Friday, December 3, 2010

Points in History

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
“Decision Points” is former President George W. Bush memoir surrounding one of the most turbulent periods of American History. His presidency endured 9/11, two wars, and ended during an economic meltdown. As with any presidency during turbulent times, many of his decisions were questioned and criticized.
“Decision Points” is an attempt to get beyond the soundbites that satisfy the Television World’s attention span, and he details how his background, knowledge, friends and associates shaped his decisions. Rather than doing a chronological account of his presidency, he breaks the memoir up around pivotal issues he faced serving his term to allow for a clear extraction of incidents and anecdotes that lead to his decision.
While avid Bush supporters are sure to desire this read, critics will have plenty of interest in what Bush has to say. Some incidents, like his decision on stem cell research, or to go to war with Iraq will remain controversial after reading this. However, there is an opportunity for understanding why he made these decisions. Rather from shooting from the hip, as it appeared, Bush weighed every opinion regarding using stem cells.
Eventually, he decided to compromise and allow the current stem cells to be used, but after that, to allow research find another way to get these cells. As the current administration has learned, compromise only makes both sides angry.
One issue that takes up a bulk of the book, as it should, is the war in Iraq. Bush recalls the unilateral call to deal with Iraq after Afghanistan. He stated in a debate in 1999, in opposition to Gore, that nation building should not be a priority of our foreign policy. He admits that during the Afghan War, his opinion had switched upon seeing the liberated people rejoice and stand in line for their first free election. According to Bush, 80% of registered voters showed up to the poles facing threats from extremists.
While Iraq and Afghanistan were completely different situations, it’s apparent that Bush had the same vision for a free Iraq. This war began, Bush assures, after several sanctions Hussein failed to abide by, and using UN money intended to feed his people to build weapons. Whether one agrees with him or not, he lays out his thoughts, feelings, and knowledge of the issue so that skeptics can at least see it was a very difficult decision, and a great deal of reason was applied to the decision process. At the beginning of the book, Bush admits that time will tell with some of these decisions.
Decision Points is a forum where Bush uses Abe Lincoln’s advice to convince readers they’re his friends to make allies. His anecdotes are sensitive, funny, and told with colorful language at times. His writing is enjoyable, even when the reader doesn’t see eye to eye with all of his decisions. What he does achieve, though, is he paints himself as a compassionate, fiery, and caring person who spent a great deal of his time weighing the hefty consequences of his decisions. This book could well serve as a great document of our nation’s history beside the writings of Kennedy and Clinton. Recommended for righties and lefties!
Photo caption: Book cover for Decision Points by George W. Bush (Courtesy photo)