Barking Up the Wrong Bush

 
 

With the recent publicity and hype about George W Bush’s new memoir Decision Points, Leanne Waters examines the effect it will have on the former president’s legacy

Coming into yet another jungle-riddled series, the hit show I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! recently released its new lineup for the upcoming series. Casual viewers and mindless mobs alike can sit back and look forward to D-list celebrities attempting to reclaim some level of lost fame and distinction. Certainly, it seems that television has long gone by the wayside.

It now appears literature has done much the same. The final few nails in the coffin to what we literature lovers once saw as an art, has arrived in the form of Decision Points, the recently-published memoir of former US president, George W Bush. Like our aforementioned D-list celebrities, Bush has manoeuvred his way back into the public eye in a manner befitting nothing less than that of our I’m a Celebrity hopefuls.

The 497-page book was released earlier this month and details some of the major controversies that blighted Bush’s presidency. Issues covered include the 9/11 attacks, Afghanistan, the Wall Street meltdown, Hurricane Katrina, the exposed torture at Guantánamo Bay and Iraq.

An obvious attempt to change both the perspectives of contemporary society as well those of future historians, the book has been receiving mixed reactions. As with the release of Tony Blair’s memoir earlier this year, a Facebook page has been created calling for Bush’s Decision Points to be moved to the Crime section of bookstores. The page currently has more than a thousand members supporting it.

Moreover, since the book was published, the former president has been greeted by mob protests at publicity events. From media appearances and book signings to the opening of Bush’s presidential library in Dallas, critics of the memoir are pulling out all the stops. These measures even include the distribution of bookmarks for every copy entitled, ‘This Book’s Author is a War Criminal’.

Yet despite such ardent rallying, it seems that the misguided glory of rose-tinted sunglasses can still prevail. Despite having once been deemed a tyrant of modernity, there is now a tendency among political commentators to cast Bush’s career in a most regrettable light of sympathy and approval.

Since the release of his publication, polls indicate that Bush’s popularity and approval have improved. With such a notable surge, it seems commonplace to rethink the very nature of this man.

Could these altering perceptions mean that the controversial Texas-spun hick has transformed into an articulate soldier of political diplomacy? Probably not. Most likely, Bush has simply caught the bandwagon of one generation’s blind spot. Said blind spot encompasses the indulgence of guilty pleasures. After all, the fashionable vice of our contemporary society comes in the form of the things we love to hate. From fist pumping to weekly Wagner performances on X Factor, we in the western world often tend to overlook the negative connotations in certain situations.

Nonetheless, it seems less shocking that not only are dirty-linen devotees rushing to buy the contentious book, but prices are falling in the $18-$20 bracket. Not backbreaking for what’s looking to be an inevitable Christmas bestseller. However, it undoubtedly does not take long to ascertain what exactly you’re getting for your money.

In return for your Amazon-purchased $18 buy, one receives an excellent ornament for the coffee table; while WB receives a cool $7 million book deal with Crown Publishing. This fact now highlighted, let us allow the resentment of economic depression reign in and simmer over the fact that as we scrimp, save and scrounge, Bush is set in his $7 million splendour. By these standards, it certainly seems that in order to salvage a much-debased career, one need only write a book about it and get paid a substantial amount of money for the trouble.

In what is now being deemed as an exercise in self-justification, the former US leader seems, more than anything else, to be grabbing hay straws in an attempt to rebuild his reputation.

From words on Tony Blair, his proclaimed closest foreign ally (like we didn’t know that), to his defence of the Guantánamo horrors and even to his ultimate pride about the Iraqi invasion of 2003, Bush remains as obstinate and predictable as ever. Only now, we actually have to endure his reappearance in the media. Head still loftily raised, the washed politician is fumbling to alter his presidential legacy with the written word. But we won’t fret; he’ll have disappeared back into the presidential abyss faster than you can say I’m a Celebrity.

In his Decision Points memoir, Bush writes: “Whatever the verdict on my presidency, I’m comfortable with the fact that I won’t be around to hear it. That’s a decision point only history will reach.” That’s okay George, you won’t be topping my Christmas bestsellers list anyway.

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