Thursday, March 13, 2008

A cynic might suggest that The Bush Tragedy: The Unmaking of a President by Jacob Weisberg is a book designed to appeal to me the most. An attack on George W. Bush from the left, it uses the two common views of him, as an empty cypher for the villanous policies of Cheney, Rove et al, or are the bloodiest mass-murderer in American history. Anyone following the Great British pantomime at the Royal Courts of Justice will be aware that it seems increasingly difficult in the modern age to define objective facts about people any more and, given that the Bush family obviously didn't help with the book and are not given to public introspection anyway, it would be fair to point out that all of Weisberg's suppositions are based on his reading of history. That said, it's a thrilling reading of the story, casting Shrubya as a largely empty vessel who has defined his adult life by trying to surpass his father by doing the same as him in the hopes of doing better, hence his laughable business career followed by the transition to politics. Weisberg points to mistakes in his father's era in the Presidency that could be argued to inform how the son became Texas Governor and then President.

Weisberg reserves most ire for Cheney and Rove, the former a Machiavelli who knows exactly how to push Bush's buttons to get him to do what Cheney wants while the latter worships Bush to such an extent that he's willing to dismantle the American Constitution on his behalf.

I did enjoy zipping through The Bush Tragedy but I expect that one's appreciation of the book will depend on how strongly one believes the central premise about the key players before they even pick the thing up.

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