Zenith: In the White House with George H.W. Bush

Zenith: In the White House with George H.W. Bush

Zenith: In the White House with George H.W. Bush

Zenith: In the White House with George H.W. Bush


Zenith: In the White House with George H. W. Bush is the third in Ambassador Untermeyer's series of books based on his personal journals compiled during his tenure in the service of George H. W. Bush, first as vice president, then as president. The present work begins with Bush's election in November 1988 and concludes with Untermeyer's service as director of the Voice of America, from 1991 until Bush's defeat by Clinton in 1992.

Filled with the author's personal observations and commentary on White House events, personalities, and issues, Zenith is written largely from Untermeyer's perspective as President Bush's director of personnel, a position that placed him squarely at the center of the politically charged process of making recommendations on some 3,500 federal appointments.


“When did you first meet George Bush?” is a question I have often been asked. the answer is a curiosity more than a fact. the date was 12 October 1963, six weeks before American (and especially Texas) politics were turned upside-down by the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I had chanced upon a small item in the Houston Chronicle saying the local Young Republicans would host a reception for Peter Dominick, the freshman senator from Colorado. in those days there were very, very few Republicans in elected office anywhere in Texas. There was our junior senator, John Tower, whose victory in a special election to succeed Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1961 was still widely considered a fluke. There were a couple of congressmen and one very lonely member of the state legislature out in West Texas—that was about it. So, for a bunch of YRs in Houston, it was a thrill to cast eyes on a member of our party who had actually gotten elected to something, and to the United States Senate at that.

Dominick was a tall, handsome, Yale-educated World War II aviator with a name enshrined in a major Wall Street investment house. After the war he abandoned all the rich economic and social opportunities available to him in New York to go west and make his own name. Standing next to Dominick in the receiving line was a man almost identical to him in photogenic looks and personal story. As my spare journal entry for that day recorded, “Also seen: Harris County [Republican] Chrmn. Geo. Bush.” Not long thereafter, Bush, a thirty-nine-year-old oilman, would resign his party post to seek (and win) the Republican nomination for the Senate. the next time I saw him was the following May, when I sat in the rafters of the Sam Houston Coliseum watching the 1964 state Republican convention. I remember Bush, wearing a light-colored suit, affirm his support for Barry Goldwater as the party’s presidential candidate. He could scarcely do otherwise that year and in that

1. Another memory of that year was attending a “Go East” party for students headed to Ivy League and other eastern universities. the party was held on a sweltering afternoon in

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