Bush’s memoir entertains, though offers little insight

What do George W. Bush and Taylor Swift have in common?

A mutual hatred of Kanye West, it seems.

In his recently released memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush revealed that the lowest point of his presidency was not the unnecessary loss of thousands of American lives in Iraq, the most horrific act of terrorism in our country’s history that happened on his watch or the four trillion-dollar deficit he left in the laps of the American people.

The lowest point in his presidency came instead when Kanye West accused him of “not car[ing] about black people,” during a fundraiser for the victims of Katrina.

As I read this passage, I couldn’t help but be struck by the delicious irony of how much our former president has in common with the country singing sensation Taylor Swift, who was another victim of West’s self-absorbed posturing at the Video Music Awards in 2009.

Unexpected, off-the-cuff revelations like this one fill the pages of “Decision Points.” To me, it was these sort of anecdotes that made the memoir worth reading, so much more than Bush’s half-hearted defense of his administration’s political record.

Sure, Bush spent plenty of time trying to justify the mistakes he made while in office.

Everything you would expect is discussed in the book, from the mishandling of Katrina and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to major legislative battles over Social Security, immigration reform and the controversial Bush tax cuts.

It was interesting to hear Bush’s take on these events, but after just a few chapters, I couldn’t help but feel like I was reading a less eloquent summary of the arguments already laid out by some of his top advisers.

Cover to cover, Bush’s memoir reads a lot like the rushed report of a middle-school student who didn’t bother to actually read the book he was supposed to be writing about.

His discussions on matters of policy demonstrate a distinct lack of intellectual curiosity. Indeed, I think a more fitting title for “Decision Points” would have been “Incurious George.”

But despite the plain and inelegant prose, I do think that the memoir was worth the 10 hours I spent reading it this weekend. Taken in full, the quirky anecdotes Bush sprinkled throughout the book’s pages gave quite a revealing look at the man behind the mask, as the saying goes.

Here’s a couple of tidbits that most stood out to me.

Early in the book, Bush explained how his opposition to abortion rights solidified during his teenage years. When his mother suffered a tragic miscarriage, she stored the fetus in a jar so that it could be inspected by a doctor. On the way to the hospital, Barbara Bush showed her son the remains, a sight that deeply affected the teenage Bush and resulted in his “philosophy that we should respect life.”

Another revealing anecdote had to do with the strong relationship Bush formed with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a relationship that doomed the political hopes of both leaders after their joint invasion of Iraq. Of all things to grow close over, “Decision Points” explains that the two world leaders formed a mutual bond of respect over the comedy film “Meet the Parents.”

Those who haven’t seen the movie are sorely missing out, but in short, it follows the story of Gaylord Focker, a male nurse living in Chicago, whose proposal to his girlfriend is disrupted by a visit to his zany, soon-to-be parents-in-law. Interesting bonding material for two world leaders, eh?

All in all, I’d recommend “Decision Points” to anyone who’s even remotely interested in politics, regardless of how you feel about the Bush presidency. The book gives an interesting glimpse into the evolution of our 43rd president, from the early days of his childhood to the closing days of his presidency.

It’s fun and easy to read, and chances are you’ll enjoy it, just as long as you don’t expect anything too deep.

Jason is a senior in Engineering.