Rather Reading Reviews (on Decision Points)

Well, I’m glad that I resisted (yet). True, reading Decision Points by George W. Bush might have been a revelation on how the former number one world politician did and still does lie. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had already rebutted Bush’s claims that he might have supported him in the Iraq adventure. Thanks to WikiLeaks, which has leaked so far (less than 1% of) diplomatic cables to the State Department since last month, one might in fact have a unique chance of comparing what these cables say and what Bush junior tries to sell in his account.

But other than Bill Clinton’s memoir, which I had read with some interest, I was honestly afraid of George W. Bush’s complete lack of intellectual brilliance and, in fact, more than boring dullness of his writing. Bush junior has been a simpleton (or better, is; wisdom would have prevented him publishing this volume right now) and jokes about him were legend. I have referred to the final joke when his book appeared in November, see here.

Reviews about Decision Points may in fact be much more entertaining. That of Eliot Weinberger which appears in London Review of Books later this week is revealing, too. Nobody had expected Bush junior to write almost 500 printed pages by himself. But one is amused when Weinberger mentions French philosopher Michel Foucault who, in the late 1960s, at the time when Bush junior who originally was born in Connecticut, not Texas, was a hopeful student of History at Yale University, considered the question, ‘What is an author?’ Unconsciously, all of us will have a certain idea about a possible answer; but Weinberger points to Foucault’s more complex conceptions:

“Foucault found his theories embodied, sometimes unconvincingly, in writers such as Proust or Flaubert. He died in 1984, while Junior was still an ageing frat boy, and didn’t live to see this far more applicable text. For the questions that he, even then, declared hopelessly obsolete are the very ones that should not be asked about Decision Points ‘by’ George W. Bush (or by ‘George W. Bush’): ‘Who really spoke? Is it really he and not someone else? With what authenticity or originality? And what part of his deepest self did he express in his discourse?’

Decision Points holds the same relation to George W. Bush as a line of fashion accessories or a perfume does to the movie star that bears its name; he no doubt served in some advisory capacity. The words themselves have been assembled by Chris Michel (the young speechwriter and devoted acolyte who went to Yale with Bush’s daughter Barbara); a freelance editor, Sean Desmond; the staff at Crown Publishing (who reportedly paid $7 million for the book); a team of a dozen researchers; and scores of ‘trusted friends’. Foucault: ‘What difference does it make who is speaking?’ ‘The mark of the writer is … nothing more than the singularity of his absence.’”

One must not forgive Bush’s decision to wage war on first Afghanistan, then Iraq (and one on Iran which ironically had most probably only been prevented by a national intelligence estimate of sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007). “Hundreds of thousands […] killed or maimed; millions [who were] made homeless in Iraq and jobless in the United States.” And Bush seems to love the idea that it was he who assumes sole responsibility. Weinberger notes complete missing of so many key players in Bush’s world and even sparseness of mentioning Donald Rumsfeld, or the real ‘puppet master’ Dick Cheney, in Bush’s narrative. “Bush is the lone hero of every page of Decision Points.”

And how did Bush junior come to these decisions, or points? According to Weinberger,

“There are no decision points in Decision Points. Despite what is claimed above, Bush never stops to consider. He is the Decider who acts impulsively and ‘crisply’, drawing on his ‘moral clarity’. In the scariest line in the book, he has been allowed to let slip that his motive for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq was simple revenge, surely the least desirable emotional quality one would want in a world leader with access to nuclear weapons. About 9/11 the text says: ‘My blood was boiling. We were going to find out who did this, and kick their ass.’” (Emphasis added.)

Last modified January 2, 2011.

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One Response to Rather Reading Reviews (on Decision Points)

  1. Pingback: Eventually Dead and Buried? « Periodontology

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