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Thread: Book review: 'Decision Points' by George W. Bush

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Smile Book review: 'Decision Points' by George W. Bush

    Book review: "Decision Points" by George W. Bush - latimes.com


    Former U.S. President George W. Bush waves while signing copies of his new memoir "Decision Points" at Borders Books on November 9, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. (Tom Pennington / Getty Images / November 9, 2010)

    The former president delivers an unexpectedly engrossing rehash of what he considers to be the pivotal moments of his eight years in office.
    By Tim Rutten

    Los Angeles Times

    November 10, 2010

    The first great American autobiographies both appeared in the 19th century, were born of conflict and written by public men — "The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass" and "The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant."

    Since then, what we might call the publishing-industrial complex has turned the reminiscences of our public men and women into a never-ending stream. As former President George W. Bush — barely two years out of office — points out in the acknowledgement of his memoir, "Decision Points," virtually every member of his extended, very political family has published a bestseller, including his parents' dogs.

    Where does Bush's account of his astonishingly eventful eight years rank in such company? Probably far higher than many of his detractors expected. As Bush writes in "Decision Points," he enjoys surprising those who underestimate him. As the title suggests, the former chief executive elected to abandon the usual chronological approach to these volumes (except for a brief, obligatory foray into childhood and school years) in favor of his recollection of his presidency's key choices and the personal decisions that Bush says prepared him to make them.

    Foremost among the latter were his conversion to active Christianity, which he attributes to an after-dinner talk that evangelist Billy Graham gave to the extended Bush family at their Maine compound, and to participation in his male friends' Crawford, Texas Bible study group. According to Bush, he continued to read the Bible every morning of his presidency — like his daily run, a comforting habit. Bush credits his religious awakening, along with a growing sense of obligation to his wife and daughters, with his other foundational personal choice: the decision to quit drinking after a night of boorish overindulgence in celebration of his Laura's 40th birthday. It's a change Bush credits with making possible his subsequent public life.

    Leaks and an active publicity campaign of television and radio appearances have made many of the substantial points Bush makes rather familiar. Essentially, "Decision Points" confirms many of the better nonfiction accounts of his presidency published while he was in office, particularly Bob Woodward's four volumes and Robert Draper's "Dead Certain." The Bush White House may not have been given to doubts or its chief executive to indecision, but it did have a penchant for ad hoc deliberation, stubborn persistence in the face of failure — as in Iraq up to the surge — excessive personal loyalty and for being "blind-sided" by events beyond the unforeseeable tragedy of 9/11.

    Nearly midway through "Decision Points," Bush writes that, "History can debate the decisions I made, the policies I chose, and the tools I left behind. But there can be no debate about one fact: After the nightmare of September 11, America went seven and a half years without another successful terrorist attack on our soil. If I had to summarize my most meaningful accomplishment as president in one sentence, that would be it."

    For that reason, Bush is singularly unapologetic and clear about the fact that he personally ordered the torture of key Al Qaeda members, who CIA interrogators were convinced held information of other planned terrorist attacks. (Bush also continues to insist that waterboarding is not torture.) When then-CIA Director George Tenet asked whether he had permission to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, Bush replied, "Damn right." Bush writes that about 100 "terrorists" were placed in the CIA interrogation program and that about a third "were questioned using enhanced interrogation"; three were waterboarded. All, according to Bush, gave up usable intelligence that thwarted other acts of terrorism. Other reports have contradicted that assertion, but Bush is firm on the point.

    Similarly, he writes that his stomach still churns over the fact that he and the rest of the country were misled by faulty intelligence concerning Saddam Hussein's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, but that the nation and world still are better off with the Iraqi dictator deposed. His only real regret, in fact, is that he failed to act more rapidly and decisively when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

    Many readers will be surprised by Bush's warm account of his cooperative relationship with the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and his disappointment that they were unable to push through comprehensive immigration reform, which both felt was within a vote or two of their grasp. Given the contentious political use Karl Rove and other Bush aides made of abortion, readers also may be interested in the former president's unfailingly respectful discussion of the abortion-rights advocates with whom he disagrees. (There's also something amusing about Bush's account of urging the late Pope John Paul II not to waver in his pro-life convictions.)

    Actually, one of the impressions that arises repeatedly in "Decision Points" is how much civility and bi-partisan cooperation matter to Bush. "The death spiral of decency during my time in office, exacerbated by the advent of 24-hour cable news and hyper-partisan political blogs, was deeply disappointing," he writes.

    Looking back on his exit from office, Bush recalls, "I reflected on everything we were facing. Over the past few weeks we had seen the failure of America's two largest mortgage entities, the bankruptcy of a major investment bank, the sale of another, the nationalization of the world's largest insurance company, and now the most drastic intervention in the free market since the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. At the same time, Russia had invaded and occupied Georgia, Hurricane Ike had hit Texas, and America was fighting a two-front war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was one ugly way to end the presidency."

    There's a great deal in that statement of what this unexpectedly engrossing memoir suggests is the essential George W. Bush — a disarming candor, for example, combined with almost alarming off-handedness about the implications of what's being said. The man and the president portrayed in these pages is, at the same time, passive and strong; intelligent but not curious; a public person apparently at his best in private; willing to admit shortcomings, but not particularly self-critical; unfailingly civil himself, but happily surrounded by bare-knuckle partisans. There is a kind of pragmatic courage that makes a leader fearless of contradictions. Bush, for his part, seems oblivious to them.

    Immediately after the admission that his presidency was coming to an "ugly" end, Bush adds, "I didn't feel sorry for myself. Self-pity is a pathetic quality in a leader…. As well, I was comforted by my conviction that the Good Lord wouldn't give a believer a burden he couldn't handle."

    One suspects that Bush hopes to have the way in which he bore his unexpected burdens compared to the service of another wartime president, Lincoln. "Decision Points" records that, during his eight years in the Oval Office, Bush read 14 books on the first Republican commander-in-chief.

    Somehow, though, it isn't the Great Emancipator who comes to mind at the end of this memoir, but Shakespeare's Macbeth:

    "To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself."

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    "The death spiral of decency during my time in office, exacerbated by the advent of 24-hour cable news and hyper-partisan political blogs, was deeply disappointing," he writes.
    Why? Because they questioned and critiqued every douchey, drooley, dumbass, ignorant sentence that you uttered? And you think YOU were disappointed?!
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
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    Elite Member WhoAmI's Avatar
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    Actually, one of the impressions that arises repeatedly in "Decision Points" is how much civility and bi-partisan cooperation matter to Bush. "The death spiral of decency during my time in office, exacerbated by the advent of 24-hour cable news and hyper-partisan political blogs, was deeply disappointing," he writes.
    And that's why he had Rush Limpballs over for a private lunch during one of the last days of his Presidency?

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Ex-German Leader Claims Bush is Lying

    TRENDING: Bush lying, says ex-German leader
    By: CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
    (CNN) -George Bush's memoir only hit bookshelves Tuesday, but already one prominent ex-world leader says the former president isn't being truthful when it comes to his description of a 2002 conversation about the possible use of force in Iraq.
    Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who left office in 2005, is disputing a passage in Bush's new book that claims Schroeder privately offered the president full-fledged support in 2002 should he decide to invade Iraq.

    "The former American president is not telling the truth," Schroeder said Tuesday according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel.
    In his new book Decision points, Bush writes that in a January 2002 White House meeting with Schroeder, the German leader said of possible force in Iraq: "What is true of Afghanistan is true of Iraq. Nations that sponsor terror must face consequences. If you make it fast and make it decisive, I will be with you."
    "I took that as a statement of support," Bush writes of the conversation. "But when German elections arrived later that year, Schroeder had a different take. He denounced the possibility of using force against Iraq."
    Speaking Tuesday, Schroeder said the 2002 meeting was actually focused on the mere possibility former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the September 11 attacks, and said he made no unequivocal commitments
    "Just as I did during my subsequent meetings with the American president, I made it clear that, should Iraq ... prove to have provided protection and hospitality to al Qaeda fighters, Germany would reliably stand beside the US," Schroeder said of his comments to the president. "This connection, however, as it became clear during 2002, was false and constructed."
    Bush, whose relationship with Schroeder quickly turned frosty after the chancellor expressed opposition to the war, writes he was "shocked and furious" with the actions of his ally, especially after the German justice minister accused Bush of acting like Adolf Hitler in his efforts to "divert attention from domestic political problems."
    "It was hard to have a constructive relationship again," Bush writes of his future relations with Schroeder.
    Color me surprised as hell. Bush - lie? NOOOOOOOO!!!!!
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
    Laugh Uncontrollably. And never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile.

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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    God, i still get sick to my stomach by seeing that bitch's face.
    FUCK YOU AND GIVE ME MY GODDAMN VENTI TWO PUMP LIGHT WHIP MOCHA YOU COCKSUCKING WHORE BEFORE I PUNCH YOU IN THE MOUTH. I just get unpleasant in my car. - Deej

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    According to Bush, he continued to read the Bible every morning of his presidency

    This doesn't count George, especially when you can't keep within the lines.

    We can't stop here. This is bat country.

    How big would a T-Rex wang be?! - Karistiona


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    a friend told me today there's some campaign in london to convince people to move in-store copies of the book to the 'crime' section. there was a similar campaign for tony blair's memoirs - people kept moving them to the 'fiction' section.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member Chilly Willy's Avatar
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    I thought the reappearance of him would make my blood boil, but as it turns out, I enjoy him tremendously. He cracks me up.

    I hope Amnesty International does sue him for glorifying waterboarding. I just wonder what took them so fucking long.
    Hello mother fucker! when you ask a question read also the answer instead of asking another question on an answer who already contain the answer of your next question!
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