Bush seems to provide an endless supply of fodder for the Bush-bashing book genre, and I think that I have read them all. For the most part the books are entertaining and educational in a tragic sort of way. Maureen Dowd, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times, has undoubtedly written the most depressing of the lot. Her new book Bushworld makes it clear that Dowd warned us long ago about Bush and the Bush clan. If enough of us had paid heed we wouldn’t be living in Bushworld.
Her columns during the 1990’s exposed the Bushes, their friends, their familial bonds with Saudi Arabia and their ambitions. Her first essay in Bushworld begins, “It is their reality. We just live in it.” Through her essays she paints a picture of Bushworld that is an unsettling alternate reality from the world which we believe we inhabit. Bushworld is the reality of the (as Ms. Dowd refers to them) the “Kennebunkport Corleones”. You and I are just bit players in the Bushworld drama. The Bush family believes that it should rule, that it is destined to rule, that it is right and just in its rule.
Bushworld shows us that what matters to the Bushes are not over arching themes of war and peace or themes of economic and social justice. No, what matters is “ambition, partisanship, political debts and revenge.” One is either with the Bushes or against them. For them the world is black and white. There is no “maybe” or “what if”. There is only what they believe. There is only what they do.
Despite their true motivations the Bushes manage to maintain an almost happy go lucky reputation. Or as Ms. Dowd explains, “The Bushes are always gracious, until they need to go ugly.” There is a warning here as November approaches. In reading Bushworld it becomes clear that the last presidential election wasn’t about issues. It wasn’t about compassionate conservativism. At its core, for the Bushes, it was about revenge and vindication. The Bushes had to prove that the Clinton years were merely “Bushus interruptus”. In Bushworld winning was and still is everything. Governing is just an inconvenience — that can be delegated to others — after the game has been won.
Dowd’s almost psychoanalytic style of journalism isn’t limited to the Bushes. In Bushworld we find that she penned very perceptive essays in November and December of 2000 that give us a realistic glimpse into the thoughts that may have been going through Gore’s head and those of the Supreme Court Justices during the “Hundred Chads’ War.”
After reading Bushworld I will become a regular reader of Ms. Dowd’s column. She told us where we were going with the Bushes before we got here. I want to know where she thinks they will take us next.