Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Greenwald's Tragic Legacy -- book review

T Rex at Firedoglake reviews Glenn Greenwald's latest.
Tragic Legacy is apparently a polemical takedown of the president aimed more at feeding the jackals than promoting sympathy for their prey. As readers here know I am no fan of the president. In fact I derive the same guilty pleasure that T Rex describes from reading material such as this.

Sometimes when I’m in the car and a song that I absolutely hate comes on the radio, I’ll turn it up. Why? So I can hate it in detail. I get that same feeling reading Glenn Greenwald’s merciless take-down of President Bush and his coterie of sycophants and demagogues in Tragic Legacy, Greenwald’s latest book, which chronicles how an overly simplistic, black and white, Good vs. Evil mentality has destroyed the Bush Presidency and by extension, inflicted heavy damage on the Republican party, the United States, and the world.

Having admitted that, I have to add that when I find myself trotting off in that direction I exercise the same discipline on my mind as when tempted by popular mindless entertainments (reality TV and card games come to mind), forwarded emails, lottery prizes or pornography. In this case the review is all I want or need. But what a delicious review it is!

It is not a kind portrait. To many of us, President Bush’s decisions over the last six years seem to emanate from no fixed set of values. We have wondered from time to time if he is losing his mind, hitting the bottle, or is merely adrift, making sweeping policy decisions on the spur of the moment, based on the sketchiest of details and an imperfect understanding of the issues at hand.

Greenwald provides us with an illuminating view of a President completely unencumbered by nuanced thought. His whole notion of history and America’s role in the world seems to have been cribbed entirely from 1950’s cowboy movies and “Sgt. Rock” comics. In George Bush’s world, his friends, admirers, and supporters are all on the side of “Good”, whereas anyone who disagrees or opposes him is on the side of “Evil”.

This binary view of the world permeates everything that the President says and does, and he is constantly surrounded by a troupe of Neoconservative toadies who know that they can convince him to sign on with even the most outrageous and ridiculous policy initiatives by presenting the issue to him drawn in huge bubble pictures that would be comprehensible to a child, and as long as they are sure to couch the question in terms of a struggle between Good and Evil.

Nowhere is the danger of this kind of reductive thinking more apparent than with regards to US policy toward Iran, which takes up the second, and longest, part of Tragic Legacy. In this section, Greenwald lays out in chilling detail how White House policy seems to be headed inexorably toward a war with Iran. No matter how foolhardy this course of action may be, the “Decider” has included the nation of Iran in his armies of “Evil” and seems bound and determined to strike at any time, regardless of the consequences. As has been documented by numerous sources, Bush has come unmoored from the considerations of the real world (i.e., public opinion, the Pentagon, and sticks-in-the-mud like the Iraq Study Group) and decided that only “History” can be the proper judge of his legacy.

Check the link if your appetite is not yet satisfied.

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