High school was more a time of academic troubles and smoking than political awakening for presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, according to a new profile of his time at the Phillips Academy in Andover published in the Boston Globe. According to the piece, Bush “straddled the line between jock and freak” in his sophomore dorm: He was good at tennis but smoked marijuana and drank on the regular, even though those actions were punishable by expulsion at the school. “The first time I really got stoned was in Jeb’s room,” classmate Peter Tibbetts told the paper. “He had a portable stereo with removable speakers. He put on Steppenwolf for me.” (Bush himself admits these transgressions, saying such behavior was “pretty common” at the school.)
Being on a campus where students were drunk on 1960s antiwar sentiment likely made for additional complications, as his father George H.W. Bush ran a Senate race on a decidedly pro-war platform halfway through his schooling. But it seems that Jeb was so caught up in trying to maintain his academics that he didn’t even engage. One of the student protest leaders, Charles Finch, told the Globe that Jeb “was as far away from the political activism from that time as if he was standing on the moon.” Others describe him as more of an “observer” than someone who actively partook in the political process.
The piece also covers his chance meeting with his future wife, Columba Gallo, during a a trimester in Mexico, and how their subsequent courtship mellowed the party animal within the future Florida governor. And, of course, it touches on the subject of the Vietnam draft — a subject of intense scrutiny for his older brother, George — and how Jeb’s relative youth meant the war wound down before he got called. Read the full piece here.