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Title: A Tragic Legacy How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency
Author: Glenn Greenwald
Copyright: © 2007
Publisher: Three Rivers Press, an imprint of Random House
Relevance: A Tragic Legacy is an interesting look at the political science, morality and religion behind the Bush administration. Excellent for all reporters covering the political, terrorism and national beats.
Keywords: US/American politics, Bush presidency, history, political science, journalism
Review: Glenn Greenwald has contributed greatly to the debate and the morals behind whether the Bush presidency was perhaps the worst in the country's history and examines key ideas possibly held by George W. Bush that drove this man throughout eight years of tumult.
Perhaps the key thesis behind Greenwald's analysis of the Bush presidency is the President's black and white interpretation of good and evil. Behind these two extremes which Greenwald holds that Mr. Bush believes are true physical entities comes forth the reason behind all of the Bush administration decisions.
Greenwald puts forward his thesis that Bush considers himself, albeit unknowingly, a Manichean warrior. This viewpoint, the fundamental premise of which is that any action no matter how good or evil can always be justified if the intent is for good. To put it in less philosophical terms, Greenwald's main thesis is that Bush believes his ends justify his means.
On the surface, this theory would tend to justify many of the apparent paradoxes within the Bush administration. Why, for instance, would it be right to kill thousands of innocent Iraqis and "liberate" Iraq if it weren't for the obvious fact that the end result (i.e., the deposing of Saddam Hussain) would support the effort to spread western style democracy?
The vilification of any and all critics, the destruction of their careers, the outing of at least one of the government's own CIA agents, would appear to be evil acts. So too would the close examination of the fact that there have been more Americans killed after the 9/11 attacks than in the attacks themselves.
Greenwald's hypothesis, namely that Mr. Bush will do almost anything regardless of the ironic outcome to spread "good" throughout the world is well illustrated throughout his book. A normal person, according to Greenwald, would have qualms about using torture, kidnapping, false imprisonment and other forms of abuse against untried enemy combatants. Bush, Greenwald states, does not. This is not a sign of evil, Greenwald contends, within Bush, it is rather a confession of the simplistic way in which this man sees his world and indeed his mission as the 43rd President of the United States.
The book itself is full of examples that illustrate and support Greenwald's thesis that Bush, perhaps on his own or perhaps by manipulation of others, has created a legacy marred by an oversimplistic and almost childlike view of the world.
The book should also serve as an important warning to journalists, especially western journalists, who have been criticized following the Bush years not to blindly follow the leader and glibly repost their respective government party lines. Greenwald does a very good job of illustrating the many complicities of which the US and British media are particularly guilty in their parroting the various press releases emanating from the White House and 10 Downing Street. It is clear that Greenwald reserves some of his disdainful analysis for the media especially the right wing media in spoon-feeding erroneous news to a salivating public.
Of course it's always fun to play Monday morning quarterback. In other words, Greenwald's analysis, for example, that Bush's strategy is simplistic at best and his analysis specious, did nothing to prevent his re-election in 2004 because the book was published, let's face it, as Bush was heading out the door. Greenwald's criticism, therefore, of the various press agencies and media outlets should be taken within context that he himself wrote the book as Bush was leaving. Of course, cemeteries are full of heroes and not wanting to appear dramatic, much of the media was swept up in the post 9/11 attack pro Bush frenzy. It's all well and good to warn us that the stables are full of hay and people shouldn't smoke near the horses. It's quite another matter to say "I told you so" after the barn has burned down.
Overall: A Tragic Legacy How a Good Vs Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency is an excellent lesson for the general populous in how to not be fooled by a president who exploits people's fears of we versus them. Although not dwelled on in the book, A Tragic Legacy should also serve to warn journalists to ask tougher questions or face the uncomfortable knowledge that they are part of the problem. Highly recommended.
End of Review
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