Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

November 12, 2010

THE BOOKS GEORGE W. BUSH 'WROTE'.... It's probably fair to say that even George W. Bush's remaining defenders wouldn't characterize him as learned or cerebral. Whatever his well-hidden strengths might be, the failed former president has been rather candid about his lack of interest in books, newspapers, and people with post-graduate degrees.

But Bush appears to take some pride in having written his new book. Ryan Grim reports today that this isn't quite what happened.

Crown Publishing ... got a mash-up of worn-out anecdotes from previously published memoirs written by his subordinates, from which Bush lifts quotes word for word, passing them off as his own recollections. He took equal license in lifting from nonfiction books about his presidency or newspaper or magazine articles from the time. Far from shedding light on how the president approached the crucial "decision points" of his presidency, the clip jobs illuminate something shallower and less surprising about Bush's character: He's too lazy to write his own memoir.

Bush, on his book tour, makes much of the fact that he largely wrote the book himself, guffawing that critics who suspected he didn't know how to read are now getting a comeuppance. Not only does Bush know how to read, it turns out, he knows how to Google, too. Or his assistant does.

The memoir features anecdotes about events Bush didn't witness, and remarks Bush didn't hear. Perhaps he got confused about what a "memoir" is.

I'd just add a minor detail Ryan didn't mention: this has happened before. About 10 years ago, Bush published an "autobiography" of sorts, written entirely in first person, called "A Charge to Keep." The book, however, was entirely ghost-written.

But at least that book didn't include lifted text. For that matter, Bush never really claimed to have written his autobiography, making these revelations about "Decision Points" slightly worse.

Ryan concluded:

In most instances of Bush's literary swiping, he was at least present for the scene. But the point of a memoir is that it is the author's version of events. Bush's book is a collection of other people's versions of events. But that's not what Bush promises readers. "Decision Points is based primarily on my recollections. With help from researchers, I have confirmed my account with government documents, personal interviews, news reports, and other sources, some of which remain classified," he offers. Bush, in his memoir, confesses to authorizing waterboarding, which is a war crime, so the lifting of a few passages might seem like a minor infraction. But Bush's laziness undermines the historical value of the memoir. Bush "recollects" - in a more literal sense of the term - quotes by pulling his and others verbatim from other books, calling into question what he genuinely remembers from the time and casting doubt on any conclusions he draws about what his mindset was at the time.

Steve Benen 3:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Give the man a break. He has nothing to say and he's no longer president. If we're not going to prosecute him, or turn him over to those who would, we should just ignore him.

Posted by: Ethan on November 12, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

So, who will bring the first plagiarism suit?

Posted by: DAY on November 12, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The original manuscript was found by George in one of the basement filing cabinets at his old frat in Yale. It didn't have anyone's name on it, so it was up for grabs.

Posted by: jon on November 12, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

The things that jump out of the book tend to be his predictable shallowness (Kanye West's diss), bizarre moral compass (pro-life because of Babs' ghoulish thing with fetuses), and reflexive revenge against competitors like McCain. Aside from that, it's vintage Bush, never acknowledging a mistake or even a qualm. That eerie calmness in the midst of a self-induced storm is the key to his personality. And in that, he doesn't disappoint his fans whose personality cult prefers sniffing a jock strap to puzzling through absurdist hagiography.

Posted by: walt on November 12, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'd guess that he chose the overwrought and pompous title. What most people call tough choices he calls decision points. It wouldn't surprise me if he pilfered the idea of decision points from someone else, then used it as his title to prove to himself that he is in fact the intellectual that he publicly insists he's not.

Posted by: John Henry on November 12, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

It's a foregone conclusion that nothing good is going to come out of a government with the House controlled by an insane Republican majority and a Senate that's spineless and short of a workable supermajority, so now that George has been kind enough to confess to war crimes, we might as well hold a whole lot of Senate hearings about the excesses and crimes of his administration.

Posted by: NWells on November 12, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

For a brief point in my life, my official "nemesis" was someone I worked with who was, like Bush, a recovering alcoholic. While I won't paint all recovering alcoholics with the same broad stroke, this former co-worker, like Bush, would often take credit for work he didn't do, and then either a: brag to those who believed him that he really did do the work, or b: brag to people that knew he didn't do the work, that he was such a good bullshit artist, everyone that wasn't in on the con believed him (even though often, NO ONE believed him, but people who wanted to believe him, for whatever reason, pretended to do so). There's a lot about Bush that reminds me of this former coworker. One of the main differences, of course, is that eventually my co worker WAS fired. With Bush, we got a guy peddling a bunch of bullshit stories no one believes, but because no one will call him a liar to his face (and because Bush doesn't read anything, let alone critiques of his work or legacy - or book), he's walking around convinced he fooled us all but good.

And the only ones truly "fooled" are the ones who know he's full of it but for partisan reasons, keep it to themselves.

Posted by: slappy magoo on November 12, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Decision points as a title demonstrates the muscular ease with which our beloved loser dispenses with components of the matter , and gits rhaght to the guts .
Our best gut talker generously leaving his scat for our , albeit , unworthy worship .
Hale the gut talker is , hail his sweet scat .

Posted by: FRP on November 12, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's probably fair to say that even George W. Bush's remaining defenders wouldn't characterize him as learned or cerebral.

John Hinderaker, 2005: "It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile."

To my knowledge, Hinderaker still counts himself as a Bush "defender." Not that this really undermines your point, but while it's generally true among his crowd that conservativism can never fail, only be failed, there are still a surprising number of Bushies who don't see anything particularly bad having happened on Bush's watch, and so reject the idea that there's anything to blame him for.

Posted by: Matt on November 12, 2010 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think it would be fun if George II went on "The Daily Show" to plug his book.

Every time Jon Stewart has a guest on to plug a new book, Jon has read it.

This could lead to the interesting situation in which Jon has read the book, but George hasn't.

Posted by: Jim Ramsey on November 12, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, the irony. I am about to haul some poor student's sorry arse before the academic conduct committee for doing the same thing, except that she is an excellent student who gave way to panic once when faced with a looming deadline. If it were up to me I'd have let her off with a warning, but university policy requires me to report it. And she will probably pay, at the very least with being put on probation, while Bush will rake in money he didn't earn from bulk sales to the faithful. Remember those bumper stickers that used to say: "Bush. Character. Morality. Patriotism." That's your conservative role model, tea partiers. Hope you're happy with the way your kids turn out.

Posted by: T-Rex on November 12, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

So what you're saying is: the book should have been called "Still Making My Own Reality."

Posted by: josef on November 12, 2010 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK
Not only does Bush know how to read, it turns out, he knows how to Google, too.

He knows how to use the Google.

Fixed.

Posted by: navamske on November 12, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

If not The Daily Show, I'll bet Terry Gross would give him an hour on Fresh Air on NPR.

Also highly unlikely.

Posted by: emjayay on November 12, 2010 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

It would be a good service, if someone has the stomach for it, to chase down and compare the passages and quotes that "Decision Points" lifts word-for-word from other books.

Posted by: beejeez on November 12, 2010 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Remember those bumper stickers that used to say: "Bush. Character. Morality. Patriotism."

Bush. Stupid. Lazy. Criminal.

Posted by: Tired of That on November 12, 2010 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Shades of Albert "I can't remember, I don't recollect" Gonzales. Maybe Dick Cheney was slipping something into the water at the White House.

Posted by: The Oracle on November 12, 2010 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

I walked past a copy of "his" book today at Kroger's. Full price $35, already on sale at 25% off.

My bet is that it begins to be remaindered at under $5 early next year after the conservatives quit donating money to Bush and his publisher.

Posted by: Rick B on November 12, 2010 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm wondering who exactly is surprised about this. On a more practical note, who is going to read this thing anyway? even if they don't have to buy the thing.

Posted by: jhm on November 13, 2010 at 5:57 AM | PERMALINK

Love ya, Steve, but I'm not believing this item until it's sourced more reliably that the gawdawful Huffington Post.

Posted by: It's On on November 13, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK
It's probably fair to say that even George W. Bush's remaining defenders wouldn't characterize him as learned or cerebral. Whatever his well-hidden strengths might be, the failed former president has been rather candid about his lack of interest in books, newspapers, and people with post-graduate degrees.

Maybe Bush has been somewhat candid, except for this episode. But it should be said that his remaining defenders certainly do the exact opposite of what you are suggesting here:

Bush Is a Book Lover
A glimpse of what the president has been reading.
By KARL ROVE
December 2008

Karl Rove explains how he and Bush had been in a reading contest and: “At year's end, I defeated the president, 110 books to 95. My trophy looks suspiciously like those given out at junior bowling finals. The president lamely insisted he'd lost because he'd been busy as Leader of the Free World.”

The article lists some of the books involved according to Rove.

Turns out you could not be more wrong in yet another episode of Karl Rove attacking at one strongest side... and blindsiding the lefties.

Posted by: rt on November 13, 2010 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly