Eric Alterman and Mark Green start “The Book on Bush: How
George W. (Mis)leads America” with a tall goal: to outline
the entire political and policy landscape of the Bush
administration. Along the way, they admit that they might discover
Bush to be a liar and a dissembler. However, the authors’
evaluations of Bush’s policies come before they question
whether his actions are ethical. Based on evidence and political
analysis, Alterman and Green attempt to lay out Bush’s
policies in a more detailed manner than the traditional news media,
with the intention of letting the American people know the possible
consequences of voting the president into office for another four
years.

Book Reviews

In the introduction, Alterman and Green name the three groups
that they see as most influential, and consequently which stand the
most to gain from Bush’s policies: big business, the
neoconservatives and the Religious Right. Though the book is
divided into chapters that deal with a specific aspect of foreign
or domestic policy, these three groups surface again and again.

One of the most interesting chapters explains Bush’s
environmental record. Alterman and Green expose Bush’s
actions in the first three years of his presidency: He dropped his
campaign pledge to cap carbon dioxide emissions, withdrew the
United States from the Kyoto Protocol and implemented the Clear
Skies Initiative. Alterman and Greene analyze these policy
decisions, noting that carbon dioxide and other pollutant emissions
have increased since Bush took office. At the same time, the
authors link the president to energy interests, citing that Bush
and his staff met with representatives of the energy industry
rather than environmentalists when setting environmental
policy.

Alterman and Green make convincing arguments concerning other
issues, as well. The authors discuss Bush’s fiscal policies
and the war in Iraq in the same manner, presenting the facts and
the conclusions they’ve drawn clearly. Though a large amount
of material is discussed, “The Book on Bush” remains
readable to the end.

Despite the fact that the authors see Bush’s policies as a
“radical transformation of our (American) political
life,” they set a relatively fair tone in the first chapter,
which is maintained throughout. They use many different sources to
back up their assertions, many of which, despite the title of the
book, are nonpartisan. More interestingly, the authors deconstruct
much of Bush’s rhetoric, frequently using quotes from the
President himself, his staff and White House press conferences.
Each chapter begins with a quote from Bush that pertains to the
subject to be discussed.

Even though Alterman and Green keep a balanced tone, their
message is clearly anti-Bush. The authors might say that the facts
speak for themselves, but “The Book on Bush” is not
likely to be attractive to conservative voters — that’s
clear from the title. For that reason alone, Green and Alterman
aren’t going to win over anyone who hasn’t already been
convinced.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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