It's hard to know how many books have been written about George W. Bush during the course of his presidency that skewer him on just about everything, but Jacob Weisberg's "The Bush Tragedy" is a welcome addition to that increasing number as the author looks at his subject from a standpoint different from many of the others....his family. Weisberg is dead-on on his assessments of our nation's forty-third president and from that vantage point, we get to know much more about this latest tragedy in a series of family members that were as dysfunctional as they come. And the current president is the worst of them all.
Growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut, I've always been well aware of the Bush family from the days when "W"'s grandfather, Prescott, served in the U.S. Senate. The Bushes, then, were known as the "respectable" Republicans...the kind that used to be identified with the east coast, and a point well reviewed in this book. Few in town these days want to be associated with the name "Bush"...at least the Texas kind. As the Bushes moved south and west they developed into another kind of family with George W. Bush taking the family name off the deep end, with the help of religious conservatives. If Bush #41 began a trend of the northeast toward the Democratic party, Bush #43 sealed the deal. Yet as Weisberg points out, "W", who had been a cajoler in his days as Texas governor and did his best to keep the name "Bush" as a uniter, turned out to be a divider as president. This is one of many aspects of "The Bush Tragedy" that Weisberg covers well.
Much of "The Bush Tragedy" features the ginning up of the war in Iraq...Bush's most notable and long-lasting failure. The author's accounts of the president's change of rationale for being in Iraq every eighteen months or so is terrific. Here, the Bush rhetoric comes under some intense scrutiny, all the better to remember those presidential miscues from a few years ago that now seem almost like scenes from another time.
George Bush has claimed to read a good deal of history and counts Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill among his heroes. Weisberg brilliantly deconstructs this and the middle paragraph of a page not far from the end of the book sums up Bush to a tee. "The Bush Tragedy" is the most apt name for a book I've seen in a while. I highly recommend it and credit goes to Jacob Weisberg who reminds us that once in a while a really bad apple inhabits the White House.