It is easy to think that our present Bush is the worst Bush who has ever ruled over us. The citizens of Rome, whenever Nero committed some new jape, no doubt cast their eyes back longingly to the good old days of Caligula. Whenever we find out about Bush’s newest low – from the vacations of August, 2001, while the hijackers were asking directions to the nearest airport, to the Spring of 2002, when political intervention cut off the main American chance to deal a stunning military blow to Al Qaeda, to the mass thefts on behalf of the greediest and worst that are bankrupting the state, to, of course, the web of war crimes and lies that compose the entirety of his current foreign policy – we are tempted to sigh, as many liberals do, that this is the worst president of our lifetime.
Yesterday, we picked up a real crime book – Blue Thunder: how the mafia owned and finally murdered Cigarette boat king Donald Aronow, by Thomas Burdick. The book was written in the late eighties. There are amusing period touches – at one point, a DEA agent explains how they spot drug dealers at Julio Iglesias concerts: who else brings a portable phone to a concert? Indeed. Aronow was a Miami business and sportsman, famous in motorboat circles both for the designs of his boats and the records he set racing them. In 1984, he impressed his good friend, Vice President George Bush, by taking him around Miami bay in a prototype speedboat that Bush enjoyed so enormously that, in his (bizarre) position as head of a South Florida drug task force, he recommended ordering grosses of them for the DEA. The boats, named Blue Thunders, were produced by Aronow, apparently, and bought, given this recommendation, by the DEA.
Aronow was gunned down in a mob hit. Burdick, investigating the murder, was puzzled by rumors he heard about the Blue Thunders. The DEA had apparently failed to interdict even one drug craft with the boats. The design of the boats was so bad that the agents using them had to be more alert for engine explosions than for the chugging of speedy boats full of drug smugglers. The enigma was explained when he uncovered the fact that Aronow’s company was secretly owned by Jack and Ben Kramer. Jack and Ben were names in the boat industry – but they were more famous when they were hauled into court and charges with running the largest marijuana smuggling operation in the U.S.
Yes, this happened. The war on drugs had many farcical moments, but this has to be one of the funniest. Bush, it goes without saying, cut his ties of compassion to Widow Aronow, and went on, as President, to intensify the War against drugs to the point that the misery inflicted on one to two million Americans, imprisoned under his draconian regime, and the laws and procedures he introduced that were, with exemplary cowardice, left undisturbed by Clinton, do dwarf the misery inflicted by the current Bush whelp. Although to give him his fair share of abuse, the current Bush, ravening for Iraqi blood, is well on his way to surpassing his pa in terms of sheer feebleness.
Incidentally, Burdick includes a little aside that hints at how, well, lucky the Bushes are in Florida. When Ben Kramer was arrested, apparently original copies of the primary speeches given by Gary Hart were found in his safe. Kramer and Aronow belonged to a ‘swinging” club, Turnberry Isle. It was from Turnberry Isle that Gary Hart extracted his temporary honey, Donna Rice, who was photographed with him on a boat in the Miami harbor. How did the press find out about this? An apparently anonymous tip from another Turnberry hostess. This isn’t to say that the Bush organization, using its dirty connections in Florida, culled the Democratic field in order to organize the elevation of Bush to the presidency. To believe that would be to believe, well, that the Bushes would do anything to retain power, including corrupting an election…
All of which reminded LI of the last time we voted for a Democratic candidate for president: 1992.