Political Animal

Blog

September 23, 2012 7:07 PM New ebook Argues 2012 is a Referendum on George W. Bush

By Paul Glastris

Every president since Gerald Ford has attended his party’s first convention after leaving office. Not George W. Bush. His name was barely mentioned in Tampa, or during the GOP primaries, or in any of thousands of Republican campaign ads aired so far this cycle.

Yet during this 2012 race the legacy of his administration is to Republicans like the proverbial elephant in the room, a presence too embarrassing to recognize but too overwhelming not to matter. In poll after poll, voters blame the poor economy not on Obama, but on Bush — and Bush’s policies are hard to distinguish from Romney’s. The Romney campaign has tried to make the race a referendum on Obama. It is shaping up, ironically, to be a referendum on Bush.

A new ebook, Elephant in the Room: Washington in the Bush Years, explores why, despite efforts to airbrush him out of today’s political conversation, the 43rd president remains central to it. A compilation of some of the best journalism published in the Washington Monthly magazine during those years, the book gives an insightful real-time account of what happened in Washington when, for the first time in half a century, the GOP took charge of both elected branches of government. Suddenly, the rules in Washington changed in ways Beltway veterans were slow to see, in the service of an agenda they did not grasp, and with a level of incompetence that they literally could not believe.

We are still feeling the reverberations of the Bush years — in an unfinished war, an enduring recession, and the long shadows of Supreme Court appointments and decisions. And the possibility of a new period of unified GOP control of Washington, in 2012 or 2016, remains very real. Whether you’re a liberal or a conservative, Elephant in the Room is a timely and important book premised on the idea that comprehending what went wrong in Washington during the Bush years is key to understanding what can be done to set the country right.

Elephant in the Room: Washington in the Bush Years, is edited by yours truly, Paul Glastris, has an introduction by Steve Benen, and features the writings of Nicholas Confessore, Joshua Green, Charles Homans, Joshua Micah Marshall, Rachel Morris, Amy Sullivan, Nicholas Thompson, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, and Alan Wolfe. You can purchase a copy here or here for $3.99. Better yet, for a limited time, you can subscribe to the Washington Monthly and we’ll email you the ebook for free.

Paul Glastris is editor in chief of the Washington Monthly.

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on September 23, 2012 7:19 PM:

    I have no children, but my Niece's and Nephew's Great-grandchildren will still be paying for the Bush Mis-administration's clusterfeck's.

    It was the most EPIC FAIL in modern American history - maybe in ALL of American history.
    And the fact that these people aren't in our Super Max Prisons, or facing charges at the Hague, is a mortal sin!


    And sorry, WaMo - I'm so feckin' piss-poor, I can't afford either an E-book reader, or the book.

  • mad_nVT on September 23, 2012 10:41 PM:

    '. . . . what happened in Washington when, for the first time in half a century, the GOP took charge of both elected branches of government. Suddenly, the rules in Washington changed in ways Beltway veterans were slow to see, in the service of an agenda they did not grasp, and with a level of incompetence that they literally could not believe."

    Fabulous description.

    If you loved the Bush years, you'll love the Romney replay.

  • Rabbler on September 23, 2012 11:42 PM:

    Sounds like starting a book at the last 2 chapters.

  • martin on September 24, 2012 8:06 AM:

    We are still feeling the reverberations of the Bush years in an unfinished war, an enduring recession, and the long shadows of Supreme Court appointments and decisions.

    And let's be fair, an unprecedented power grab by the executive branch that continues today. The security state that grows. And the belief in practice that the president can kill anyone anywhere.

    Much of the Bush legacy continues unchallenged and unabated by Obama. Yes, it will be infinitely worse with Romney, but it doesn't make it good under Obama.

  • T2 on September 24, 2012 9:28 AM:

    any book about the Bush years should start and end with the 3000 names of the 9/11 victims and 4700 names of Iraq war soldiers lost..... all because of stupidity and lies from the Bush Administration 2000-2008.

  • Peter C on September 24, 2012 9:40 AM:

    In my opinion, the 2008 race also featured the Republicans running away from Bush. That seems to me to have been the whole point of casting McCain as a 'maverick'. Yet both then and now, they run away from Bush by pursuing all the policies from his administration. The fiscal policy is the same (tax cuts for the rich). The domestic policy is the same (privatization of the social safety net). The foreign policy is the same (American exceptionalism and a beligerent stance toward everyone except Israel). This is because the failures of the Bush Administration were not due to the failures of Bush alone; they were the failures of Republican ideology.

  • NKM on September 24, 2012 11:39 AM:

    Paul, I would like to see more items like this. Often, the books published about an era gone by include too much current perspective and new writing. I'd much rather read articles written at the time with only limited editing and selected by a good editor.

  • citizen_pain on September 24, 2012 12:00 PM:

    I've always said that the Bu$h/Cheney regime represented the culmination of decades of conservative efforts to establish what the the traitor Karl Rove termed the "permanent republican majority".

    This time was, and please forgive the analogy, the conservative wet dream; a multiple orgasm for the GOP:

    They controlled both branches of government at one point, and EVERY SINGLE conservative idea that had been developed and articulated over decades by various 'intellectual' entities on the right wing was put into place.

    Well, colossal, gargantuan, abysmal, epic, are all adjectives that come to mind when describing the failure of these policies. We are still reeling from them and will for generations to come.

    Even more amazing is how the right and it's supporters STILL TO THIS DAY refuse to admit their agenda caused almost irreparable damage to our country when it was actually realized and put into effect.

  • toowearyforoutrage on September 24, 2012 3:29 PM:

    The framing is a bit off, to my mind.
    To blame Bush is to blame the toddler one lets loose in the fine crystal department.

    He's gonna break stuff. You just wonder who was supposed to be watching the kid. No proper assessment of the last decade attempts to wrap it up in a pretty Bush-bow.

    Cheney, Gonzales, Arrington, Yoo, Rove, Rumsfeld... without a plentifully stocked stable of malefactors, how much damage could the boy king have done?

    To let these reprehensible angels of death and fascism slide is to allow history to repeat itself. It DID repeat itself. Many of these same men got started with Nixon and slipped into the shadows with the country's having "moved on" thanks to Gerald Ford's pardon.

    The light hand of the Obama administration in a SECOND round of undeserved and ill-advised reconciliation will possibly produce yet a THIRD appearance of the men that count on impunity.

  • Rex on September 24, 2012 6:01 PM:

    How long is the ebook? Be great if that information was provided on the amazon page to help people get a sense of what their four bucks are buying them. Its still useful to have page numbers listed in the book's information -- even if the book doesn't physically have pages!

  • Shokai on September 29, 2012 1:16 PM:

    If you were dumb enough to support Bush in 2000, I forgive you. But if anyone who supported Bush in 2004, needs to be dealt with in the following manner: http://youtu.be/UOeoiY9X848