George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points is a surprisingly good read—not that I expected it to be terrible, as Bush-haters probably do. (I rate his presidency middling, better than his father’s, and better than any Democrat’s since at least JFK’s.)
Given the sharp turn our nation has taken leftward—and downward—the memoir made me feel ridiculously nostalgic.
The chapter titles are short, punchy, to-the-point. You can practically hear W reciting them into his mini-tape recorder: “Quitting.” “Running.” “Personnel.” “Stem Cells.”
That would be “Quitting” as in drinking, and “Running” for political offices including governor of Texas and the presidency. “Personnel” relates Bush’s decision-making process for nominating and/or firing staffers Dick Cheney, James Baker and Ted Olson (lawyers in Bush v. Gore,) Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Bob Gates, Andrew Card, John Roberts, Harriet Miers, and Samuel Alito.
Not surprisingly, the longest chapter is “Iraq,” which outlines Bush’s decision to invade the country and take out Saddam Hussein. Bush lays out the case for his decision to attack clearly, logically, and unimpeachably, including the overwhelming global consensus that Hussein was producing weapons of mass destruction. Bush chronicles the support he received from steadfast allies Tony Blair, John Howard, and José Maria Avnar, and the backstabbing he encountered from treacherous weasels Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac, and Vladimir Putin.
The facts Bush provides on the lead-up to the Iraq War remind us that claims he “rushed to war,” “went it alone,” and had no plans for postwar Iraq are the fevered delusions of leftist lunatics. (Just reading about the U.S.’s efforts to rope Security Council members into approving United Nations resolutions to deal with Hussein “diplomatically,” I grew six inches of facial hair.)
“Leading” describes Bush’s leadership on a variety of issues, including No Child Left Behind and the regrettable Medicare prescription drug benefit, as well as his heartbreaking second-term failure to pass Social Security reform and his (mostly solid) immigration reform.
Three chapters are stinkers; fortunately, they come near the end. “Lazarus Effect” brags how generous Bush was with taxpayer money in starting an AIDS prevention program in Africa that constituted a drop in the bucket because it did nothing to address the corruption in Africa’s tyrannical regimes. Bizarre revelation: Upon landing in Tanzania, Bush writes:
“[A] cluster of women danced to the festive beat of drums and horns. As one rotated to the music, I saw my photo stretched across her backside.”
“Freedom Agenda” boasts about Bush’s push for a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution over the objections of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell, and his support for free elections for Palestinians who ended up voting Hamas into power. “Financial Crisis” justifies Bush’s backing of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and automobile industry bailout. It’s not surprising that the “moderate,” “bipartisan” activity outlined in these three chapters was concentrated in Bush’s final two years, after the disastrous political events of 2005 (including the outcry over his response to Hurricane Katrina.)