July 4, 2016
Review: ‘Bush,’ a Biography as Scathing Indictment … If Mr. Bush eventually gets a more sympathetic hearing by history, as he hopes, it will not start with Jean Edward Smith’s “Bush,” a comprehensive and compelling narrative punctuated by searing verdicts of all the places where the author thinks the 43rd president went off track. –New York Times
This review of a biography of Bush tracks some of our criticisms of the former president in a recent article, “Nothing to Admire in Bush’s Attack on Trump.” You can see it HERE.
However, the review is positive about Bush’s compassionate conservatism whereas we were not.
Smith is a longtime political biographer and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
The review describes both his first sentence and his last so we get a sense of Smith’s approach.
The first sentence of his book: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.”
The last: “Whether George W. Bush was the worst president in American history will be long debated, but his decision to invade Iraq is easily the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.”
In between are more than 650 pages of fast-paced if harsh biography … “Believing he was the agent of God’s will, and acting with divine guidance, George W. Bush would lead the nation into two disastrous wars of aggression,” Mr. Smith writes. “Bush’s personalization of the war on terror combined with his macho assertiveness as the nation’s commander in chief,” he adds later, “were a recipe for disaster.”
So far, so good. But Smith, the review informs us, “is more approving of his main subject in moments where Mr. Bush follows his original campaign doctrine of compassionate conservatism.”
Smith gives “high marks” to Bush for the No Child Left Behind program.
Also, for expanding Medicare “to cover prescription drugs and for leading an ambitious fight against AIDS in Africa.”
Smith even suggests that Bush had helped “save” the economy through “bold and counterintuitive intervention after the financial crash of 2008.”
Smith portrays a “gracious and warmhearted” Bush who helped make Obama’s transition successful.”
Surprisingly, Smith’s view is that Bush’s worst mistake was doing too much after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“The events of 9/11 were tragic, but scarcely catastrophic,” he writes. And the Patriot Act might be, “the most ill-conceived piece of domestic legislation since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.”
One would hope that Smith mentions that the Patriot Act was very obviously prewritten – long before 9/11.
Smith believes Bush had a kind personality but as we pointed out in our previous article, his wars literally murdered millions and so irradiated Iraq that women in certain regions were told by doctors not to have children.
As for Bush’s compassionate conservatism, we pointed out it was a ruse.
He further expanded fedgov’s embrace of authoritarianism. His social spending helped bankrupt the country. None of this is in the least admirable …
He cultivated America’s decline into fascism and corporatism – and did so while pretending these were somehow “conservative” values.
Smith is positive about “no child left behind,” but he may be missing the point of this legislation.
Bush, like Hillary, is part of a globalist cabal that uses US legislation to advance its own purposes.
No Child Left Behind allows authorities to identify and then support the most gifted children. These children have access to scholarships and are often granted access to the elite universities. They then go to work for elite facilities. The program, seen this way, is self-serving to say the least.
As for expanding Medicare and helping to “save” the economy, Smith apparently does not realize that the same power available to Bush for these activities allowed him to visit a kind of genocide on the Middle East.
Presidents always attract these massive biographies. They can focus critically on even minute details. But such books rarely if ever question why a given president should have so much power.
Nor do they note that the power to do “good” things – as they conceive it – also gives the president the power to do bad ones.
No human being should have the kind of power that Bush had access to and utilized. No country either.
Conclusion: The best biography of a US president would be a very short one. It would simply read: “He did much more than he should have. Someone should have stopped him.”