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Is Our Children Learning?: The Case Against George W. Bush
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2001
Paul Begala is a former Clinton adviser who helped fellow Democrat Al Gore prepare for the 2000 presedential debates by playing the role of, yes, you've guessed it, George W Bush during rehearsals. After reading "Is Our Children Learning?" (the title is taken directly from a W quote), it becomes quite clear that Mr Begala doesn't have much empathy for the man he portrayed. What we have here is a searingly critical portrait of someone who has shamelessly exploited his family connections and the privileges (especially financial) these have engendered in order to avoid responsibility his whole life: the ultimate irony being that due to the sheer peversity of the "cash is king" American political system (not to mention having a few pals on the Supreme Court), the very same factors have now helped to propel him into the most responsible position on earth - leader of the free world. Like any good prosecutor, Begala packs his "case against" with numerous facts and statistics to bolster his arguments. Bush's obsession with providing tax cuts for the rich while governor of Texas, his record - or should that be record breaking - on the death penalty and his advocacy of laws that guarantee an American citizen's right to carry a handgun practically anywhere, even in church, are scrupulously detailed. The tone is one of perpetual outrage and disbelief that the American people would even consider electing someone like Bush as their leader (Begala wrote most of the book before the election, and obviously meant it as a deterrant; and if you consider the outcome of the popular vote, perhaps it worked), but it is also a very funny piece of work, peppered with witty one-liners and acidic asides: "When you watch this guy ... {Bush} ... giving a speech, you get the sense he ain't getting past the second round of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." The feeling that if he went to a mind reader, they'd only charge half-price. That if a thought wanted to cross his mind it'd need a canteen." Okay, so Begala is obviously biased and partisan, and it's pretty unlikely that anyone who isn't already convinced that W is the devil incarnate would bother to read this fairly slim volume of non-stop Bush Bashing - but there are some interesting (and at times scary) facts here for those converts who crave a bit more preaching. Begala, like his former campaign partner James Carville, is a seriously illuminating and entertaining voice in the world of political opinion; sort of like your favourite, funniest, wisest Sociology professor with the perfect gag to thought-provoking statement ratio.
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