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A number of other homegrown phrases have developed in the family over the years. A weak shot will elicit a disdainful cry of "power outage!" Perhaps the most esoteric words heard on the family courts are "Unleash Chiang!" which was initiated back when there was a hue and cry in government circles to allow Chiang Kai-shek to invade the Chinese mainland from Taiwan. On the Bush court, "Unleash Chiang" refers to a potential source of power, such as a strong serve. The President-elect will look over his shoulder and urge his partner to "unleash Chiang!"
"The interesting thing about these phrases," Barbara says, "is that they get exported; people take them with them, and off in the distance, from someone else's court, you'll suddenly hear, "All right now, unleash Chiang!"
Barbara Bush now plays doubles with her husband only on the most informal occasions. She gave up serious doubles with him after a match in China in 1975. "We were playing a Pakistani man, who wasn't very good, and an East German woman, who was very good," Barbara Bush says with a chuckle. "In fact, it's always been my contention that she was a heavy user of steroids! That's a terrible thing to say, but there has to be some reason they were whipping us. In any event, I clutched, and George was so disappointed, especially to be beaten by the East German, that afterward I told him that I knew he preferred men's doubles and that was perfectly all right with me."
The President-elect usually plays with whichever of his four sons are available. All are fine players, especially Marvin, the youngest. Indeed, when the President-elect, who has slowed down a bit, offers to play in their games, he notices a certain reluctance and much tying of shoelaces. He says he doesn't mind. He was always taught to "challenge up," which is why he often has the likes of Ivan Lendl and Bjorn Borg for a doubles partner.
On his travels the President-elect packs his tennis racket, along with his jogging gear. Because of longtime friendships with a number of big-name tennis players, he can arrange some pretty high-level games wherever he goes. In 1982 he alerted John Newcombe and Tony Roche that he was on his way to Australia. "They're very nice about suffering fools gladly on the tennis court," Bush says.
The only woman player who joins the Bushes regularly is Pam Shriver, who, although ranked No. 5 in the world, enjoys their games. "It's refreshing to play with the Bush family," says Shriver. "Being a professional, my tennis is 99.9 percent serious. So matches with the Bushes are fun, and the standard is good enough so that it's not a chore."
The President-elect inevitably picks Shriver as his partner. During a phone conversation one afternoon in the middle of the campaign, Bush told his sister, Nancy, "I had a terrible day." She braced herself for the worst. "George Jr. and Marv just beat Pam Shriver and me. Terrible!"
Tennis will undoubtedly be a popular sport at the White House during the Bush era, as it has been at various times in the past. Teddy Roosevelt reportedly played an aggressive, Bushlike game. He wore a flannel shirt and an old pair of trousers, and he held the racket halfway up the shaft. The clay court he played on disappeared under building extensions during the Taft Administration. Tennis gave way to other pastimes, including Hoover ball—a game invented by the White House physician in which a 10-pound medicine ball was hefted over a net in an effort to pare weight off Hoover—and golf.
Woodrow Wilson is said to have waved off a messenger bringing the news that he had secured the Democratic nomination for President until he could sink a putt. Harding, who turned the South Lawn into a practice fairway, trained his dog, Laddie Boy, to shag golf balls for him. Eisenhower played daily at the summer White House in Newport, R.I., with the Secret Service disguised rather haphazardly as caddies, their clubs in canvas golf bags clinking against the stocks of carbines. When he felt up to playing, Kennedy usually shot in the high 80's. Golf's slow pace irritated him, and he often picked up before finishing 18 holes.
Golf has always been part of the Bush tradition. The President-elect played in Midland, Texas, during his days in the oil business. In Maine, the family has played the Kennebunkport course, which is called Cape Arundel, for almost as long as it has been there. Built at the turn of the century, the clubhouse is typical Kennebunkport—unpretentious, slightly quaint and functional. The clapboard structure includes neither a bar nor a restaurant. The Kennebunk River winds through the links-style course, with water and tidal flats coming into play on 11 holes. For years the President-elect's father held the course record of 66; Prescott's son does not do as well. The club professional, Ken Raynor, who has been at Cape Arundel for 15 years, reports that the President-elect's problem is his short game, especially his putting.