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Excerpts from Books by and about 2008 candidates
Sen. John McCain (R, AZ)
Why Courage Matters
Sen. Barack Obama(D, IL)
Dreams From My Father
Sen. Joe Biden (D, DE)
Promises to Keep
Gov. Sarah Palin (R, AK)
New Energy for Alaska
Rep. Bob Barr (L)
The Meaning of IS
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (G)
Green Party Debate
Ralph Nader (I)
The Good Fight
Alan Keyes (NAIP)
Our Character, Our Future

Sen. Hillary Clinton
It Takes A Village
Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Leadership
Gov. Mike Huckabee
Character Makes A Difference
Amb. Alan Keyes
Our Character, Our Future
Rep. Ron Paul
Freedom Under Siege
Gov. Mitt Romney
Turnaround

(click a book cover for excerpts and a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

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:

p. 123: "On this issue Bush has been bipartisan in the best tradition of the Texas Legislature, actually working more effectively with Democrats than with many members of his own party. In addition to his impressive performance in the context of the Legislature on education issues, he has used the bully pulpit. In 1998 alone he made 47 speeches on education, almost one a week. Schools are easily his favorite campaign photo op, but he also visits them to dramatize education issues even when he's not running."

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
Drugs
   George W. Bush: 1968: Anti-drug poster boy for Air National Guard.
Education
   George W. Bush: Dedicated to TX education, plus Laura's reading initiatives.
Gun Control
   Dick Cheney: Against banning plastic guns & cop-killer bullets.
Principles & Values
   Dick Cheney: OpEd: Selection as VP was unexciting but responsible choice.
   Elizabeth Dole: 1988: Gave religious testimonial at GOP Convention.
   George W. Bush: Jesus saved me from a life of sin.
War & Peace
   George W. Bush: OpEd: 1960s enlistment was into privileged non-combat unit.
Welfare & Poverty
   George W. Bush: Supported church-based poverty program in Rio Grande Valley.
   Kay Bailey Hutchison: Secured $3M federal funds for poverty in Rio Grande Valley.


The above quotations are from Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, by Molly Ivins.

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