November 10, 2010


The George Bush I Know: As President Bush’s memoir Decision Points hits stores today, former campaign media adviser Mark McKinnon compares the book to the man he crossed the partisan divide to help elect. (Mark McKinnon, 11/09/10, Daily Beast)

The book does highlight, however, a fundamental difference between George Bush and Barack Obama. Bush never complains. He never blames others. He takes full responsibility for his campaigns, his administration, his life. He accepts the cards he's dealt. That's the George Bush I know.

When we were up to our knees in the snows of New Hampshire and got whipped by John McCain by 19 points, my advertising colleague Stuart Stevens started packing his bags. I asked what he was doing. "We're going to be fired," he said speaking from the experience of someone who had been in previous presidential campaigns when things went south. But Bush called us all into his room, looked us all in the eye, and said, "When we walk out of here and the defeat we've just been dealt, I want all your heads high. This is not your fault. It’s my mine alone. I let you down, and I apologize." And then he went out and gave a speech that Reagan's speechwriter Peggy Noonan told me looked like a victory speech if you turned the sound off. In contrast, when I saw John Kerry after the 2008 campaign (ironically in Paris), he said to me, "You guys did a really good job, and my team really $%&#$ it up." Amazing he would think that. Incredible he would say it. Astonishing he would say it to me.

Readers will be surprised by the number of examples in the book where President Bush takes responsibility for failures and talks about mistakes made—particularly in Iraq, Afghanistan, and New Orleans.

I was disappointed that President Bush wasn't able to govern in a bipartisan fashion as he did in Texas with Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock. Bush campaigned on the idea of changing the tone in Washington. But, then again, so did Barack Obama. They both discovered just how difficult, if not impossible, it is. And the recount poisoned the well for President Bush from the get-go, as many Democrats refused to even acknowledge him as a legitimate president. He writes, “The death spiral of decency during my time in office, exacerbated by the advent of 24-hour cable news and hyper-partisan political blogs was deeply disappointing.”

...of George W. Bush would seem to be that he's our first president ever to understand his own administration.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 10, 2010 6:03 AM
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