David Harsanyi does not want you to read President Bush’s memoir.
“Decision Points” was released this month, and to describe Mr. Harsanyi as unappreciative of the work of the former President is an understatement. Mr. Harsanyi characterizes President Bush as “a preening dunce empowered by historical fluke and nepotism.”
Strong words! But if you follow Mr. Harsanyi’s advice, you might miss out on some interesting material:
--President Bush allowed the military to run the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was put off by the micromanagement style of President Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in the Vietnam War, and knew the human costs of politicizing a conflict. (Page 195)
--The President wrote letters to the families of every service member killed in the war during his presidency. (Page 203)
--The idea that President Bush “rushed into war” should be analyzed against a timeline that includes more than a decade since the Gulf War resolutions had demanded that Saddam disarm, over four years since Saddam had kicked out weapons inspectors, six months since the UN ultimatum, four months since Resolution 1441 (the “final opportunity”), and three months after the deadline to fully disclose his WMD program. (Page 247)
--The concept of “natural disaster politics” is probed. A little-known anecdote is that Mayor Ray Nagin had gone without a hot meal or shower for four days after Katrina hit New Orleans. He was welcomed aboard Air Force One and showered in the President’s quarters. (Page 309)
--General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was thrown under the political bus. The poignant note he left at the Vietnam Memorial is cited on page 386.
This book is an “after-action report.” President Bush tells us what influenced his decisions, and provides a transparent roadmap for review and analysis. It is the story of a person trying to do the right thing for his country.
There are lessons here that can be applied to future national problems, and to disparage them as “preening” seems shortsighted. But then again, this is simply the duality of scrutiny in our political leaders. Our culture expects leaders on the Republican side to be attacked.
Contrast the American Dhimmitude treatment of Sarah Palin with the admiration shown to Madeleine Albright. U.N. Representative Albright assures us that she did all that could be done in Rwanda, and her assessment is not questioned. We simply appreciate her straightening out that “genocide” thing.
Fawning praise for one President’s book, and characterizations of ineptitude for another: If you are a Republican writing your memoirs, gird your loins, you preening dunce!
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