dad was there. I think his dad might have gotten him switched to another judge. Texas judges are elected, which makes a lot of people believe that they can be manipulated and corrupted."--Salon
"Hatfield also says that when he asked Scott McClellan to comment on the allegation of a former Yale classmate of Bush's that the presidential hopeful was arrested for cocaine possession in 1972 and had his record expunged in exchange for community service at Project P.U.L.L., the Bush campaign spokesman said, sotto voce, 'Oh, shit,' followed by, 'No comment.'"--Salon
from "Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President"
"There are now signs that many Americans are beginning to ask, 'What has George W. Bush done to deserve such early exaltation as the future of the Republican Party, the political messiah who will hopefully lead his people back into the White House after eight years in the wilderness?' In 1993, Bush was the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers major league baseball team, living in a state whose governor, Democrat Ann Richards, was enjoying unbelievably high poll numbers and appeared unbeatable for reelection in 1994. Then the son of the former president traded the ballpark for the political arena, and went into the family business. Five years after defeating Richards, the only thing most voters know for certain about Bush is who his parents are. It's way past time that, not only Texans, but the rest of America begins to learn more--a lot more--about the younger Bush, the man who would be a second-generation president. But the mystery lies not so much in the man himself, but in how the path to power can often be the path of least resistance, as in the case of George W. Bush."
Reader Review: TC from Seattle, October 16, 1999 "The first analysis of the real 'W' Wow, this hard hitting book should be read by every American, whether or not they intend to vote in next year's election. How is it that we have allowed George W. Bush to be within a few steps of the White House, without really knowing anything about him? What's wrong with us? I appreciate this author's detail and precision, and, after reading the book, believe I know all I need to know about 'W' and whether he is capable of leading this great nation--NOT. One little piece of advice, and I hate it when people do this to me, but you'll be mad at yourself if don't read ahead to the Afterword (after you've gotten a little background in the first 3-4 chapters). 'W's' daddy and the CIA and crooked judges, etc. can't get him out of this one.... 'W' belongs in the Big House, not the White House. Very enlightening."
WHY DID BUSH CHANGE DRIVER'S LICENSE, HAVE RECORD PURGED?
On 8/30/99, MSNBC's Jeanette Walls was told by the Texas DMV that such a change was "highly unusual," but that it was done for unspecified "security reasons."
Earlier, Online Journal's Linda Starr and Bev Conover report that getting a new, low-numbered license, #000000005 and issued on 3/31/95 in Bush's case, did not appear to be a "common practice" of past Texas Governors, since none of the holders of lower numbers were in that category.
Writing in the "Los Angeles Times" in August, USC Journalism Lecturer Norman Miller commented on such concerns by asking, "If the cocaine-rumor story is valid, where does it end? Bush has admitted he was a heavy drinker until he swore off when he turned 40. Did he drive under the influence, an action probably more endangering to others than using cocaine? God save us from some scandal-hungry reporter asking that question, even though its hypothetical foundation surpasses the cocaine question."
The third anonymous source for the cocaine allegations is a "'high-ranking adviser to Bush who had known the presidential candidate for several years.' Hatfield says this source agreed to confirm information in the book and spent three days bass fishing with him in Eufaula, Okla.... Hatfield recounts calling Source No. 3 to ask him to confirm the story he has from the first two. His 'Eufaula Connection' calls him back half an hour later. Here's what Hatfield writes about what Eufaula told him: 'I can't and won't give you any names, but I can confirm that W.'s Dallas attorney remains the repository of any evidence of the expunged record. From what I've been told, the attorney is the one who advised him to get a new driver's license in 1995 when a survey of his public records uncovered a stale but nevertheless incriminating trail for an overly eager reporter to follow."---Jacob Weisberg in "Slate," 10/20/99.
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