CORNERED

Courtesy of Talking Points Memo via Vanity Fair; excerpt: Gail Sheehy, from her book, The Accidental candidate.

When Barbara Bush took her 13-year-old son and his best friend, Doug Hannah, to play golf at her Houston club, George would start cursing if he didn’t tee off well. His mother would tell him to quit it. By the third or fourth hole he would be yelling “Fuck this” until he had ensured that his mother would send him to the car.

“It fit his needs,” says Hannah. “He couldn’t lose.”

Once, after his mother banished him from the golf course, she turned to Hannah and declared, “That boy is going to have optical rectosis.” What did that mean? “She said, ‘A shitty outlook on life.'”

Even if he loses, his friends say, he doesn’t lose. He’ll just change the score, or change the rules, or make his opponent play until he can beat him. “If you were playing basketball and you were playing to 11 and he was down, you went to 15,” says Hannah, now a Dallas insurance executive. “If he wasn’t winning, he would quit. He would just walk off…. It’s what we called Bush Effort: If I don’t like the game, I take my ball and go home. Very few people can get away with that.” …

Another fast friend, Roland Betts, acknowledges that it is the same in tennis. In November 1992, Bush and Betts were in Santa Fe to host a dinner party, but they had just enough time for one set of doubles. The former Yale classmates were on opposite sides of the net. “There was only one problem—my side won the first set,” recalls Betts. “O.K., then we’re going two out of three,” Bush decreed. Bush’s side takes the next set. But Betts’s side is winning the third set when it starts to snow. Hard, fat flakes.

The catering truck pulls up. But Bush won’t let anybody quit. “He’s pissed. George runs his mouth constantly,” says Betts indulgently. “He’s making fun of your last shot, mocking you, needling you, goading you—he never shuts up!” They continued to play tennis through a driving snowstorm.

It is something of an in-joke with Bush’s friends and family. “In reality we all know who won, but George wants to go further to see what happens,” says an old family friend, venture capitalist and former MGM chairman Louis “Bo” Polk Jr. “George would say, ‘Play that one over,’ or ‘I wasn’t quite ready.’ The overtimes are what’s fun, so you make your own. When you go that extra mile or that extra point … you go to a whole new level.”

Leave a Comment

Filed under current events

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.