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Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, by Molly Ivins
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
This book is not nearly as negative as people think. It is more of a Texas insider's explanation of how Texas politics works, and how Bush's politics works. Because of its negative reputation, we avoided excerpting this book while Bush was president (it was written while Bush was running for President); hence we do so now as a retrospective.
Molly Ivins was a Texas journalist who followed Bush's career since well before he was elected Governor. The title, "Shrub," sounds like a personal diminution of Bush. Ivins explains it as a dictionary translation of the name of Bush's oil company, "Arbusto," which Bush prefers to translate as "bush."
The book is mostly anti-Bush, but it is not an anti-Bush screed. When Ivins thinks Bush did ok, she says so. She has high praise, for example, for Bush's education policy:
Political critics might learn from Ivins' praise -- this passage makes her other criticisms seem much more balanced. The general tone of the book is negative, but the attitude is more explanatory than attacking.
There is plenty to explain about Texas. First, the governor's office is not as powerful a position as in most states -- Texas is referred to as a "weak governor" system. The Lieutenant Governor has more explicit power, presiding over the legislature, and so do three other statewide offices, according to Ivins. On the issues, according to Ivins, Bush's philosophy is anti-environment and pro-"bidness" (Texan for "business") -- which permeates Texan thinking.
Overall, this book is a detailed analysis of Bush's pre-presidential politics. Ivins includes a brief post-presidential summary written in Sept. 2002. We would have liked to hear Ivins' analysis of the Iraq War and other developments, but she passed away shortly after writing her 2002 analysis. Hence this book serves as Ivins' legacy.
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, February 2009