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A Very Basic but Helpful Assessment of Public Service
on December 5, 2011
I give George W. Bush full marks for offering us a candid look inside his presidency. While I find his memoir to be informative as to the circumstances that led him to make earth-shaking decisions during these tumultuous times, it doesn't offer much in the way of reflective analysis. That is not George W. Bush's style because he believes that what he did was right. What the reader will find in this book is a very polished and confident account of his public service packaged in a fairly standard definition of leadership: teamwork. George W. sees himself as a man who leads from the front with his 'generals' beside him and a vision to enhance and protect the international interests of the nation as embodied in the Constitution. To that end, Bush portrays himself as someone who has matured in his political values over time. His personal and family experiences are clear examples that he comes honestly by his beliefs in God, the church, family and individual freedom. On these, he does not compromise. When it comes to hot-button issues like defending the Patriot Act and water-boarding, Bush is unyielding in his defence of these measures in the ongoing fight against terrorism. There are numerous examples in this book showing his efforts to learn from his mistakes in judgment. Unfortunately, these revelations cover the leadup to his political career. Once president, Bush surrounded himself with a retinue of high-level advisors who were not always united in the advice they gave him as to making those critical decision points. "Decision Points" does offer some very revealing moments in the daily life within the West Wing as the stress level mounted over concerns such as Katrina, the Iraq invasion, the war on terrorism, and the growing financial crisis. It is through these moments that the reader gets to see how dependent Bush was on effective advice which he didn't always receive. The relations with key cabinet figures like Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice were often bitter-sweet. Through all this, however, Bush always showed loyalty to these people who worked under and with him to achieve what he believed was a safer place to live. He knew that without them he would never have made it out of the gate. His wife, Laura, and his parents come in for special praise for supporting him through eight years in the White House. This book is worth reading because it helps to define both the strengths and weaknesses of a very unique presidency.