While other liberal-minded books, written by everyone from documentary filmmakers
to political strategists
, have been broadly critical of the entire early 21st-century conservative universe, Eric Alterman and Mark J. Green have narrowed their focus to the man living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And unlike some of their contemporaries, they choose to largely eschew the clever metaphors and whimsical storytelling to get right at their pointed criticisms of George W. Bush, whom they accuse of being less than honest with the American people while serving the interests of large corporations, the religious right, and neoconservative ideologues. Such charges, by themselves, are so commonplace by this point as to be unremarkable but Alterman and Green provide voluminous, detailed research and come at the case with the vigor of prosecuting attorneys certain of a defendant's guilt or maybe a pair of exceptionally ambitious graduate students ready to present a final dissertation. They contrast sections of Bush's public statements, especially campaign rhetoric, that seem to strike a centrist, conciliatory tone with evidence of his actions that veer hard right and contradict the very things he had said. Some of Bush's words come off more as simple talking points on complex issues than outright deception, and the authors do stop short of calling Bush a liar, but even in these situations, the president still comes off as either out of touch or disingenuous. And though some of their supporting material comes from opinion pieces in publications like the New Republic
, serving more to echo the authors' perspective than document it, there's plenty more from objective sources and raw factual data. Liberals will find plenty in The Book on Bush
to arm them in arguments against conservatives and they'll have the evidence to make their case. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
Examining the Bush administration's record on domestic and foreign policy issues, Alterman (What Liberal Media?) and former New York City public advocate Green see a pattern of dissimulation to promote the interests of the religious right, big business and neoconservative radicals. The two progressive champions make no effort to hide their dislike of Bush, branding him an "affirmative-action-legacy student" lacking knowledge and brain power. But the weight of their evidence and their reasonable tone make it difficult to dismiss them as ideologues. Though David Corn recently covered this territory in The Lies of George W. Bush, Alterman and Green provide more up-to-the-minute information on several issues, including the Environmental Protection Agency's withholding of information about potential health risks to residents of lower Manhattan after 9/11. They also document a disregard for truth displayed by other administration officials and by Bush's federal judicial appointees. From this voluminous record emerges a portrait of Bush as an ideological bully who knows how to "fake left and drive to the right," passing himself off as a populist while launching initiatives that benefit only his hardcore supporters. Expect liberal cognoscenti to back this book in droves as the election campaigns heat up.
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