I’ve been looking for a good review of Bush’s book, and I don’t think anyone’s going to top “How did this wastrel ever find his way to the White House?”:
His sadness over Hurricane Katrina is not for the victims in New Orleans, as Mr West understood, but for the damage done to his reputation by that snap of him staring blankly and aloofly down on the catastrophe from the window of Air Force One. His paramount distress over Iraq is not over the loss of life, civilian and military, but how that banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” on the aircraft carrier came to make him look naive and vainglorious. He reveals his shallowness and vapidity with these reflections in the most crystalline of clarity, and hasn’t a notion he is doing so.
It takes a certain minimal intelligence for the truly dim to have a notion of their own dimness, but this is denied him. Unlike Mr Tony Blair, who emerges from his well-calibrated if often chilling memoir as a man of colossal cleverness (though not intellect), W has the self-awareness of a bison. There seems even less to him than met the eye, and there was precious little of that. Astounding as it appears, we misoverestimated him.
That’s Matthew Norman in the Independent. The whole thing is funny and lacerating.
I think we can call the Bush Presidency “Sarah One”.
Que sarah sarah.
I have no plans to read Dubya’s book (and I’ve been trying hard to avoid the big media tour, although the occasional interview snippet has penetrated my awareness), but damn, that looks like one fine review. Thanks for the catch.
What an unbelievably low insult…To Bison
The comparison to Bush is an insult to dimwitted bison.
My idea of hell for Bush is that he should spend the afterlife with a higher iq and his empathy switched turned from off to on and made to watch Iraq and Katrina over and over again. I would also give him a pistol so he could use it on himself to end the misery of finally understanding, but would make sure he recovered to watch again and again. Don’t like the guy very much.
c u n d gulag
Since we’re on the topic of Bush’s book, I’d like to start a movement.
You know how we had ‘Truthers’ after 9/11, and we now have ‘Birthers” with Obama? Well, I’d like to start a movement called ‘Readers.’ We are people who refuse to purchase, read, or even aknowledge Bush’s book at all until he can prove that HE HIMSELF has read it. I’m not at all concerned about him writing it, I know he didn’t. I just want to make sure that he’s at least read. No, I won’t accept an affadavit from him or his publisher. An audio-taped version of his book supposedly read by him is unacceptable – it can be faked. So can a video-taped version. NO! I insist ON ABSOLUTE PROOF that George W. “Little Boots” Bush has read his own book. I am a “Reader!” Prove to me that he read it!!!
kommrade reproductive vigor
I too must protest this unforgivable insult to bison.
However, it will be interesting to see which way the fRighties go with this.
They can use this to finally and officially declare Bush II (or Sarah I) Double-Plus-Liberal. But that would deprive them of a chance to Piss off the Liberals by defending him and declaring his accounting of events as The Official Record.
Oh hell, what am I saying? They’ll do both, often within the same paragraph.
They are already in the comment section mumbling about yellowcake. Zombie lies never die.
This was a great piece. The emphasis on Bush’s constant inability to recognize anything beyond his own image was especially devastating. People died? Meh. It made me look bad? Oh Noes!
The way those country is going, a Palin-Beck regime is even money. Then, I am afraid, we would miss W.
Calling him dim lets him off too easy. All politicians are narcissists to some degree, but often they have redeeming virtues. GW is the distilled essence of narcissism, with no flavorings or additives. The history of the world is a narrative of his “decision points.” Unfortunately, GW is a near-perfect reflection of much of the American public, who feel free to pick leaders purely on the basis of whom they would like to have a beer with.
OT..Sorry about the off topic but I’d like to know what our resident libertarian thinks of Sarah Palin taking on school nutrition. Is it really socia..lism for schools to serve healthy food. Cookiegate
Leave it to a Brit to write such a witty review that conveys the writer’s awareness of the consequences of W’s presidency and depression that engenders.
well, a nice refresher that the body politic that voted in 2010 (and 2008) is still the one that elected that moron.
Bravo, Mr. Norman.
@JPL: In a true libertarian paradise, kids eat what they want; cookies, jars of paste, and the spaghetti made with Grade Z circus animal meat.
@debt: Because in a libertarian paradise anything you do FOR anyone else is destructive and everything anyone does TO themselves has no consequences to the world around them.
@Alwhite: There are no peanut allergies in Galt’s Gulch! If little Janie dies because of that peanut butter cookie it’s because she was a worthless parasite.
I am assuming there is almost nobody except Bush Jr’s retinue of warhawk worshipers who thought this book would be anything other than vapid egoism and a look back on power concerned only with ass-covering and self-absorbed glory days vignettes, complete with annoyed sniffing at various challenges or insults.
"Fair and Balanced" Dave
When it comes to Republican politicians, stupidity isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.
@debit: You gotta admit Sarah dictating to a public school system what they can serve seem hypocritical. Cookiegate is far more fun than garbagegate and I’d love Ed to write a post defending Sarah’s latest rant.
With Bush we hit the low end of the Brezhnev era, including the self-destructive wars and the widespread corruption. Obama clearly is Gorbachev trying to timidly save a doomed system. After that, we get the clownish demagogues, Yeltsin in Russia, Palin or any of her ilk here. It is actually scary to watch the program run its course.
Bush is the example for all time of how the village props up politicians that they personally like…
Even if they’re not fit to poor piss out of a boot with instructions written on the heel.
The Bearded Blogger
@Lupin: If the US is the new Russia, does that make China the new U.S? And will John Thune wrestle a bear or something?
Paul in KY
Excellent summation of GW Bush. Thanks for linking to it.
We need more writers like Matthew Norman here
In another fun trip to the past, respected experts on international relations, and also screaming stapler-throwers and torture advocates John Bolton and John Yoo combine their talents to warn us against only having enough nuclear weapons to destroy most civilization hundreds of times over rather than millions of times.
How many of us knew that the higher turnout by older and thus more conservative whites as is fairly typical in midterms for the last 20 years over younger voters and people of color (in many areas) was really about stopping any agreements on reducing nuclear weapons down to mere annihilation levels?
Your phrase “trying to timidly save a doomed system,” seems to me an apt summary of Obama’s presidency. Well done.
I was stunned when Bush won the first election (or for nitpickers, at least came close enough to be selected after the supreme court intervened). He was so obviously unqualified, after the first debate I couldn’t imagine him winning. I was doubly shocked when he won a second term. Since then I’ve become cynical enough that nothing surprises me too much.
@The Bearded Blogger:
My guess would be Rick Perry riding a bull in a rodeo?
The Bearded Blogger
@Lupin: That would screw up his hair. He could shoot something from a distance, maybe.
What a nice breezy read mistermix. Thanks.
debit: If little Janie is allergic to peanuts, she could save us the trouble of her funeral by not eating them, rather than expecting society to legislate the poor, maligned legume out of existence.
Judy in SD
From the comments following the review came this gem,
“my favourite Bushism is about why the French don’t get freedom, markets and stuff: ‘You know, the French don’t have a word for entrepreneur’! “
The comments at Amazon look a great deal like well-financed astroturfing. The two top reviews are following a mad-libs pattern “I was a liberal/moderate who hated/disliked Bush/Iraq-War but I was amazed by the honesty and revelations in this book.” They’re marked as helpful by hundreds of people, compared to the dozens or so for other reviews. Unsurprisingly in a bio of Bush, short, lacerating comments are heavily voted down as unhelpful.
Schools = Sochuslism. Everyone should be home-skooled.
Also, too, last week she railed against quantitative easing. And now she’s complaining about school lunches? Guess she’s trying out some ’12 themes.
I think plenty of people figured out Bush during his Presidency. By all accounts, Cheney, his staff, etc. spent a lot of time pumping up his ego, and in response he gave them carte blanche to do whatever the fuck they wanted. All he needed was to feel like he was in charge.
It’s why, really, I was pretty surprised that Bush didn’t give Fuckface Scooter a full pardon at the end of his Presidency. It might have been the only time he defied Cheney.
Oh, really. Then presumably that would include maintaining a very small permanent standing army and steering clear of “foreign entanglements.” Right.
the comments thread is a mix of people cheering the review (I enjoyed it), a few hardcore “there were too WMDs!” and some 9/11 twoofers still reciting the same old BS.
@Dennis SGMM: agreed. well-done.
and thanks for putting up this link. lacerating review, but i think it is a serious error to write:
reads well, but unfortunately for the US, the devil is in “somehow”. it was a put-up-job from start to finish.
@Bulworth: IMO it’s more plausible that she says what people pay her to say. think of her as an athlete with a lot of endorsement deals. in her case, it’s really a fabulous idea–act like a politician but be a private citizen so no one can inquire into who is paying her to shill for them. the smart thing for someone like Soros to do would be to hire her. she’s not cheap, but she sure can be bought.
I think the part about the bison is wrong. Even a bison knows when it is feeling hot, cold or hungry. I would say he has the self awareness of a rock.
Bush always reminded me of this passage from H. L. Mencken:
We may see a Rethug candidate for President that tries to out-Bush Bush. That’s what I’m hoping for at least as that is the only way Obama gets re-elected and even if Palin were to get the nomination, it could be dicey.
Andrew Tobias recommends Family of Secrets as an antidote to the Bush ‘memoir’.
I only wonder if Bush mentions the Decision point of saying NO to Cheney when he wanted to bomb Iran. I will give him full credit for being the adult in the White house at that time.
(It almost cancels out the idiocy of nominating a psychopath for to run for VP with him).
So I disagree with Joshua @ 38
@A Duck: Won’t someone think of the legumes?!
WyldPirate, Mencken says the politician must at least be devious which ascribes a certain amount of intelligence. Perhaps it is more to the point to say Bush got elected because the deviousness and downright evil was in others who got him in. A question; can a dim narcissist unaware of anything but his own image be evil?
Ah, to have had an actual journalist like Norman conducting one of the book-tour interviews! I’d love to see a proper follow-up to Bush’s whine about having his fee-fees hurt by Kanye West, like “Yes, Mr. President, I can see your argument that you’re not a racist. What Kanye missed was that you don’t care about anybody.“
@Redshift: What Kanye missed was that you don’t care about anybody.“
@Bill H.: My wife agrees. She thinks he has the self-awareness of a turnip.
I was going to send that review to my boss, who still has a picture of Bush on a shelf in his office.
But he wouldn’t understand it.
@Ash Can: Peanuts are soshulist, cowardly and un-American. After all, they were farmed by Jimmy Carter.
Bush and Palin are both just the result of Conservative Selection for Stupid, aka Salam-Douthat stratification.
Combine that with with the demographic timer and 2012 blowback, and the TP/GOP is doomed to forever defeat post 2020.
Of, course the pseudo-intellectual poseurs on the right are not going to talk about that, because it would dampen base enthusiasm.
They will continue to blather about Hume and Hayek and Burke and free markets and “commonsense”.
Bush was a WEC retard. Hopefully the history books will see that.
and again, i assert the system is WAI. (Working As Intended)
The TP/GOP now has the opportunity to create responsible fiscal legislation, work with Obama to restore the economy that got trashed on their watch, appeal to minorities and youth, and attract intellectuals.
Or they can continue to ignore the demographic timer and ignore Salam-Douthat Stratification, demogogue their base, headfake the media, “investigate” Obama, obstruct and deny, race-bait and IQ-bait.
It is their choice…that is what self-representation is all about.
I’m inclined to believe that TP/GOP leadership will stick to tactics in defense of the status quo.
I guess the TP/GOP being intellectually bankrupt after 50 years of anti-intellectualism and Selection for Stupid means wholly unable to understand Game Theory 101.
The Republic of Stupidity
Uh… yes… to all of that…
That was my conclusion too… that Bush wasn’t upset over the loss of human life in New Orleans and surrounding environs, just THE DAMAGE to his reputation…
At another website (the Times?) this morning there was an article about that supposed Israeli air strike at a secret Syrian nuclear facility back in 2007… according to the article, it WAS an Israeli air strike on a secret Syrian nuke facility, executed w/ Bush’s blessing…
(preemptive apology for repeating the above news if anyone else has already commented on it…)
What else is this dim watt bulb going to blurt out next?
No wonder the upper echelon at the GOP wanted him to wait until AFTER the election to start dropping these turds in public…
Yet another preemptive attack on a Mooooooooooslim country…
Talk bout handing your successor to the job a flaming bag of dog pooh as a going away present…
Dick Cheney’s memoirs, Deferment Points is due out this spring. He has stated that he wants his grandchildren to understand what he did.
I can hardly wait to hear him explain to the kiddies what “Go f*ck yourself” means.
I believe a full pardon would not have allowed him to take the 5th., if there had actually been a legit. investigation. He would have had to testify under oath. I don’t believe Cheney really wanted a full pardon for Scooter, unless he knew the fix was in re: a real investigation.
@The Republic of Stupidity: wallah, you dont get the half of it.
Bush and Greenspan were trying to push the Econopalypse out into post 2008 election.
They ran out of interest points to cut.
@Steeplejack: If the Founding Fathers didn’t want some astounding numbers of nuclear warheads, they would have put it in the Constitution. Case closed.
Bush is genuinely talented in one extremely useful way for politics, one that is aside from, but immensely amplifies the advantages of family connections and wealth. When sober, he’s got the similar sort of brilliant social-networking skills Bill Clinton has, but without anywhere remotely near so much intellect. Bush has the perfect good-old-boy chumminess that makes for an effective, attractive schmoozer in business or fraternity circles, overlaying a sociopathic core underneath that cares about ethics more with regard to how likely crossing certain lines will inflict tactical costs against obtaining practical objectives or maintaining standing in business circles, rather than a true moral sense of right and wrong.
It’s a mistake to view Bush as some sort of idiot – the problem isn’t that he lacks brainpower, but that his genuine mental talents are so narrowly dimensional, limited mainly to that of the business and frat-boy schmoozer. He supposedly did read lots of substantive books while in the White House, but his intellect lacks the sort of curious depth to take more than superficial insight from them. His habit of strongly preferring memos to be around three pages, double-spaced, no matter the complexity of the issues involved, speaks volumes about his superficial approach to matters of genuine substance – Bush delegated the heavy mental lifting to others, and trusted his relationships with people around him and his gut reactions to things to make big decisions. If he felt comfortable with the person telling him something, that was often enough to convince his “gut”. But this kind of “gut” thinking and reliance on social networking instincts only gets you so far, and leaves you vulnerable to the designs of other more intellectually talented sociopathic sharks around you. In other words, you can be manipulated by people who understand your nature and know how to work you. Like Karl Rove, like Donald Rumsfeld, like Dick Cheney. The one thing I do reluctantly give Bush some credit for, though vastly too little, too late, is that he did apparently realize until very late in his presidency, is how badly he had been misused and misled by Dick Cheney.
All this does not make Bush a sympathetic figure, nor does it absolve him for actions that qualify for war criminality. Only a dangerous sociopath could maintain the rationalization he does about lying the country into a needless, unjustified war that sent over 4000 American soldiers to their grave. But don’t misunderestimate his mental talents, even though clearly well short of smart in many categories. Bush illustrates just how far being a brilliant schmoozer + having some family connections and money can carry you.
Just look at the Bush Doctrine aka the Epic Fail of the Manifest Destiny of JesusDemocracy in +99% Muslim States.
When muslims are DEMOCRATICALLY EMPOWERED TO VOTE they vote FOR MORE ISLAM not less.
It simply could never work.
Bush’s smarter advisors knew this, but Rove exploited Bushidiocy for a wartime electorate, while Cheney exploited Bushidiocy for a wartime economy.
Bush is a two-digit.
@matoko_chan: “Bush is a two-digit.”
one finger up the ass, one up the nose, then swap?
No, he’s stupid.
@catclub: Since it is matoko_chan, I assume that is an IQ jab.
it is neither mathematically or demographically possible.
@MattR: it is, MattR the bioluddite.
Salam-Douthat stratification on “cognitve ability” is stratification on IQ.
IQ is a psychometric variable that measures cognitive ability.
Bush attending Harvard was just IQ bussing by social network and ecomonic cohort.
Sure. I’d agree that Bush isn’t a complete idiot. He’s brilliant at two things – campaigning for office and schmoozing for campaign donations. His true calling is that he should have been head of the RNC. Or possibly a Senator. Either of those positions would have been a good fit for his limited set of talents. Thinking about it, he would probably have made a decent Senator from Texas, actually. Compared to those they’ve sent to the Senate recently he probably would have been not as good as Hutchinson, possibly better than Cornyn or Phil Gramm. He would have been a good little corporate stooge.
Actually given how much Bush loved campaigning and how much he seemed to hate actual governance, his best fit probably would have been as a Rep – that way he could be on the near permanent campaign trail and maybe spend a year or so between campaigns resting up for the next campaign (and casting his pro forma party line votes – that way he can stay focused on the fundraising and other important matters). Of course, Congressman was probably beneath him as far as status goes. But at least his capacity for mayhem would have been reduced. And he probably would have been incredibly happy in that role too – moreso than he seemed to be as President.
Dunning-Kruger effect. Writ large.
@Hal and @PeakVT: Beat me to it.
@matoko_chan: So I am a bioluddite for knowing that there were exactly three options for what you were talking about and neither hacker nation nor enslaved fetuses made sense?
Not too funny for the family members of hundreds of thousand dead Iraqi’s or over two thousand dead American GI’s.
All thanks to George W. “I want to fuck my mother who looks uglier than a bulldog that cases parked cars” Bush
I love that one. The version I know has the instructions printed on the inside of the boot. Same effect.
The only consolation about the story of Barbara Bush showing teenage Shrub her miscarried fetus in a jar is that she’s still alive and of sound enough mind to catch people pretending not to give her The Look.
For sheer “What-the-f*cking-f*ck”itude, it ranks right up there with Mitt Romney’s story about the dog crapping itself in fear on the roof of the family car.
That line is legendary.
Which was hilariously misplaced with Bush since, as an alcoholic, he wouldn’t have beer with anyone.
Also,The Onion: “Long-Awaited Beer With Bush Really Awkward, Voter Reports”
@MattR: tch tch
i also talk about Hacker U, Wikileaks, Hayek-was-wrong, Salam-Douthat stratification, JRTs, population demographics, EGT and game theory, holographic noise, sociobiology, third culture, emo music, anime, many worlds theory, cosmic landscape, islam, WECs, evo theory of culture, evo theory of religion, the jesus godhead, SNT, SBH and the biological basis of behavior.
i guess you forgot?
Here’s something funny:
Schröder always was a bit too sleek for my taste, but for this one I’m forever thankful.
@Tax Analyst: They say if you have to explain a joke it’s no damn good, but I believe the point of putting the instructions on the heel is that just turning the boot over to read them would normally cause the decanting of the piss, so you would need some very powerful stupid to avoid the proper outcome.
@cmorenc: Pardon me for piling on, but your whole second paragraph does describe “some kind of idiot,” namely the useful kind.
Also, from the Medved piece linked above:
Italics mine. Now, it seems to me that the neutral word there would be threat. So you talk about the need for outreach and put a dog-whistle in the same sentence. I’d ask how clueless these people are but I think the answer is purely theoretical.
Link for you. New japanese hologram rockstar Hatsune Miku. Scroll down for three video clips.
I’m not sure it’s a genuine hologram though.
It’s been previously suggested by the linked blog that this is the Pepper’s Ghost illusion in a cyber version.
All three video clips are very interesting, I thought.
Buszhnev and Obamachev. We have a new meme.
@Hal: Indeed. Years ago I went to Yellowstone Park and snapped a picture of a bison grazing while Old Faithful was erupting behind it. And with about 50 people standing maybe 30 yards away. That led me to conclude that bison are aware, but they simply don’t care. Bison are awesome.
Bush is unaware, and simply doesn’t care. He is beneath contempt.
And the latest in W.’s legacy renovation: In a get-together arranged by Bush toady Matt Lauer, Kanye West says it’s all good.
Kanye was more fun when he was a gay fish. (This version uncensored.)
Bush == Brezhnev
Obama == Gorbachev
Palin? == Yeltsin?
Jesus. If this comparison really holds up then Marx was right about history repeating and tragedy and farce.
Yeltsin was a vain buffoon, a puppet of the oligarchs and security-state goons looting the country behind the curtain.