|tags:||Politics & Economics|
IT'S ONLY FAIR to state at the outset that I bow to no one in my disdain for George W. Bush. I was distraught from the moment the Supreme Court handed him the presidency in 2000 until the moment he relinquished the White House to Barack Obama. The entire culture Bush ushered in — the gutting of regulatory agencies, the compression of power into the hands of a few, the bankrupting of the national treasury, the secrecy, the hypocrisy, the religiosity, the denigration of science — the sheer volume of damage he did every day in a thousand little ways drove me crazy. So why did I agree to review The Decider's recent volume of memoirs, entitled, with no irony whatsoever, Decision Points? Because, frankly, I was curious to read, in his own words, some explanation for his egregious regime.
Bush ended his term in office with the lowest approval rating since they started keeping approval ratings. Call it karma, call it bad luck, call it his date with destiny, but on the heels of the most bitterly contested election in American history, the outcome determined by the state that just happened to be governed by his brother Jeb, George W. Bush was confronted with some of the most agonizing events in American history. Bookended by 9/11 and the world financial conflagration, his two-term stay on the world stage also featured the Enron scandal, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, among other disasters. This avalanche of calamities would have sorely taxed the skills of the most brilliant administration; Bush's team, with its mixture of Machiavellian plotters, bible school mediocrities, and childhood buddies, was quite simply overwhelmed.
It was inevitable that Americans would finally grow weary of his approach to managing this shitstorm. The gaffes, the transparent pursuit of political vendettas, the evil henchmen (including a vice president who shot a man in the face), finally seemed to be taking their toll after eight long years. It wasn't unusual to hear him described as one of the worst presidents in modern history. His good ol' boy bonhomie had worn thin. At the end, even Dick Cheney was mad at him, for not pardoning Scooter Libby. As Lincoln said, "You can't fool all of the people all of the time." He ended fooling few.
So Bush quietly left office, determined, as he told an interviewer during his last month, to "replenish the old coffers." And what better way to start refilling those coffers than to sign a $7 million contract to write his memoirs? I can practically hear W himself crowing, Not too shabby! But I don't for a moment believe that money was his only motivation. Money alone could not sufficiently redeem the massive hit to Bush's self-regard inflicted by his embarrassing performance. Obviously, if he was going to dispel the odor of failure and incompetence that accompanied him out of the White House, a major rehabilitation was in order, and quick.
As he optimistically writes in his introduction: "I believe it will be impossible to reach definitive conclusions about my presidenc...read more