I have just finished reading Decision Points by George W Bush and as a history buff; I enjoyed reading the President’s perspective of events that are fresh in my mind. It does give you a perspective that is quite different from the vantage point of citizen. I still have major issue with many of his decisions because he continues to suggest he is a conservative that respects the constitution but a lot of his actions over his eight were neither.
There were a few key points I took away that helped me to understand why I am a constitutionalist. The constitution limits the power of the federal government, and if one thing is extremely clear in the book is that Washington DC sees itself as too important and too powerful. The constitution is an afterthought in much of the decision making process with the exception of when the president weighed into unchartered territory like the war on terror, foreign policy, and the financial crisis.
The other area that stood out like a sore thumb was the President’s confidence in people to manage a government that was totally out of control, and his determination to work with liberals in congress. His judgment of liberal democrats seemed flawed and at best wishful thinking, at worst naïve. To think that Ted Kennedy was working with him on education reform for the benefit of the kids is almost laughable. Ted Kennedy was in it for his own legacy and unions; period. Working with Kennedy on No Child Left Behind showed how little conservatism entered into his though process.
Don’t get me wrong, I think George Bush was a good man but a really flawed conservative. I would love to have the opportunity to hang out with him and debate the issues, but to argue that he was anything resembling a conservative is not realistic. He has a very liberal leaning propensity that showed in his willingness to inject government solutions into problems that are best left to the private sector and local communities like education, healthcare, and poverty. Although I think his support of Faith Based Initiatives was on the right path, it didn’t go far enough.
The final chapter titled Financial Crisis really brought home the sense that the federal government and Washington DC is mired in a mindset that the country would have melted if not for the federal bailout. There was a panic that they were trying to manage by taking action that continued the panic. We may never know, but the markets were manipulated by regulation and the results harvested bad behavior by the private sector, government, and individual citizens. The ability of the market to rebound would have been swift and real compared to what we have now. We are mired in government intrusion because George Bush opened the door to additional government intrusion. The correction would have hurt more but I am not convinced it would have been worse if the companies that made bad decisions were made to go through the bankruptcy process.
We will never know because we didn’t let the market work. Washington DC and George Bush thought they were smarter than the markets. I disagree that the markets were the reason for the meltdown, I believe it was a crippling of the markets through bad regulation, but we will never know and are left to speculate and clean up the mess his actions created.
I like GW as a family man and person. I think he was a better alternative than Al Gore or John Kerry but he was no Reagan. I enjoyed his book and feel like I have a better understanding of his decisions as president but I still disagree. The soldiers and their families had a good Commander in Chief, and I have a lot of respect for the respect he showed our troops and their families. He took his responsibility with great care. He is truly a man of faith and I loved that he shared his personal struggles with alcohol.
The book was a good read but for conservatives there are lessons to be learned about compromise and government largesse. The lesson is we need to work harder to educate people on the power of conservative principles and the constitution. Jefferson style not Bush style…