Bush by Jean Edward Smith

E 902 .S59 2016

“Nearly eight years after George W. Bush left the White House, his legacy still shapes American policy at home and abroad. Award-winning historian and biographer Jean Smith has written the most complete account yet of the Bush presidency in this revelatory biography of America’s forty-third president.

A lackluster student with a fondness for alcohol, “W” became a born-again Christian and turned his life around. His deep religious faith rescued his character, but it gave him a worldview that oversimplified complicated problems. For Bush, life was a struggle between good and evil, and he never doubted that he was God’s agent for good. In the fight against the evil of terrorism, other countries were either with us or against us, as he once said. Certain of the morality of his actions, he had no misgivings about detaining terrorist suspects indefinitely at Guantánamo or authorizing unconstitutional surveillance activities in the name of fighting terrorism.

Bush called himself “the decider,” and Smith says that it was an apt description. Others have insisted that Vice President Dick Cheney made key foreign policy decisions in the Bush White House, but Smith shows that it was the president who was in charge, often acting without or even against the counsel of his advisers. No other president in modern times acted with such self-assured autonomy.

Smith credits Bush with leading the global fight against AIDS, improving relations with China, reducing nuclear arsenals with the Russians, and insisting on higher educational standards with “No Child Left Behind.” But he led the country into the disastrous war in Iraq in response to the 9/11 terror attacks even though Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks. The war in Iraq dominated his presidency, and by toppling Saddam he paved the way for the rise of ISIS. He had to violate his own political philosophy to save the economy from collapse in 2008, but he still left his successor with the worst recession in seventy years. Not surprisingly, he exited the White House with the lowest approval ratings of any president in decades.”
– publisher description


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