Compare the Bushes with the Kennedys, and it's the Republican clan that casts the longer shadow. A Kennedy was President for a thousand days or so, but if George W. Bush completes his second term, someone named Bush will have been President for 4,383 days. There has been a Bush on the Republican ticket for six of the past seven presidential elections and a Bush in or near the White House for 16 of the past 24 years. And the run may not be over. Jeb Bush said in October that he would not run in 2008, but not everyone believes that promise is airtight. "I think there's still a sliver of a chance he goes," said one of Jeb's confidants. "First, it's the family business, and it's hard to see him leaving it. And there are enough unemployed Bush samurai out there who will want to eat and who will lean on him to run. He may not want to do it now, but I think he may."
This isn't just a family; it's also a national franchise system. Bush children for years were told to "Go forth and seek your fortunes elsewhere," just as the Walkers and the Bushes had done in the 1920s. And so they have: after college and grad school George W. went back to Texas. Jeb went to Florida. Other sons gave Virginia and Colorado a try. The by-product was like a series of feeder colonies, a 50-state network with kinsmen and pyramid builders always ready to report for duty. Even the matriarch, Barbara Bush, who would dismiss the word dynasty with a frosty toss of her head, was known to remind people back in 1999 that "1 out of every 8 Americans is governed by a Bush."
So why the reluctance to admit the business they are really in? It would be unwise to tout oneself as a dynasty in a country that specifically bans nobility in the Constitution. Plus, it wars with the family's kitchen-table lesson that calling attention to oneself is tacky, if not just plain wrong. "President Bush  would cross out every personal pronoun in his speech drafts, changing every I to a we," recalls his staff secretary James Cicconi. "The family ethic frowns upon anyone who is self-centered or self-seeking."