Salon.com has a rather hard-hitting piece on Neil Bush, the brother of former US President George Bush who just recently appeared on Sina Weibo and already has 76,000 followers.
The article offers us a grim view of the man. Apparently, apart from being famous for being the son of one former US president and the brother of another, Neil Bush is really not good at anything else.
While Neil claims to have 30 years in the energy industry, none of the people from the Texas oil patch that Ken Silverstein, the writer of the article, spoke with said they had ever had him playing any major role in the business.
One international oil executive and consultant told Silverstein, “I can’t imagine anything he could bring to the table,” while the lawyer for Neil’s former wife asked “You don’t think he was picked to be part of all of those business deals because he was so brilliant, do you? He had a big hat but no horse.”
We found the following section particularly interesting:
Firms from China regularly retain Neil, which isn’t surprising given the deep ties his family has there. Bush Sr. was appointed as U.S. liaison in Beijing under President Gerald Ford, and during his presidency sought greatly expanded trade with Beijing while downplaying human rights concerns. George W. Bush also forged a close relationship with China, and Neil’s deceased uncle, Prescott Bush Jr., was a close friend of former premier Jiang Zemin and did a good deal of business there.
In March of this year, Bush Sr., wife Barbara and Neil had dinner at the residence of the Chinese consul general in Houston. The Chinese government expressed hope in a written statement that the Bushes would “continue playing an important role in making contributions to … the friendship between the two peoples.” For their part the Bush family said the visit felt “like home,” and expressed special pleasure at being served “their favorite Beijing Roasted Duck.” The consul general and the Bushes also “exchanged views on China-U.S. relations … and other issues of their common interest.”
These sorts of ties have surely contributed to Neil’s list of Chinese clients, mainly companies seeking natural resource deals in Africa, including Shougang Holdings, a state-owned steel giant. In 2009, Neil led a delegation of the company’s officials to Liberia, where Shougang was seeking an iron ore mining concession. The Neil connection didn’t help: An Israeli firm ultimately won out.
Why do companies keep hiring Neil? It can’t be for his business acumen. More likely, his employers write checks out of friendship, loyalty and interest in currying favor with his family’s business and political network. In a reflection of the declining value of the Bush family name in the age of Obama, Neil does not seem to command the fees he once did.
In 2002, he received payments of $2 million in stock and $10,000 per board meeting from Grace Semiconductor — a firm backed by the son of Jiang Zemin — even though he knew nothing at all about semiconductors. Last December he was named a director of China Timber Resources Group, which has forest resources in Guyana and China. Neil’s director’s fee is a mere $1,200 a month, which the company said “was determined with reference to his experience, scope of work, level of involvement, seniority as well as the prevailing market conditions.” Ouch.