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Deconstructing Dubya
December 25, 2010 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Bush's memoir, Decision Points, gets a Foucauldian analysis in the London Review of Books. Awesome quote: "On his first trip to Paris in 2002, Junior, now president of the United States, stood beside Jacques Chirac at a press conference and said: ‘He’s always saying that the food here is fantastic and I’m going to give him a chance to show me tonight.’"(Book mentioned previously.)
posted by GrammarMoses (91 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
You have to wonder about a review that gets a basic fact wrong in the first sentence. He is not a Junior.
posted by gjc at 7:27 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


gjc, what? He is very commonly called "George Bush Junior" because of sharing the name George with his father, as putting the name that way into any search engine will verify.
posted by localroger at 7:32 AM on December 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


oh, he is very much a junior
posted by kitchenrat at 7:32 AM on December 25, 2010 [19 favorites]


Actually that's a pretty good line re: the food. Also he is not a Junior. His name is a subset of his father's, not a copy. Rather than deride him for misstatements and bad timing of his humor why not just stay focused on the torture, the wars and the disastrous Econ policy.
posted by humanfont at 7:33 AM on December 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


Every possible aspect of this book's production is fraudulent.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:34 AM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


worst. junior. ever.
posted by kitchenrat at 7:35 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reading honest descriptions of George W. Bush (which pretty much requires a source outside the US) is incredibly entertaining.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:36 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow. That started out as a seriously annoying essay, and I think the whole Foucault connection was absolutely pointless - but once he let that fall by the wayside it got quite interesting. And I think there's a lot of truth to this:

Bush is not particularly racist. He never portrayed Hispanics as hordes of scary invaders; Condi was his workout buddy and virtually his second wife; he was in awe of Colin Powell; and he was most comfortable in the two most integrated sectors of American society, the military and professional sports. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about black people. Outside of his family, he didn’t care about people, and Billy Graham taught him that ‘we cannot earn God’s love through good deeds’ – only through His grace, which Bush knew he had already received.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:36 AM on December 25, 2010 [36 favorites]


People call him junior, even though he is not one.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:36 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The top two Google search hits for "George Bush Junior" are the GWB Presidential Center and his Wikipedia bio page. It would appear that lots of people, including GWB himself and his associates, think "Junior" is a fair way to refer to the man.
posted by localroger at 7:39 AM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The junior thing just seemed sloppy and spiteful. Especially when the author is complaining about a book that isn't 100% true to fact. It seems to me that it was used specifically to 'poke' Bush and pander to the haters, rather than be some kind of folksy colloquialism.

Lots of people think he is a Junior, but lots of people think Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
"Outside of his family, he didn’t care about people, and Billy Graham taught him that ‘we cannot earn God’s love through good deeds’ – only through His grace, which Bush knew he had already received."
This jumped out at me also. I don't know the contents of Bush's heart- sometimes I think he is a cold moron who buys into that 300%. But sometimes I see him as the sensitive boy, bullied into becoming a cold moron, constantly worried that people will see through the veil of macho.

But that is DEFINITELY what I see in so many of the Billy Graham "Christians". It is a truly scary and dangerous thing to teach.
posted by gjc at 7:51 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like the New Yorker review:
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 that 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.” For Bush, making decisions is an identity question: Who am I? The answer turns Presidential decisions into foregone conclusions: I am someone who believes in the dignity of life, I am the protector of the American people, I am a loyal boss, I am a good man who cares about other people, I am the calcium in the backbone. This sense of conviction made Bush a better candidate than the two Democrats he was fortunate to have as opponents in his Presidential campaigns. But real decisions, which demand the weighing of compelling contrary arguments and often present a choice between bad options, were psychologically intolerable to the Decider. They confused the identity question.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:53 AM on December 25, 2010 [21 favorites]


Bush is not particularly racist. He never portrayed Hispanics as hordes of scary invaders; Condi was his workout buddy and virtually his second wife; he was in awe of Colin Powell
Not calling GWB a racist but the old, "Some of my best friends are black" thing is past played out as a defense.

But that is DEFINITELY what I see in so many of the Billy Graham "Christians". It is a truly scary and dangerous thing to teach.

And it makes them virtually impossible to argue with. They can never be convinced that they're wrong about anything.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:56 AM on December 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


gjc: "Lots of people think he is a Junior, but lots of people think Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."

Did you just draw a parallel between justification of the Iraq War and the deaths of countless people to those who refer to George W. Bush as Junior? Impressive!
posted by gman at 7:56 AM on December 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


Mmmmmm, hating Bush. There was something I've been missing these past few years. It feels good to come back home.
posted by codacorolla at 8:02 AM on December 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


The top two Google search hits for "George Bush Junior" are the GWB Presidential Center and his Wikipedia bio page. It would appear that lots of people, including GWB himself and his associates, think "Junior" is a fair way to refer to the man.

It used to be you could search Google for [miserable failure] and George W. Bush's biography would pop up. Did that mean that GWB thought "miserable failure" was a fair way to refer to himself?
posted by grouse at 8:02 AM on December 25, 2010


It is kind of funny, because it is actually kind of comparable..

I mean, those of us in the reality based community know that calling him "Junior" is meant as a joke and as shorthand. But then, everybody knew that "weapons of mass destruction" was also actually just a joke, just shorthand. So...
posted by Chuckles at 8:04 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


People don't necessarily think he is a Junior, they just call him that, in the same way they call him Dubya, even though his name isn't W. The article certainly uses it in a dismissive way, kind of the way Molly Ivins used to refer to him as "Shrub." And that he (or "Team DP") inadvertently reveal him to be a very small man in "his own" memoir make that dismissiveness completely appropriate.
posted by localroger at 8:07 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


grouse, I don't think "miserable failure" was present in the meta tags for his own website. What a stupid argument.
posted by localroger at 8:08 AM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The story about driving his mother with a stillborn fetus and crediting his pro-life-edness to it made me, stop, reread it in disbelief, realize that he's lived a tragically clueless and traumatic life. It seems he barely comprehends the magnitude of the events in his life.
posted by hellslinger at 8:10 AM on December 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


That was brilliant.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:20 AM on December 25, 2010


grouse, I don't think "miserable failure" was present in the meta tags for his own website. What a stupid argument.

They don't appear in the meta tags for his Wikipedia page, his White House bio, his book page (for me the #1-3 hits for ["george bush jr"], and the hits for ["george bush junior"] are non-official web sites), or the George W. Bush Presidential Center, either. I would like to know which of George W. Bush's own web sites includes "junior" in a meta tag, even if it is not one of the top Google hits or the web site of the presidential center as you mentioned earlier.
posted by grouse at 8:50 AM on December 25, 2010


Occasionally, someone on Team DP will insert a lyrical phrase – the tears on the begrimed faces of the 9/11 relief workers ‘cutting a path through the soot like rivulets through a desert’
Shouldn't that be "the lacerates on the begrimed faces of the 9/11 relief workers"?
posted by Flunkie at 8:51 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mean, those of us in the reality based community know that calling him "Junior" is meant as a joke and as shorthand. But then, everybody knew that "weapons of mass destruction" was also actually just a joke, just shorthand. So...

So... what? You are the one who is associating tragic death with "a joke" and reality-based snark. There is nothing funny about any of this.

I'm not defending Bush, for god's sake. I'm just saying what I said.

It is no joke or poke or jape- there are no "Dubya" or "W" references in the rest of the piece. There is nothing that I saw as jokey in the rest of the piece.

And makes no difference either way- if he used it on purpose knowing that's not really his name, it might be worse. Purposefully getting people's names wrong to score points and needle their opponents is what the childish clowns on the Right do to keep the mod on their side.

Whether a mistake in judgment or in fact, it makes the review of the book less credible to me.
posted by gjc at 9:04 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh my God. Seriously?
posted by Pants McCracky at 9:17 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


gjc, your claim that the credibility of a very cogent review is somehow tarnished because they use a very commonly used way to refer to the man that is not 100% objectively accurate tarnishes your claim that you aren't defending him by going out of your way to find reasons to tarnish the review.

Really, this is one of the stupidest derails I've seen lately, and that is saying quite a lot. We've got a well written article by someone who went out of his way to read a long book which as the review says few people will ever manage to read all the way through, extracting the tidbits that reveal the smallness of its subject even as it is attempting to aggrandize him, and the first post and half those following are not about any of the banally evil shit he did when he had the reins of power or any of the obvious indicators of what a weak, insecure pretender he is, or any of the banally evil people who brown-nosed or manipulated him, or any of the many obvious lies pointed out, but over whether it is technically accurate to refer to someone whose first and last names are the same as his father's as "junior," as many people do anyway, just because his middle name is different.

Priorities, anybody?
posted by localroger at 9:18 AM on December 25, 2010 [42 favorites]


The New Yorker review East Manitoba links to above is great writing.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:19 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Peccata minuta gjc
posted by Omon Ra at 9:19 AM on December 25, 2010


And makes no difference either way- if he used it on purpose knowing that's not really his name, it might be worse. Purposefully getting people's names wrong to score points and needle their opponents is what the childish clowns on the Right do to keep the mod on their side.
We're talking about a President who delighted in creating put-down nicknames for everyone he encountered. A writer archly referring to him as 'Junior' in a book review strikes me as one of the mildest attacks ever witnessed.
posted by verb at 9:30 AM on December 25, 2010 [17 favorites]


The neighborhood kids like to beat on a dead horse out in a field. His name was "Junior".
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 AM on December 25, 2010


I just call him "that asshole."
posted by spitbull at 9:38 AM on December 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Sad to realize that if this review gets discussed in any substantive way, it won't be on Metafilter.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:43 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Critical theory pedantry: Foucault and deconstruction don't really have anything to do with one another.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:43 AM on December 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


KokoRyu is right -- East Manitoba's New Yorker review link is very good, in some ways better than the OP.
posted by localroger at 9:48 AM on December 25, 2010


They can never be convinced that they're wrong anout anything.

That'd be the bush era all over. Amazing that you people want to go back to that.
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on December 25, 2010


Mmmmmm, hating Bush. There was something I've been missing these past few years. It feels good to come back home.

it's a Christmas miracle!
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on December 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


in the totality of george w. bush and his impact on the good ol us of a, whether or not he's a junior is just a waste of time. who gives a shit.
posted by andywolf at 10:30 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


gjc, what? He is very commonly called "George Bush Junior" because of sharing the name George with his father, as putting the name that way into any search engine will verify.

localroger, what? You can't verify information by doing a Google search that leads to good results and assume that whatever you typed into Google is correct! That is just not how Google works. Yeah, the Wikipedia entry comes up in the results ... but it never uses the word "Junior" or "Jr." Same with the White House bio.

He isn't actually named George W. (Walker) Bush, Junior. He is sometimes referred to that way. He's also often called Dubya, but that's not his real name. He and his father do not have the same name, so "Junior" is not appropriate.
posted by John Cohen at 10:38 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dammit, Santa, the only thing I asked for was no pointless derails on Christmas day. Just bring on the coal and switches now, you old bastard.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:48 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


He is sometimes referred to that way.

Thank you for making my point. He is in fact sometimes referred to that way, even though it is technically incorrect, and therefore referring to him that way shouldn't be the one thing you pull out of an entire review to pummel the author.

Nobody is claiming that he is, in fact, a junior, or that doing so is correct. What we are saying is that when you say "George Bush Junior" everyone knows who you're talking about with no ambiguity, because it's a very common usage.

In the article itself, the reason for this particular appelation becomes clear further in, when the author refers to "Mom" and "Dad" in a similar style to refer to Barbara and George the Smarter respectively. It is consistent with the tone of the article, which is dismissive precisely because it wants to reflect the shallowness it perceives in the work at hand.
posted by localroger at 10:52 AM on December 25, 2010


The review is strongest when it assess the stylistic blindness of the book itself: the emphasis on scene-chewing "Decider Moments;" the disconnect between statements Bush made in the past ("I went to China to date Chinese girls" vs "I went to China to learn about X..."); the intense lack of introspection or reflection about important and controversial decisions that pitted different ideals against each other; and the paint-by-numbers, paper-thin summaries of every other public figure appearing in the book.

These are all fascinating, and they provide ample fodder for armchair psychologizing. My only concern is that the cheap shot at Billy Graham style "four spiritual laws" conversions misses the point. Bush's brand of Christianity didn't give him permission not to care about others. It gave him a way to treat his political ideology as his way of caring. It's a subtle distinction, but it's a very important one -- especially for a passage so central to the writer's evisceration of Bush's legacy.
posted by verb at 10:53 AM on December 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


The level of discourse about Bush on metafilter has now arrived at the point at which the only thing worth discussing about him or his legacy is whether he should or should not properly be called "Junior," which is fitting, because that's the way the member of a royal family likes discussions about him to proceed -- it's all about honorifics, nothing else.
posted by blucevalo at 10:58 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh for god's sake. "Junior" is a figure of speech. The rest of this article is tremendously clever.

Except for that one recurring issue which drives me round the bend: how difficult is it to refer to a former Secretary of State by her full name, even once, before bringing on the diminutive? Half the time we find women in public positions referred to by their first names, which is bad enough, but hearing another sentence like "I've spoken with Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, and Condi" is seriously problematic and the fact that nobody seems to notice is even more so.
posted by jokeefe at 10:59 AM on December 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


That started out as a seriously annoying essay, and I think the whole Foucault connection was absolutely pointless

No, it's perfect. Because this isn't a review of Bush's presidency as such, it's a review of a book about that presidency, not written by Bush; it's about an absent subject and written by an absent subject, the conditions of its production a sort-of masked group of editors and advisors who, as he points out, probably cut and pasted large amounts of it from other sources. It's a fantasy, written by a committee, about the fantasy version of history. Foucault is absolutely appropriate-- if you haven't read The Death of the Author, it's the article that most informs this piece.
posted by jokeefe at 11:04 AM on December 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Half the time we find women in public positions referred to by their first names, which is bad enough, but hearing another sentence like "I've spoken with Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, and Condi" is seriously problematic and the fact that nobody seems to notice is even more so.

Fair. How about The Colon, Little Dick, Condi, and Junior.
posted by straight_razor at 11:07 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


That started out as a seriously annoying essay, and I think the whole Foucault connection was absolutely pointless

No, it's perfect. Because this isn't a review of Bush's presidency as such, it's a review of a book about that presidency, not written by Bush


Absolutely agree. The review follows the Foucalt connection throughout the entire thing. My favorite part:

"As a postmodern text, many passages in the book are pastiches of moments from other books, including scenes that Bush himself did not witness. These are taken from the memoirs of members of the Bush administration and journalistic accounts such as Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack and Bush at War. To complete the cycle of postmodernity, there are bits of dialogue lifted from Woodward, who is notorious for inventing dialogue."

posted by Think_Long at 11:11 AM on December 25, 2010


"Team DP" made me laugh out loud.
posted by bpm140 at 11:23 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Didn't his dad call him junior?

Maybe I'm mixing him up with Indiana Jones.
posted by empath at 11:25 AM on December 25, 2010


This entire discussion is pointless, as is the article. Levelling a criticism of a modern president that attempts to illustrate his anti-intellectualism by a comparison to an intellectual like Foucault is about as effective as Billy Bean trying to argue statistics with baseball scouts. Bush appeals to his 51% precisely BECAUSE he has no clue about France.
posted by spicynuts at 11:44 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can laugh at idiocy without a political purpose.
posted by empath at 12:06 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't want to read or hear anything that this horseshit excuse for a cowboy said or did. His "thoughts" and "reactions" have nothing to do with reality or America.

I want to know how he did what he did, who put him in power and how, and what it will take to keep the next ignorant SOB from driving the bus into the ditch. Because one more like that and - and if we aren't already - we're screwed.
posted by Twang at 12:19 PM on December 25, 2010


This entire discussion is pointless, as is the article.

Yet here you are.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:34 PM on December 25, 2010


Indeed.
posted by jokeefe at 12:53 PM on December 25, 2010


Levelling a criticism of a modern president that attempts to illustrate his anti-intellectualism by a comparison to an intellectual like Foucault is about as effective as Billy Bean trying to argue statistics with baseball scouts.

It's not his anti-intellectualism that's being criticized; it's his non reality-based conception of himself as a leader when his presidency was a nearly unparalleled disaster on all counts. Bush's staggering lack of self-knowledge or depth is what's at issue here, I think. As are the dire consequences for millions.
posted by jokeefe at 12:55 PM on December 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yet here you are.


Oh burn.
posted by spicynuts at 1:09 PM on December 25, 2010


Foucault is absolutely appropriate-- if you haven't read The Death of the Author, it's the article that most informs this piece.

Oh yay me. The Death of the Author is Barthes. Foucault is What is an Author? Consider my head appropriately bonked on my desk, and myself appropriately embarrassed.
posted by jokeefe at 1:44 PM on December 25, 2010


No, it's perfect. Because this isn't a review of Bush's presidency as such, it's a review of a book about that presidency, not written by Bush; it's about an absent subject and written by an absent subject, the conditions of its production a sort-of masked group of editors and advisors who, as he points out, probably cut and pasted large amounts of it from other sources. It's a fantasy, written by a committee, about the fantasy version of history. Foucault is absolutely appropriate-- if you haven't read The Death of the Author, it's the article that most informs this piece.

with US politics increasingly dominated by the "news cycle," it's a shame he didn't push farther into the over-reaching narratives of the Bush presidency: US politics is now largely driven by story-telling. this essay focused largely on the "commander codpiece" or "decider" character played by W. I always enjoyed "the man you want to have a beer with" character:

a) what does it mean to say you want to have a beer with a teetotaling alcoholic?

b) a cursory examination of Bush's drinking years yields you the realization that even if he were drinking, he's exactly the sort of person you don't want to have a beer with:

1) he's an alcoholic
2) he insulting and turns into a prick when drunk
3) he can't keep his hands to himself
4) he's a rich blueblood from new england * do they even drink beer?


So, what does it mean when suddenly everyone is telling a story "Bush is the guy you would want to sit down and have a beer with" that is transparently 90 degrees from reality. does that prepare you to tell other stories that are perpendicular to the truth? and now of course, as a result of that story, you have Obama responding to a political crisis by sitting down and having a beer with a cop on national tv. what starts out of a false narrative spun in the middle of a political campaign becomes an actual event. what is fiction must be treated literally.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:46 PM on December 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


"‘Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?’"

I thought her implying that sleeping on the floor of the Astro Dome was an improvement for those who lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina was the most horrendous slurry of dim-witted and cruel drivel to gush from Barbara Bush's pie-hole. Apparently, I was wrong.
posted by fartknocker at 1:52 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought her implying that sleeping on the floor of the Astro Dome was an improvement for those who lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina was the most horrendous slurry of dim-witted and cruel drivel to gush from Barbara Bush's pie-hole. Apparently, I was wrong.

Bar's problem is that she says exactly what people in her social milieu think and it's not pretty.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:57 PM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


fartknocker: ""I thought her implying that sleeping on the floor of the Astro Dome was an improvement for those who lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina was the most horrendous slurry of dim-witted and cruel drivel to gush from Barbara Bush's pie-hole. Apparently, I was wrong"

She tried to make up for those remarks with a donation to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund - but with a twist!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:57 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every time I think I've experienced every reason to hate Bush, something else comes along.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:27 PM on December 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


‘we cannot earn God’s love through good deeds’ – only through His grace

Yeah, well, most Protestants would believe it, see theology of Justification. Nothing particularly exceptional about Bush here, other than he is better informed about his religions theology than many practicing Christians. But it's a long way from the theology of Justification to the idea that "Bush doesn't care about people". Maybe that's true, but the theology of Justification is hardly proof of anything, unless someone is an anti-Protestant polemicist (and there are some of those around, still).
posted by stbalbach at 3:41 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


A ghost-written autobiography of the Bush years attempts to rewrite history and leaves so much out.

Much more accurate is simply listing names and phrases that sprung from W.'s eight years in office.

These lists were compiled by award-winning ad exec Rich Silverstein: "Here is my thinking. What if we could TiVo the last six-plus years and play them back - without comment -- for the American people, and let them connect the dots?"
The Bush Years -- Events, Slogans and People.
Previous FPP.
posted by ericb at 5:04 PM on December 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oops.

Correct hyperlink for 'Slogans.'
posted by ericb at 5:06 PM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


so "Junior" is not appropriate.

Stupidest. Derail. Ever.
posted by Malor at 5:11 PM on December 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


I think Georgie should have left well enough alone and just penned a book titled: "My Pet Goat. The Sequel. Seven Minutes of Silence."
posted by ericb at 5:12 PM on December 25, 2010


He is sometimes referred to that way. ... Thank you for making my point. He is in fact sometimes referred to that way, even though it is technically incorrect ...

Exactly ... just as Karl Rove is not technically in real life a 'Turd Blossom,' nor a 'Boy Genius' even though W. liked to call him those names!
posted by ericb at 5:23 PM on December 25, 2010


You don't have to assume any deep philosophical or theological knowledge or reasoning by GWB or even assume he has any knowledge of Christianity to understand his viewpoint.

Basically he believes that the world reflects God's will and that God chose him to be president and God guides his decisions and thus his decisions are God's will.

This is one of the most primitive theological concepts and has been claimed by most rulers since antiquity until fairly recent times - a King is the King by God's will and any opposition to a King is opposition to God. This position is quite useful even if the ruler doesn't personally believe it but I think GWB actually does.

I don't think GWB's personal theology has ever tried to resolve the issue of how God is Good yet Evil exists in the world. Maybe he thinks that God willed the 9/11 attacks so that he personally could lead the triumph of Good over Evil as a demonstration of God's power. All of his discourse on US-Muslim relations seem to be couched in terms of "we are Good and they are Evil and they hate us because we are Good".

With this sort of attitude, it is not his job to care about other people. Their fate depends upon how much God likes them and whether God chooses to punish them or reward them.

None of this attitude depends upon whether GWB worships the Christian God or Moloch.

I wouldn't be surprised if GWB doesn't also believe in Prosperity Theology - that God rewards those he favors with wealth and that being wealthy is a sign of being favored by God.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 5:41 PM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


What a stunningly good example of modern political discourse! If you don't like where the discussion is headed, latch on to a relatively minor factoid to "debate" and put all your effort into steering the dicussion towards that. Now instead of a review of Junior's bio we have a 60 post thread mostly dedicated to a nickname. It's like a microcosm of cable news.

Bravo!
posted by Silentgoldfish at 6:30 PM on December 25, 2010 [15 favorites]


Of course the book is a fiction. If this guy faced reality, he'd go screaming insane like some H.P. Lovecraft hero.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:56 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


For all its interesting points, the review's general snideness troubled me on first reading, to the extent that it made me wonder if it was substituting glibness for accuracy. In fact, one passage seemed so gratuitous, it actually drove me to Snopes:
When Junior decides to run for governor, Mother’s reaction is simply: ‘George, you can’t win.’ Not cited is Mother’s indelible comment on the Iraq War: ‘Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?’
And sure enough, the Snopes page on the matter puts the quote in its proper context: in an interview before the war started, she was criticizing the guesses and suppositions that the media was making, assuming it to be mostly inaccurate.

However, the author of the review is having too much fun ridiculing Bush before a safe audience to bother avoiding distortions. It's the kind of partisan sloppiness that renders his whole review untrustworthy.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:01 PM on December 25, 2010


Barbara Bush's statement was execrable whatever the context. Regardless, it proves nothing about the review's trustworthiness.
posted by blucevalo at 9:31 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where the debate was headed? LOL what debate. The reviewer let their hatred of Bush get in the way of their assignment. Instead they decide to spend their time recounting Bush's gaffes and hurling insults. Bush was a terrible president, decision points is an awful book.
posted by humanfont at 9:36 PM on December 25, 2010


When confronted with a thread about those years, am I the only person here that gets worked up, types a snarky comment or caustic paragraph, but then erases it when the sadness set in?
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 9:43 PM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The reviewer let their hatred of Bush get in the way of their assignment.

So, what's the assignment? To indicate the somewhat opaque nature of the authorship? To say something about the style in which the book's written? To comment on Bush's evaluation of his own tenure, and to agree or disagree with this assessment on the basis of what Bush and his advisors chose to include or exclude? I thought all of this was handled pretty effectively.

A book review is an opinion piece, not a peer-reviewed article.
posted by Wolof at 9:52 PM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


What a stunningly good example of modern political discourse! If you don't like where the discussion is headed, latch on to a relatively minor factoid to "debate" and put all your effort into steering the dicussion towards that. Now instead of a review of Junior's bio we have a 60 post thread mostly dedicated to a nickname. It's like a microcosm of cable news.

Bravo!


I wish I was clever enough to have done that on purpose.

However, the author of the review is having too much fun ridiculing Bush before a safe audience to bother avoiding distortions. It's the kind of partisan sloppiness that renders his whole review untrustworthy.

Thank you, you said it better than I did. Bad review of a bad book by a bad president.
posted by gjc at 10:34 PM on December 25, 2010


FYI, The Economist always refers to him as Bush Junior. I think they are still annoyed that Junior's gang tubed the global economy, never mind the wars. So maybe this is the fashion among the blithering Oxbridge types?

Do we get an entry in the fastest derail hall of fame?
posted by warbaby at 7:57 AM on December 26, 2010


And sure enough, the Snopes page on the matter puts the quote in its proper context: in an interview before the war started, she was criticizing the guesses and suppositions that the media was making, assuming it to be mostly inaccurate.

Dear god, does that make it any better in Antibes mind?
posted by Artw at 8:05 AM on December 26, 2010


Moreover, Junior’s general ignorance of all things, except for professional sports, naturally extended to the nation known as France.
Bush is ignorant of France because he made a smartassed comment involving the food?

Weinberger's writing is atrocious.  Several of his sentences span whole paragraphs.  He tortures the reader with endless sub-clauses and qualifies his qualifiers with parenthesis.  He fills the review with lists of programs and people omitted like some undergrad trying to get an extra page in an essay or dazzle some professor with purple prose to cover up the fact that the reading assignment was unread.

He then profiles GWB's personality from a far like Bill Frist diagnosing Terry Shiavo from the well of the Senate.  Weinberger simply restates his long held view of "junior" the: 
A pup in a valley of alpha males, inadequate compared to Dad, humiliated by Mother, he classically became a bully to compensate: an ass-brander, noted for what he calls verbal ‘needling’; a boss who cussed out his subordinates and invented demeaning nicknames for everyone around him; a president who taunted terrorists, most of them imaginary, and challenged them to ‘bring it on’...
He diagnosis the psychology from urban legends and statements taken out of context.   He wants to present Bush as the unreliable narrator of DP, but Weinberger becomes the unreliable reviewer.   Also "pups in the valley" is this a Thomas Friedman piece?  Pups in a pack, pups in a kennel, or a cage, but valley WTF? 

Wasn't the bring it on cowboy/  decider just a persona created for a Presidential run?  The real George Bush is out there but we won't find it in the pages of the memoirs or reviews.  

The reviewer ends up telling us little about the book other than what one might have surmised reading other reviews.  His commentary on the personality and drivers of Bush the man seems taken from the Oliver Stone movie.  
In conclusion Weinberger, the lazy student wrote the review from the media guide and his notes from the movie W.  I suppose that's what passes for scholarship in the humanities these days, but from an academic of his stature reviewing for the LRB I had higher expectations.
posted by humanfont at 11:57 AM on December 26, 2010


In conclusion Weinberger, the lazy student wrote the review from the media guide and his notes from the movie W. I suppose that's what passes for scholarship in the humanities these days, but from an academic of his stature reviewing for the LRB I had higher expectations.

I think part of the point is that there is no there, there: the lack of substance in the book, which is a tissue of lies and half-truths, excludes it from a serious review. How can you give genuine consideration to something which barely exists, in terms of a historical document? The book is nothing but a monument to Bush's astonishing vanity, and it has received the review it deserved, no more and no less.

The real George Bush is out there but we won't find it in the pages of the memoirs or reviews.

But this is exactly the point-- the size of the gap between the facts of Bush's life and the self-aggrandizing manufactured persona on exhibit in this book.
posted by jokeefe at 12:26 PM on December 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


By always using other people's money, Junior, as W. was called then, managed in ten years to become a millionaire. -- The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, Kitty Kelley, p. 422

Stupidest. Derail. Ever. Indeed.
posted by dhartung at 12:35 PM on December 26, 2010


Here's the page and excerpt from Kelley's book.

Indeed. Stupidest Out-of-the Gate Derail Ever.

Nice job gjc (i.e. Geroge Junior Confused).
posted by ericb at 12:43 PM on December 26, 2010


*George Junior Confused*
posted by ericb at 12:45 PM on December 26, 2010


That's Metafilters worst aspect right there: Stupid people who think they are smart falling over each other to carry out a dumbass teardown.
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on December 26, 2010



The reviewer ends up telling us little about the book other than what one might have surmised reading other reviews. His commentary on the personality and drivers of Bush the man seems taken from the Oliver Stone movie.

In conclusion Weinberger, the lazy student wrote the review from the media guide and his notes from the movie W.


Surmised, seems, in conclusion. Fine chain of argument there.
posted by Wolof at 7:51 PM on December 26, 2010


It would have been a great review to examine the changing persona of George W. Bush vs the Decision Points book. The alcoholic wildcat oilman, serial entrepreneur, with political connections, Yale Legacy, a Harvard MBA and a DUI finally striking it rich in baseball. The transformation to a baseball loving born again Christian living the gospel of success. The popular centrist governing Texas riding education reform, faith based initiatives and compassionate conservativism to office. Appearing intelligent and articulate in debates with Ann Richards. Winning the primaries, sounding dazed and confused, stumbling at the end but getting lucky in Florida and Bush vs. Gore. Then the role of old western sherrif all swagger and six guns as he takes on terrorist and Saddam in a post 9-11 world. And now the final act, the resolute intellectual. The man who obsessed over details, held a book club at the White House where they read Albert Camus, left his ranch in Crawford for Dallas and a gated 'burb clave. Hiro Protaganist at this moment is headed to his house providing a piping hot pizza in 30 minutes or less in keeping with his employer's personal guarantee. The legacy of his administration having left thismone of the few low skilled jobs left that offer a decent living provided you have a relaible car.
posted by humanfont at 8:14 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


humanfont, perhaps you are a frustrated screenwriter? Because the alternative is that you are sincerely a fan of Bush's, which I find hard to comprehend.
posted by jokeefe at 9:15 PM on December 26, 2010


humanfont, perhaps you are a frustrated screenwriter? Because the alternative is that you are sincerely a fan of Bush's, which I find hard to comprehend.

What gives you this idea? I think that the review cited in the fpp was poorly sourced, poorly written, poorly argued, full of red meat for a liberal audience, but short on substance. Furthermore the use of Junior in a diminutive and insulting tone establishes Weinberger as a partisan rather than a scholar. I don't rise to support the former President, but rather to look critically at the piece we are presented with and comment. Why should I celebrate when my fellow liberals sink to stupidity and substitute dogma for critical thinking and allow our criticisms to descend into insults. We don't need Kitty Kelly's backbiting gossip and poison pen to critique Mr. Bush's presidency or "decision points". We have economic and military disasters and Katrina. You don't need to delve into his Texas ANG career, his father's crash in WWII, or the Yale years. We have the failure to heed warnings prior to 9-11, loss of focus after the initial success in Afghanistan, a lack of planning prior to Iraq, etc. The only lesson in DP is that Bush doesn't even see these as failures.
posted by humanfont at 9:52 PM on December 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


...a Connecticut blueblood who pretended to be a Texas cowboy, though he couldn’t ride a horse and lived on a ‘ranch’ with no cattle. He was, and is, happiest when surrounded by professionals in the three areas in which he was a notable failure: athletics, the military and business.

I don't know why, but everything about this description of Bush makes me smile.
posted by quin at 9:06 AM on December 27, 2010


Huh, the pedants are really crawling out of the woodwork today.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:12 AM on December 27, 2010


‘Damn right,’ I said, by Eliot Weinberger for the London Review of Books.
posted by scalefree at 7:02 AM on December 29, 2010


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