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‘Decision Points,’ George W. Bush’s memoir announced for Nov. 9

April 26, 2010

George W. Bush’s memoir about his presidency, Decision Points, is due out in November, reports the Associated Press. No word as yet on whether it will be a picture book, a pop-up book, or perhaps, if a good ghostwriter was hired, a chapter book.

You remember Bush, right? Former POTUS? Led the Free World in an invasion of Iraq that unseated Saddam Hussein, ended terrorism and brought peace and democracy to the Middle East? Oversaw an unprecedented period of domestic prosperity and full employment? Defended civil liberties, protected the environment?

No? Oh, wait, that was in Opposite Land. Here in this space-time continuum, Bush was best known for his wisdom. A few examples:

“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning.” “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.” “I’ll be gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.” “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.” “They misunderstimated me.”

If you need a nudge to remember much about George W. Bush, it’s not merely post-traumatic shock. Bush has been virtually invisible since he turned the White House over to some other guy in January, 2008. Unlike Bill Clinton, who cashed in with a busy slate of $100,000 speeches, or Jimmy Carter, who goes around, lips pursed, doing good works, Bush has disappeared from view.

Instead, the former president has been busy every day writing, said his publisher, Crown, in a press release. Decision Points will not be a “traditional” memoir, but an account of key decisions in his life. Crown promises “gripping, never-before-heard detail” on personal and presidential matters: his decision to stop drinking, his relationship with his father, his response to ther 9-11 terror attacks.

Aw, isn’t he cute? Can’t you just picture Bush sitting at his desk down in Texas, tongue protruding, brow furrowed, as he bears down with a crayon?

Oh, sure, there’s been an effort the last few years, led mainly by Karl “Bush’s Brain” Rove to depict the former president as a literate man,  an avid reader even.

At the end of 2008, Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal of his annual reading contest with his former boss, which began in 2006. That first year Rove won by a count of 110 books to Bush’s 95.  In 2007, Rover won again, 76 to 51. Bush made a poorer showing in 2008, with only 40 books — although for most Americans that would be an impressive total.

“Mr. Bush loves books,” Rove writes, “learns from them, and is intellectually engaged by them.”

And what were some of the books Rover says Bush read? Albert Camus’ The Stranger, David Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, and Jacobo Timerman’s Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number.

Not that I would doubt the word of Karl Rove, who, after all, established a reputation for decency, honesty and fair play (in Opposite Land!) while guiding Bush to the White House, but his testimony does fly somewhat in the face of earlier accounts of the former president’s reading tastes.

According to a story widely reported as late as 2005, Bush declared his favorite book was The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. Here’s one sample, a 2001 St. Petersburg Times story by Bill Duryea that theorizes Bush is stuck at an, ahem, early stage of development.

Meanwhile, Decision Points hits bookstores Nov. 9 at a price of $35.  Bush will promote the book with a nationwide tour. Do you or anyone you know plan to read this book?  I, for one, cannot wait.

In Opposite Land.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Sean permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:15 pm

    Can we rename it “Decider Points”?

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 26, 2010 1:37 pm

      I cannot imagine why Crown did not insist on this title. Otherwise, though I didn’t think to mention it in the original post, I assume Eric Carle is doing the illustrations. If by chance he’s not available, the guys at South Park also work in construction paper imaging…

    • April 27, 2010 10:11 am

      aaaaaaahahaha. they missed out on a brilliant opportunity!!

  2. rachel permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:29 pm

    Sean, I think that’s a great idea.

    While he was still in office someone gave me a little book of “Bushisms” that seemed hilarious until they just seemed sad. Then I gave it away.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 26, 2010 1:39 pm

      Kind of like the entire Bush Administration, eight years I’ve come to think of as “the New Dark Ages.” But really, I had to scratch my noggin to recollect just who George Bush is. I’m not kidding about post-traumatic shock, which is very hard on the memory.

  3. April 26, 2010 2:03 pm

    Chauncey this is a very funny blog. I wish you were his biographer, in which case it could be a laugh-out-loud best seller. Sadly there are a lot of people who will indeed buy this book; many of them already have Sarah Palin’s book. Won’t they look nice together in the bookcase?

  4. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    April 26, 2010 2:12 pm

    I should have mentioned that Laura’s book, which many anticipate will be the one to read, is scheduled for May. Then we can set Sarah, Laura and George on the shelf together.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  5. Candice Simmons permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:53 pm

    Jeez, take me back to the Reagan era when even the white house dog pinned a book (in Opposite Land), and the nation was inspired by Dan Quayle’s intellectualism (in Opposite Land). If our chidren didn’t learn anything from all that back then, then maybe, just maybe, this one will learn’em (in Opposite Land).

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 26, 2010 3:00 pm

      Meanwhile, we can give our children the George Bush Crayola set, which has every color you could want, so long as it’s red.

  6. Candice Simmons permalink
    April 26, 2010 3:01 pm

    Though blue is more soothing!

  7. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    April 26, 2010 3:04 pm

    Since childhood, red has been my favorite color. Now politics has given it a bad name.

  8. Sean permalink
    April 26, 2010 3:44 pm

    I’ve heard more than once that GWB the Texas gov and baseball exec came across in interviews, debates and the like as more cogent and thoughtful than he ever did as POTUS. One article I read awhile back – can’t remember enough to give a citation – suggested that something physiological or psychological might have happened to Bush before 2000, and that all the classic Bushisms are residue of that trauma.

    By coincidence, a few days ago Courtney Hambright spotted on YouTube an interview that Bush did way back when with a campus TV show at Abilene Christian University. He was managing general partner with the Texas Rangers at the time, and this was taped during an MLB players strike that must have been going on well into winter-spring, since there’s a mention of spring training games not being played.

    Court posted the interview on Facebook and pronounced it “boring as hell.” But the thing that jumped out at her was the evidence of Bush’s fluency, so to speak. She transcribed this bit where he talks about the great American pasttime: “Baseball has had some wonderful literature written about it and it always hinges around the park and the setting, the pastoral setting, no time limits, the ability to come and focus on the game and then drift back into conversation with a loved one and then go back to a point of action. It’s a wonderful place for people to relax and yet be around professional sports. The practical implications of that are … ”

    That passage is at about the 10 minute 50 second mark if you’re curious 🙂

    For what it’s worth, I’m finding this video hypnotic: the basic staging, the no-frills audio, the slightly washed-out video, the blandly civic air, and, of course, a startlingly young Dubya. He’s carrying a youthful version of that smug-yet-ill-at-ease entitlement/awkwardness we saw in him as “43”. But at that point it wasn’t his dominant feature.

  9. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    April 26, 2010 4:16 pm

    Is it just me, or does young Dub bear a deeply disturbing resemblance to Ted Bundy?!? I will agree, with some degree of puzzled bemusement, that the man in this interview seems much more intelligent and verbal than the nincompoop who led the Free World for eight years. His enunciation is much more precise and accurate…(?) Could it be that Rove implanted a chip that turned Bush into a Stepford President? I know that sounds wacky, but its more likely than the notion this country elected a man president — twice — after he suffered a non-specified neurological event….Thanks for sharing this, Sean, but it’s going to haunt my thoughts for some time.

  10. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    April 26, 2010 4:38 pm

    Anyone interested in pursuing Sean’s thesis further — Bush suffered some kind of cognitive decline during or prior to being elected president — may want to look at this 2004 article from

    You can also see a dramatic juxtaposition of how well Bush spoke in 1994, while debating Ann Richardson in the Texas governor’s race, and how poorly he performed in 2004, when he debated John Kerry (and yet this country returned him to the White House. Sigh.):

  11. John Karwacki permalink
    April 26, 2010 8:40 pm

    “misunderestimated…” Wow, I too am in shock and awe that this jackass was our country’s leader. I miss the bushisms but I don’t miss the dub. I am still worried about the power that family, including Jeb in our part of the world, wields.

  12. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    April 26, 2010 9:14 pm

    For two terms, pal, for two terms. We’ll be undoing the damage…well, forever.

  13. April 27, 2010 10:15 am

    This is one of the funniest things I have ever read. I think you have outdone yourself, Mr. Mabe.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 27, 2010 11:49 am

      Why, thank ye, ma’am.

  14. April 27, 2010 12:41 pm

    I can’t imagine what this book’s first draft was like before a ghostwriter got their hands on it. I’m betting “Is our children learning?” was the least of his problems. I also enjoy the fact that Bush will be laying out the ’14 critical decisions’ he has made in his life Because in spite of being president for 8 years, there’s been only 14 difficult choices he had to make.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 27, 2010 2:41 pm

      Jo, thanks for that link — very informative, and fun, too. Now that Sean has clued me into the suspicion that W is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s, I feel slightly guilty about mocking him. But only slightly — the man was president. Twice (!). He wrecked the kitchen, now he has to take the heat.

  15. Sean permalink
    April 27, 2010 2:34 pm

    “… a deeply disturbing resemblance to Ted Bundy”

    More proof that Texas (Bush country) and Florida (Bush AND Bundy country!) are locked in an unhealthy embrace.

    Thanks for the Boston Herald/YouTube cites.

  16. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    April 27, 2010 2:42 pm

    That Texas-Florida connection was first pointed out to me in 1985 by a freelance writer who worked in both states.

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