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George W. Bush
Decision Points notes

March 29, 2017
by William P. Meyers

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This is more of a set of notes to use in future blog entries than a thought-out essay. But you are welcome to read it, it might provoke some thought.

George W. Bush's autobiography Decision Points is well written and at times even entertaining. My wife, Jan, is convinced it was entirely ghost-written, that George can barely sign his name. He acknowledges he had plenty of help, but his personality comes through, so I think he did a lot of the writing. On to particulars.

Regarding his father's electoral loss to Bill Clinton in 1992, he notes "The polls narrowed. Then, four days before the election, Lawrence Walsh, the prosecutor investigating the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration, dropped an indictment on former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger. The indictment dominated the news and halted the campaign's momentum." So big prosecution announcements near Election Day are not entirely new. [page 49]

"The deliberate murder of innocent peple is an act of pure evil." The question is, which people are innocent? The civilians at Hiroshima? [page 137]

Brent Scowcroft wrote a Wall Street Journal editorial "that war with Iraq would distract from the war on terror and could unleash 'an Armageddon in the Middle East.'" Score 1 for Brent. [page 238]

President Bush briefly recalls that he was "willing to be constructive" on the issue of global warming. In his 2006 State of the Union address he had called America "addicted to oil." [347]

His negotiations with Israel and Palestinians is recorded in some detail. He supported a two-state solution, believes it was Yasser Arafat who undermined Mahmoud Abbass's intention to do that with Ariel Sharon. "I believed the solution was a democratic Palestinian state, led by elected officials who would answer to their people, reject terror, and pursue peace with Israel." [403] Arafat died in 2004, and elections were held in Palestine in January 2005, electing Abbas. While Bush always labels Hamas as terrorists, he state "I supported the elections. America could not be in the position of endorsing elections only when we like the projected outcome." Though of course that has been America's historical policy. In any case in the parliamentary election of january, 2006, Hamas won 74 of 132 seats. Meanwhile, Sharon was incapacitated by a stroke. Bush blames Hamas for rebelling and taking over Gaza in June 2007, not mentioning that the PLO had refused to give up power in the West Bank despite the election outcome. [406-407]

Bush offers a lot of insight into the political process that took place when the banking system and economy nearly collapsed in 2008. He quotes himself as saying "If we're really looking at another Great Depression you can be damn sure I'm going to be a Roosevelt, not Hoover." [440]. Of course Democrats blame Bush for the Great Recession, while Republicans blame President Obama. Bush's basic take was that capitalism would have destroyed itself if the government had not intervened. Both leftist Democrats and the ideologically pure free-market Republicans wanted the banks to fail, no matter what the results. So the sane centrists of both parties had to come together to vote for the rescue measure TARP. Bush does not mention it, but many lost elections to extremists because they saved the nation with this vote.

There's tons more great stuff in the book. I would note that while I would vote for Bush over Trump any day, George Bush also does not get how his upbringing puts him out of touch with most people. Its great that he was a heavy drinker who crashed a few cars, and then got sober. He neglects to point out he could be successful in business mainly because of family connections and money. His ruling-class bias colors much of his decision making. But he does show either well-faked or genuine concernt for ordinary people. Having never suffered with them, he just has little idea of how to help them, believing in the stardard upper-class bullshit that cutting taxes on the rich will somehow help the rest of us.

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