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The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception [Hardcover]

David Corn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sep 2003
“George W. Bush is a liar. He has lied large and small, directly and by omission. He has mugged the truth—not merely in honest error, but deliberately, consistently, and repeatedly.” —from the Introduction

All American presidents have lied, but George W. Bush has relentlessly abused the truth. In this scathing indictment of the president and his inner circle, David Corn, the Washington editor of The Nation, reveals and examines the deceptions at the heart of the Bush presidency. In a stunning work of journalism, he details and substantiates the many times the Bush administration has knowingly and intentionally misled the American public to advance its own interests and agenda, including:

* Brazenly mischaracterizing intelligence and resorting to deceptive arguments to whip up public support for war with Iraq
* Misrepresenting the provisions and effects of the president’s supersized tax cuts
* Offering misleading explanations— instead of telling the full truth — about the 9/11 attacks
* Lying about connections to corporate crooks
* Presenting deceptive and disingenuous claims to sell controversial policies on the environment, stem cell research, missile defense, Social Security, white-collar crime, abortion, energy, and other crucial issues
* Running a truth-defying, down-and-dirty campaign during the 2000 presidential contest and recount drama

The Lies of George W. Bush is not a partisan whine—it is instead a carefully constructed, fact-based account that clearly denotes how Bush has relied on deception—from the campaign trail to the Oval Office—to win political and policy battles. With wit and style, Corn explains how Bush has managed to get away with it and explores the dangerous consequences of such presidential deceit in a perilous age.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publishers; 1st, First Edition, First Printing edition (Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400050669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400050666
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,460,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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George W. Bush is a liar. Read the first page
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of a serial liar 8 Jun 2004
By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The only thing wrong with this book is that there is no chance that more than a minuscule percentage of the electorate will read it, and most of them will be the already knowledgeable.
Journalist David Corn, who writes for The Nation and other publications in addition to having appeared on many TV and radio news shows, including NPR and Fox News, begins the book with the words, "George W. Bush is a liar. He has lied large and small. He has lied directly and by omission."
Corn obviously had to get that off his chest and out in the open since that is something he and all the other reporters who have followed the career of George W. know only too well; and yet it is something they have seldom felt free to say in so many words.
Corn recalls all the major Bush prevarications, from the weapons of mass destruction that weren't there, to the tax cuts that emptied the treasury for his buds, back to the 1990 Harken Energy (a kind of mini-Enron) insider trading scandal that saved George W. from what would have been another business failure. He was on the board of directors of Harken when he sold off his shares two months before the company's stock took a 20% nose dive after its losses became public. Bush denied trading on inside information. Because the SEC consisted of mostly friends of his father, George W. was given a clean bill of heath. Imagine what would have happened to him if his name had been, say, Martha Stewart.
In the final chapter, "Conclusion: How He Gets Away with It (So Far)" Corn attempts to explain why Bush's lies haven't hurt him. He blames the press for not having the gumption (maybe I should just say "guts") to contradict the president or to print the unvarnished truth themselves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
"We live in a relativistic culture where television 'reality shows' are staged or stage-managed, where spin sessions and spin doctors are an accepted part of politics…where an aide to President Bush, dismissing reporters who live in the 'reality-based community,' can assert that 'we're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality'...members of the current Bush administration, as Franklin Foer has written in The New Republic, have promoted 'the radically postmodern' view that 'science,' 'objectivity' and 'truth' 'are guises for an ulterior, leftist agenda,' arguing that experts (be they experts on the environment, Medicare or postwar Iraq) 'are so incapable of dispassionate and disinterested analysis that their work doesn't even merit a hearing'...As Deborah Lipstadt, author of DENYING THE HOLOCAUST: THE GROWING ASSAULT ON TRUTH AND MEMORY has argued, the suggestion that no event or fact has a fixed meaning leads to the premise that 'any truth can be retold.' And when people assert that there is no ultimate historical reality, an environment is created in which the testimony of a witness to the Holocaust - like Mr. Wiesel, the author of NIGHT - can actually be questioned..."
Michiko Kakutani
New York Times
"Bending the Truth in a Million Little Ways"
January 17, 2006
"This [neoconservative] focus on reintegrating Iraq into the regional framework of order under US hegemony was no doubt heightened by the fact that Iraq challenged the US monopoly over the oil trade, maintained through the fact that oil transactions occur in US dollars. Since 1971...the dollar has...become the de facto world reserve currency...
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  73 reviews
526 of 577 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, sobering, poignant 6 Nov 2003
By Michael K. McKeon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For those of us who have devoured the recent books outlining the depradations of the Bush Administration such as those by Vidal, Ivins, Franken, and Moore you will find little revelatory here. However, David Corn is a fine journalist and serious scholar with evident professional integrity. So, what is rewarding about "The Lies of George W. Bush" is its comprehensive, well documented, and scholarly approach -- making it above reproach in terms of research and accuracy.
Corn's basic point and most poignant observation is at the book's beginning. There is nothing unique about Bush as a politician being a liar; in that respect he is in good company. However, he campaigned on a self righteous, moralistic platform asserting that he would maintain clean campaigns and straightforward, honest leadership. It was on this basis that he proclaimed he was entitled to the mantle of leadership rather than Al Gore, whose occasional bending of the truth the Republicans branded reprehensible and immoral. His constituents also assert that unbending commitment to the truth and morality is their quest, yet they relentlessly lie in their ruthless quest for power and profit as they trample the rights and exploit the majority of Americans, and endanger the safety of the planet.
Probably the best, and most telling chapter in the book deals with Bush's "White Collar Lies". He comprehensively outlines Bush's violations of SEC regulations, outright lies, and theft during his involvement in Harken Energy and substantial profits from insider trading, which foreshadowed the later Enron scandal that mirrored this scandal. Corn skillfully compares the two and, in an understated fashion, points out the glaring irony.
Corn very effectively and eloquently outlines that George W. Bush is a well established liar, and on the basis of his widespread, pervasive, and menacing lies, and his ruthlessness in pursuit of any of his objectives that he is unfit to be the President of the United States.
261 of 285 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Despite agreeing with the author, a very disappointing book 5 Oct 2003
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I completely agree with David Corn's assessment of George W. Bush's struggle with personal honesty, and would go a step further and insist that is his most probably the most dishonest president in the history of our nation. When he writes, "So constant is [Bush's] fibbing that a history of his lies offers a close approximation of the history of his presidential tenure, " he makes as profound a statement about the nature of this administration as is possible. Moreover, I found myself virtually never disagreeing with any statement that he makes in the course of the entire book. Also, as one of the key figures in covering the current (as I write this) story of two White House senior aides blowing the cover of Joseph Wilson's CIA agent wife, I am grateful to his superb journalist efforts over the years.
So why am I not thrilled with the book? Because it is more or less just a laundry list of lies, and not a great deal more. It is a one-note song. My complaint is not with the book that it is, but with the book that it should have been. After cataloging Bush's lies for over three hundred pages, I think only the most partisan of individuals could deny that Bush has a problem with truth telling. The man is patently dishonest, and the book performs a valuable service by articulating all the ways that he engages in dishonesty.
But at the end of the book, I found myself dissatisfied in many ways. Why this enormous reliance on disinformation in the Bush White House? Does it originate from him or from his advisors or from some ongoing movement in the Republican right wing (I believe it is all three)? What does this reliance on distortion and misleading the public say about American culture? Why has the media, until recently, been unwilling to call Bush to the carpet on some of his more outrageous errors? Or why couldn't Corn have discussed the question of whether it is possible to be honest in today's political climate? This is not nitpicking: these are the kinds of questions that would arise for any reasonably intelligent person reading the book.
I also have some trouble with using "lie" when in fact Bush's struggles with the truth are far more multifarious. For instance, often what he says, while wrong, may be things he actually believes, for instance when he calls Ariel Sharon a man of peace. No one who knows anything about Sharon could possibly make that assessment (indeed, his political base in Israel supports him precisely because he is not a man of peace), but when Bush says that, it is a lie, or a belief based either in ignorance or self-deception? For something to qualify as a lie, one must consciously know that what one is saying is not true. In other words, I believe a lot of the untrue things that Bush says is based on an inability to assess the truth of a situation. Not every mistaken statement qualifies as a lie.
Mind you, Bush does lie, but many of his false statements are not, as such, lies. Some are mistakes of fact. Some result from his ability to convince himself that something is true that isn't. A gigantic amount of what he says is simply PR or propaganda, such as calling his deregulation of environmental standards a "Clear Skies" program (whereas it is in fact merely a license to pollute). This is clearly dishonest, and while there is a bit of the lie in all propaganda, it doesn't come up to the level of a lie. Spinning a situation isn't lying so much as attempting to color the facts in a way that is more sympathetic to one's own agenda. Dishonest, yet, but a lie, no. I would have been more comfortable if the title of the book had been THE DISHONESTY OF GEORGE W. BUSH.
Nonetheless, the book is very definitely not without value, but of the recent spate of books critical of the Right and the Bush administration, this is not one of the best. Paul Krugman in THE GREAT UNRAVELING deals with much of the dishonesty inherent in the Bush administration (Krugman was, in fact, the first journalist I know of to explicitly call Bush a liar). Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose in BUSHWHACKED go into great detail about not merely the dishonesty of the Bush policies but the concrete ways in which they harm real human beings. On a humorous level, Al Franken tackles Right wing (including Bush) dishonesty in a way that is both accurate and hysterical. I would recommend all of these before Corn's book.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall a pretty good book 12 Jan 2005
By Obi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Though I think the author overstates some things in the book, it is effective in showing a pattern of deception with George W. Bush that preceded his advent to the Whitehouse and characterizes his administration today.

What is most alarming about the book is the lesson that lying actually can work. With a propaganda machine of neocon pundits running interference for him, this President has taken more liberties with the truth than even Nixon.

One thing that would have greatly strengthened the book was the use of footnotes. I find it likely that the author has good sources for his statements, but the lack of footnotes severely weakens book as a means of clearly showing the lies told by George W. Bush.
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of a serial liar 23 Nov 2004
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The only thing wrong with this book is that there is no chance that more than a minuscule percentage of the electorate will read it, and most of them will be the already knowledgeable.
Journalist David Corn, who writes for The Nation and other publications in addition to having appeared on many TV and radio news shows, including NPR and Fox News, begins the book with the words, "George W. Bush is a liar. He has lied large and small. He has lied directly and by omission."

Corn obviously had to get that off his chest and out in the open since that is something he and all the other reporters who have followed the career of George W. know only too well; and yet it is something they have seldom felt free to say in so many words.

Corn recalls all the major Bush prevarications, from the weapons of mass destruction that weren't there, to the tax cuts that emptied the treasury for his buds, back to the 1990 Harken Energy (a kind of mini-Enron) insider trading scandal that saved George W. from what would have been another business failure. He was on the board of directors of Harken when he sold off his shares two months before the company's stock took a 20% nose dive after its losses became public. Bush denied trading on inside information. Because the SEC consisted of mostly friends of his father, George W. was given a clean bill of heath. Imagine what would have happened to him if his name had been, say, Martha Stewart.

In the final chapter, "Conclusion: How He Gets Away with It (So Far)" Corn attempts to explain why Bush's lies haven't hurt him. He blames the press for not having the gumption (maybe I should just say "guts") to contradict the president or to print the unvarnished truth themselves. Instead of a mealymouthed "Analysts Discount Attack by Iraq" (as in the Washington Post headline had it) or "CIA Warns That a US Attack May Ignite Terror" (as in the New York Times), Corn wonders why they didn't write, "CIA Suggests Bush Misleads Public on Threat from Iraq." Furthermore, before Bush was "elected" and was still campaigning, "Howell Raines, then the editorial page editor of the New York Times, ordered Paul Krugman...a harsh Bush critic, not to use the word 'lie' when assailing Bush's proposals."

Clearly the print media abdicated its responsibility to inform the public. In some cases the reporters refrained from asking hard questions and from writing candid stories because they were afraid they might not get their name called during the next presidential press conference, or because they were afraid of criticism that would come from Bush's supporter. But in other cases the direction to go easy on Bush came from higher management and ownership. The press, quite frankly, in a de facto sense was not, and is not, free. I think this is one of the big problems in this country today, and it is getting worse.

Even worse is the sad state of television news where the programs are under the watchful eyes of not only Rupert Murdoch types but also the sponsors of the programs who will not tolerate the president being called a liar. Even worse the news people not only quote Bush's lies, they broadcast him telling them as mini infomercials, often without a word of contradiction or warning that what you are hearing is not the truth.

The question arises, does Bush know he is lying? Maybe he does, but believes it's for a greater good. Or maybe, since no man sees himself as a scoundrel, his hypocrisy is so self-deceptive that he doesn't realize the extent of his mendacity. Corn speculates that Bush is "a binary thinker who views the world in black-and-white terms." (p. 320) Such people inevitably fall into self-deception because the world is not just black and white, and the truth is not, you're either for us or against us. Instead the truth varies according to circumstance and point of view, and there are many shades in-between.
By the way, another even more detailed and forceful book on this exact subject with an almost identical slant is The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)Leads America (2004) by Eric Alterman and Mark Green, which I also highly recommend.

Bottom line: a no-holds-barred look at the mendacious president, a two-faced master of deception and falsification who is doing Machiavelli proud. Our only hope is that the information in this book will somehow trickle down to the larger electorate, and the truth about George W. Bush will become common knowledge.
61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An encyclopedia of the not-so-funny Bushisms 22 Mar 2004
By Justin T. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Bushism's series did a great deal to undermind Bush's claim to any kind of common sense or articulatory grace. Unfortunately, it also unwittingly kept in its shadow for so very long the the other, more dangerous kind of "Bushism:" his flagrant and consistent track record of public deception. Corn's work is nothing if not a concise and astute omnibus of George W. Bushes incessant 30+ year marathon of political dishonesty. This book almost takes the form of a desk reference rather than the contemporary political thesis that many might expect from a book that shares the stand with the labors of Al Franken, James Carville, Molly Ivans and Michael Moore. And though these are all great authors and great "liberal" minds, this book digresses from the pack in one very important way. All of these other authors assemble a number of facts, string them together ins a specific way, intersperse their own commentary and draw the conclusion for the reader. Corn takes a very different approach. He presents facts. Then he presents more facts. And when fact piles on top of fact on top of fact, and so on, only someone in abject denial could avoid seeing the only logical conclusion for himself. I was tempted to dock a star on my rating for the fact that throughout the book (though especially near the beginning) Corn risks losing the reader by detailing all (and I do mean ALL) of the "little white lies" for which anyone except the alleged "angry democrat" would be willing to forgive him. However, I also understood, as you should when you buy this book, that this stalwart loyalty to the format is integral to its spirit. In the same way that a historian has a sacred responsibility to write down everything he sees (and ONLY what he sees) for generational and academic posterity, Corn was fulfilling a sacred responsibility to not only censor everything save the facts, but also to provide all the facts, pertinent or otherwise. I applaud him for being able to achieve this goal and still produce a timely, topical and readable volume for one of the most volatile election-year political climates in history.
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