Over the Christmas break I read Decision Points, the recently-released memoirs of President George W. Bush. Here are a smattering of my impressions:
Bush presents himself with a great deal of humility. The first chapter explains his struggle with alcoholism and describes, in detail, a number of the stupid things he did under the influence. Throughout the rest of the book, he’s quick to point out decisions that, in retrospect, he would have made differently. His style is folksy and conversational, which makes it accessible to a wide audience.
He devotes the majority of his book to foreign policy decisions. For example, there are separate chapters on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa, while the issues of education, immigration, social security, faith-based initiatives, etc. are all squeezed into one chapter on domestic policy. As I am not as well-versed in foreign affairs as I am in domestic affairs, I felt like the Afghanistan and Iraq chapters were fairly good “backgrounders” on close to ten years of history in each of those countries, and I feel more informed on the situation in those countries as a result.
To my surprise, he maintains a fairly measured tone when speaking about his critics. He only rarely identifies a detractor by name, instead phrasing it with something like, “one senator accused me of..” or “one journalist described this as…” He doesn’t resort to partisan jabs often, although they are present. For example, he criticizes congressional Democrats for failing to fund umbilical cord stem cell research unless funding for embryonic stem cell research was included. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was the recent tax cut debate, where congressional Republicans refused to support extending tax cuts for lower- and middle-income families unless tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% were extended as well…
To be continued.