Thursday, December 29, 2005

Burning Bushes

Of all things for the Bush Administration to choose to pick a fight over, you have to wonder why they would choose to get involved in the up-coming Supreme Court case involving Anna Nichole Smith, who is attempting to overturn the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco) appeals court decision which itself reversed a previous decision that allowed Ms. Smith 89 million dollars from the estate of her late husband, the late Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall. The amount had been lowered from the original 474 million originally sought. Mr. Marshall's son has fought tooth and nail to prevent Ms. Smith from receiving any benefits from her late husband.

The former Playboy bunny, a Playmate of the Year, was only 26 when she married Mr. Marshall, who was himself 89 years old at the time. He died a year later, in the year 1995. Marshall's son fought the settlement with Ms. Smith on the grounds of mental incompetence on the part of his late father.

Originally, Ms. Smith was disallowed any kind of inheritance from the estate of her husband, but she was finally awarded the 89 million in the aftermath of a bankruptcy petition. And here's where it gets sticky.

Supposedly, the Bush Administration has opted to join in this lawsuit, on the side of Anna Nichole Smith, on the grounds of protecting the rights of federal courts to rule in bankruptcy cases, over the rights of state courts in settlement cases.

In other words, the Ninth Circuit seems to have ruled in a way you would expect would meet, for once, the approval of the Bush Administration. They ruled in favor of recognizing the jurisdiction of the State of Texas Courts to decide wills and property disputes.

But, no, the Bush Administration, Republican and suppossedly conservative, filled with ideoloques who purport to be for keeping bankruptcy cases under tight control, and in limiting any kind of monetary damages to what they would consider a reasonable level, if any at all-have decided in favor of the federal bankruptcy court.

Is it stating to make sense? It does to me, but only if you suspend disbelief that the Bush Administration cares a rip about a woman they probably perceive to be a tawdry tramp out to make as much money as she can get out of a naive old, lonely, and foolish man. They would probably explain they are not judging the case on it's merits, they are simply standing up for the rights of the federal bankruptcy court to make whatever decision it comes to, right or wrong.

Maybe. But I have to wonder if there is something else going on here behind the scenes. The Marshalls doubtless have little regard for the Bush family, who they probably think of as transplanted Yankee tenderfoots trying to trade in a manufactured image of Texas machismo for political capital. They may have been politcal supporters of this wealthy, conservative talking, politcal dynasty, but I doubt there were ever any real bonds between them.

And, there may have been no real political affiliation as well. I have no idea as to what the politcal leanings, in general, of the Marshall family may have been, or are now. It is worth noting, however, that throughout most of it's history, Texas has been, though conservative, a Democratic state.

The wealthy, more than anyone, hedge their bets, contributing appreciable amounts of money to Democratic candidates, even though for the most part, of course, they understandably prefer Republicans. Yet,it is conceivable that the Marshall family, as a good many others, may have been supporters to one degree or another, of such notable Texas Democratic luminaries as Lyndon Johnson, John Connolly (who switched from Democrat to Republican in his later years), and former Governor Anne Richardson, and a host of others. In addition, it's a safe bet that, as well as viewing with disdain the Bushes Texas pretensions, the wealthy Marshall family has looked with alarm at some of the none too conservative positions, and actions, of the Bush family over the years, and have supported considersable oppossition to them.

Of course, I could be well off base in all this. It could well be that the Bush family has no reason whatsoever to go after the Marshall family due to some perceived politcal slight. In fact, it could well be the Marshall familyhas been, in the past, dependable supporters of the Bush faamily-at least politcally.

One thing is for sure, though, the Bush family would be well advised to not count on any continuing support from them.