Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004  

US News has a cover story that profiles a year in the life of Bush and Kerry--1971.


On April 22, 1971, a tall, handsome young man with shoulder-length hair turned up a bit late at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John Kerry was the panel's featured witness. He wore green military fatigues over a white T-shirt and a handful of combat ribbons. Striding confidently to the front of the room, he shook hands with the committee chairman, J. William Fulbright. Then he delivered what friends and family still call "The Speech," an indictment of the conduct of the war that riled many prowar advocates and rattled the Nixon White House. To the rapt audience, Kerry seemed sober beyond his years, cerebral, with a penchant for methodical analysis and a delivery that commanded attention. About his service in Vietnam, where he spent four months commanding a river-running "swift boat" and time on a frigate, Kerry expressed anger and dismay. The war, he said flatly, was a tragic mistake.


Despite the pressure on the younger Bush to live up to the family name, friends knew him as a wisecracking jock who'd rather talk baseball than discuss his "stupid coat-and-tie job." Until the beginning of 1971, Bush had been living at the Chateaux Dijon, a new apartment complex for well-to-do singles in Houston's fashionable West End. "The scene around the pool was awe inspiring," says Jim Bath, a friend who visited Bush there. "Lots and lots of great-looking girls and people barbecuing and drinking beers...."

Even after moving to quieter digs later in 1971, Bush continued to frequent the Houston YMCA's basketball and racquetball courts, hitting the country club circuit for jogs and tennis. A solid but unspectacular athlete, Bush was relentlessly competitive. "The game wasn't over," says Doug Hannah, a friend and tennis partner, "until he was ahead...."

Friends say Bush was not a heavy drinker, but he held his own in a drinking game called Dead Bug. When someone shouted "dead bug!" everyone had to drop to the floor, belly up, twitching their arms and legs. The last man down bought the next round. Recalls Bath: "It alarmed the hell out of visiting officers and their wives."

posted by Jeff | 12:19 PM |
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