Sunday, April 25, 2004
The Victims of George W. Bush
Sidney Blumenthal, The Bush Wars (Knopf: 2003, xxxv 692 pp., $39.95);
Ann Coulter, Conspiracy (Crown Forum: 2004, xi 280 pp., $24.95).
The drama of two successive Presidential impeachments will doubtless give future American historians ample opportunities for comparing and contrasting Bill Clinton, accused of personal indiscretions and acquitted, with George W. Bush, a man of apparently sincere, though narrowly delimited, personal morality found guilty of public crimes of the greatest consequence. Neither left-wing journalist Sidney Blumenthal nor right-wing agitator Ann Coulter comes near to writing disinterested history, but their conflicting, highly partisan reactions – the one triumphant and vindicated, the other defensive and paranoid – are useful starting points for more sober analysis.
Blumenthal, a one-time Clinton aide whose work on a history of that administration was interrupted by the Bush scandals, adopts an historian’s mannerisms and techniques, if not an impartial historical spirit. He has read a vast number of documents, interviewed many of the principal actors and sought to place events in a broader context. His book also boasts an introduction by an eminent young scholar, Michael Bellesiles, who sedulously connects President Bush’s meretricious actions to their consequences for America’s standing in the world.
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