The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty was released to bookstores across the US on Tuesday. Advance orders have already placed the book at the top of the Amazon.com bestseller.
Known for her trademark mix of scandal and sexual innuendo, Kelley’s book on the Bush family does not disappoint as it paints a deeply unflattering portrait of the Bush dynasty.
The book asserts that Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, went on “alcoholic binges”. It also explores an alleged affair between former president George Bush Sr and a long time aide, and cites sources that describe First Lady Laura Bush as a “go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana” during her college days in the 1960s.
White House condemnation
Most publicity, however, has focused on the allegation that Bush Jr used cocaine with one of his brothers at Camp David when their father was president.
“I want people to know the positives and the negatives. I want them to know the light and the dark side. It is all there”
The White House has condemned the book calling it a politically motivated smear campaign in advance of the November presidential elections.
“This gossip writer’s allegations are false and so trashy that even the tabloids should cringe,” said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan.
“The politically motivated timing, the lack of any credible sources and the writer’s long history of making similar false allegations against great Americans … should cause all Americans and credible news organizations to place this book and its lies where it belongs: in the garbage,” Buchan said.
Previous scathing accounts
Kelley’s past biographies included one of Nancy Reagan that accused the former first lady of taking drugs and having an affair with Frank Sinatra.
Kelley’s original source for the Camp David cocaine allegation goes unnamed, although she says the account was corroborated by Sharon Bush, the ex-wife of the president’s brother Neil.
Although Sharon Bush has since publicly denied knowledge of any such incident, Kelley and her publisher, Doubleday, have stuck by the published version.
Kelley describes Laura Bush as a
“I have three independent witnesses to what was said between me and Sharon Bush,” Kelley told NBC television’s Today Show. “That’s good enough for a court of law. It should be good enough for you and me.”
Other allegations made by the book revisit old ground such as Bush’s National Guard service during the Vietnam War era, backing up allegations that he was given preferential treatment to avoid active duty.
No comment on drugs
Bush declined to answer repeated questions about drug use during his 2000 campaign for the White House. While admitting to a youthful problem with alcohol, Bush says he quit drinking in 1986 – three years before his father became president.
Few in the Bush family escape Kelley’s damning character portraits, including Barbara Bush, whom the author describes as a “pearl-wearing mugger” hiding behind a “grandmotherly facade.”
“I want people to know the positives and the negatives. I want them to know the light and the dark side. It is all there,” Kelley said on NBC.
Previous subjects given the Kelley treatment include Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra.
Her 1998 biography of the British royal family is still legally banned in Britain, where libel laws are far stricter than in the US.