Father Knows Best

Move over, Old Joe Kennedy. Until this week, you were the pre-eminent, gray-eminence pop in American campaign history, the invisible wizened hand behind Young Jack‘s election. Comes now Old George Bush, reducing you to just one more patriarchal pisher. Old George seems to be calling the shots on Young W.’s campaign, and isn‘t adverse to doing it in public.

With the selection of former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Young W. has picked his father’s preferred candidate (since the two of them couldn‘t land Colin Powell). Old George reportedly effervesced about Cheney once he learned that his erstwhile man at the Pentagon was available; he also checked out Cheney’s ticker with his old pal Houston cardiac surgeon Denton Cooley.

As for the W., he seems bent on turning his own term in office, should he get so far, into a Republican Restoration. Besides Cheney, he‘s surrounded himself with Condaleezza Rice from Pop’s national security staff, Lawrence Lindsay from the Bush Federal Reserve board, George Schultz from the Coolidge Administration, and dozens more. What‘s missing from the ranks of the W.’s wonks is any new talent. It‘s as if, having chosen to bear the psychic freight of supplanting Poppa, he’s eager to assure the Old Man that he won‘t think any thoughts, push any bills, cut any arms spending or start any wars that Pop wouldn’t.

Indeed, the forthcoming GOP convention seems like nothing so much as a medley of the Old Man‘s greatest hits. Cheney, of course, will address the convention; so will Powell; so will Norman Schwarzkopf. What’s not clear is how or why any of this Persian Gulf nostalgia should help the W., since just one year after the Old Man‘s triumph over Sadaam, he himself lost to the Upstart Clinton.

Still, this does make clear what primordial urge is driving the W. -- avenging his father’s slaying -- and will guide his administration: placating Pop.

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