Our erstwhile president gets what's comin' to him in Thomas Mallon's review of a bio of George W. Bush.
Jean Edward Smith’s biography of George W. Bush goes on sale a day before the former President’s seventieth birthday, and it’s safe to say that no one will be bringing it as a present to the ranch outside Crawford. Smith, a well-regarded practitioner of military history and Presidential-life writing, comes straight to the point in the first sentence of his preface: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.”...NY'er
Aw... But he was such a nice guy! A Christian!
Was he, as so many allege, the worst president? Not so much. Unless you think 9/11 was a real booboo on the part of a boy-man who seems to have been unable to deal with taking responsibility.
Smith points out that Bush attended no meetings of the National Security Council in the seven months prior to September 11, 2001. In her reports on these gatherings, Condoleezza Rice—Bush’s national-security adviser, workout partner, and something of an alter ego—tended to synthesize disagreements among the participants, leaving Bush with a false feeling of consensus....NY'er
See? It wasn't really the President's fault. Except maybe it was. The image many of us can't forget is the frozen puzzlement on his face when informed about the planes and the towers.This biographer comes up with an interesting perception:
...History doesn’t supply psychology, and perspective is not the same as perspicacity. Smith quotes, without disagreement, Barack Obama’s courteous but manifestly untrue remark that Bush is “comfortable in his own skin.” Those who observed the President’s sudden shifts from the guy “you wanted to have a beer with” to stinging scold have realized that they were experiencing not so much changes in mood as moment-by-moment veerings between different selves, each authentic but neither integrated to any normal extent with the other. Bush’s fanatical insistence on punctuality and his ever more exacting physical-fitness routines seem less a matter of self-discipline than of self-control, which is something different and more desperate. His habitually early bedtime may have derived from how exhausting he found it to be himself. ...NY'er
And finally this lovely take on the painter in retirement who apparently has no plans (or maybe an invitation) t0 attend the GOP convention.
Bush will perhaps be at his Crawford ranch, maybe even painting one of his odd, Hockneyesque canvases. They glow not with faraway fires or any particular certitude, just a sort of opaque serenity, something that may at last have descended on a man no longer obligated to see past the fence. ...NY'er