Decisions decided by the deciding decider

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Will Durst, Raging Moderate

You have to marvel at George W. Bush’s audacious return to the national stage, not to mention his curious timing. After all, there wasn’t what you would call an overwhelming popular demand clamoring for his reappearance. Apparently even putative war criminals have to make a living. But it’s going to take more than one media-blitzing book tour to scrub his image. For that he’ll either need another two or three decades of restorative exile or a wire-mesh scouring pad the size of Albania.

Will Durst

Here comes the New Bush, just like the Old Bush. The first volume of 43’s memoirs (oh, there will be more) has been released and though you know in your heart he wanted to call it “The Great Decider” or “Decisions Decided by the Deciding Decider,” cooler heads prevailed at Crown Publishing Group, simply titling it, “Decision Points,” as told to George Bush by Dick Cheney. No. I just made that last part up. And neither is Amazon bundling the autobiography with “My Pet Goat,” but it’s a fiendishly good idea.

Not sure who edited this puppy, but odds are they burned through about four spell checks. Ironically, he’s got a long way to go to live up to the standards set in previous Bush family tell-alls, especially the one penned by his mother’s dog. Booksellers will surely decide which section to stock the volume geographically. In Dallas, it will go under Biography. D.C., Current Events. San Francisco, Horror. And New Orleans, True Crime.

To be honest, it’s kind of creepy to see Laura’s husband plastered all over the tube again after a two-year sabbatical. Like Hollywood rebooting a particularly gruesome series of “Nightmare on K Street” movies. Can’t be easy for him either, flacking 512 pages of redacted reminiscences with an approval rating hovering around the level of “go to snake belly and dig,” but that’s show biz.

This collection of recollections or, more precisely, lack thereof, is about as revealing as an aerial view of an underground bunker. Like a negligee on your grandma. You’re afraid of what you might see but can’t help looking. No problem. To say this print revival effort is not big on revelations is like implying moles don’t need sunblock. Then again, maybe it’s a continuation his own personal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Then Lie” policy. George Bush and introspection: Not a match. The board goes back.

He does nail a colloquial tone in this tome, leading off with a self-deprecating tour of his storied mis-spent youth. Then takes too much time whining about the churlish noise of politics, oblivious to the fact that his good buddy, Karl Rove, is responsible for adding numerous decimal points to the decibel damage. Goes on to speak about how happy he is to be out of Washington, and with all due respect, may I say Sir, that makes 310 million of us.

Throughout the book, Bush clings to the notion that waterboarding is legal and not torture (cuz a guy said so), which should hold a measure of solace to the segment of the book-reading public who would rather be waterboarded than read this unapologetic self-serving hogwash. Although admittedly, compared to other presidential self chronicling — not half bad. Definitely two steps above the expected “I Can Haz Prezidenzy?” Crayons sold separately.

Will Durst is a San Francisco-based humor columnist who frequently tells jokes. Out loud. On stage. In front of people. Ideally. Coming up: Portland and Milwaukee.