Archive for Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lone Bush daughter introduces book on former president

November 21, 2006

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— Her father left the White House 14 years ago, and her brother is midway through his second term as president. But Dorothy Bush Koch is only now stepping into the spotlight with a book about the first President Bush and about her family.

And she has a few gently pointed words to say about life as the lone daughter in the country's most powerful political family.

Introducing her book Sunday at a Miami event, "Doro," as she is known to her siblings, said it was nearly impossible to convince strangers that the generation of George W. Bush, Jeb, Neil and Marvin also included her.

"It's as if they are finding out about the fifth Beatle for the first time," she said of her interactions with new acquaintances.

After Jeb Bush, the brother who is also Florida's governor, introduced her at the Miami Book Fair International, Koch added bluntly: "Thank you, Jeb, for letting people know that I actually do exist.

"The traditional path to making a name for yourself in our family is running for elective office, and I couldn't do that because, for one thing, all the really good offices were taken," Koch said, wryly.

Koch, 47, lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., and devotes much of her time to raising money for causes (including her family's political campaigns). She is a mother of four. Her husband, Robert, is the president of the San Francisco-based Wine Institute, a lobbying group for the wine industry.

Koch's book walks through the life and times of her father, George H.W. Bush, a war hero at age 20 after he was shot down fighting the Japanese in 1944. He went on to serve in Congress, run the CIA, head the Republican National Committee and win election as vice president for eight years and president for four.

Koch worked on the book for two years, conducting 135 interviews with friends, family and even political opponents of her father, including the man he beat for the presidency in 1988, Michael Dukakis.

One intriguing element of Koch's presentation Sunday, though, was what she implied but did not directly state about the contrasting images of the family's two presidents, one of whom is known as the consummate diplomat and the other who has labeled himself the "war president."

Twice, she noted that among the accomplishments she most admired about her father was his ability to manage the end of the Cold War "without a shot being fired."

The title of Koch's book, "My Father, My President: A Personal Account of the Life of George H.W. Bush," suggests that Koch does have her favorite among the family's two presidents.

Jeb Bush said Koch's 586-page book likely would serve as the official presidential memoir. He said his father does not intend to write his own.

As any loyal daughter would, Koch seeks to convey the record as she and her family see it.

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