BUSH AND THE BOARD….Via Unfogged, the Progressive Review prints a transcript of a very amusing speech given by David Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group a couple of months ago in which he explains how George W. Bush became a member of the Carlyle board of directors ? as well as how he became no-longer-a-member of the Carlyle board of directors:

When we were putting the board together, somebody [Fred Malek] came to me and said, look there is a guy who would like to be on the board. He’s kind of down on his luck a bit. Needs a job. Needs a board position. Needs some board positions. Could you put him on the board? Pay him a salary and he’ll be a good board member and be a loyal vote for the management and so forth.

I said well we’re not usually in that business. But okay, let me meet the guy. I met the guy. I said I don’t think he adds that much value. We’ll put him on the board because – you know – we’ll do a favor for this guy; he’s done a favor for us.

We put him on the board and [he] spent three years. Came to all the meetings. Told a lot of jokes. Not that many clean ones. And after a while I kind of said to him, after about three years – you know, I’m not sure this is really for you. Maybe you should do something else. Because I don’t think you’re adding that much value to the board. You don’t know that much about the company.

He said, well I think I’m getting out of this business anyway. And I don’t really like it that much. So I’m probably going to resign from the board.

And I said, thanks – didn’t think I’d ever see him again. His name is George W. Bush. He became President of the United States. So you know if you said to me, name 25 million people who would maybe be President of the United States, he wouldn’t have been in that category. So you never know. Anyway, I haven’t been invited to the White House for any things.

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that in 1990 George W. Bush was the son of the president of the United States, and three years later he wasn’t. That might have had just a little something to do with the timing of both his hiring and firing, don’t you think?

Still, this story gets straight to the thing that has always puzzled me the most about George Bush: how did he do it? I mean, in 1998 he had been (charitably) a mediocre businessman followed by four years as governor of Texas, a pretty undemanding position. Sure, he was named Bush, but even so, how did he become the frontrunner so fast? He wasn’t even the most highly regarded member of the Bush family, for crying out loud.

It really is a mystery how addicted we Americans are to electing presidents with so little national experience. It’s not clear that this has done us any harm, mind you, but it’s still a bit odd.