Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Books · The Bush Tragedy
. . . .

The Bush Tragedy

Robert Downes - April 21st, 2008
Last Act: The Bush Tragedy

The Bush Tragedy
By Jacob Weisberg
Random House
269 pages, $26


With the presidency of George W. Bush wrapping up as an historic disaster, authors are lining up to dissect how the president managed to pull so many blunders, including the war in Iraq, the wreck of America’s reputation around the world, and the disaster of New Orleans, to name a few.
Author Jacob Weisberg offers insights in “The Bush Tragedy,” a biography that explores the psychological issues that influenced George W. Bush. The book also examines the motives of Bush’s misguided advisors, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, who led the inexperienced president into a series of poor decisions.
Weisberg compares Bush to Shakespeare’s Prince Hal, a ne’r-do-well youth who became the warlike and religious King Henry V of England. Like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s plays “Henry IV” and “Henry V,” George W. stands in the shadow of a famous father: he’s desperate to live up to his father’s legend, and also to outdo his father to make his own mark as a man.
The editor of Slate.com, and a former writer for The New Republic, Weisberg notes that both George W. Bush and Prince Hal also play out roles drawn from even older stories: that of the prodigal son in the Bible and the father-destroying legend of Oedipus.
Both myths unfold in W.’s life in a family drama that is by now familiar to those who’ve followed the Bush dynasty. As a young man, Bush carried on like a drunken playboy, but got religion at the age of 40 and swore off alcohol, eager to regain the respect in his political-minded family. Yet the Bush family put its hopes on W.’s younger brother Jeb, who was considered to be more capable and intelligent.
During his 40s, prodigal son George W. struggled to regain his family’s confidence and live up to the example of his famous father, George Herbert Walker Bush -- a war hero, athlete and successful businessman in addition to serving as president. When his father was humiliated for not invading Iraq during the Gulf War of 1991-’92. George W. became obsessed with not only redeeming his father’s name, but also with surpassing him by dismissing H.W.’s policies and ignoring his advisors. He plunged into Iraq, refusing to take his father’s advice that it was a bad idea.
Ironically, George W. made such poor decisions as president that he succeeded in redeeming the reputation of George H.W. Bush as a paragon of wisdom by contrast. “The father, once dismissed as insignificant and weak, now stood as a perfect contrast to his reckless, swaggering son,” Weisberg writes.
“This is the personal side of the Bush Tragedy -- the downfall of a dynasty as well as the failure of a president,” Weisberg writes. “A son who tried to vindicate his family by repudiating his father’s policies ended up doing the opposite of what he intended. He showed the world his father’s wisdom and brought shame to his name.”
But George W. had plenty of help engineering this tragedy, and Weisberg tells the story of the men who set him down a trail full of booby-traps.
The political mastermind Karl Rove had an attraction to George W. on par with “Brokeback Mountain” in its gay overtones. Yet Rove ruined Bush’s presidency by injecting a poisonous spirit of partisanship that tried to establish a Republican majority in America for all time. As one example, Rove pushed the idea that Democrats were unpatriotic in the wake of the 9/11 attacks at a time when it would have been wiser to lock arms.
Bush came to the White House hoping to be a unifier, reaching across the aisle to the Democrats, but Rove “led him off course and prevented him from recognizing it until his presidency was too broken to fix.”
An even greater disaster for Bush, however, was Vice President Dick Cheney, a neoconservative who engineered the war in Iraq in the belief that democracy would break out across the Mideast.
Bush couldn’t resist Cheney’s arguments for war, particularly since he wanted to repair his father’s reputation which was damaged by not invading Iraq in 1992. Cheney also damaged Bush’s presidency by trying to expand the power of the executive branch of government, a quest he pursued with arrogant actions that led to the downfall of Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Karl Rove.
Bush also failed in the court of world opinion, because on one hand he preached the value of democracy around the world while trashing human rights and civil liberties.
“The dissonance between Bush’s message and his cavalier attitude toward civil liberties discredited him as a moral messenger,” Weisberg writes. “While pressing for divinely ordained liberty in the Middle East, Bush was still taking Dick Cheney’s advice on keeping Guantanamo open, allowing torture, and unconstitutionally listening in on phone conversations by American citizens.”
There’s much else of interest in “The Bush Tragedy,” particularly W.’s rise to power courtesy of the evangelical movement. Bush is adept at “Jesus talk” and lining up church supporters on the right, but seems to have few ideas on faith. Privately, he and Rove think of the religious right as being “wackos,” but still go ahead with loading up government posts with incompetent religious fundamentalists as a payoff for getting elected.
Ultimately, Weisberg’s use of Shakespeare’s “Henry” tragedies is a gimmick -- a lens through which to view George W. Bush and his family. But the book does offer a good capsule history of the president, the Bush family and the main players who are featured in his drama and downfall.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close