The Worst Bush

Picking sides in the Lone Star State's Iran-Iraq war.

1. The Iran-Iraq War of Texas

Politico has a story about George P. Bush’s coming campaign for Texas AG. He’s going up against Ken Paxton.

Who d’ya got?

In one corner we have Paxton, a two-term attorney general so corrupt that as the sitting state AG he was arrested and booked on charges of securities fraud. In the waning days of the Trump administration, Paxton launched the ludicrous lawsuit attempting to disenfranchise the 81 million people who voted for Joe Biden. [Editor’s note: 81 million > 74 million.]

And that lawsuit wasn’t just about stroking his base—Paxton was clearly hoping Trump would give him a pardon.

There’s a real chance this guy could win reelection and then wind up in jail before the end of his next term.

So, not great?

In the other corner you have George P. Bush, the son of Jeb Bush and nephew of George W. Bush. And my man George P. is on the Trump Train:

On Monday, Bush tweeted a picture of himself talking on the phone with the former president, saying that it’s “great to speak with President Trump to discuss the future of Texas and how we are keeping up the fight to put America first. I appreciate the words of encouragement and support.”

Reminder: Donald Trump has accused George P.’s uncle of committing a little light treason. Also, Trump not only attacked George P.’s father in ad hominem and personal ways during the course of the 2016—but took shots at his mother, too.

And here’s George P. anyway, with his gimp mask on, doing what he’s got to do because he’s a member of the reality-based community. And if you want a future in Republican politics, you have to be pro-Trump. Even if it means being anti-your-family.

So who should we be rooting for?

Yes, yes—in a perfect world they’d both lose. But this isn’t a perfect world. It’s Texas. One of these guys is going to be elected AG.

Ken Paxton is a familiar type in American politics: the venal, stupid, corrupt demagogue. We’ve had them for the last 200 years. We’ll have them for the next 200 years. If Paxton were to hop onboard a Falcon Heavy rocket aimed at the sun, there would be five more just like him.

So it’s hard for me to get too worked up about the guy.

George P. Bush, on the other hand, is special. He’s dynastic legacy case who’s so ambitious that he’s selling out his own family. And not even selling them out for a good cause—he’s doing it to suck up to an aspiring authoritarian strongman.

I don’t think we have a precedent for this in American politics.

Look, say what you will about how far the Kennedy clan has fallen. But imagine Robert F. Kennedy Jr. crapping all over Bobby, Ethel, and Jack in the hopes that Hugo Chavez would tweet something nice about his anti-vaxx crusade.

Because that’s pretty close to George P. is doing right now.

Except that what George P. Bush is doing is worse and more dishonorable.

Honestly, I think I’m #TeamPaxton for this fight. If Paxton wins, sure, it’ll be bad for America. Same as if Bush wins.

But if George P. Bush loses then it will be an object lesson for a generation of Americans that selling out your family for political gain brings nothing but defeat and disgrace.

Tonight is TNB! Come hang out with me, Tim, Mona, and special guest Eric Edelman for the one about skyjacking and lab outbreaks.

As always, it’s only for Bulwark+ members.

2. Eric Carle, RIP

Eric Carle, the artist behind The Very Hungry Caterpillar—and many other books—passed away yesterday. You can read the NYT obit here:

He usually began with plain tissue paper, painting it with different colors of acrylic paint. Working with brushes, fingers or miscellaneous objects — like a piece of carpet, sponge or burlap — he would cover the tissue paper with different textures.

“Let’s say I want to create a caterpillar,” he explained in the “frequently asked questions” section of his website. “I cut out a circle for the head from a red tissue paper and many ovals for the body from green tissue papers; and then I paste them with wallpaper glue onto an illustration board to make the picture.” . . .

Eric Carle Jr. was born on June 25, 1929, in Syracuse, N.Y., to German immigrants. His mother, Johanna (Öelschlager) Carle, worked at a family business, and his father, Erich Carle, worked in a factory spray-painting washing machines. . . .

When Mr. Carle was 6, as his mother struggled with homesickness, she decided to take the family back to Germany, to Stuttgart, her hometown. . . .

But, as Mr. Carle told The New York Times in 2007, disaster struck when his father was drafted into the German army and soon became a prisoner of war in Russia. Eric, who was then 15, managed to avoid the draft but was conscripted by the Nazi government to dig trenches on the Siegfried line, a 400-mile defensive line in western Germany.

“In Stuttgart, our hometown, our house was the only one standing,” Mr. Carle told The Guardian in 2009. “When I say standing, I mean the roof and windows are gone, and the doors. And . . . well, there you are.”

When his father returned from the war, he weighed a mere 85 pounds and was, Mr. Carle recalled, “a broken man.”

What a life.

Treat yourself to three minutes of this meeting between two giants: The day that Fred Rogers visited Eric Carle’s workshop.

3. Marathon

GQ profiles a group of elite runners from Ethiopia living in NYC who can’t go home:

Tadesse Yae Dabi lined up with around three dozen other runners at the foot of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island. He held his arms close to his chest and bounced on his toes to stay warm. Even after three and a half years, he wasn’t used to the chill of a mid-fall morning in the American Northeast. Back home, in the farmland of central Ethiopia, it never got so cold. Overhead, helicopters filled the air with their deafening whir. Behind him, more than 50,000 people waited to chase the elite field through the five boroughs in the 2019 New York City Marathon.

Tadesse knew that winning the race was a long shot, but it wasn’t impossible. Six months prior, he’d placed 2nd in the Pyongyang Marathon in North Korea, with a personal best of 2 hours 11 minutes and 26 seconds—the kind of time that made him an outside contender in even the most competitive international marathons. Tadesse’s placement in Pyongyang had earned him $7,000, about a quarter of his income for 2019. If he won New York, he’d get $100,000, roughly the equivalent of what the 31-year-old had earned in his entire life up to that moment.

At the gun, the runners charged up the Verrazzano. Through Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, Tadesse took turns at the front of an ever-thinning lead pack cheered by millions of exuberant spectators. Wearing a plain red singlet and a pair of black shorts, he surged alongside more famous athletes sponsored by companies like Adidas and Nike. The television commentators never once said his name.

As the pack approached the Willis Avenue Bridge, which connects upper Manhattan and the South Bronx, Tadesse fell back a bit. For the next five miles he held on, but once he entered Central Park, he faded, dropping, in the final mile, from 9th place to 17th. At the awards ceremony in Central Park, the winners were adorned with laurel wreaths and presented with engraved Tiffany crystal plates. Tadesse returned empty-handed to the midtown hotel provided by the race’s organizers.

The next morning, he shuffled to the subway and headed uptown, toward the Bronx. Half an hour later, he exited the number 4 train at the last stop, descended the metal stairs from the elevated station, and walked past an auto body shop and a dollar store to the austere two-bedroom apartment he shared with three other elite runners from Ethiopia. Each had come to America with the hope of making life-changing money that they could send back home to their families. What they found was an often desperate existence in their adopted homeland.

Read the whole thing.