Embarrassing Relatives Plague Presidents

Neil Bush says he didn't bother asking any questions when strange women knocked on the door of his hotel room, entered and had sex with him. But you could hear an all-too-familiar lament from the White House — Oh, Brother!

Presidents are always having family problems, just like the rest of us. Who doesn't have a relative he would just as soon forget? There's a Roger Clinton or a Billy Carter swinging from every family tree.

You'd think the leader of the free world wields some power around the house — but not at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. As Jimmy Carter once said, "I have more influence over members of the U.S. Senate than I do over Billy."

In the Watergate era, Richard Nixon actually ordered wiretaps on his brother's phone. Years earlier, Lyndon B. Johnson supposedly ordered the Secret Service to keep his brother as a virtual White House prisoner, to reel in his drunken cavorting.

Now, President Bush, who has three brothers and a sister, faces a new battle on the home front. The reports last week of his 48-year-old brother's antics emerged in a deposition that was part of his recent divorce.

Neil Bush says that in the late 1990s, he slept with several mysterious women who just showed up at his door at hotels in Hong Kong and Thailand. He didn't know whether they were prostitutes because he didn't even ask them any questions.

"You have to admit it's a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her," said his ex-wife's lawyer.

"It was very unusual," replied Bush, according to the deposition.

The business deals that brought Neil Bush to Asia are now also under scrutiny. A computer chip company backed by the son of a former president of China promised to pay him $2 million, even though he has no background in semiconductors.

Years earlier, Neil Bush was attached to another controversy. He was the director of Silverado Savings and Loan, a Colorado bank that collapsed in 1988 at a cost to taxpayers of $1 billion.

Of course, it's not clear what (if any) fallout President Bush might suffer as a result of his brother. Certainly, as we look back on some infamous first brothers, we're reminded that family ties often put presidents in a bind.

Embarrassing Relations

1. Billy Carter: Redneck Powerbroker When his brother was elected president in 1976, Billy Carter gleefully turned his life into a national joke. He was Jimmy Carter's drunken sibling, who bragged about smoking pot at the White House and urinating in public.

At his gas station in Plains, Ga., Billy Carter swigged beer while holding court for reporters, causing his family endless headaches.

"I got a mother who went into the Peace Corps at the age of 68. I got a sister who's a holy roller preacher. I got another sister who rides motorcycles and wears helmets. I got a brother who thinks he's going to be president of the United States," he told reporters.

"I'm the only sane one in the family," he said, bragging that he could drink 20 to 25 beers, "but not every day."

Carter leveraged his celebrity into an array of products, including "Billy Beer" and his first book, Redneck Power: The Wit and Wisdom of Billy Carter,, while charging $5,000 for personal appearances.

"I wish Billy would have gone along with my plan to involve him in the government," President Carter once told an audience.

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