Bush by Jean Edward Smith. George W. Bush is a good man with a gift for politics and a fatal flaw, the tendency to see the world as black and white with no shades of gray. In Texas, he solicited a variety of viewpoints and generally made good decisions. In Washington, DC, he allowed Dick Cheney to fill his administration with people who saw the world as Cheney did. They did not serve the President well by restricting his choices. Bush then made poor decisions because his options were limited by the advice he received from the Cheney people.
Bush’s Vietnam was of course Iraq. The original Iraq invasion plan might have been successful. It envisioned a quick invasion, toppling Saddam Hussein, and a quick withdrawal. In the middle of that plan, President Bush changed objectives from toppling Saddam to installing democracy in Iraq in addition. That required a longer stay in Iraq, changing the US from liberator to occupier. Jay Garner was replaced with Paul Bremer who proceeded to outlaw the Baath Party and disband the Iraqi army and police forces. Those two decisions were fatal to the success of the US invasion.
Bush declined to be interviewed for this book. We do not know who put a bee in his bonnet about installing democracy in Iraq. Whoever that person is helped ensure failure in Iraq. That person may be Condoleezza Rice, but we don’t know.
Bush supported immigration reform, but was not successful in getting a bill passed. He had this to say:
“Some in this country argue that the solution is to deport every illegal immigrant, and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty. I disagree. It is neither wise nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border. There is a national middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation. That middle ground recognizes that there are differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently and someone who has worked here for many years, has a home, a family, and an otherwise clean record.”
Overall, I recommend this book because I believe it to be fair and balanced. It concludes with:
“Whether George W. Bush was the worst president in American history will be long debated, but his decision to invade Iraq is easily the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.”