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The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)leads America Hardcover – February 5, 2004
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While other liberal-minded books, written by everyone from documentary filmmakers to political strategists to comedians, 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
Dr. Alterman and Mr. Green are two of the most astute, informed, and readable observers of contemporary politics. All of their books rank high with me. But as this year winds down to the November elections, this book is a must for anyone--of any political persuasion--who votes with a concerned eye to the future of this nation.
And for the knee-jerk one-star semi-literate "reviewers" who most likely haven't read the book, well, just because the truth hurts doesn't mean it's not true.
Where to begin? The facts speak for themselves. No president-ever-has done more to inflame and divide the Nation's citizens and alienate its allies; broaden the disparity between rich and poor; despoil the environment; trample on the Constitution; disdain Science; publicly promote religion; gut Education; and burden the Nation with soon-to-be trillion dollar debt that, if left unchecked, will ruin the average man and woman's standard of living for generations to come and reduce our standing in the world from a superpower to a has-been. Oh, and he started a "dubyious" war, whose rationales have been changed more often than a newborn's Pampers. Not bad for three plus years in office.
No administration-ever-has raised hypocrisy and outright lying to the level of an art form as has Bush and his cronies. The fraud has reached Orwellian proportions: black is white and white is black and gray doesn't exist; bait-and-switch and deception have become Republican parlor games; manipulation of the facts and sleight of mind gull a mouth-breathing press so efficaciously that even David Blaine sits up in amazement. His politics is a direct reflection of his neo-Calvinist persona: Us and Them; Privileged and everyone else. Either you're with us or against us. In his world-view, life is a zero-sum game and your "contribution" is measured by the dollars you've accumulated-in Dubya's case, handed to him-and where greed is not merely countenanced, but revered. His is a world where whoever dies with the most money is the one who wins. G. W. Bush is a man without honor, ignorant of life's complexities, and whose only tool is the hammer of the Big Lie.
To say that he is a cynic is to give Dubya too much credit. Cynicism implies a thought process in which opposing ideas and outcomes are weighed one against the other and the philosophical inference drawn from this calculus is that the world is headed to hell in a handcart. Dubya has neither the means nor the inclination to arrive at reasoned conclusions. He is a Believer. He knows that he is right because he knows that he is right, and that saying so makes it so. It is primitive, but, for far too many people, persuasive. Never having bothered to learn to think critically, Dubya is himself easily manipulated, and this is where his tenure in office becomes truly scary. He is merely the face and the pitchman for a gradually evolving and well-funded, but a dare-not-speak-its-name, movement in this country toward Fascism. Conspiracy theory? Was Hilary Clinton deluded when she attributed the assaults on her and her husband to a "vast right-wing conspiracy"? In fact, the identities and beliefs of these individuals and their families are widely known, so much so that they hardly deserve the appellation "conspirators." These monied entities couldn't be more thrilled than to have this puppet with the elongated proboscis in the Oval Office. This is the "Nation" that G. W. Bush represents, and his performance has far exceeded their wildest dreams.
When it comes to sheer chutzpah and brazen partisan goose-stepping, Dubya beats Reagan hands down. If there is such a thing as "Evil," which the President, having been advised by the Big Guy Himself, assures us there is, then every one of us has reason to tremble in fear: our fate is in Their hands.
I find this book disappointing. It is written as if the authors have packed together a whole bunch of Op-Eds, it is hard to read, and it is not coherent. The publisher and editor should be spanked for allowing such an undisciplined work out the door.
Although the book excels at detail and focus from issue to issue, the authors fail to do the side-by-side presentation in a manner that satisfies. This book could have been glorious if they had taken the US budget, done down the 30 agencies with discretionary funds, the relevant program lines, and then had three columns: what Bush (and his aides, most of whom do the talking and thinking) said, what they did, and what science and intelligence and real-world experts recommend be done.
The index stinks (names, not issues), and there is no bibliography. The footnotes are acceptable, but even more interesting would have been profiles with related bibliographies of how the right-wing think tanks and key personalities like Bill Kristol have shaped the debate, from the early days when Dick Cheney was saying Kristol was a moron (he is not) who could be ignored, to the later days when Cheney discovered that there are a lot of wealthy patrons who put their money where Kristol's mouth is....
In brief, then, the authors appear to have tried, and failed, to deliver the definitive book cataloging, on an issue by issue basis in a manner easily used by a Challenger for the Presidency, the many specific ways in which this Administration is lying, switching and baiting, saying one thing and doing the other, or allowing destruction through malicious neglect.
If I were guiding an opposition research team today, I would tell them to take this book, and all the others I have cited above, cut the spines off, digitize everything, index everything, create a visualization link-chart using any one of several automated programs, and from that, create 100 one-page memos that consist of a nuclear sound-bit, a one-paragraph executive summary of Bush versus reality versus the opposing proposition, and a half page of detail and references. Neither the Democratic Leadership Council nor the leading challengers for the Democratic nomination appear to be doing their homework. Kerry's math does not add up, Edward's issues are simplistic, and both Sharpton and Kucinich are absolutely right: the Democrats are not talking substance yet.
This book is as close as I have seen to an issue-by-issue review, but if this is the best we can do, the Democrats will lose in 2004, not least because issue discussion is the non-negotiable first step toward outreach and creating a coalition of moderate Republicans, Independents, and Green-Reform-Libertarian allies without whom no one can beat Bush.
Most recent customer reviews
someday, the libturds will get over gw, and continue on to wherever they want to end up.
These coauthors' writing is as harsh as Ann Coulter's but of an opposite persuasion.Read more
He could be the death of us all.