The Corner

George W. in Dallas

Andrew Roberts writes: 


Despite this publishing campaign, it is very clear that Bush doesn’t really mind terribly what people think and say about him.

Where does he gets his insouciance from? Is it his religious faith, or might class have a part to play? Does he have the sublime self-confidence not to judge himself by others’ criteria because he is a genuine American aristocrat? “Well, I wouldn’t go that far,” he answers, in precisely the way that a real aristo would. His theory is that “I just always tried to do what was right, and never compromised my principles”. He might have made errors, like every president, but they were not over matters of principle.

Decision Points is unlike most politicians’ memoirs, which try to prove omniscience. Bush admits to making several mistakes, but puts these in their context and invites the reader to consider alternative scenarios. “You’re rarely judged by the decisions you don’t make,” he points out. “The Middle East would be an even more dangerous place today, for example, if we’d backed down in front of Saddam. It takes time for history to take a broad enough perspective.” Yet there are signs that it is already starting to. Karl Rove – who Bush describes as “a sort of political mad scientist” – called the other day to tell him about a poll where he and Barack Obama were running neck-and-neck with 45 per cent approval ratings, a major advance on the 34 per cent when he left office in January 2009. Yet Bush clearly could hardly care less.

“I didn’t care when I had a 90 per cent approval rating after 9/11,” Bush says, “and I don’t care now either. A lot of my relaxed attitude to life — I feel no need for a desperate struggle or for refashioning myself — comes from the knowledge that they called Lincoln ‘a baboon’ and almost drummed Truman from office. A long-term view is the only way to judge an administration. Also, with a new president, you tend to get judged against the backdrop of predecessors and successors.” Which is why the timing of this book publication, the week after Obama’s “shellacking” in the mid-term elections, is inspired. Yet Bush won’t be drawn on any current political controversies, just to help him sell books. As I ask him about the Ground Zero mosque or the Tea Party or Obama’s plans to withdraw from Afghanistan next July. He just counters with: “Nice try.”

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More