Arlington, TX: The Heart of Bush’s Path to Power

22Aug08
Dubya's biggest success.

The Ballpark in Arlington: Dubya succeeds!

The smartest thing George W. Bush ever did was accept an offer to help coordinate a group of investors’ purchase of the Texas Rangers. (The Washington Post, in a 1999 article, recounts this nicely.)

A business patron, William O. DeWitt Jr. – a man who had already bought Bush’s struggling oil company and paid nicely doing so, compensating Bush well for the company itself and also for annual part-time consulting – sought out the future president for the job, in 1988. (Much later, as president, Bush appointed DeWitt to serve on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, an exclusive 16-person group that reports to the president on the successes and failures of America’s intelligence agencies, a not unimportant position in the wake of 9-11.)

Not only was Bush sought out to help organize investors,  he was to become the figurehead of this ownership, even though he only invested half a million borrowed dollars.

This was the plan, of sorts. After putting in a year and a half on his father’s presidential campaign, chatter had begun about George Junior running for governor of Texas. But he had little to run on.

Even before the deal had been finalized, the Post reported, Bush’s Brain, Karl Rove, who was then a political adviser as well, was already touting his boss as an accomplished Texan businessman.

The money was nice. Half a million dollars+ (two later investments increased Bush’s total investment to more than $600,000) ballooned to almost $15 million by the time the team was sold in 1998. Of that generous profit for Bush, most was part of a lucrative 10% share of the sale price, which Bush was given for coordinating the team’s purchase and his stewardship of it.

But more than anything, Bush’s era with the Rangers was a public success. Texan voters became familiar with him – even more so because his dad was president at the time. Just as importantly, he played a large role in convincing the city of Arlington to raise its taxes and build a new stadium, which required passing a bill in the Texas legislature, giving Bush and company the ability to use eminent domain to obtain the needed acreage for construction.

With success in the business world finally at hand, George W. was ready for the governorship.

At least according to the script.

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