Jason's Reviews > Decision Points

Decision Points by George W. Bush
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Jul 27, 14

Recommended to Jason by: Me
Recommended for: conservatives, Republicans
Read from October 08 to 23, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

This may be one of the most difficult reviews I've ever attempted to write. Being as opinionated about politics as I am, I'm very tempted to launch into my opinions on various political matters covered in this book. However, once I start down the dark path, forever will it dominate my discourse, so I'm going to try my best not to go there. I was originally going to go through each chapter and state whether or not I agree with the decisions he made, and why, and what's wrong with the world today, and what was wrong then, and yadda, yadda, yadda. However, I'm pretty confident that not one among you cares what I think about these past events. So... Here goes my attempt at an objective review without political commentary.

---taking deep breaths...

Firstly, I'm a Bush fan. Always have been, and I supported and defended him right up through the end of presidency when even his own party was fleeing like lemmings from the man. I never let his lack of prowess with speaking the English language serve as a measuring mark of his intelligence. I readily admit that his speaking ability leaves much to be desired, and I must confess that his writing style is also not above reproach. Having endured 8 years of his speeches, this is not surprising. His writing style is reminiscent of those speeches. I thought that was going to be distracting since I'm not a fan of it, but it wasn't. I could easily hear his voice as I read, and that worked in the book's favor since it is his memoir. If it had been a novel, it probably would've driven me crazy.

Since he was so severely lampooned in the media as an idiot, and he also has a somewhat self-deprecating sense of humor, I was disappointed that he didn't add a couple of coloring and activity pages to the book; they would have been a nice touch. Also, being thought of as a moron may have worked in his favor as it caused people to "misunderestimate" him often. Many felt that Bush was Cheney's puppet. I've never believed that, and this book makes it pretty clear that Bush was in charge, and had the final word.

I really liked the way this book was laid out. I usually like my history lined up chronologically, but the topical set up actually works very well since many of the topics covered spanned many years of the presidency. The first that come to mind for almost anyone are the Iraqi and Afghani wars, but his work for AIDS relief in Africa, and the Freedom Agenda (promoting democracy throughout the world) also span several years. The topics that didn't span over several years of his presidency, such as Katrina, the financial crisis in late 2008, and the decision to implement a troop surge in Iraq in 2006, also work well in this topical format. He didn't cover every decision, and lists several that he bypassed in the afterword, but it certainly wasn't because he shied away from the more controversial ones. He covers all of the most contentious issues.

One thing I was glad to see in this book was Bush defending himself against critics, which is something he rarely did while he was in office. Others would defend him, but I hardly recall him doing it for himself. This made it look like he didn't believe he could, but I always believed there was a method behind some of his madness, and he explains the methodology in the book. Some decisions that completely baffled me when he made them are now much clearer. I'm not sure why he didn't explain them more thoroughly when he made them, but perhaps he thought there was no point since haters are gonna hate. Boy, do I know how true that is since I do some pretty hardcore hating on the other team, and at certain times there is no explanation good enough to justify their behavior to me.

Allow me to use an analogy of wolves and sheep from that great movie Babe to exemplify. There comes a part in the movie where a dog (which is called a "wolf" by the sheep) must speak to the sheep. She "decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that sheep were stupid, and there was nothing that could convince her otherwise." When the sheep replied, they "decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that wolves were ignorant, and there was nothing that could convince them otherwise." This is how many Republicans and Democrats view each other, and I certainly wear the description very well.

OK, back to the book. Here's a case in point that Bush couldn't win for trying. No matter what move he made, it was going to be vilified by everybody. But, such is the bane of the presidency, regardless of who is occupying the Oval Office. Uganda had been working on their AIDS epidemic before we got involved with sending money, education, medicine, etc. The Ugandans "employed an aggressive prevention campaign known as ABC: Abstinence, Be faithful, or else use a Condom." It was a successful campaign that was showing good results. When Bush announced that we were going to help the Africans deal with AIDS, it went over pretty well. However, "as expected, there were some objections. The biggest came in response to the ABC prevention strategy. Critics on the left denounced the abstinence component as an ideological 'war on condoms' that would prove unrealistic and ineffective. I pointed out that abstinence worked every time. Some on the right objected to distributing condoms, which they felt would encourage promiscuity... Ironically, both sides charged that we were imposing our values - religious fundamentalism if you asked one camp, sexual permissiveness if you asked the other. Neither argument made much sense to me since the ABC strategy had been developed in Africa, implemented in Africa, and successful in Africa."

I found the book to be rather inspiring. Here is a man who had values and principles, and stuck to them to the best of his ability. Sometimes he went against what almost everyone else wanted him to do, such as the troop surge in Iraq. A couple of times he compromised those principles, such as with the bailout in 2008, yet did it because he considered it to be the lesser of two evils. He was, and still seems to be, quite in favor of the free market. (Must... resist temptation... to voice opinions... and assign blame... ... ... Breathe in... out... in... out... Stick to the book...)

OK, I'm back. Here's a quote relating to the last paragraph. "I was furious the (financial) situation had reached this point. A relatively small group of people - many on Wall Street, some not - had gambled that the housing market would keep booming forever. It didn't. In a normal environment, the free market would render its judgment and they could fail. I would have been happy to let them do so. But this was not a normal environment." He goes on to state how economists predicted a second great depression if certain firms failed, and he compromised his value for the greater good. I don't know if I could have done that.

At any rate, we learn a lot about the man himself with this book. He freely admits that he made some mistakes, and points out several of them. He steadfastly defends some of his decisions which were unpopular, and I can honestly say that I can see where he is coming from with every one of them, even the Harriet Miers nomination for Supreme Court Justice which caused me to employ a face-palm when I heard it, and I'd like to think I still wouldn't have done it, no matter HOW good I thought she might have been at the job.

Obviously Bush didn't get along with everybody he came in contact with, but he handles the descriptions of those people with humility and dignity. There is very little blaming and finger pointing in the book, and he sticks to talking about his side of the street mostly. Like I said before, I found the book inspiring, and I kind of hope I can handle myself with as much decorum as Bush did/does. He does point out where he feels like he was treated unfairly, but it never comes across as whiny, and he always says why he thought it was unfair. (See the ABC example from a few paragraphs above).

Another thing I liked about this book is that it has Barbara Bush in it, and I love her (the mother, not the daughter). She has great one liners, and there are examples of that peppered throughout. I also like it when she jacks him up every now and then.

If you're as hot-headed about politics as I am and find it to be a serenity black-hole (which I dive into head first all too frequently knowing full well that it's only going to piss me off... maybe I'll learn one day and leave it alone), then you are either going to love this book, or it will send you spiraling into rage. If you can look at the issues discussed without getting bent around the axle, and have an interest in those issues, then you would probably like this book. If you want to read about a man of high moral fiber who sticks to his guns, then you'd also like this book. If you're looking for great prose, then what the hell are you doing even reading this review? That's like going to a Michael Bay movie for the plot; why would you expect there to be one that makes sense? I suggest you leave this book alone if that's your motive.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim Excellent review.


Jason Jim wrote: "Excellent review."

Thanks!


message 3: by Sandi (last edited Oct 30, 2012 05:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sandi Jason, I am so glad I found this review! I, too, have always been a fan of President Bush (actually both). I don't understand the hatred directed at this decent man. I am not happy with President Obama, but hatred? No. Someone tell the obnoxious Professor Harold Bloom about this book. He actually told Brian Lamb on "Booknotes" that he was upset we now had a President who couldn't read (find it in the show's transcripts on the net). Good news! My husband gave me the CD version for our anniversary and you don't have to imagine his voice, it's right there. After 3+ years it was good to listen to a truthful man.


Joseph Excellent review


Sandi Thank you for an honest review. I, too, could hear his voice. Words were written as he would have spoken them. Somehow we lost the real message through a horn at World Trade Towers -- this was going to be a long, hard war. It still is, and may always be. Some seem to have forgotten that; hopefully, we will never forget!


Jason I hope never to forget. I need to check this out on audiobook one day.

And thanks, Joseph.


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