The apple doesn’t fall as far from the tree as George Bush would like

Scholars & Rogues is pleased to present our first Guest Scrogue. Russ Wellen is an editor at Freezerbox and OpEdNews and a frequent blogger at AlterNet.


FDR is a model presidential biography,” writes ubiquitous book reviewer Jonathan Yardley of Jean Edward Smith’s new book. He also wrote a 2001 biography that completed the rehabilitation of Ulysses S. Grant’s reputation—basing presidential decisions on principles: what a concept! Between those two books, Smith has had almost as many “magisterials” (one of a book reviewer’s most supreme—and hackneyed—plaudits) thrown his way as Robert Caro with his biographies of Robert Moses and LBJ.

Turns out Smith also wrote a lesser-known book called George Bush’s War. Think of it as a companion piece to Bob Woodward’s Bush at War.

According to Kirkus Review‘s summary on Amazon, “in this volatile study, America’s adventure [Iraq] … was not a crusade for freedom but a checkpoint on the personal agenda of George Bush, who disregarded constitutional restrictions on presidential power and cynically manipulated the public, the press, Congress, and even the military.” It continues:

Smith chronicles Bush’s personalization of the crisis and details the resulting twists and turns of public perception, policy, and action.

Bush’s penchant for heroism … led him to adopt a ‘crusading’ posture against Iraq. This personalizing of world affairs resulted in rapid, short-term success, but Smith spells out its possible dangers for democracy: Bush’s alleged disregarding of expert advice, particularly from the State Department and the military… the crumbling of congressional caution during the crisis, he adds, undermined the separation of powers, making the President a virtual dictator of foreign policy.

Particularly damning is Smith’s abundant evidence of the Administration’s policy of ‘minimum candor’ … even Generals Powell and Schwartzkopf apparently learned of Bush’s decision to switch from defensive to offensive operations through TV news reports.

That’s right—Bush at War, published in 1992, is about George H.W. and the Gulf War.

Too bad brother Jeb defused the famous “You wanna go mano-a-mano right here?” incident. If Junior had taken a swing at his father and connected, he might have resolved his Oedipal conflict right then and there. We’d then have been spared a president who, in part, based his foreign policy on the need to one-up his father by bagging Saddam Hussein, the one that got away from his dad.

14 replies »

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  2. watch out for Jebs son….isnt he going into the coast gaurd or something like that. If so, I’m sure he’ll pop up running for office as a naval commander or something similar. That son of his is a wild one. I believe he also ran over his girlfriends yard in an SUV and got into it with her father.

  3. Do you think if we took up a collection we could persuade the whole bunch, dogs and canaries, uncles, cousins, to move to Paraguay, or was it Uraguay? I would contribute. Maybe Tierre Del Fuego?

    If we do nothing, we are going to have the brothers, their sons, cousins, etc., having offices purchased for them into the next millenium, if we survive that long.

  4. To Dr. Denny:

    Thanks for welcoming me. Great article on Vitter, which I read on AlterNet. Also liked your latest collection of quotes.

    You’d think Republicans never experienced economic hardship. They do, but either their friends bail them out or they grow bitter and blame liberals and entitlement programs for dragging the economy down.

    (I successfully registered with LiveJournal to reply on your site, but while trying to comment, kept gettting “error.”)

    To News Sophisticate:

    It’s Jeb, Jr. that got in touble. But mark my words — his other son, George Prescott Bush, will be our first Hispanic president someday. He’s laying low now because, he says, he senses “Bush fatigue.” For more, go here:

    To Ms. Russell:

    Yes, it’s Paraguay. We might not be able to indict George Bush fast enough after leaving office to keep him from absquatulating from Crawford to Paraguaray. He can run a banana plantation. He’s got plenty of experience from running the US as a banana republic.

  5. Thanks, Russ. It’s good to be occasionally reminded about George I. Perhaps Dubya’s greatest accomplishment as president has been to make his father look Rushmore-worthy by comparison. Our ability to fully inoculate ourselves against future Bush outbreaks depends on understanding the disease as completely as possible.

  6. The Bushes are the American Wahhabis.

    The Wahhabis are the Beverly Hillbillies of the Middle East.

  7. Maybe you can tell me his name and who he is because his website certainly did not.

  8. “The Wahhabis are the Beverly Hillbillies of the Middle East.”

    Caught me off-guard with that startling simile. But that doesn’t make bin Laden Uncle Jeb, does it?

    Re stalking: The current president has tefloned an assortment of scandals. But if there’s anything left in America, short of rape and murder, with the power to derail a political career, it’s stalking. (I think, I hope.)

    Meanwhile, Nezua, the Unapologetic Mexican, for president? I’m on board.

  9. Nope, I think bin Laden is the cousin who makes moonshine that everyone drinks, and some even sell, but no one acknowleges.

  10. BTW, Russ, I can not take credit for that wonderful line as I stole it from someone years ago. I want to say Gore Vidal, but actually, I cannot remember… of the mixed blessings of age.