David Blackburn

Political memoirs galore - at last, a surprise

Text settings

So, you thought you knew Dubya? His memoir has leapt to the top of the sellers' charts (£) in the States and The Spectator is publishing a comprehensive review by Sir Christopher Meyer next week. But, judging by extracts in the Times’ serialisation, Bush's ghostwriter Christopher Michel (the former President’s premier speech writer) has done a spectacular job: turns out we didn’t know George Bush at all.

Certainly, the embodiment of manifest destiny emerges from the text, as we expected it to – resolute in action, defiant in moral certitude and confidant that history will remember him at least. ‘Did you use water boarding?’ ‘Damn right we did’.

But another Bush rests beneath the bravura - a thoughtful man who recognised that the world was greater than the sum of its largest part. And, still inspired by that realisation, Bush condemns (£) America’s reactionaries, cowards and demagogues, of both the left and right:

‘Here’s what I am most concerned about: isolationism, protectionism and nativism, the evil triplets that occasionally hold hands in America…Presidents should not subsume influence for the sake of comity ... or be fearful of leading towards freedom. A government not of the people is never capable of being held to account for human rights violations. Iran will be better served if there is an Iranian-style democracy.’

Oh, and there don’t seem to be too many Lawrentian romps polluting the narrative, unlike a certain other statesman turned scribe…