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Bush's Book of Excuses

Former president George W. Bush is already hard at work trying to explain himself.

Bush first told a Canadian audience on Tuesday that he intends to write a book about his 12 "toughest" decisions.

Yesterday, he told Hillel Italie of the Associated Press that he's already written about 30,000 words: "'I want people to understand the environment in which I was making decisions. I want people to get a sense of how decisions were made and I want people to understand the options that were placed before me,' Bush said during a brief telephone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press from his office in Dallas.

"Bush's book, tentatively (not decisively) called Decision Points, is scheduled for a 2010 release by Crown....

"Instead of telling his life story, Bush will concentrate on about a dozen personal and presidential choices, from giving up drinking to picking Dick Cheney as his vice president to sending troops to Iraq. He will also write about his relationship with family members, including his father, the first President Bush, his religious faith and his highly criticized response to Hurricane Katrina."

This would technically be Bush's second book. His first, titled A Charge to Keep, was ghost-written by adviser Karen Hughes in 1999.

Italie writes: "Bush told the AP on Wednesday that he was not 'comfortable with the first book, only because it seemed rushed,' and that his current memoir would have 'a lot more depth,' thanks to his years as president. Although he didn't keep a diary while in the White House — he 'jotted' down the occasional note — he said he began Decision Points just two days after leaving the White House...

"Bush said the book would include self-criticism, 'Absolutely, yes,' but cautioned that 'hindsight is very easy' and that he would make sure readers could view events as he saw them."

Some decisions may be off limits. "Asked if he might write about the ouster of his first defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, or about his decision not to pardon Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, choices both openly disputed by Cheney, Bush said he didn't know.

"'I made a lot of decisions,' he said."

Bush told Italie he had "skimmed" former president Bill Clinton's memoirs -- and hasn't read either of President Obama's books.

Motoko Rich writes in the New York Times: "According to Robert B. Barnett, the Washington lawyer who negotiated the deal with Crown on Mr. Bush's behalf," the former president "has no collaborator, but he's working with his former chief speech writer Christopher Michel."

Tirdad Derakhshani writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the book sounds like "a cross between a memoir and a ruler's how-to book (like Governing for Dummies? Or maybe more like Marcus Aurelius' Meditations?)."

Bush's comments on Tuesday, as I wrote in this post yesterday, indicate that his memoir will be heavy on revisionist self-justification, at least when it comes to his decision to sanction torture.

Rob Gillies of the Associated Press quoted Bush as saying on Tuesday: "I want people to understand what it was like to sit in the Oval Office and have them come in and say we have captured Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, the alleged killer of a guy named Danny Pearl because he was simply Jewish, and we think we have information on further attacks on the United States."

But Bush initially sanctioned torture about a year before Mohammed's capture, and there's never been any evidence corroborating Mohammed's involvement in Pearl's murder -- other than Mohammed's confession, which came after, not before, he was tortured.

There's the distinct possibility that Bush's book, when it comes out, won't actually sell much. But it will inevitably inspire a lot of jokes.

That process, in fact, has already begun. Here's TV host Jimmy Fallon last night, via U.S. News: "George Bush is writing a book. No, that's not the joke. It's a serious book about the 12 toughest decisions he made as President. It's called 'The Ten Toughest Decisions I Made As President.' It's...a good book. It's a pop-up book."

By Dan Froomkin  |  March 19, 2009; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Looking Backward  
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GWB has never struck me as much of an intellectual. Writing 30,000 words would seem to require a commitment to research and analysis that I wouldn't expect of him. Would I be wrong to believe that he has some substantial research and writing assistance?

Posted by: jestephens | March 19, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

GW Bush has a pretty large credibility chasm to bridge if they want that book to sell outside of the wingnuttery. It's hard to see how he can escape the POLITICS/policy frame, emblematic of his time in office.

Posted by: PatD1 | March 19, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to seeing this book hit the remainder bin a couple of weeks after release.

Posted by: dbitt | March 19, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Note that publication -- and payment -- will precede the 2011 rise in the top income tax rate. THAT'S how you motivate Little George . . .

Posted by: misterjrthed | March 19, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened." GWB

Can't wait to read what his ghost writes. Oh wait, I can wait. I have more important things to do. Like checking the freshness dates on my dairy products.

Posted by: jpk1 | March 19, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Bush, who is incapable of stringing coherent thoughts together, writing a book?

Give me a huge break. It will sell to the 20% or so who think highly of him.

Posted by: JCinCT | March 19, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I understand Cheney is writing a book called "My Pet President".

Posted by: mwamp | March 19, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Bush has no collaborator but is working with Christopher Michel. Since Michel has been ruled out as a co-author, I assume that his part in the project will be to translate the book into English.

Posted by: ruinedbruin | March 19, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Mwanp; ruinedbruin:

Glad to see humor alive and well

Posted by: gobears | March 19, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Change the story and pass the buck at any cost. Before he and his cohorts are done everyone in his administration will will be guilty except him. The propaganda and rhetoric that they will use will change his legacy. They have already instructed the lower aptitude of the population that Obama is responsible for this bail out rip off which they handed off to him already wrapped and addressed but not delivered to the country that they left on life support. These people are criminals and a federal prison is to good for them.

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | March 19, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if it will end up in the remainder bin .. after all, whenever Coulter or Hannity write a book, it's bought by right-wing loyalists who probably don't buy them to read, but feel obligated to ...

.. sort of like paying union dues.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | March 19, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

30,000 words? About as long as an in depth newspaper article. It is almost April 2009, book is due in 2010, he started writing in end of January---about 60 days ago, so he dictates about 500 words a day, that is if he works on it everyday. At this rate the book will never hit the bookstores in our lifetimes, if it does, after editing, it will probably be about twelve PAGES long.

Posted by: johngaltx | March 20, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

bush cannot intelligently put 30 words together let alone 30,000.

Posted by: trebla1 | March 22, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

GWBush will write his book like he run the white house. Tell the lies and then tell ten more to cover the first one. I couldn't believe him while he was in office why would I believe anything in his book. Sorry he is a poor excuse of a person.

Posted by: ticklewiskers | March 22, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

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