Positive books on Bush hard to find in the U.S.
John de Boer (Research Associate, GLOCOM; Japan Fellow, Stanford University)
Walking into an American bookstore is something the U.S. president, George W. Bush, should never do so long as he wants to keep his self-esteem high and outlook on re-election positive. Even in shops with the widest of collections it is difficult to find a single book on the president that gives a positive evaluation of how he is running the country. While many slam the U.S. media for being uncritical of Bush and his bullying tactics, a stroll through the neighborhood bookstore makes it clear that the book industry has not held back. Although, Bush's approval ratings continue to hover around the 50 percent mark, works deploring Bush's leadership are selling well. In such a hostile environment one wonders how long Bush can maintain a good image among his electorate, something that has long faded overseas.
For a better idea of what Americans are actually reading on Bush, below is a selection of major works on the subject. Ivo Daalder has recently come out with a book entitled, America unbound: the Bush revolution in foreign policy, where he talks about Bush and the perils of power (Brookings Institution Press, 2003). Then there is Molly Ivins', Bushwhacked: life in George W. Bush's America (Random House, 2003), which questions Bush's ethics and depicts political corruption. A similarly well selling book is that of Scott Ritter entitled, Frontier Justice: weapons of mass destruction and the bushwhacking of America (Context Books, 2003). These rather coarse portrayals of Bush are complemented by the plethora of books written on the controversy surrounding the 2000 election. Edwin D. Dower's book The disputed presidential election of 2000 (Greenwood Press, 2003) covers this in considerable detail and there are many more. Other overriding themes include unilateralism and imperialism. Douglas Kellner raises these issues in his From 9/11 to terror war: the dangers of the Bush legacy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003) and portrays Bush's presidency as a threat to America and the world order. John Newhouse's work entitled Imperial America: the Bush assault on the world order (Knopf, 2003) is another study which analyzes Bush's legacy from this perspective. An additional matter of intrigue relates to President Bush's apparent intellectual limitation. The consensus is that George W. Bush is not very smart. Most seem to believe that there are others manipulating and propping him up behind the scene. Lou Dubose's subscribes to this theory in his book called Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the brains behind the remarkable political triumph of George W. Bush (Public Affairs, 2003). There is also that of James Moore, Bush's brain: how Karl Rove made George W. Bush Presidential (J. Wiley, 2003). The volume of critical writings on president Bush is so alarming that I only managed to find one book that referred to George W. Bush in a positive light as I walked through a popular bookstore in the Stanford area, that was Carolyn B. Thompson's, The leadership genius of George W. Bush (Wiley, 2003).
The experience of entering a bookstore and being overwhelmed with books that belittle President Bush as a foolish, brainless and reactionary individual who is being taken advantage of and destroying America and the world order in the process is quite startling. One cannot help but come out of the bookstore stunned and questioning why George W. Bush remains in power. If I were to judge from the bookshelves, the outcome of the 2004 elections seems relatively clear, Bush will go. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on who should, or could, replace him. Furthermore, it is hard to determine whether or not these books will actually influence voting behavior, particularly when a significant percentage of the American people simply do not read. Which leads us to the conclusion that an uninformed public could be Bush's best ally.