I know it's been a while. Life and such. On George W. Bush's book, Decision Points:
If you can make it through 3/4 of this book, you will have a new understanding of the political mind, and you’ll have done awfully well considering how boring the last two chapters are. No one can really make it through a whole chapter on the Freedom Agenda or the financial crisis. I would suggest trying to read as much as possible (or at least not discourage it). It’s not a book you just sit down and enjoy reading. In fact, it took me more than two months to get through the whole thing. It’s not written in a way that I could grab a venti and lose myself all afternoon. Nevertheless, read it. You just might gain a new understanding of the mind of W.
I think we all know W used to drink, and I believe it’s possible W was never an alcoholic. On some level it’s plausible that W acted foolishly when he drank but never drank excessively or alone. Having rather ineloquently over-explained myself, it’s refreshing to read a memoir that begins with overcoming a life struggle and building forward instead of reading through a tragic downward spiral and whiny outcome. Life is not Oprah. At the same time, understand exactly what this personal chapter is doing at the beginning of this book – it makes us see W the person and not W the Commander in Chief. Bravo to whomever came up with this structure. By separating the chronological events of this book into smaller, more easily digestible chapters (not minimizing the Iraq situation here, but it is only one chapter), the reader is allowed the opportunity to see stem cells as different from Afghanistan or education reform. W’s struggle to give up alcohol is given its own place, not to be confused with the magnitude of world events, but to show us that personal character oftentimes involves great failure.
Probably one of the most practical and troublesome ideas comes out of this chapter: W was ‘concerned’ about the country, but uses the words “even if I lost…”
Even if I lost? I am sure that losing an election crosses one’s mind, but I am hungry for a candidate so passionate that he or she won’t lose. Even when we knew Hilary Clinton wouldn’t be president, her vigor was intact. She still encouraged voters to head to the polls. Her appearance did not waiver (and, c’mon, she continued to wear those presidential pant suits). Even bowing to a lower position as our Head of State – albeit maybe not a lesser position – her composure remained; she wanted to fight the fight any way possible.
W just wanted to be president and it’s not a title that’s all cream puffs and daisies.
I’m not sure that I ever understood education reform or really ever wanted to understand it. I sat quietly through my high school years, taking the obligatory tests to graduate and head onward. No Child Left Behind did not take a big toll on me; I wasn’t getting left behind in classes or barely making the grade. My report cards were riddled with A’s and a few B’s so I didn’t really care. Now I understand that as much as a failure as the program was and continues to be, the principle and structure behind it makes sense. W was trying to be a president who took education seriously. No Child Left Behind was the vehicle used to try to achieve the lofty goal of allocating funds appropriately in the education system to give children the opportunity and tools needed to succeed. It didn’t work at all. The program has become antiquated and the math just doesn’t add up anymore. Still, even after all this, W wanted to put a high value on education, even if he didn’t succeed at doing so.
We are a nation in crisis, a world in crisis, and it’s important and up to us to take a good look at our leaders. It’s not just our right, it’s our duty as citizens to understand our government and its choices that touch our lives. Above all this, we must look at both sides, which was my first goal in reading Decision Points – to understand the things I couldn’t agree with.
What books have you read lately for the greater good of your own knowledge?