Confession: I voted for George W. Bush. Both times.
Before all the Pajibans I know write me off as a narrow-minded, religious, right-wing nutjob (although I’m afraid that some of you already have), allow me to add that my politics have changed a lot since 2004. Now, I’m an open-minded, religious, right-wing nutjob (yes, we do exist).
But when I think about Bush and how easy it is to vilify him as this money-grubbing idiot who cares more about pleasing corporate America and carrying out a vendetta that his father started, I can’t help but to think that I’m not seeing the whole picture.
I don’t think that any of our presidents have ever failed at patriotism. If you’re even going to run for President at all, I think you have to have at least a modicum of desire to see our nation thrive and prosper.
I don’t agree with many of Barack Obama’s policies, but I have no doubt that he loves this country and is doing what he believes will help it. And even after my politics changed, I still believed that Bush was a patriot and a decent guy, even though I came to strongly disagree with his politics.
So when my girl Jane gave me this book to read, I was determined not to judge Mrs. Bush’s memoir in light of her husband’s politics.
It was a pretty interesting read. She had an interesting childhood, and she describes growing up in Midland, Texas, with great care and nostalgia. She described how she came to love books, her family life, the tragedy that shaped her young adulthood, and meeting George.
Then, she starts getting into the political stuff… without really getting into the political stuff. While she drops enough White House trivia to give you a comprehensive picture of life as the First Lady, she also hits all of the major events during her husband’s tenure as President. She could use this memoir as a way to tout her own political ideology, and even to defend her husband’s decisions. She does counter some of the criticisms that were lobbed at him throughout his presidency, though not really from a political standpoint. Instead, she shows us the heart of a wife who loves her husband, and how it aches when he’s faced with impossible decisions.
I still couldn’t avoid the world of politics entirely. There are certain sections where she seems to presume political standpoints (the war in Iraq in particular) that I just couldn’t agree with. But that never got in the way of seeing these events through her eyes.
While this memoir was neither a page-turner nor a mind-changer for me, it did serve to confirm my opinion that, all politics aside, the Bushes seem like nice people. If they were my neighbors, I’d probably go to their barbecues and have a great time. It’s a good reminder that I don’t care as much about people’s politics as I do about their character.