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Honesty in Reverse:

Decision Points
by George Bush
Crown
$35.00

BooksDuring the second week of November, I found myself on a road trip with my mom to North Carolina. Our purpose was to handle some legal business concerning a certain negligent home inspector, but our goal was to somehow have fun along the way. Since my mom refuses to let anyone drive her precious SUV, I was not only stuck for over 12 hours as a passenger but trapped yielding to the whims of the pilot. This meant downloading an audio book on my iPod. Mom had been dying to hear George Bush‘s new memoir, “Decision Points.”

“Or I could get a copy of the Sunday comics and bring a pink highlighter in case I stumble across a meaningful segment in ‘Beatle Baily!’” I quipped. Mom wasn’t amused.

As neither a Democrat nor a Republican, I really don’t have a good reason to back up my original hesitation to invest time in Bush’s memoir. I’ve always refused to be lumped in with any party and have preferred to support the issues rather than the undertow otherwise known as our two-party system. Given my impartial viewpoints, it ultimately made sense I dive into the think tank that is “Dubyah.”

“Decision Points” is an autobiography parallel to many things concerning the political, the personal, as well as marking one of the few times our former president has commented publicly since leaving the Oval Office. It successfully encapsulates the most substantial decisions of George Bush’s life: to give up drinking, his decisive action to overthrow Saddam Hussein after 9/11, his reasons for being against stem-cell research, water boarding and finally thoughts regarding Katrina and 2008’s financial crisis. To my pleasant surprise, Mr. Bush’s memoir is part formal apology, part admission of faults, part justification and part family portrait. Truly, it evokes a feeling unfamiliar of any other book of its genre and conjures a sense of perception very much needed by the American public he once served.

The prose in “Decision Points” follows the idea that value is measured in terms of usefulness. Unlike many who anticipated more idiotic Bush-isms, instead, I found his use of language and tone blunt and reminiscent of the seriousness of his time in office. His literary mood throughout was unwavering much like the ideals and hard conclusions he chose.

The Bush who emerges off the pages is undoubtedly a Commander in Chief unfamiliar to readers and voters alike. Without being insulting, this fact suggests the American public will be shocked and awed to hear that he not only wrote a book but a good one, too. It begs the question: Did Mr. Bush write the memoir entirely on his own?

Unsurprisingly, no.

According to “The Daily Beast,” Christopher Michel, a 28-year-old former White House speechwriter, helped Bush. Cited from “The Daily Beast,” during a phone interview in Dallas, Michel was entrenched into the manuscript, and said, “The president is working on it pretty much constantly, and that means that I am, too.”

This isn’t a bad thing. Both Bill Clinton and Al Gore used ghost writer Will North for their books. Ghost writers have frequently haunted the memoir scene (I also have a great ghost writer for my own memoir and find her worth her salt). Though it is a bit of a disappointment, since the stigma attached to ghost writers for presidential pieces is: It’s just another way to save their legacy’s face. Sad but true.

Speaking of the attempt to perfect that which is ill-fated, “Decision Points” is a hideous reminder that sometimes government is the unfortunate juxtaposition of personalities within an administration that directly affects policies around our world. “Decision Points” lacks the emotional power to prompt vivid memories of things from Mr. Bush’s past, contrary to what readers find within the former first lady’s memoir, “Spoken From the Heart.” While every memoir threads evasions, an antidote to this problem would have been for Bush to convey more of his personal feelings. Though he admits fault, he would have evoked a deeper understanding toward what shaped his decisions. Further, if I could ask Mr. Bush anything it would be: Of all the confessions given within, why is the comment from celebrity Kanye West categorized as the “worst moment” of your presidency? This confession not only minimizes the seriousness of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, but places him back into the same detached light before the debut of this memoir. Not that I‘m an expert, but I’d take a dumb declaration over multitudes of mortality any day of the week—and twice on Sunday.

In the end, George W. Bush solidifes himself a man who plays a part in defining the 21st century. According to The New Yorker, Bush once told an elementary-school class in Crawford, Texas:

“Is it hard to make decisions as president? Not really. If you know what you believe, decisions come pretty easy. If you’re one of these types of people who are always trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing, decision-making can be difficult. But I find that I know who I am. I know what I believe in.” Herein is what “Decision Points” builds itself upon.

As Mom and I reached our destination and Bush’s memoir came to an end, I found myself prompted to ask: What do I believe in? I believe Bush’s autobiography provides some insight into a shaky start to the millennium. While my husband currently does his part to protect our country overseas, and while we constantly remember our loved ones who perished, I want to believe Mr. Bush’s intentions and words are sincere and that he honestly tried to do what he believed was right as president. As a military wife subjected to the thick of it all, I’d be digging myself into a depression if I believed otherwise.

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