Framing the Dialogue

Decision Points

If you love George W. Bush you’ll still love him; If you hate him you’ll still hate him; If you are like me and fit neither extreme you probably won’t be moved from that position either.  One thing that he is most proud of was that under his watch we were not attacked after 9/11.  I appreciated the speed with which the government moved into “protect” mode after those attacks.  Did they go too far with the Patriot Act…probably.

In my mind Decision Points is the talking points and arguments that President Bush should have been making while we were going through those times.  He maintains that his goal was to protect and serve and not get into defensive arguments with political adversaries and the media.  As someone who supported most of what he did I felt abandoned when he chose not to fight back.  In Decision Points he fights back;

“Voters don’t want a leader who flails in anger and coarsens the tone of the debate.”

“Then McCain ran an ad questioning my character by comparing me to Bill Clinton.  That crossed a line.”

“they tried to paint him [Sam Alito] as a racist, a radical, a bigot, anything they could think of – all based on zero evidence.  I was disgusted with the demagoguery.”

“I came to see massive injustice in the system…In my final weeks in office, I resolved that I would not pardon anyone who went outside the formal channels.”

“Partisan opponents and commentators questioned my legitimacy, my intelligence, and my sincerity.  They mocked my appearance, my accent, and my religious beliefs.  I was labeled a Nazi, a war criminal, and Satan himself…One lawmaker called me both a loser and a liar.  He became majority leader of the U.W. Senate.”

“Democrats held up the legislation by insisting that the new department grant its employees extensive collective bargaining rights that did not apply in any other government agency.  I was frustrated that Democrats would delay an urgent security measure to placate labor unions.”

“We took time to look at it [pending legislation], we took time to read it, and we took time to remove those parts that were unconstitutional and those parts that would have actually hurt liberties of all Americans.”

“Whether presidents like them or not, the Court’s decisions are the law of the land.”

“When al Qaeda blew up the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen,  America mounted almost no response at all.”

“The reporters of my generation tend to see everything through the prism of Watergate or Vietnam.  Still, I was amazed the Time [New York Times] couldn’t wait even a month to tag Afghanistan with the Vietnam label.”

“No democracy [Pakistan] can tolerate violations of its sovereignty.”  [Unfortunately President Bush did not heed his own words in NOT dealing with illegal immigration]

“Some members of Congress would later claim they were not voting to authorize war [with Iraq] but only to continue diplomacy.  They must not have read the resolution.  Its language was unmistakable.”

One of my favorite photographs. Notice the book he is displaying to the media.

You’ll learn a lot about George W. Bush, where he came from, his bumps in the road, his successes, and his failures.  Like most of us his youth had its share of indiscretions he just had more resources at his disposal and a bigger playground.  My wife asked me if she would like this book.  I struggled with the answer as President Bush’s love for his wife and family is inspiring, but I didn’t think she’d like the political aspects which dominate the book.

Two passages really sum up his time in office for me. 

One good or at least accurate…

“I had outlined the threats posed by Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.  ‘States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute and axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world,’ I said.  The media seized on the phrase ‘axis of evil.” [Only one of the three “evils” is not causing major problems in the world]

One bad at least in my mind…

If we’re really looking at another Great Depression, you can be damn sure I’m going to be Roosevelt, not Hoover.” [I would have wished for Reagan]

One thing that I noticed when writing this was that I could not call him “Bush” as I would with Clinton or Obama.  I typed “Bush” several times on to go back and change it.  I have too much respect for the man and the office he held for eight years.  He was and is Presidential.

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