May 5, 2011: Obama Visits 9-11 Memorial at Ground Zero

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama places a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero President Obama places a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/5/11

STATS & POLLS

  • For Obama, Big Rise in Poll Numbers After Bin Laden Raid: Support for President Obama rose sharply after the killing of Osama bin Laden, with a majority now approving of his overall job performance, as well as his handling of foreign policy, the war in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
    The glow of national pride seemed to rise above partisan politics, as support for the president rose significantly among both Republicans and independents. In all, 57 percent said they now approved of the president’s job performance, up from 46 percent last month.
    But euphoria was tempered by a sense of foreboding: more than six in 10 Americans said that killing Bin Laden was likely to increase the threat of terrorism against the United States in the short term. A large majority also said that the Qaeda leader’s death did not make them feel any safer. Just 16 percent said they personally felt more safe now…. – NYT, 5-5-11

    THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama giving NY its moment of justice on bin Laden: From the heart of the shocking terror strike on America, President Barack Obama will try to bury the memory of Osama bin Laden by honoring those who died in the fiery Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In private talks with families and a somber ceremony at ground zero, Obama is out to let New York have its own moment of justice. Obama heads to New York City on Thursday after sharply rejecting calls for him to release photos of a slain bin Laden so the world could see some proof of death. The president said he would not risk giving propaganda to extremists or gloat by publicizing grotesque photos of a terrorist leader shot in the head. To those who keep on doubting, Obama said, “You will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • Obama in NY: We never forget, we mean what we say: Solemnly honoring victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, President Barack Obama hugged survivors, thanked the heroes of one of the nation’s darkest days and declared Thursday that the killing of Osama bin Laden after all these years was an American message to the world: “When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say.” On a brilliant blue-sky day, one of reflection more than celebration, Obama offered New Yorkers a moment of their own. Standing at the gritty construction site of ground zero, where the towers fell and a memorial now rises, the president laid a wreath of red, white and blue flowers for the nearly 3,000 who died as he marked a turning point for the nation and this city of steely resilience. For Obama, the day was about the importance of being in New York in the aftermath of the successful raid to find and kill bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader. Obama addressed families who have watched and wondered for nearly a decade whether the government would track down its most infamous enemy…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • In NYC, Obama says Osama mission ‘sent a message’: Visiting New York just days after the mastermind of the 2001 attack on the city was killed U.S. special forces, President Obama on Thursday told police and firefighters the terrorist’s death is proof that American justice has a long reach. In surprise visits to the “Pride of Midtown” firehouse, which lost 15 men in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks nearly a decade ago, and then later at the 1st Precinct police station in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Obama said the Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden Sunday in Pakistan did it “in the name of your brothers that were lost.”
    “What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say,” the president told the firefighters. He also visited with family members of victims of the attack and laid a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. Along the roads his motorcade was greeted by cheering crowds… – Washington Times, 5-5-11
  • After bin Laden death, Obama visits Ground Zero: Days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama met New York firefighters and police on Thursday and visited Ground Zero to offer comfort to a city still scarred by the September 11 attacks. His predecessor, George W. Bush, just three days after hijacked planes destroyed the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, had stood bullhorn in hand in the smoldering wreckage to declare, “The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” Almost a decade later, in a bookend to that historic visit, Obama came to New York to say that promise had been kept. He said the killing of bin Laden told the world “that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say.”
    Obama visited Engine 54 in midtown, which with 15 deaths lost more members on 9/11 than any other firehouse, before heading to Lower Manhattan to talk with police and lay a wreath at Ground Zero, the Twin Towers site, where he also met with victims’ families. Obama told firefighters at the “Pride of Manhattan” firehouse, “I wanted to just come here to thank you.” “This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago,” he said. “It didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act — ‘ that they received justice…. – Reuters, 5-5-11

QUOTES

The President in NYC: “When We Say We Will Never Forget, We Mean What We Say”:
To the firefighters: This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago. Obviously we can’t bring back your friends that were lost, and I know that each and every one of you not only grieve for them, but have also over the last 10 years dealt with their family, their children, trying to give them comfort, trying to give them support.
What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say; that our commitment to making sure that justice is done is something that transcended politics, transcended party; it didn’t matter which administration was in, it didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act — that they received justice.
So it’s some comfort, I hope, to all of you to know that when those guys took those extraordinary risks going into Pakistan, that they were doing it in part because of the sacrifices that were made in the States. They were doing it in the name of your brothers that were lost.To the police: And so since that time I know a lot of you have probably comforted loved ones of those who were lost. A lot of you have probably looked after kids who grew up without a parent. And a lot of you continue to do extraordinary — extraordinarily courageous acts without a lot of fanfare. What we did on Sunday was directly connected to what you do every single day. And I know I speak for the military teams, the intelligence teams that helped get bin Laden in saying that we know the sacrifices and courage that you show as well, and that you are part of the team that helped us achieve our goal, but also help us keep our citizens safe each and every day.
So I couldn’t be prouder of all of you. I couldn’t be more grateful to you. And I hope that you know that the country will continue to stand behind you going forward, because there are still going to be threats out there and you’re still going to be called on to take courageous actions and to remain vigilant, and you’re going to have an entire country behind you when you do it. – WH, 5-5-11

Top Newsmakers: This Week… Julian Zelizer: Assessing the Bush Presidency & “Decision Points” in the Media

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Her blog is History Musings

This past week President George W. Bush released his highly anticipated memoirs, “Decision Points.” To coincide with the release of Bush’s memoirs, Julian Zelizer, Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University has edited “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment,” (Princeton University Press, 2010). Zelizer’s book released last month is the first scholarly work that attempts to analyze and place Bush’s presidency and legacy into historical perspective. Zelizer this past week has also been the media’s number one scholarly source as they attempt to put Bush’s memoirs into a broader context. He has given a live chat on the Washington Post’s website, has given radio interviews, was interviewed by BBC and the Danish media, been quoted on MTV, has hosted a book signing of his own book, and has analyzed Decision Points in an TV interview on PBS’s Newshour.

BASIC FACTS

Teaching Position: Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton University, 2007-Present. Faculty Associate, Center for the Study for the Study of Democratic Politics, 2007-Present.
Area of Research: American political history
Education: Ph.D., Department of History, The Johns Hopkins University, 1996;
M.A., with four Distinctions, Department of History, The Johns Hopkins University, 1993;
B.A., Summa Cum Laude with Highest Honors in History, Brandeis University, 1991.
Major Publications: Zelizer is the author of Jimmy Carter (New York: Times Books, 2010); Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989 (Boston: Bedford, 2010); Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security–From World War II to the War on Terrorism (New York: Basic Books, 2010); On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004; paperback edition 2006). The book was featured on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and Comcast’s Books of Our Times. Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998; paperback edition 2000). Winner of the Organization of American Historians 2000 Ellis Hawley Prize for Best Book on the Political Economy, Politics, and Institutions of the United States and the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation’s 1998 D.B. Hardeman Prize for Best Publication on Congress.
Julian E. Zelizer JPG Zelizer is the editor of The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment (Princeton University Press, 2010); Co-Editor, The Constitution and Public Policy in U.S. History. Co-editor with Bruce Schulman (University Park: Penn State Press, 2009). This book was previously published as a special issue of the Journal of Policy History; Co-Editor, Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s. Co-editor with Bruce Schulman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008); Editor, New Directions in Policy History (University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2005). This book was previously published as a special issue of the Journal of Policy History. Editor, The American Congress: The Building of Democracy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004). This book was named as a 2005 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Co-Editor, The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History. Coedited with Meg Jacobs and William Novak (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).
Zelizer holds editor positions, as the Co-Editor, Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America book series, Princeton University Press, 2002-Present, and is part of the Editorial Board, The Journal of Policy History, 2002-Present.
Zelizer is currently working on the following book projects: What’s Good for Business. Co-Editor with Kimberly Phillips-Fein. Under contract with Oxford University Press; Building a Great Society: LBJ, Congress, and the Transformation of American Government. Under contract with Penguin Press.
Zelizer is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews; for a full listing of publications see CV
Awards: Zelizer is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Featured on Emmy Award Winner, Great Moments from the Campaign Trail, History Channel, 2008;
Member, PEN American Center, 2006-Present;
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, 2006-2007;
Named as one of the “Top Young Historians” by the History News Network, 2005;
Telly Award. The Telly Award, which is the premier award honoring outstanding cable Programs, was given to the program Books of Our Time for the episode that Focused on my book, On Capitol Hill, 2005;
The Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, 2005;
Moody Grant, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, 2004;
Mellon Visiting Senior Scholar, University of Cambridge, 2004;
Dirksen Congressional Center Special Projects Research Grant, 2001;
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Research Fellowship, 2000;
National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Research Stipend Award, 2000;
Harvard University Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, Goldsmith Research Award, 1999;
Dirksen Congressional Center Research Grant, 1999;
The Carl Albert Center, University of Oklahoma, Visiting Scholars Grant, 1999;
University at Albany, Support Grant for the Journal of MultiMedia History, 1999;
Student Choice Award, Enthusiasm in Teaching, University at Albany Student Association, 1999;
United University Professions Professional Development Program Grant, 1998;
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute Grant, 1997;
Hagley Museum and Library, Grant-in-Aid, 1997;
Finalist, Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Field of Humanities and Fine Arts 1996 Council of Graduate Schools/University Microfilms International.
Additional Info:
Formerly Professor of History, Boston University, 2004-2007;
Faculty Associate, Center for American Political Studies, Harvard University, 2004-2007; Associate Professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy, State University of New York at Albany, 2002-2004. Joint appointment with the Department of Political Science;
Affiliated Faculty, Center of Policy Research, State University of New York at Albany, 2002- 2004;
Associate Professor, Department of History, State University of New York at Albany, 1999- 2002. Joint Appointment with Department of Public Administration and Policy, 1999-2002;
Assistant Professor, Department of History, State University of New York at Albany, 1996- 1999.
Professor Zelizer is a well-known commentator in the national and international television, radio, and print media. He was featured on a show by the History Channel, Great Moments on the Campaign Trail, which was awarded an Emmy in 2008.
He is a regular contributor to CNN.Com and Politico. He has also published articles in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The American Prospect, among many other media appearances and commentaries in print, radio, and television.

COMMENTS/ANECDOTES

“I’m a true historian, but I never like to be confined by boundaries. I’ve learned from social science, political science, social history. To do it right, it has to be done without any rigid disciplinary boundaries.”…

“It’s nice to teach at the same institution as a parent; it doesn’t happen very often. Given how small Princeton is, we already have many connections of similar friends.”

“Both my parents contributed to my interest in education, creating a culture where learning and knowledge is a valuable commodity. I remember my grandfather, who also was a rabbi, used to say that being a professor and a rabbi is basically the same thing in terms of learning and teaching.”…

“Political policymakers are constantly looking to questions or lessons from the past. Instead of trying to understand the last two years, let’s understand the last 200 or 300 years. You can’t understand what’s going on today if you don’t look at it historically.”… “Whether you are going to work in welfare or foreign policy, it teaches you how to think about the past in ways that actually offer help as you develop proposals in the present.”

“It was kind of an odd way to learn, but doing a live radio show every week was really helpful. I learned the medium quickly and became comfortable with going live on the air not really knowing what we were going to talk about…. Public intellectuals comment on issues of the day using what they study, and I think a professor can contribute to that even if it’s in a sound bite. It’s a different way to get my ideas out there.” –

Originally published as part of Political scholar Zelizer goes beyond disciplinary, academic boundaries, News at Princeton, 3-8-08

Viviana and Julian Zelizer JPG

“What policy history does nicely is to look back to alternatives that were not taken. We can look at the New Deal to understand current economic policy. Decisions that weren’t taken might offer guidance to where we should be looking now.”…

“If we look at the Jimmy Carter era, there was a sweeping set of energy policies that were discussed, from nuclear power to increased conservation – most of which were defeated. Looking back at that brings us to ideas that have currency today.”…

“Most historians have not focused on public policy until recently. The history profession was much more concerned with social and political issues, not policy issues. As policy schools developed, historians were not really interested in becoming part of them.”

“In the past five or six years that’s started to change. A growing number of historians have become interested in the study of policy history.”
“It’s useful to convey the historical context in the classroom when they’re trying to understand long-term patterns, developments over decades. In dealing with a particular question of leadership or finance, it’s useful to see that issues have been playing out for a long time, to see how previous policymakers got around them – or did not get around them. It’s also useful for students understand the people who have had the jobs that they want to have someday,” he said.

“Many of the problems we have today are shaped by decisions that were taken years ago. We’re inheriting problems of structure that were built into the legislation.”

“It’s kind of an open-ended question. Do they just tell stories? An interdisciplinary environment offers the chance to work together with historians, political scientists and writers. In all my classes, we read a lot of work from other disciplines. There are opportunities for exciting writing and collaboration.” — Originally published as part of WWS Increases Faculty Specializing in Policy History, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs

QUOTES

By Julian E. Zelizer

  • It is impossible to tell how history will judge President Bush, given that interpretations of his tenure in office will change many times and be open to ongoing debate. Some historians who have weighed in point to decisions such as the surge of U.S. troops in Iraq, which stabilized conditions, as evidence of successful presidential leadership. Donald Critchlow has argued that “Bush’s remaking of the Republican party was a major achievement. By strengthening party organization at the national and state levels, Bush . . . enabled the GOP to harness grassroots activism to win control of Congress and the White House.” Yet a majority of professional historians (who do tend to come from the liberal side of the political spectrum) have been less sanguine. For a cover story in Rolling Stone, “The Worst President in History?,” Sean Wilentz began by saying, “Bush’s presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace.”The historians whose essays appear in this book do not attempt to resolve this debate. The chapters catalogue some of the successes of the administration, ranging from counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda between 2001 and The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment   JPG 2003 through AIDS policy in Africa to the appointment of minorities to prominent government positions. They also examine some of the failures, including the damage caused by the war in Iraq, the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina, and the devastating collapse of financial markets following years of deregulation in the fall of 2008. Rather than speculate whether he was the worst or the best president in U.S. history, the contributors have attempted to place the Bush White House in a broader historical perspective by understanding his presidency in relationship to the conservative movement.The authors of the essays in this book are trying to write a first take on the history of this period, but one that builds on the rich literature on the history of conservatism in modern America. We hope the essays provoke further investigation. Since this is an early effort to write the history of the George W. Bush presidency, the work is necessarily incomplete. We do not yet have access to some archival materials that will become available in the future. Yet, in addition to the substantial documentation instantaneously available in the age of the Internet, the contributors also have the advantage of producing this interpretation at a time when the emotions and sentiment and context of President Bush’s actions are still vivid. We hope these essays offer the opening to a conversation that will continue for centuries. — Julian E. Zelizer in “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment”
  • Any surprises in the book?: One of the authors wrote about Bush’s Texas origins and how Bush was legitimately interested in broadening the GOP, bringing in Latinos. This was the America Bush knew in Texas, and it’s what he wanted.As a historian, what’s your opinion of Bush?: My opinion is that he will go down as a transformative president. He was saddled with the image of an accidental president, the son of a president, someone not who’s serious. But when you start looking back at his tax policies, his war policies, his counter-terror policies, he’s enormously consequential … Right now, as Obama is struggling with each item on his agenda, we’re starting to appreciate the scale of what happened under Bush, whether you agree or disagree with his polices. Obama is living and dealing with what a lot of Bush did. Afghanistan, Iraq, tax cuts … a lot of Obama’s time in the White House has been defined as a response to what Bush did … Bush was a serious political player and was not taken seriously to the mistake of many people.So what’s going to be Bush’s legacy?: He was very successful in terms of shaping public policy. He’s got a pretty big record. There were failures; Iraq really didn’t work out the way he thought, and some would argue his tax polices caused the meltdown. But every president goes through tons of revisions. Truman was seen as a failure when he left office, now he’s the architect of the Cold War. Reagan was seen as a bumbling figure, now he’s seen as a shrewd leader who helped end Communism … Bush had the ability to move Washington and to move public policy, and it’s hard to deny that he did that and did it dramatically.So. The reason for the book?: Bush still looms large. He’s so polarizing, so controversial. Been a few quiet years, but people are thinking about him again. It’s fun for people to look back on a period they lived through and to start to think about it as a moment in history. — LOOK WHO’S TALKING Interview: Julian Zelizer, professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University Discussing “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment,” The Trentonian, 9-13-10
  • We hear about some of the regrets that he had about his presidency, how he handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some discussion of the WMDs that were not found in Iraq, and some acknowledgment by the president that this was, you know, unfortunate and saddened him. But, in general, this is the same President Bush who we heard when he left office. He defends much of his record, and he’s pretty resolute about the decisions that he made.Of all the facts, this is one we didn’t know about, that there was some discussion and consideration of replacing Vice President Cheney with Senator Bill Frist to be the vice presidential candidate. Part of the reason he wanted to do it was to demonstrate to the public that he was, in fact, in charge of the White House and that Vice President Cheney didn’t run the show behind the scenes. So, this is a revelation. Again, it’s not uncommon for people to talk about changes in the tickets behind the scenes, but it still is some news.I think, the more we learn from journalists and from historians about what went on in the White House, and from what we’re learning about people who left the administration, most don’t agree with that assessment. Whether you disagree or agree with his policies, this is someone who is intelligent and who was capable and who could be politically skillful at various times. I imagine there will be a bit of a revision, like you had with Ronald Reagan, who originally was thought to be not very intelligent, more an actor than a policy-maker. But the more we learned, we learned there was someone pretty cunning in the White House.I do think, like many presidents, he wants to get a first cut of the history. He knows that historians are coming. He knows that the historians are going to start investigating what went on. I think this is his effort to offer a defense and an explanation of what he did during his administration. And even on controversial issues like Iraq, where he acknowledges his regrets, he still stands by the decision. So, this is his kind of last argument before the historians start the debate.I would disagree only in that there really never is a final verdict. First of all, the historians have already started to write about him. And what will happen is, there will be multiple interpretations. There will be cycles of when people are negative or — about his policies, when they see more accomplishments than we noticed at the time. You know, a president like Ronald Reagan has gone through many ups and downs in terms of how we view his character, his skills, and the record and legacy of his policies. So — so, it’s an unending debate that is about to start. And I don’t think there will be any point in time where anyone issues a verdict. And I think that’s a healthy way to treat a presidency. — JULIAN ZELIZER, Editor, “The Presidency of GEORGE W. BUSH: A First Historical Assessment”, in “Bush Releases Memoir: ‘He Knows the Historians Are Coming’” Interview with PBS Newshour, 11-9-10Mp3
  • WTop.com Interview: President Bush Offers Some Apologies, Some Regret: Julian Zelizer, Presidential Historian and Editor of, “The Presidency of George W. Bush”… – Mp3
  • Julian Zelizer: Former President George W Bush defends policies in memoirs: “Extremely difficult. There are few of these memoirs that has a big role in changing how people hink of who a president is.” — BBC, 10-9-10
  • September 11. Katrina. Iraq. These events will be forever linked with the presidency of George W. Bush. Now, with the release of his memoir, “Decision Points,” the former president has the chance to defend his record and explain his actions. But as historians and the public alike look back on the Bush White House, will we be able to move past the persistent myths that endure about those tumultuous eight years?…
    1. George W. Bush was an uninformed Texas cowboy….
    2. Compassionate conservatism was just a campaign slogan….
    3. Bush committed America to nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan….
    4. Dick Cheney ran the Bush White House….
    5. Bush left conservatism in ruins.
    Julian Zelizer, “5 myths about George W. Bush,” WaPo, 11-3-10
  • I am very much looking forward to this chat about President George W. Bush and his legacy. In several of my recent publications, including an article in the Washington Post yesterday and a new book that I edited, The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, I have tried to move beyond some of the existing debate. Rather than answer whether Bush is the “best or worst” president or to repeat discussions about why people hated or loved him, the time has come to start understanding what actually happened when he was in office, to place these events and personalities in broader context, and to start understanding his presidency in relationship to President Obama’s.
    Besides some of the more familiar issues that shaped his presidency, such as 9/11 and the war on terrorism, looking back from 2010 raises new kinds of questions that might not have been as obvious at the time that his term ended: What impact did Bush have on the conservative movement? What was the relationship between deregulation during these years and the economic collapse in 2008? How did the economic policies of the period influence economic inequality? What was the relationship between President Bush and congressional Republicans? How did Bush overcome some of the obstacles that Obama has struggled in the political process? Did the Bush Doctrine really constitute as much as a turning point in U.S. foreign policy as it seemed at the time? How do we evaluate the impact of the Surge–and what did the decision-making behind that policy tell us about how the White House worked? How did President Bush come to push for a substantial expansion of government–through TARP–in the middle of the economic crisis? What impact did the 2006 elections have on the politics of his presidency? Which policies will outlast his presidency and why?
    Obviously these are just a few questions and there are many more to discuss. But the time has come to start thinking more seriously about this two-term president and the impact that he had on the nation. It is also to start developing a more sophisticated understanding of the roots of this administration rather than writing about these years as if everything started in 2001…. – Julian Zelizer: Five myths about George W. Bush Live-Chat, WaPo, 11-8-10
  • About Julian E. Zelizer

  • “Julian is a gifted communicator who can translate his scholarship into terms accessible to journalists and the general public. He injects needed historical perspective into contemporary political debate.” — Bruce Schulman, a professor of history at Boston University
  • “An all-star cast of historians examines the perplexing presidency of George W. Bush–the ‘compassionate conservative’ who frequently ended up allied with the hard right, the ‘uniter’ who presided over one of the nation’s most divisive political eras, the advocate of ‘humility’ on the world stage who fiercely championed unilateral presidential powers. After the journalists and pundits have had their say, the historians are here to put Bush’s tumultuous tenure in historical perspective. An essential resource for anyone seeking to understand contemporary American politics.” — Jacob S. Hacker, coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics and Off Center
  • “With clarity and precision, some of America’s most prominent historians of politics, law, and international relations examine the controversial presidency of George W. Bush. Their assessments of Bush’s administration are sober, rigorous, and eye-opening. Together these essays will provide a foundation for the next generation of scholarship on early twenty-first-century America.” — Thomas J. Sugrue, author of Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race
  • “George W. Bush once stated that ‘we’ll all be dead’ by the time history casts its judgment on his presidency. Instead, in this engaging and timely portrait of the Bush era, eleven leading scholars assess the ‘war on terror,’ the resurrection of the imperial presidency, the effects of tax cuts and corporate deregulation, and other foreign and domestic policies promoted by big-government conservatism. While acknowledging the administration’s political accomplishments, the contributors to this volume emphasize the ultimate failures of the Bush presidency and the conservative movement’s strategies of governance.” — Matthew D. Lassiter, University of Michigan
  • “Analytically shrewd and historically rich, this harvest of a book convenes a group of leading historians to assess the country’s recent past. Ranging from tax cuts to terrorism, and encompassing questions of ideology, multiculturalism, and presidential capacity, the contributions to this volume establish the scope and agenda for future studies of George W. Bush’s tumultuous presidency.” — Ira Katznelson, Columbia University
  • “This impressive collection features brilliant essays by some of America’s best historians on the presidency of George W. Bush. It’s all here–from the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision that sealed Bush’s first-term victory to the stunning financial crisis that closed his tenure in office. This stimulating and highly accessible volume is must reading for scholars, journalists, and concerned citizens.” — Eric M. Patashnik, author of Reforms at Risk
  • “This is a superb collection of essays. I am impressed with the range of issues they cover and the lucidity with which each essay illuminates a particular topic. Their interleaved and overlapping evidence reminds a general reader of the layers of meaning embedded in every political decision taken by the Bush administration–and the sometimes unfortunate consequences. This is an important and timely book.” — Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity
  • Zelizer (history & public affairs, Princeton Univ.; Jimmy Carter) has gathered an A-list of American historians who present a detailed analysis of the presidency of George W. Bush. Each essay examines a particular facet of Bush’s two terms, including such topics as terrorism, faith-based initiatives, energy policy, education, and the war in Iraq. Most of the 12 contributions are scholarly assessments without the partisan political rhetoric found on newspaper op-ed pages or cable TV news shows. Some of the essays, particularly those on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, go over territory that will be familiar to most readers. The more interesting chapters, one by Zelizer, delve into Bush’s place in the American conservative movement. Another thought-provoking treatise is David Greenberg’s (history, journalism, & media studies, Rutgers Univ.) study of the Bush administration’s denigration of professional expertise on subjects such as global warming, judicial nominations, and evolution. VERDICT It may be too soon for many readers to consider a historical analysis of the George W. Bush presidency. But Zelizer’s work provides a valuable benchmark for historians to build upon. — Robert Bruce Slater, Stroudsburg, PA, Library Journal, Oct. 15, 2010
  • Shrub Studies: Next week, Crown Publishers will issue President George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points, covering what the former president calls “eight of the most consequential years in American history,” which seems like a fair description. They were plenty consequential. To judge from the promotional video, Bush will plumb the depths of his insight that it is the role of a president to be “the decider.” Again, it’s hard to argue with his point — though you have to wonder if he shouldn’t let his accumulated wisdom ripen and mellow for a while before serving it.
    Princeton University Press has already beat him into print with The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, edited by Julian E. Zelizer, who is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton. The other 10 contributors are professors of history, international relations, law, and political science, and they cover the expected bases — the “War on Terror,” the invasion of Iraq, social and economic policy, religion and race. It is a scholarly book, which means that it is bound to make everybody mad. People on the left get angry at remembering the Bush years, while those on the right grow indignant that anyone still wants to talk about them. So the notion that they were consequential is perhaps not totally uncontroversial after all.
    The contributors make three points about the Bush administration’s place in the history of American conservatism that it may be timely to sum up, just now…. – Inside Higher Ed, 11-3-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer, an academic from Princeton and political commentator for CNN and The New York Times, has endeavoured to telescope the assessment of George W. Bush’s presidency. Indeed, Zelizer and his distinguished fellow contributors, all senior academics from prestigious institutions ranging from Georgetown’s Michael Kazin to Brown’s James T. Patterson, make a virtue of their early conclusions about the 43rd president by highlighting that this is a first historical assessment. By and large they have written a critical but penetrating analysis of the years 2001 to 2009.
    A strength of this book is that it seeks to place the Bush presidency in the context of earlier Republican administrations. There is a peculiar conservative American perspective on the exercise of presidential power and the limits that should apply to the government….
    The Bush presidency is entitled to the passage of time and the scholarship of a generation….
    Truman now rests easy; his reputation polished. For Bush, despite Zelizer’s early conclusions, authoritative judgment is still some distance away. — The Australian, “A legacy in progress,” 10-9-10

  • RELATED LINKS

    Julian Zelizer: Top Young Historian Profile, 12-4-05

    Julian Zelizer, Website, Princeton University

    The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment Edited by Julian E. Zelizer, Princeton University Press, 2010

    Examining the Bush Legacy: George W. Bush’s “Decision Points” & Julian Zelizer’s “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment” By Bonnie K. Goodman, HNN, 11-8-10

    Posted on Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    Examining the Bush Legacy: George W. Bush’s “Decision Points” & Julian Zelizer’s “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment”

    THE BUSH PRESIDENCY: GEORGE W. BUSH’S “DECISION POINTS”:

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    George W. Bush JPG

    DECISION POINTS by GEORGE W. BUSH, Crown, 2010

    The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment Edited by Julian E. Zelizer, Princeton University Press, 2010

    INTRO:

    President George W. Bush’s awaited memoirs Decision Points will be released on this Tuesday, November 9th from Crown, an imprint of Random House. The book is being shielded from the public until its release date however; a few copies have been released to the press. The New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and USA Today are among the media who received advanced copies, and are leaking excerpts from the memoirs.

    Early reviews have ranged widely from the lukewarm reception in the Washington Post, ‘Competent, readable and flat’ Decision Points JPG to the Washington Times glowing comments calling it it as ‘strikingly personal’, while Time has ranked Decision Points as the #2 political memoir of all time. As the publishing date gets closer, more news sources are releasing reviews of Decision Point, most are positive and some rather enthusiastic; the Christian Science Monitor hails “It’s a page- turner.”

    One of the major evaluating points has been how personal Bush gets in recounting events of his presidency; the NYT claims that Bush was not one for introspection, writing; “”Decision Points” lacks the emotional precision and evocative power of his wife Laura’s book, “Spoken From the Heart,” published earlier this year, though it’s a considerably more substantial effort than Mr. Bush’s perfunctory 1999 campaign memoir, “A Charge to Keep.”” While north of the border the Montreal Gazette headlines “Dubya gets personal in memoirs.”

    Crown is expecting a huge demand for the memoirs, and has ordered an initial first printing of 1.5 million copies. The book is being released in a plentitude of formats, including a deluxe multimedia e-book, which includes audio, video, letters and speeches. It is an unprecedented e-book publication, and will only be available in Amazon.com’s Kindle format. A deluxe hardcover version will be released later on November 30th.

    Decision Points is divided into 14 chapters. Each chapter examines a particular defining moment in Bush’s life and presidency, including “Day of Fire” about 9/11, “Stem Cells”, “Katrina” and “Financial Crisis.” Bush opens his memoirs with the chapter “Quitting”, and the words, “It was a simple question, ‘Can you remember the last day you didn’t have a drink?'” discussing his decision to stop drinking.

    Some of the previews of the memoir appearing in the media range from revelations about Bush’s reaction to 9/11, consideration to drop his Vice President, Richard Cheney from the ticket in his 2004 re-election bid, regret over the release of the photo showing him flying over New Orleans in Air Force One after Hurricane Katrina to resoluteness concerning his decisions with Iraq, stem cell research, and the financial crisis. Bush has emphasized the lowest point of his presidency was when rapper Kayne West called Bush a racist, because he deemed the President was being indifferent to black New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and it’s aftermath.

    This upcoming week Bush will be taking to the road to promote Decision Points, signing books in Miami and Dallas and making high profile appearances on a special interview with Matt Lauer on NBC, Monday at 8pm, and then Oprah on Tuesday. Other stops on the publicity rounds include interviews with Jay Leno, Candy Crowley on CNN on TV and with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on the radio. Bush will also appear on Fox News. Bush is also including his family when he is interviewed; wife Laura Bush, and his parents Barbara Bush and former President George H. W. Bush, and brother former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will appear alongside him at various points this week. Early clips and excerpts show Oprah attempting to get Bush to give his opinions on President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin however, Bush wants to stay out of the political fray.

    Coinciding with the publication of Decision Points, Princeton University Press released last month Princeton University Professor Julian E. Zelizer’s edited book The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment. The scholarly work attempts to begin the historical examination of Bush’s presidency and legacy by examining in twelve essays every facet of Bush’s two terms in office, and examine the Bush presidency in relations to Obama’s Presidency. It looks not to take sides about Bush, but to look at his presidency through the prism of historical perspective.

    The following includes some of the articles and excerpts released from the press about President Bush’s Decision Points and Julian Zelizer’s The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment:

    COMMENTS & REVIEWS

       

    • Book review: ‘Decision Points’ by George W. Bush: The former president delivers an unexpectedly engrossing rehash of what he considers to be the pivotal moments of his eight years in office. The first great American autobiographies both appeared in the 19th century, were born of conflict and written by public men — “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass” and “The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.” Since then, what we might call the publishing-industrial complex has turned the reminiscences of our public men and women into a never-ending stream. As former President George W. Bush — barely two years out of office — points out in the acknowledgement of his memoir, “Decision Points,” virtually every member of his extended, very political family has published a bestseller, including his parents’ dogs. Where does Bush’s account of his astonishingly eventful eight years rank in such company? Probably far higher than many of his detractors expected. As Bush writes in “Decision Points,” he enjoys surprising those who underestimate him. As the title suggests, the former chief executive elected to abandon the usual chronological approach to these volumes (except for a brief, obligatory foray into childhood and school years) in favor of his recollection of his presidency’s key choices and the personal decisions that Bush says prepared him to make them…. – LAT, 11-9-10
    • Global reaction to Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ memoir: It’s a page-turner: George W. Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ memoir is attracting global scrutiny for its views on everything from the Abu Ghraib scandal to Israel’s bombing of Syria to rapper Kanye West…. – CS Monitor, 11-8-10
    • Dubya gets personal in memoirs: Almost two years after leaving the White House as one of the most polarizing presidents in American history, Bush returns to the public arena Tuesday with the publication of a candid memoir, Decision Points, that recounts everything from his personal struggles with alcohol to an admission of failure in his leadership after Hurricane Katrina.
      Through a steady stream of publicity leaks and pre-publication interview excerpts, Americans already know many of the book’s highlights — including Bush’s revelation that he considered dropping Dick Cheney from the 2004 Republican ticket and his disgust with rapper Kanye West’s post-Katrina accusation that he didn’t care about black people. Almost two years after leaving the White House as one of the most polarizing presidents in history, Bush returns to the public arena Tuesday with the publication of a candid memoir, Decision Points, that reveals everything from his personal struggles with alcohol to his disappointment in having failed to capture Osama bin Laden…. – Montreal Gazette
    • Personality Intersects With Policy: George W. Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” could well have been titled “The Decider Decides”: it’s an autobiography focused around “the most consequential decisions” of his presidency and his personal life from his decision to give up drinking in 1986 to his decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to his decisions regarding the financial crisis of 2008. It is a book that is part spin, part mea culpa, part family scrapbook, part self-conscious effort to (re)shape his political legacy.
      A dogged work of reminiscence by an author not naturally given to introspection, “Decision Points” lacks the emotional precision and evocative power of his wife, Laura’s, book, “Spoken From the Heart,” published earlier this year, though it’s a considerably more substantial effort than Mr. Bush’s perfunctory 1999 campaign memoir, “A Charge to Keep.”… – NYT, 11-4-10
    • Top 10 Political Memoirs: While George W. Bush’s new memoir Decision Points doesn’t hit bookshelves until Nov. 9, it has already managed to make waves. TIME takes a look at other memorable political autobiographies… 2. George W. Bush, Decision Points, 2010: The Decider has written a book called Decision Points. George W. Bush’s presidential memoir — which covers key decisions he made from 1986 (when he vowed to stop drinking) to 2008 (when he found himself faced with the start of the financial crisis) — seems to be more honest than anyone expected. Bush still defends the Iraq war, yet describes a “sickening feeling” whenever he thinks about the absence of weapons of mass destruction. He talks about wishing he had handled Hurricane Katrina better. He refers to Dick Cheney as “the Darth Vader of the administration” and says he considered dropping him from the 2004 presidential ticket. And he relates a strange anecdote about Vladimir Putin’s assertion that his pet Labrador was “bigger, stronger, faster” than Bush’s Scottish terrier, Barney. “You’re lucky he only showed you his dog,” quipped Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper upon hearing the story. Time, 11-6-10
    • George W. Bush’s ‘Decision Points’: ‘Competent, readable and flat’: All is sweet reason in “Decision Points,” George W. Bush’s account of his eight-year presidency and some of the events — quitting drinking, serving as governor of Texas — that preceded it. To be sure there are a few hints of the pugnacity Americans came to know so well — barbs directed at the press, the professoriate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a few other sitting ducks — but Bush as he presents himself here is calm, deliberative, reasonable, open-minded, God-fearing, loyal, trustworthy, patriotic.
      This should come as no surprise. The presidential memoir as it has evolved, especially in the wake of recent presidencies, is not a memoir as the term is commonly understood — an attempt to examine and interpret the writer’s life — but an attempt to write history before the historians get their hands on it. Yes, from time to time mistakes must be acknowledged — on the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, for instance, “I had sent American troops into combat based in large part on intelligence that proved false,” or on Katrina, “The problem was not that I made the wrong decisions. It was that I took too long to decide” — but the clear purpose of these non-apologies is to humanize the person making them, and to make us like him better for making them…. – WaPo, 11-6-10
    • Leaked Bush memoir ‘strikingly personal’: An anonymous source on Thursday leaked former President George W. Bush’s memoir to the Drudge Report 11 days before its scheduled publication. Excerpts from “Decision Points” have put Mr. Bush back on public radar after a long absence; the 14-chapter book is deemed a “strikingly personal” look at the president’s challenges, personal convictions and faith, and it takes few shots at his critics…. – The Washington Times, 10-29-10

    THE HEADLINES….

       

    • Bush memoir ‘Decision Points’ sells 220,000 copies on first day: Former President George W. Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” sold at least 220,000 copies through its first day of release, with more than 20 per cent generated by e-book purchases.
      Random House Inc. announced Wednesday that opening-day sales, which include preorders and represent 95 per cent of accounts reporting, was the publisher’s highest for nonfiction since former President Clinton’s “My Life” debuted with 400,000 in 2004. Bush’s book came out Tuesday with an announced first printing of 1.5 million copies, the same as Clinton’s did.
      Random House said that e-sales were 50,000 so far, a number unthinkable when “My Life” was published…. – CP, 11-10-10
    • Bush to speak in Chicago Thursday: Former president George W. Bush will speak at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago as part of his “Decision Points” book tour Thursday. The event will takes place at 8:45 a.m…. – ABC Local, 11-10-10
    • George Bush ‘Decision Points’ – how many books will he sell?: Publishers of President Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ have printed up 1.5 million copies. President Bill Clinton’s ‘My Life’ sold 606,000 in its first week, and has totaled 2.2 million since…. – CS Monitor, 11-10-10
    • Room for forgiveness on Bush book tour: Former President George W. Bush’s media blitz to sell his new book seems carefully designed to minimize surprises, although he got one Wednesday in a surprise rapprochement with Kanye West. The rapper says now that he “didn’t have the grounds” to call Bush a racist after Hurricane Katrina. The former president was shown tape of West’s comments in a live “Today” show interview and said he appreciated West’s regret.
      Bush has primarily favored the leaders of their respective fields in an effort to spread his salesmanship as wide as possible: NBC News, Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh, Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno. ABC, CBS and CNN were deemphasized or left behind entirely.
      In an earlier media era, Matt Lauer’s one-hour taped interview with Bush would have been jealously guarded until airtime, said Jim Bell, executive producer of the “Today” show. Instead, it was sliced and diced and spread around various outlets: clips aired on “Today” last Thursday and Friday and on “Nightly News.” A business-oriented response was sent to CNBC, and political comments to MSNBC and further quotes out to local NBC affiliates. MSNBC is airing an expanded, two-hour version of the interview this weekend.
      Monday’s prime-time special wasn’t a big seller, finishing fourth in its time slot with more than 7 million viewers, the Nielsen Co. said. That’s generally a tough night for NBC, and the interview did slightly better than “Chuck” usually does in the time slot…. – AP, 11-10-10
    • Former President Bush Uses New Book, Media Tour to Defend His Legacy: Tuesday marks the official release of former President George W. Bush’s memoir, “Decision Points,” in which he reflects on the most significant decisions he made as president, as well as in his personal life. Mr. Bush’s media blitz to promote the book began Monday night in a taped interview with Matt Lauer of NBC News that saw the former president accept blame for some controversial decisions while giving a forceful defense of others…. – PBS Newshour, 11-9-10
    • Decision Points, the George W. Bush memoir, released: George W. Bush is on a book tour to promote his memoir “Decision Points.”… – WaPo, 11-9-10
    • In memoir, Bush defends waterboarding, admits mistakes: After staying largely mum on the political scene since leaving office almost two years ago, former President George W. Bush will reveal his thoughts on the most historic — and controversial — parts of his presidency with the release of his memoir Tuesday. In the 481-page book, Bush shares his thoughts on the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and what he calls the “worst moment” of his presidency…. – CNN, 11-9-10
    • Bush book praised in Dallas, criticized overseas: Autograph-seekers descended on a Dallas shopping center Tuesday as former President George W. Bush officially kicked off the release of his new memoir, receiving praise for his candor at a hometown bookstore even as his renewed defense of waterboarding as an interrogation tactic was greeted with derision overseas. First in line at the Borders store about a mile from Bush’s Dallas home were Terry and Tammy Jones of suburban Justin, who camped out overnight. They said when they told Bush of their wait, he said he’d sign their books “with admiration,” shaking 53-year-old Terry Jones’ hand and kissing his wife’s. “Eighteen hours for two seconds and a kiss on the hand,” Tammy Jones, 52, said with a smile. Terry Jones said he admired Bush because “when he makes a decision, he sticks with it.”
      But such steadfastness also prompted criticism Tuesday in Europe, where reports about Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” focused on waterboarding…. – AP, 11-9-10
    • George W. Bush Begins Publicity Tour: President George W. Bush is starting to do the rounds promoting his new book “Decision Points.” He spoke with NBC’s Matt Lauer on the Today Show. In the book and in the interview he defended the decision to invade Iraq, even though the casus belli, weapons of mass destruction, was a mirage.
      “Was there ever any consideration of apologizing to the American people?” Lauer asked. 

      “I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision,” Bush replied. “And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision. I thought the best way to handle this was to find out why. And what went wrong. And to remedy it.”
      In his book, Bush writes, “There were things we got wrong in Iraq, but that cause is eternally right.”
      Bush also spoke with the Times of London. Both in the book and the interview he strongly defended the use of waterboarding.(yes, they have a pay wall)
      In an interview with The Times, the former US President offered a vigorous defence of the coercive interrogation technique: “Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives.” He denied that waterboarding, which simulates drowning, amounted to torture.
      Asked if he authorised the use of waterboarding to get information from the captured al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he was unequivocal: “Damn right!” In his new book he writes: “Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States.” – NPR, 11-9-10

    • Was George W. Bush Willing to Endorse Barack Obama?: He called himself The Decider, but as former president George W. Bush emerges from his self-imposed exile to promote his new book, he’s become The Denier. Specifically, he’s been busy denying rumors about his contempt for John McCain. On Friday, the Daily News quoted a “Republican official familiar with Bush’s thinking” who claimed that Bush thought McCain “destroyed any chance of winning by picking Palin” and was “less of a man” for doing so. He wouldn’t be the first one to think that, but on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show yesterday, Bush insisted, “I never said that, never would have said that.”
      Yesterday, an even more intriguing story appeared on a blog of the Financial Times. Alex Barker writes of his “favourite Bush anecdote,” which “some of the witnesses still dine out on”:
      The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.
      Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.
      Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present. “I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.” Now, Bush not voting for McCain and giving him a forced endorsement, sure, we can buy that. The two never had a great relationship following their bitter primary battle in 2000, and in Decision Points, Bush laments that McCain kept his distance in the 2008 campaign. He also writes that McCain was unimpressive in their meeting during the financial crisis.
      But endorsing Obama?… A Bush spokesman says, “This is ridiculous and untrue. President Bush proudly supported John McCain in the election and voted for him.” – NY Mag, 11-10-10
    • 2,500 show up for Bush book signing in Dallas: An estimated 2,500 people showed up at a North Dallas Borders bookstore to get an autographed copy of George W. Bush’s first memoir, the bookseller reports. But the former president could put his John Hancock on only 1,300 copies of Decision Points and on 500 bookplates for the legion of unlucky buyers. In a news release, Borders noted that Bush signed 500 copies more than expected (800) and that hundreds of others in line would receive a signed bookplate later. First in line were Terry and Tammy Jones of Justin, Texas, who camped out overnight after arriving at the store yesterday about 2 p.m. They bought four books Bush autographed, met him briefly, and beamed, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. “I waited 18 hours for two seconds and a kiss on my hand. I’m never washing this hand again,” Tammy Jones said…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
    • Bush is back, and eager to help history judge him: George W. Bush knows that history will shape his legacy more than anything he can say. But that’s not gonna stop a guy from trying. After two years of near silence, Bush is back.
      With his new memoir, “Decision Points,” and a promotion tour, the president who in cockier times could not think of a single mistake he had made, lists many. He counts the years without a post-9/11 attack as his transcendent achievement. He says the economic calamity he handed off to Barack Obama was “one ugly way to end a presidency.”… – AP, 11-8-10
    • “Decision Points”: George Bush’s view of his presidency: In his new memoir “Decision Points,” George W. Bush weighs in on the Iraq war, the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina, John McCain’s 2008 campaign, and other episodes in his presidency…. – CS Monitor, 11-7-10
    • Busy week awaits author George W. Bush: Former President George W. Bush will be highly visible next week when his memoir, Decision Points, goes on sale. According to reports from copies that were leaked this week, Bush writes that he considered replacing Vice President Dick Cheney, that he personally signed off on water-boarding as an interrogation technique and that he considers it a mistake to have flown over – but not landed near – the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The book release comes a week ahead of the groundbreaking for Bush’s presidential library at Southern Methodist University on Nov. 16…. – The Dallas Morning News, 11-6-10
    • John McCain looks bad in George W. Bush’s book: Sen. John McCain never asked then-President George W. Bush to campaign for him in 2008, though Bush thinks he could have helped the Arizona senator. In his forthcoming memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush explores his “complex relationship” with McCain. “I understood he had to establish his independence,” Bush wrote. “I thought it looked defensive for John to distance himself from me. I was confident I could have helped him make his case. But the decision was his. I was disappointed I couldn’t do more to help him.” The 43rd president suggests his opponent for the Republican nomination in 2000 blew an opportunity to capitalize politically on the financial crisis eight years later. Without saying it explicitly, Bush portrays then-Sen. Barack Obama as more presidential than McCain in his handling of the financial crisis…. – Politico, 11-6-10
    • George W Bush says he was ‘blindsided’ by financial crisis: George W Bush, the former US president, has said that he was “blindsided” by the financial crisis that began at the end of his final term in office…. – Telegragh UK, 11-9-10
    • George W Bush memoir ‘Decision Points’ to go on sale: George W Bush will on Monday begin a media blitz that will thrust him back into the lives of Americans after two years of near silent retirement. The former US president campaign to rehabilitate his reputation in multiple interviews and television appearances to publicise the memoir, which is published this week both in the US and UK.
      He will be on screens and the airwaves every day for a week, conducting interviews with giants of American broadcasting such as Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno. On Winfrey’s show he will be accompanied by his parents, former President George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, while his wife Laura will join him on a breakfast television appearance…. – Telegraph (UK), 11-7-10
    • George Bush: I was not in shock on 9/11 In memoirs and TV interview, George Bush says he wanted to project calm after 9/11 attacks: They were the seven minutes that, for some, came to define a presidency. On one side of the TV screen, a New York landmark was in flames after hijacked planes smashed into the World Trade Centre. On the other, George Bush sat before a group of children looking like a startled rabbit, conveying a sense of paralysis, if not panic, after an aide told him of the attacks.
      But Bush says that anyone who thinks he was in shock has got it wrong. He was trying not to create panic. “My first reaction was anger. How dare they do this to America?” Bush told NBC News in an interview to be broadcast on Monday to coincide with the release of his memoirs.
      “I made the decision not to jump up and create a chaotic scene, because right after … These are quick reflections, anger, duty to protect the country, and then all of a sudden the cellphones are ringing. Now, the noise [from reporters receiving calls about the attacks],” he said. “But it clarified to me that people were going to be watching my reaction. And I’d had enough experience as governor of Texas during some disasters to know that the reaction of the leader is essential in the first stage of any crisis.”
      Pressed on whether he was paralysed into inaction, Bush was dismissive. “I’m not going to debate the critics as to whether or not I was in shock or not. I wasn’t. And they can read the book, and they can draw their own conclusion,” he said.
      Bush’s book, Decision Points, offers insights into his beliefs, including a vigorous defence of the death penalty in an argument over dinner with Cherie Blair. Much of it is dedicated to justifying what some consider to be indefensible, not least his invasion of Iraq on what proved to be the spurious pretext of hunting for weapons of mass destruction. The former president acknowledges there were dissenters on the question of whether to go to war. He claims he was among them.
      “I was a dissenting voice. I didn’t want to use force. I mean force is the last option for a president,” he said. But he told NBC there was no need for an apology. “I mean apologising would basically say the decision was a wrong decision. And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision,” he said…. – Guardian UK, 11-3-10
    • In memoir, Bush says he considered dropping Cheney from 2004 ticket: Former president George W. Bush once considered replacing his vice president, Richard B. Cheney, Bush says in a revealing memoir in which he offers advice on the U.S. economy and admits mistakes on Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s book, “Decision Points,” is full of anecdotes and behind-the-scenes details of eight eventful years that began with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and ended with an economic meltdown in which “I felt like the captain of a sinking ship.”
      “No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do,” Bush writes.
      Bush writes that he considered the offer, adding that although Cheney “helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left.”
      Although Bush did not like Cheney’s image as described by critics, accepting his resignation offer would help “demonstrate that I was in charge,” he writes…. – WaPo, 11-3-10
    • In book, Bush strongly defends use of waterboarding: When then-President George W. Bush was asked to approve a tough interrogation technique known as waterboarding on September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he wasted little time in deciding. “Damn right,” he said. Bush’s approval of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning condemned by human rights activists as torture, to try to wrench information from captured al Qaeda operatives was among the most controversial decisions he made during eight years in the White House.
      In his memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush strongly defends the use of waterboarding as critical to his efforts to prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He says waterboarding was limited to three detainees and led to intelligence breakthroughs that thwarted attacks. The book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, is to hit bookstores on Tuesday. He writes that his ability to prevent another September 11 attack on U.S. soil was “my most meaningful accomplishment.”… – Reuters, 11-4-10
    • Bush rejects accusations of racism over Katrina: Former President George W. Bush says criticism from some, including prominent rapper Kanye West, that his handling of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina showed he did not care about black people represented “an all-time low.” In his memoir, “Decision Points,” to be released next Tuesday, Bush writes that charges flung at him that he was a racist during the Katrina crisis “was the worst moment of my presidency.”
      In excerpts of an interview of Bush by NBC’s “Today” show to be aired next Monday, the former president was asked about West’s comment that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
      “And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘this man’s a racist,'” Bush said. “I resent it, it’s not true,” Bush said. “And it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.” He said his record was strong “when it came to race relations and giving people a chance.”
      Bush writes in his book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, that his initial mistake on Katrina was failing to communicate his concern for the storm’s victims. He said he should not have done an Air Force One flyover of New Orleans while much of the city was under water. “The photo of my hovering over the damage suggested I was detached from the suffering on the ground. That wasn’t how I felt. But once the public impression was formed, I couldn’t change it,” he writes…. – Reuters, 11-3-10
    • Ex-President George W. Bush rips wisdom of Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and John McCain to friends: “Naming Palin makes Bush think less of McCain as a man,” a Republican official familiar with Bush’s thinking told the Daily News. “He thinks McCain ran a lousy campaign with an unqualified running mate and destroyed any chance of winning by picking Palin.” “I want my President to succeed because if my President succeeds my country succeeds, and I want my country to succeed,” Bush typically says when asked about Obama.
      “He won’t call Obama by name but he won’t trash him,” a confidant noted, referring to Bush’s comments in post- presidency speaking appearances, which have netted him millions, often at $100,000 or more a pop. Still, he thinks Obama has failed as a President – a judgment supported by this week’s robust Republican gains. “He thinks the policy is adrift,” one insider reported. NY Daily News, 11-5-10
    • Bush’s memoir explains: U.S. can’t appear to be doing Israel’s bidding: In excerpts released from soon-to-be-published book, ex-president says was asked by then PM Olmert to strike Syria’s nuclear reactor…. – Haaretz, 11-7-10
    • Bush/Nixon: The early reviews of George W. Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” are already out, even though the book is under a sales embargo until next Tuesday. If you want to read one of the book’s “deluxe” copies — the hand-numbered, hand- signed edition that comes with a slipcase, a “special color photo frontispiecE” and a $350 price tag — you’ll have to wait even longer, until Nov. 30. Bush may have left office with rock-bottom approval ratings. But if the experience of another unpopular ex-president is any guide, both editions of his book may do surprisingly well…. – NY, 11-6-10
    • Bush memoir coming with huge first printing: We’re one month and a day away from the launch of George W. Bush’s presidential memoir “Decision Points.” The former president’s book, which goes on sale on Nov. 9, will have a huge first printing of 1.5 million copies, Crown Publishers said in a statement on Thursday.
      Bush writes about crucial points in his life and presidency including his decision to run for the highest office in the country; 9/11; the decisions to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq; his response to Hurricane Katrina; and his relationship with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, Crown said.
      But there’s so much more than just a book (and book tour) coming next month. The publishers are simultaneously rolling out the whole kit and caboodle — across multiple platforms — with the hardcover version, an e-book edition, a Deluxe e-book edition and an audiobook (from RandomHouse), read by the author himself… – Reuters, 10-8-10
    • George W. Bush starting to emerge from cone of silence: President No. 43 gave a lecture at the University of Texas in Tyler, Texas, on Tuesday and spoke before a sold-out crowd of 2,000 people. All this is according to the Tyler newspaper. Bush talked up a book he has written about major decisions he made as president, “Decision Points,” which is to be published on Nov. 9. The author will be doing a number of major interviews surrounding the publication of his memoir, including with a Facebook fan.
      “This will come as a shock to some people in our country who didn’t think I could read a book, much less write one,” he joked… “I miss being pampered. I miss Air Force One. I miss being commander-in-chief of an awesome group of (people),” he said.
      Bush said Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told him, “If you don’t do something significant, you’re likely to see a depression greater than the Great Depression.”… “Depression, no depression,” Bush said. “It wasn’t that hard for me, just so you know. I made the decision to use your money to prevent the collapse from happening.”
      Bush also said he read a dozen biographies of Abraham Lincoln while in office, and, “I think he’s the country’s greatest president.” Reuters, 10-20-10

    EXCERPTS

       

    • Excerpt: President Bush in his own words on 9/11, Iraq In ‘Decision Points,’ he describes moments of high emotion, prayer:
      “While my emotions might have been similar to those of most Americans, my duties were not,” President Bush writes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “There would be time later to mourn. … But first I had to manage the crisis.”
      In his new memoir “Decision Points,” President George W. Bush shares candid, never-before-heard details about his presidency. This excerpt conveys the emotions Bush felt in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the decision to go to war in Iraq.
      The Secret Service wanted to get me to Air Force One, and fast. As the motorcade charged down Florida Route 41, I called Condi from the secure phone in the limo. She told me there had been a third plane crash, this one into the Pentagon. I sat back in my seat and absorbed her words. My thoughts clarified: The first plane could have been an accident. The second was definitely an attack. The third was a declaration of war.
      My blood was boiling. We were going to find out who did this, and kick their ass. …
      … I stepped into the presidential cabin and asked to be alone. I thought about the fear that must have seized the passengers on those planes and the grief that would grip the families of the dead. So many people had lost their loved ones with no warning. I prayed that God would comfort the suffering and guide the country through this trial. I thought of the lyrics from one of my favorite hymns, “God of Grace and God of Glory”: “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour.”
      While my emotions might have been similar to those of most Americans, my duties were not. There would be time later to mourn. There would be an opportunity to seek justice. But first I had to manage the crisis. We had suffered the most devastating surprise attack since Pearl Harbor. An enemy had struck our capital for the first time since the War of 1812. In a single morning, the purpose of my presidency had grown clear: to protect our people and defend our freedom that had come under attack …
      … The collapse of the towers magnified the catastrophe. Fifty thousand people worked in the buildings on a typical business day. Some had been evacuated, but I wondered how many were left. Thousands? Tens of thousands? I had no idea. But I was certain that I had just watched more Americans die than any president in history.
      I kept up-to-date on the latest developments by calling Dick and Condi in the PEOC (Presidential Emergency Operations Center). We tried to establish an open line, but it kept dropping. …
      … When we did receive information, it was often contradictory and sometimes downright wrong. I was experiencing the fog of war. There were reports of a bomb at the State Department, a fire on the National Mall, a hijacked Korean airliner bound for the United States, and a call-in threat to Air Force One. The caller had used the plane’s code name, Angel, which few people knew. The most bizarre report came when I was informed of a high-speed object flying toward our ranch in Crawford. All of this information later proved to be false. But given the circumstances, we took every report seriously.
      One report I received proved true. A fourth plane had gone down somewhere in Pennsylvania. “Did we shoot it down, or did it crash?” I asked Dick Cheney. Nobody knew. I felt sick to my stomach. Had I ordered the death of those innocent Americans? 

      On Wednesday, March 19, 2003, I walked into a meeting I had hoped would not be necessary.
      The National Security Council had gathered in the White House Situation Room, a nerve center of communications equipment and duty officers on the ground floor of the West Wing. The top center square of the secure video screen showed General Tommy Franks sitting with his senior deputies at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. In the other five boxes were our lead Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Special Operations commanders. Their counterparts from the British Armed Forces and Australian Defense Forces joined as well.
      I asked each man two questions: Do you have everything you need to win? And are you comfortable with the strategy?
      Each commander answered affirmatively.
      Tommy spoke last. “Mr. President,” the commanding general said, “this force is ready.”
      I turned to Don Rumsfeld. “Mr. Secretary,” I said, “for the peace of the world and the benefit and freedom of the Iraqi people, I hereby give the order to execute Operation Iraqi Freedom. May God bless the troops.”
      Tommy snapped a salute. “Mr. President,” he said, “may God bless America.”
      As I saluted back, the gravity of the moment hit me. For more than a year, I had tried to address the threat from Saddam Hussein without war. We had rallied an international coalition to pressure him to come clean about his weapons of mass destruction programs. We had obtained a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution making clear there would be serious consequences for continued defiance. We had reached out to Arab nations about taking Saddam into exile. I had given Saddam and his sons a final forty-eight hours to avoid war. The dictator rejected every opportunity. The only logical conclusion was that he had something to hide, something so important that he was willing to go to war for it.
      I knew the consequences my order would bring. I had wept with widows of troops lost in Afghanistan. I had hugged children who no longer had a mom or a dad. I did not want to send Americans into combat again. But after the nightmare of 9/11, I had vowed to do what was necessary to protect the country. Letting a sworn enemy of America refuse to account for his weapons of mass destruction was a risk I could not afford to take.
      I needed time to absorb the emotions of the moment. I left the Situation Room, walked up the stairs and through the Oval Office, and took a slow, silent lap around the South Lawn. I prayed for our troops, for the safety of the country, and for strength in the days ahead. Spot, our springer spaniel, bounded out of the White House toward me. It was comforting to see a friend. Her happiness contrasted with the heaviness in my heart.
      There was one man who understood what I was feeling. I sat down at my desk in the Treaty Room and scrawled out a letter:
      Dear Dad, …
      At around 9:30 a.m., I gave the order to SecDef to execute the war plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In spite of the fact that I had decided a few months ago to use force, if need be, to liberate Iraq and rid the country of WMD, the decision was an emotional one. …
      I know I have taken the right action and do pray few will lose life. Iraq will be free, the world will be safer. The emotion of the moment has passed and now I wait word on the covert action that is taking place.
      I know what you went through.
      Love,
      George
      MSNBC, 11-8-10

    • “Decision Points”: Other revelations from the new George W. Bush memoir: Was banned from the Princeton campus after a game where he led fellow Yalie undergrads to tear down the goalposts. (“All these years later I still haven’t been back.”) Yeah, he had been drinking.
      Climbed onstage at a 1976 Willie Nelson concert in Odessa, Tex. (“I looked like a fool up there.”) Yeah, he had been drinking.
      After he gave up drinking at 40, got seriously into running. And chocolate. “My body was screaming for sugar.”
      He and Laura were close to adopting when they found out she was pregnant with twins.
      The twins’ reaction to his presidential bid: “Dad, you’re going to lose. You’re not as cool as you think you are,” and “Why do you want to ruin our lives?”
      Knew he was going to get along with Tony and Cherie Blair when, during their first meeting at Camp David, the Brits picked “Meet the Parents” as an after-dinner movie. (“There was no stuffiness.”)
      Totally pulled Josh Bolten’s leg just before his first meeting with Bono: “Used to be married to Cher, didn’t he?”
      Vladimir Putin made a point of introducing his big black Labrador during a visit to Russia. “Bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney,” Putin smirked. Later, Canadian PM Stephen Harper told Bush, “You’re lucky he only showed you his dog.” – WaPo, 11-8-10
    • Inside Bush’s White House: A preview of W.’s memoir: Former U.S. president George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, is due to be released next Tuesday, but excerpts are already circulating.
      Outside observers might pick his decision to go to war in Iraq, based on the non-evidence of weapons of mass destructions. But although Mr. Bush admits to “a sickening feeling” about being proved wrong, it was Kanye West’s description of him as racist that really hit home. “George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people” the rapper said during a post-Katrina telethon. Mr. Bush calls the incident “one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.”… “Damn right,” Mr. Bush said when asked by the Central Intelligence Agency whether agents should employ the coercive and controversial interrogation technique against the terror suspect. “Had I not authorized waterboarding on senior al-Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk that the country would be attacked.”… 

      Says he felt “blindsided” over the Abu Ghraib scandal Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, “had told me the military was investigating reports of abuse at the prison, but I had no idea how graphic or grotesque the photos would be,” he writes. “The first time I saw them was the day they were aired on 60 Minutes II.”
      … “We were blindsided by a financial crisis that had been more than a decade in the making.” His focus, he writes, “had been kitchen-table economic issues like jobs and inflation. I assumed any major credit troubles would have been flagged by the regulators or rating agencies.”…
      Detainees were given “a personal copy of the Koran” and access to a library among whose popular offerings was “an Arabic translation of Harry Potter.”…
      “There was no way I was going to let a group of retired officers bully me into pushing out the civilian secretary of defense. It would have looked like a military coup and would have set a disastrous precedent.”… “Why hadn’t I thought of Bob?” Mr. Bush wonders….
      “While Dick helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left. He was seen as dark and heartless – the Darth Vader of the administration.”… “Accepting Dick’s offer would be one way to demonstrate that I was in charge.”… Mr. Cheney pushed Mr. Bush to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice-president’s former chief of staff who was convicted of lying in the CIA leak case. Mr. Bush wrestled with the decision in his final weekend at Camp David so much his wife, Laura, finally told him, “Just make up your mind. You’re ruining this for everyone.” When he decided against a pardon, Mr. Cheney was bitter: “I can’t believe you’re going to leave a soldier on the battlefield,” he said. “The comment stung,” Mr. Bush writes. “In eight years, I had never seen Dick like this, or even close to it.” – National Post, 11-5-10

    • George W. Bush on Alcohol: ‘It Became a Love’: “It became a love and, therefore, began to compete for my love with my wife and my daughters,” he said, according to People.com. “I wasn’t a knee-walkin’ drunk,” Bush said in his interview with Lauer. “I could easily have a beer or two, or a martini, before dinner, bourbons, B&Bs. I was a drinker.”
      In an interview promoting his memoir, “Decision Points,” the 43rd president said he got caught driving drunk on Labor Day weekend in 1976 after a night of “drinking no hands at a bar” — meaning he picked up and tossed back a drink using only his mouth. Bush didn’t discuss the DUI until days before the 2000 election, when it became a scandal. Trying to keep the story under wraps for so long is a choice that Bush considers “one of the top stupidest decisions I made.” “Was really a bad choice. And if I had to do it — look, you don’t get to do it over again. But if I had to do it over again, of course I would have disclosed. I mean there was nothing to hide. I — yeah, I drank too much. I had been pulled over. And I quit. It was a good story with a good ending, poorly timed.”
      “So I’m drunk at the dinner table at Mother and Dad’s house in Maine. And my brothers and sister are there, Laura’s there. And I’m sitting next to a beautiful woman, friend of Mother and Dad’s,” he said, according to the magazine. “And I said to her out loud, ‘What is sex like after 50?'” The room went silent, and Bush said his wife and mother gave him “serious daggers.” Bush said he later apologized to the woman. Though drinking took its toll, Bush says his inebriation came to an end years before his inauguration. The former president noted that he gave up drinking cold turkey on his 40th birthday in 1986 and hasn’t had a sip since…. – AOL News, 11-5-10
    • Putin to Bush: My dog bigger than yours: Russian leader Vladimir Putin once boasted to then-President George W. Bush about the size of his dog, in the ultimate of “mine-is-bigger-than-yours” stories. Former President Bush writes about the episode in his memoir, “Decision Points,” which hits book stores next Tuesday. Bush says he had introduced then-Russian President Putin to his Scottish terrier, Barney, on a visit to the U.S. presidential retreat, Camp David. Putin returned the favour when Bush visited Russia and Putin was giving him a tour of the grounds of his dacha. “A big black Labrador came charging across the lawn. With a twinkle in his eye, Vladimir said, ‘Bigger, stronger, faster than Barney,'” Bush writes. A copy of the book was obtained by Reuters. Bush says he later told the story to the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, who replied: “You’re lucky he only showed you his dog.”… – Times Live, 11-6-10
    • Drudge Report: Decision Points Excerpts & Preview: BUSH MAKES PEACE: BOOK REVEALED “It was a simple question, ‘Can you remember the last day you didn’t have a drink?'” So begins President George W. Bush in the opening chapter [“Quitting”] from the most anticipated book of the season, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal. With DECISION POINTS, set for release November 9, Bush pulls back the curtain with a strikingly personal work that takes very few shots at his critics. The former president even stays clear of Obama! – Drudge Report, 10-28-10

    INTERVIEWS

       

    • West, Bush and “Today” Show Spar Over “Racist” Remark: The three-way verbal sparring began when Bush hit the promotional circuit for “Decision Points” and was asked about passages that address comments West made on a television fund-raiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina. On the program West said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” In the book and in his own interview earlier this week on “Today,” Bush told Lauer the comment upset him. “He called me a racist…I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now.”
      “Today” then pursued an interview with West, which will air on Thursday, November 11. When asked by Lauer about those past comments, West seemed to soften his stance about the former president.
      “I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration that I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist. But I believe that in a situation of high emotion, like that, we as human beings don’t always choose the right words,” he said.
      On Wednesday, Bush responded by saying, “I appreciate that. It wasn’t just Kanye West who was talking like that during Katrina. I cited him as an example. I cited others as an example as well. And, I appreciate that.”… – ABC News, 11-10-10
    • UPDATED: Kanye West Criticizes ‘Today’ Show for ‘Brutal’ Interview: One of several messages posted by Kanye West on his Twitter account after he taped an interview with the “Today” show. An occasionally contentious interview between Kanye West and Matt Lauer taped for NBC’s “Today” show in some ways conforms with a preemptive critique that Mr. West posted on his Twitter account, but at times appears to contradict the rapper’s fiery recollection of it.
      On Tuesday night, Mr. West wrote of an interview he recorded that morning with Mr. Lauer, a “Today” co-host. Mr. West said he intended to respond to remarks by former President George W. Bush, who has said that Mr. West’s criticism that he did not care about black people after Hurricane Katrina was “one of the most disgusting moments” of his presidency.
      Mr. West wrote on his Twitter feed, “I went up there to express how I was empathetic to Bush because I labeled him a racist and years later I got labeled as a racist.” Instead, Mr. West said, “While I was trying to give the interview they started playing the ‘MTV’ under me with audio,” referring to the incident in which Mr. West interrupted an acceptance speech by Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. In an all-caps message, Mr. West wrote that Mr. Lauer “tried to force my answers,” adding, “It was very brutal and I came there only with positive intent.”… – NYT, 11-10-10
    • Kanye called in to a Houston radio station the next day and apologized for the comments, saying, “I definitely can understand the way he feels to be accused of being a racist in any way, because the same thing happened to me,” he said, referring to criticism he got following his 2009 bum-rush of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards. “I got accused of being a racist, and …… with both situations it was a lack of compassion that America… — Kanye West – MTV
    • Unusually reflective Bush gives his side of the story: This isn’t the George W. Bush who couldn’t come up with an answer when he was asked during a 2004 White House news conference to name his biggest mistake. Almost two years after leaving office, the former president readily lists his mistakes. He recites a litany of errors in an interview and in his new book, Decision Points: He didn’t act swiftly enough after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He should not have drawn down U.S. troops from Iraq so quickly. He wishes he had focused first on immigration instead of an unsuccessful overhaul of Social Security during his second term.
      “I readily concede I could have done things better,” he says in his first newspaper interview since leaving the presidency. To document his administration for future historians, “I had to concede that I did make mistakes, and there was no question I did.”
      Bush says he was “blindsided” by the financial meltdown that shook the nation during his final year in office, but he shares blame with Congress and defends his decisions when asked about the role of his policies in the recession.
      Bush is unusually introspective as he speaks about his administration, his feelings about being the target of mockery and the shape of his post-presidency. He makes it clear that after he promotes his book with a round of media appearances, he will step out of the spotlight again. During an hour-long interview, he never mentions President Obama’s name…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
    • Oprah Fails to Question Bush on Important Aspects of His Legacy: Former president George W. Bush being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on Nov. 11, 2010. If someone were to ask you what the dominant political issue is at the moment, you’d probably say the national debt or extension of the Bush tax cuts. The most controversial political fight of the last two years? Surely health-care reform. So, when former president George W. Bush granted a long televised interview to promote his new memoir—which is to say, as Bush attempts to polish his tarnished reputation—you’d think he would be asked about his budget- busting tax cuts and the creation of a Medicare prescription-drug benefit. You would be wrong. Like Matt Lauer Monday night, Oprah Winfrey, in her gauzy interview with Bush on Tuesday afternoon, did not ask a single question about those policies…. – Newsweek, 11-10-10
    • Bush admits mistakes, defends decisions In memoir, he candidly writes about professional, personal regrets: President George W. Bush will join Matt Lauer for a live sit-down interview on TODAY on Wednesday, Nov. 10. Former President George W. Bush admits in his memoir “Decision Points” that his 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech and his demeanor in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were some of the professional and personal mistakes that he made. In his first one-on-one television interview since leaving the White House, the former president sat down with Matt Lauer and opened up about his regrets…. – MSNBC, 11-8-10
    • Bush recounts Katrina, WMD mistakes on talk show: George W. Bush recounted the mistakes of his presidency on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show as he launched a book tour to promote his just-released memoir “Decision Points.”
      The former president said he still feels “sick about” the fact no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. His response to Hurricane Katrina could have been quicker, he said, and he should have landed Air Force One two days after the storm instead of viewing the destruction through the plane’s window. And he said he didn’t see the financial meltdown coming.
      The former president appeared Tuesday in a taped episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Writing the memoir, he said, “was an easy process” that has kept him busy. “A lot of people don’t think I can read, much less write,” Bush joked on the program…. – AP, 11-9-10
    • George W. Bush calls Katrina photo a ‘huge mistake’: “Let’s get to the picture that we may have seen more of you in the last couple years of your presidency than any other picture,” Lauer said. “You’re sitting in Air Force One, flying back toward Washington. You fly right over New Orleans and you look out the window.”
      “Yes,” Bush responded. “Huge mistake.”
      LAUER: Yeah. And in comes the press and they take that picture. And it made you look so out of touch.
      BUSH: Detached and uncaring. No question about it.
      LAUER: Whose fault was it?
      BUSH: It’s always my fault. I mean I was the one who should have said, A, don’t take my picture, B, let’s land in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, C, let’s don’t even come close to the area. Let’s — the next place to be seen is in Washington at a command center. I mean, it was my fault.
      LAUER: When the picture’s released you write, “I immediately knew it was a problem.”
      BUSH: Of course. I’d been around long enough to know that when it was released. And the reason why we didn’t land in Louisiana is because I was concerned that first responders would be pulled off their task and I’d be criticized. In retrospect, however, I should have touched down in Baton Rouge, met with the governor and walked out and said, “I hear you. We understand. And we’re going to help the state and help the local governments with as much resources as needed.” And then got back on a flight up to Washington. I did not do that. And paid a price for it. – Yahoo News, 11-5-10
    • Cheney angered by Bush decision on Scooter Libby pardon: Mr Bush told NBC News his decision at the end of his presidency merely to spare Libby a prison sentence rather than pardon him angered Mr Cheney. But, in a interview to promote a book, he said the friendship had recovered.
      “We are friends today,” Mr Bush said. “I was a little concerned at the time. It was a hard decision at the time but that’s what you do when you’re president, you make hard decisions.”
      Lewis Libby, also known by his nickname, “Scooter” Libby, was found guilty in March 2007 in the case connected to Mr Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mr Bush said the prison sentence was excessive and commuted it…. – BBC News, 11-8-10
    • Bush: Mother’s miscarriage shaped pro-life views In memoir, he recalls driving her to hospital with fetus in jar: Bush writes about the miscarriage in his book, “Decision Points,” publicly disclosing it for the first time after receiving permission from his mother to do so. He sat down with Matt Lauer for his first one-on-one television interview since leaving the White House. When Barbara Bush miscarried at home, she had young George drive her to the hospital. In her lap, Barbara Bush held a jar containing the remains of the fetus, George Bush said. 0 “She says to her teenage kid, “Here’s a fetus,'” the former president told Lauer. “No question it — that affected me — my philosophy that we should respect life.” Recalling what he saw in the jar, Bush wrote, “There was a human life, a little brother or sister.”… – MSNBC, 11-8-10
    • A Content Man: In an interview with Matt Lauer, Bush describes himself as “a content man.”
      No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.
      I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision… And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision.
      It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘This man’s a racist.’ I resent it. It’s not true. And it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.
      I made an additional mistake by failing to adequately communicate my concern for the victims of Katrina. This was a problem of perception, not reality. My heart broke at the sight of helpless people trapped on their rooftops waiting to be rescued.
      If I invoked the Insurrection Act against [Governor Kathleen Blanco’s] wishes, the world would see a male Republican president usurping the authority of a female Democratic governor by declaring an insurrection in a largely African- American city. … I was as frustrated as I had been at any point in my presidency…. – New Yorker, 11-3-10
    • Bush won’t critique Obama (or Palin): “I want to treat my successor the way I’d like to have been treated,” Bush tells Oprah Winfrey in an interview tied to release of his memoirs, Decision Points. “I don’t think it’s good for a former president to be out there opining on every darned issue,” Bush adds. “He’s got a plenty tough job. Trust me. And there’s gonna be plenty of critics and he doesn’t need me criticizing him. And I don’t think it’s good for the presidency. Other people have a different point of view.”
      The Oprah interview airs Nov. 9, the day of the book’s official release.
      Here, according to a transcript provided by Oprah’s people, Winfrey tries to draw out Bush on Sarah Palin: OPRAH: So your brother Jeb was recently asked by CNN if he would support Sarah Palin for president. Did you hear that? In 2012. PRES. BUSH: Yeah.
      OPRAH: And he responded, “You betcha.” Do you think that Sarah Palin is the one for the Republican party in 2012?
      PRES. BUSH: You know, I am not a political pundit. I’m really not. And secondly, a lot is gonna happen between now and the nominating process. I — I have no clue.
      OPRAH: I’m not asking you to pundit.
      PRES. BUSH: Yeah, you are.
      OPRAH: I’m just asking you your opinion.
      PRES. BUSH: You’re asking me to wade back into the swamp.
      OPRAH: Come on in. Come on in.
      USA Topday, 11-6-10

    THE PRESIDENCY OF GEORGE W. BUSH: A FIRST HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT

       

    • The historians whose essays appear in this book do not attempt to resolve this debate. The chapters catalogue some of the successes of the administration, ranging from counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda between 2001 and The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment JPG 2003 through AIDS policy in Africa to the appointment of minorities to prominent government positions. They also examine some of the failures, including the damage caused by the war in Iraq, the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina, and the devastating collapse of financial markets following years of deregulation in the fall of 2008. Rather than speculate whether he was the worst or the best president in U.S. history, the contributors have attempted to place the Bush White House in a broader historical perspective by understanding his presidency in relationship to the conservative movement.The authors of the essays in this book are trying to write a first take on the history of this period, but one that builds on the rich literature on the history of conservatism in modern America. We hope the essays provoke further investigation. Since this is an early effort to write the history of the George W. Bush presidency, the work is necessarily incomplete. We do not yet have access to some archival materials that will become available in the future. Yet, in addition to the substantial documentation instantaneously available in the age of the Internet, the contributors also have the advantage of producing this interpretation at a time when the emotions and sentiment and context of President Bush’s actions are still vivid. We hope these essays offer the opening to a conversation that will continue for centuries. — Julian E. Zelizer in “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment”
    • Julian Zelizer: Five myths about George W. Bush: I am very much looking forward to this chat about President George W. Bush and his legacy. In several of my recent publications, including an article in the Washington Post yesterday and a new book that I edited, The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, I have tried to move beyond some of the existing debate. Rather than answer whether Bush is the “best or worst” president or to repeat discussions about why people hated or loved him, the time has come to start understanding what actually happened when he was in office, to place these events and personalities in broader context, and to start understanding his presidency in relationship to President Obama’s.
      Besides some of the more familiar issues that shaped his presidency, such as 9/11 and the war on terrorism, looking back from 2010 raises new kinds of questions that might not have been as obvious at the time that his term ended: What impact did Bush have on the conservative movement? What was the relationship between deregulation during these years and the economic collapse in 2008? How did the economic policies of the period influence economic inequality? What was the relationship between President Bush and congressional Republicans? How did Bush overcome some of the obstacles that Obama has struggled in the political process? Did the Bush Doctrine really constitute as much as a turning point in U.S. foreign policy as it seemed at the time? How do we evaluate the impact of the Surge–and what did the decision-making behind that policy tell us about how the White House worked? How did President Bush come to push for a substantial expansion of government–through TARP–in the middle of the economic crisis? What impact did the 2006 elections have on the politics of his presidency? Which policies will outlast his presidency and why?
      Obviously these are just a few questions and there are many more to discuss. But the time has come to start thinking more seriously about this two-term president and the impact that he had on the nation. It is also to start developing a more sophisticated understanding of the roots of this administration rather than writing about these years as if everything started in 2001…. – WaPo, 11-8-10
    • “An all-star cast of historians examines the perplexing presidency of George W. Bush–the ‘compassionate conservative’ who frequently ended up allied with the hard right, the ‘uniter’ who presided over one of the nation’s most divisive political eras, the advocate of ‘humility’ on the world stage who fiercely championed unilateral presidential powers. After the journalists and pundits have had their say, the historians are here to put Bush’s tumultuous tenure in historical perspective. An essential resource for anyone seeking to understand contemporary American politics.” — Jacob S. Hacker, coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics and Off Center
    • “With clarity and precision, some of America’s most prominent historians of politics, law, and international relations examine the controversial presidency of George W. Bush. Their assessments of Bush’s administration are sober, rigorous, and eye-opening. Together these essays will provide a foundation for the next generation of scholarship on early twenty-first-century America.” — Thomas J. Sugrue, author of Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race
    • “George W. Bush once stated that ‘we’ll all be dead’ by the time history casts its judgment on his presidency. Instead, in this engaging and timely portrait of the Bush era, eleven leading scholars assess the ‘war on terror,’ the resurrection of the imperial presidency, the effects of tax cuts and corporate deregulation, and other foreign and domestic policies promoted by big-government conservatism. While acknowledging the administration’s political accomplishments, the contributors to this volume emphasize the ultimate failures of the Bush presidency and the conservative movement’s strategies of governance.” — Matthew D. Lassiter, University of Michigan
    • “Analytically shrewd and historically rich, this harvest of a book convenes a group of leading historians to assess the country’s recent past. Ranging from tax cuts to terrorism, and encompassing questions of ideology, multiculturalism, and presidential capacity, the contributions to this volume establish the scope and agenda for future studies of George W. Bush’s tumultuous presidency.” — Ira Katznelson, Columbia University
    • “This impressive collection features brilliant essays by some of America’s best historians on the presidency of George W. Bush. It’s all here–from the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision that sealed Bush’s first-term victory to the stunning financial crisis that closed his tenure in office. This stimulating and highly accessible volume is must reading for scholars, journalists, and concerned citizens.” — Eric M. Patashnik, author of Reforms at Risk
    • “This is a superb collection of essays. I am impressed with the range of issues they cover and the lucidity with which each essay illuminates a particular topic. Their interleaved and overlapping evidence reminds a general reader of the layers of meaning embedded in every political decision taken by the Bush administration–and the sometimes unfortunate consequences. This is an important and timely book.” — Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity

    HISTORIANS’ VIEW

       

    • Bush Releases Memoir: ‘He Knows the Historians Are Coming’: In his new memoir “Decision Points,” former President George W. Bush explains some of the tough decisions he made while in office, including how he dealt with 9/11, the lack of weapons of mass destruction and Hurricane Katrina. Historians Michael Beschloss and Julian Zelizer give perspective on presidential memoirs…. – PBS Newshour, 11-10-10
    • Kanye West, George W. Bush Clash Doesn’t Surprise Historian: Bush is ‘trying to show he’s not coming out of a racist tradition,’ political author says….
      “For the last 40 years, pop culture has become much more important in politics,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a leading figure in the field of American political history. “[It’s become about] how a president fits into pop culture and his relationship to some stars, whose political activism has increased over the past 40 years. … I do think the lines between celebrity culture and political culture have thinned.”…
      Zelizer — author of books about the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — said Bush’s revelation that West’s remark hurt his feelings is a remarkable moment in the confluence of West Wing and pop culture.
      “That it elicited the kind of emotion that nothing else does, even criticism about torture … part of it is a celebrity attacking him, but it’s also a bigger issue that bothers [Bush]. This idea that he’s trying to show he’s not coming out of a racist tradition and distinguish himself, that shows a broader frustration about how he’s perceived,” Zelizer said… But when they clash with pop-culture figures, Zelizer said, it’s a testament to the power of both players. “It’s not beneath the president” to beef with a star, he said. Whereas in the past presidents might not have bothered to respond to such slights, or would have ignored them, some modern Oval Office residents have weighed in, even when they’re not the subject of the dis….
      “The reality is, like it or not, that celebrities have lots of influence in contemporary life,” he said. “In theory, it might be beneath them [to respond to stars’ attacks] because there are other things they should be worried about, but presidents will take it personally. It will get to them, maybe more by being attacked by Kanye West than a member of Congress because of the reality of the world we live in.” – MTV, 11-10-10
    • Julian Zelizer: 5 myths about George W. Bush: September 11. Katrina. Iraq. These events will be forever linked with the presidency of George W. Bush. Now, with the release of his memoir, “Decision Points,” the former president has the chance to defend his record and explain his actions. But as historians and the public alike look back on the Bush White House, will we be able to move past the persistent myths that endure about those tumultuous eight years?…
      1. George W. Bush was an uninformed Texas cowboy….
      2. Compassionate conservatism was just a campaign slogan….
      3. Bush committed America to nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan….
      4. Dick Cheney ran the Bush White House….
      5. Bush left conservatism in ruins.
      WaPo, 11-3-10
    • Shrub Studies: Next week, Crown Publishers will issue President George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points, covering what the former president calls “eight of the most consequential years in American history,” which seems like a fair description. They were plenty consequential. To judge from the promotional video, Bush will plumb the depths of his insight that it is the role of a president to be “the decider.” Again, it’s hard to argue with his point — though you have to wonder if he shouldn’t let his accumulated wisdom ripen and mellow for a while before serving it.
      Princeton University Press has already beat him into print with The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, edited by Julian E. Zelizer, who is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton. The other 10 contributors are professors of history, international relations, law, and political science, and they cover the expected bases — the “War on Terror,” the invasion of Iraq, social and economic policy, religion and race. It is a scholarly book, which means that it is bound to make everybody mad. People on the left get angry at remembering the Bush years, while those on the right grow indignant that anyone still wants to talk about them. So the notion that they were consequential is perhaps not totally uncontroversial after all.
      The contributors make three points about the Bush administration’s place in the history of American conservatism that it may be timely to sum up, just now…. – Inside Higher Ed, 11-3-10

    Political Shorts: Obama’s Miracle: He’s Making Bush Look Good

    A new poll shows that people are becoming more nostalgic for the Bush years.

    By JOHN FUND

    WSJ, 10-12-10

    Back in April, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg was fairly confident that Republicans had peaked too early. While Democratic losses would be severe, he predicted, “it will not be another 1994.” Now the former pollster for Bill Clinton is less sure Democrats can avoid a blowout. The reason? His polls show that President Obama’s campaign refrain that the country must “go forward, not go backward” to the past actually loses votes for Democrats.

    President Obama has been enamored of the theme that the country can’t afford to return to what he terms the discredited policies of the Bush years. “That’s the mantra that he wants to drill into voters’ heads between now and November,” ABC News reported last summer.

    The only problem, according to Mr. Greenberg, is that it doesn’t work. “Though voters agree the economy was an ‘inherited’ problem, they do not like to hear politicians blaming Bush or looking backwards,” he concluded in his study. In an interview with Jane Hamsher of the blog Firedog Lake, Mr. Greenberg went on to say: “I’m really puzzled by Democratic leaders stuck in a message that demonstrably doesn’t work.” He puts it down to the president listening to economic advisers who want him to set a rhetorical tone that “will help confidence to come back.”

    But so far the only thing that seems to be coming back is nostalgia for George W. Bush. A new CNN poll finds voters still believe Mr. Obama is a better president than Mr. Bush was, but by only 47% to 45%. That’s down from a whopping 23-point margin last year. “Democrats would be wise to think twice before bringing up the name of President Bush on the campaign trail this fall,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

    What Historians Thought of President Bush’s 2nd Inaugural Address: Excerpts

    HISTORY ARTICLES

    HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

    HNN, 1-22-05

    What Historians Thought of President Bush’s 2nd Inaugural Address: Excerpts

    By Bonnie Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an HNN intern.

    Allan Lichtman (Presidential Historian, Professor of History American University)

    • “It’s one of the most ringing endorsements of American intervention in American history… There’s no limit to a subject so broadly defined, he set out, in broad thematic terms, a justification for a free hand.”

    Thomas Cronin (President of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington)

    • “Bush’s speech was messianic in many ways. He plainly wants to play an internationalist role, saying we’re going to fight on behalf of those who are fighting terrorism around the world. It was a proclamation of almost a crusade.”

    John Lewis Gaddis (Professor of History, Yale University)

    • “It’s very much in the tradition of great speeches of the past. This is where we want to be some distance from now. We understand we can’t get there tomorrow. But it’s important to have that destination described.”

    Barbara Kellerman (Research Director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard University)

    • “I would point to three things in particular. One is a statement of purpose where he says so it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements in every nation and culture. The ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. Second, he makes the point of a clear comparison with communism. Very important. We’re in a multigenerational long-term fight here for peace and liberty around the world. And third, finally, for the moment, I was struck by the language, repeated use of the word slavery. Repeated use of the word tyranny. Reference to bullies. Particularly singling out women’s rights. So this first half of the speech was clear, moral, purpose and, make no mistake about it.”

    Henry Graff (Emeritus Professor of History at Columbia University, on PBS)

    • “This was a typical second term speech. It’s broad, there are no names aside from Lincoln’s. It reads better than it was delivered. I thought it was delivered without passion, I compare as I think most people will without the passion that went into a similar comparable salute to freedom that was delivered by Kennedy. I would also like to say that we ought to observe the high place that the Vice-President had in this ceremony. Vice-presidents have not had a place like this, most of them, almost all of them, sworn in the Senate chamber, and they come out sworn in to the session. Monroe was the only President in a long time that would even ride with with a Vice-President, and of course we know that Truman drove with Alben Barkley, but this was very special.”
    • “I think the second speech that a president gives as an inaugural is one that he is looking for his place on postage stamps and coins at some future time.”
    • “The agenda wasn’t stated. What are we to do, how are we going to achieve all of this in all parts of the world, how are we going to support for freedom elsewhere in the world. It is a wonderful statement, it is a salute to freedom, it will be quoted, but it will not be a major national document.”

    Ellen Fitzpatrick (Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire, on PBS)

    • “From my point of view I think the most fascinating thing about it is that it is embedded itself in history. The introduction in particular, it frames all the rest of the inaugural in history, and it shares with other wartime inaugurals the fact that the place of our current war is not mentioned, the war in Iraq was never uttered. The first time the word Vietnam was uttered was in 1981 by Reagan, There were four inaugurals during the Vietnam War, the specifics of the war are not dwelt upon, and this speech was similar.”
    •”I think it is an extraordinarily ambitous statement of American commitment surrounding the world. It actually broadens the Truman Doctrine; it reiterates and broadens it in talking about defending democratic movements in every nation and in every culture. And the speech also in characterizing recent history, the last fifty years or so …says that until the fall of Communism and until
    9-11 we simply defended freedom. Watched on distant borders. Where is the Vietnam War, where are the billions of dollars, where are the 58,000 lives in that characterization of recent history. It is extraordinary I think. We defended our freedom by standing watch; I think that’s a puzzling charactistic to me of the last fifty years.”
    • “It is interesting that the ownership society that he is mentions, the three programs that he refers to the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act and the G.I. Bill are three expansive uses of Federal power, if you had to go through all of American history they would be among them.”

    Richard Norton Smith (Director of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, on PBS)

    • “I don’t think it is a typical inaugural address, because I don’t think these are typical times, and I think we saw that reflected in this. This is the speech that Woodrow Wilson could have given. This notion of America, this was a lay sermon that actually attempted to define both our international mission and our national character, and was a bit of a contradiction in this speech, the President said in the end that we do not consider ourselves a chosen nation, maybe so but if you listen to overwhelmingly in the rest of the speech he certainly thinks we have a special mission, a mission from history indeed, perhaps a mission from God. One final quote when he says ‘we will persistently clarify the choice before every war and every nation,’ if I was … in Tehran I would be paying careful attention to that sentence.”
    • “Don’t overlook the domestic speech that will be overlooked, perhaps understandably. ‘We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance.’ Guess what folks– that is a very ambitious domestic agenda of reform that is bound to be enormously controversial.”
    •”Freedom abroad and freedom at home, freedom is our civic religion, we salute it like the flag on the Fourth of July, the problem is no two people define it the same.”
    •”The question that does arise is whether this is in many ways a very articulate, powerful assertion of American exceptionalism – which is nothing new. It goes back to the first inaugural address. George Washington spoke of the sacred fire of liberty…. Now you have George W. Bush restating the notion of America as missionary to the world. John Kennedy talked about defending liberty whenever it was in danger. George Bush is talking about extending liberty to wherever it doesn’t exist…. I think at one point he said it was an odd time for doubt. He clearly doesn’t entertain doubts.”

    Julian Zelizer (Professor of History at Boston University, on “Here and Now”)

    • “I think it is a great speech in terms of placing himself in terms of a broader context which is what a second term inauguration speech should do. I think by embracing Wilsonian goals he will also inherit Wilsonian problems. President Wilson’s second term was very tough and it goes down in many ways in defeat. Also I think there is a fundamental tension in his talk, which is a tension the Republicans are wrestling with. On foreign policy he is calling for an aggressive government that will do things that have not been done before, and on domestic policy he is saying we need private character over public interest which is a turn away from government and the two don’t necessarily jive.”
    • “I do think though on domestic policy this whole idea of an ownership society of individual choice is some kind of a framework to sell conservatism to the center to Democrats who are unhappy with their party, and to moderate Republicans who have not heard their voice in the administration, and I think there is something there that needs to be looked at seriously.”
    • “Presidential references to God are nothing new, there is a danger of making too much of Bush. The difference is the Christian movement that has surrounded him in this inauguration is much more powerful than it has ever been historically.”
    • “It is not that uncommon in war time speeches to hear some kind of sabre rattling. In the third inauguration speech of Franklin Roosevelt, I am sure some of the same tone was there. The difference is there is very little talk of sacrifice, and I think that is something different that this administration has not stressed much. Meaning how citizens need to sacrifice something in a period of war that was the central theme of Franklin Roosevelt, and Bush has been much more about tax cuts and giving people ownership rather than asking people to give of themselves.”

    Gil Troy (Professor of History, McGill University, author of Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s)

    •”It’s striking — you could shuffle the text of George W. Bush’s inaugural address in a pile of high-minded, interventionist speeches given by FDR and JFK Democrats, and, except for his elliptical reference to the rights of the ‘unwanted’ — deem Bush a classic, post World War II, Four Freedoms, Pay any Price, Bear any Burden liberal. Clinton Rossiter talked about the Great Intellectual Train Robbery of American History occurring in the nineteenth century, when corporate America hijacked Jeffersonian, small government liberalism, to oppose government interventionism. Now, George W. Bush may be completing the 2nd Great Intellectual Train Robbery of American history — the first in Foreign Policy — begun by Ronald Reagan. Bush was not only challenging the world and the Democrats — he was also challenging the isolationist wing of his own party, with its venerable history of opposing interventionism. If Bush continues with his interventionist and freedom-spreading strategy, and if Democrats continue to be so infuriated with him that they sour on traditional liberal interventionism just because he’s supporting it, we could be in for some clarity on foreign policy within the parties and a further red-blue polarization on foreign policy lines.”
    •”Of course, we need to inject a historical note of precaution in that inaugural addresses often become memorable — or eminently forgettable — only with the passage of time. The relationship between Bush’s rhetoric and his record of success or failure, will determine the true resonance of this address. But in the meantime, Bush has made it clear that he doesn’t buy all the post-election spinning about morality and values issues as that central; he’s continuing to see — as he said after 9/11 — that his presidency will be judged on the question of how he and America responded to the war on terror.”

    George W. Bush, Second Inaugural Address (Jan. 20, 2005)

    • “For a half a century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical. And then there came a day of fire.”

    • “We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”

    • “The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America’s influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America’s influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom’s cause.”

    • “Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.”

    •”The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.”

    •”In America’s ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.”

    • “From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?”

    • “When our Founders declared a new order of the ages, when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty, when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner Freedom Now they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.”

    • “When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, It rang as if it meant something. In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength, tested but not weary we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

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