I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized That Which You Had To Do

That Which You Had To Do

Seamus Deane
Decision Points, by George W Bush, Virgin Books, 512 pp, €25, ISBN: 978-0753539668 Alexis de Tocqueville and the Art of Democratic Statesmanship, Brian Danoff and L Joseph Hebert Jr (eds), Lexington Books, 350 pp, $85, ISBN: 978-0739145296 As if the passage of time were not damaging enough, George W Bush has now (in some remote sense of the word) “written” a book about his presidency that accelerates the speed and the force of the condemnation he deserves. It is, obviously, easy to mock this frat boy’s ignorance and idiocy, but entirely inappropriate when one remembers the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed and maimed on his orders or, as he would say, “on his watch”. This is the man who says, through his ghost writers, that “The deliberate murder of innocent people is an act of pure evil”, that he is speaking out “for a culture that values all innocent human life”. The killing of those who were never born is a problem that exercised him far more in relation to the abortion and stem cell debates than the killing in the Iraq war of those who have been born, as well as many babies still in the wombs of their vaporised mothers. It’s a rapid decision that he “knows” is right. As Dad said, “But you have done that which you had to do”; the Bush family really has a way with words. The ghost writers who co-operated in producing this account (there are several apparently) have tried to make a style of the subject’s brutal idiocy; the tough sheriff, forever adjusting his gun belt, speaking as tersely as possible; the born again ex-alcoholic acknowledging God’s fascination with his plight, saying his telephone prayers with Kirbyjon Caldwell, his pastor and adviser, before major events. And people used to worry that a Catholic president might phone the pope on state affairs! The only surprise here is that Bush needed a phone to get God’s advice. Now and then his own unmistakable voice comes in to lower even further the overall tone. Remembering his father’s campaign error with Clinton (“It’s the economy, stupid.”), he says: “I did not want to repeat Dad’s mistake of 1992, when he was perceived as disengaged on the economy.” Then there was Dad during Hurricane Andrew and son during Katrina: “The photo of me hovering over the damage suggested I was detached from the suffering…



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