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07/18/2004 Archived Entry: "Review of James Bovard's The Bush Betrayal"
I REVIEW JAMES BOVARD'S NEW BOOK. It's hot.
Buy This Book Before it's Banned.
A review of James Bovard's
The Bush Betrayal
Published by Palgrave Macmillan, July 2004
$26.95 hardcover ($18.86 at Amazon.com)
By Claire Wolfe
This book is bound to be banned. It obviously violates several federal statutes. It's rapid-fire, high-capacity, equipped with bayonet-sharp wit, and loaded with politician-piercing ammo.
Never mind that the ammo is merely words. We already know how terrified the Bush administration is of opponents who fire verbs and nouns.
Well, if the Bushfolk worry about the spray & pray innacuracies of a Michael Moore or the small-caliber pops-pops of protest tee-shirt wearers and sign holders, James Bovard has just given the administration real reason to duck and tremble.
Bovard's new book The Bush Betrayal is one of his personal best. But it's more than good; it's a revelation. Through rapid bursts of well-documented facts it reveals an administration whose incompetence is equalled only by its messianic conviction of utter rightness.
The picture that emerges (particularly of G.W. Bush himself and Attorney General John Ashcroft) is that of Josef Stalin morphed into the Marx Brothers, Torquemada twinned with Bud Abbott. All wrapped up in the Stars & Stripes as designed by Buzz Windrip.
If you already believed the Bush administration was a bit scary, perhaps even a bit mad, you'll have more evidence than you ever imagined after finishing The Bush Betrayal. If (like me) you believe you already know everything you need to know about the administration's ways, I can assure you that you'll learn more and - this is the kicker - enjoy the process of discovering the facts.
The book is an engaging read partly because of Bovard's wit, which is at its sharpest here. It's a quick read because it's well written and because it's structured in easy-to-handle chapters that prevent its message from weighing too heavy on the soul. At 330 pages, The Bush Betrayal is also shorter than Jim's other recent books. That's a good thing in an election season in an era of sound bites. But every page gives full value. The book is loaded to capacity with facts you might not have known.
For example (in Bovard's words):
At moments that you might be tempted to despair of such brutal folly, Bovard will suddenly give you a quirky way of looking at things that might make you smile instead.
Again in his own words:
One thing that stands out in Bovard's slashing, impeccably researched prose is how many of Bush's policies and proclamations are not merely "wrapped in the flag," but wrapped in a mantle of sanctity. If Bush believes himself to be the arm of God, as he has claimed, then those who disagree are not merely inaccurate, but irreverent, perhaps even heretical.
Commenting on several remarks by Bush about how "dictatorship would be ... easier," Bovard notes, "Bush has always seemed oblivious to why dictatorships drag nations to ruin. Instead, all that matters is prompt obedience and the reverence, enforced or otherwise, for the leader."
Often, as I read The Bush Betrayal, I was reminded of another, very different, book, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times by Sheila Fitzpatrick.
The more I read, the more I felt Bovard's book - or rather, the Bush administration - was haunted by the ghost of Stalin. Not Stalin in his monstrous manifestation as a master of genocide or paranoid mass murderer of his rivals. But "Uncle Joe," that benenevolent image of the wise leader who will provide for every aspect of the little people's lives - as long as they keep their mouths shut, obey, and never raise any questions.
Uncle Joe was to be loved - no matter what cruelties he inflicted. Uncle Joe could be trusted with everyone's welfare - no matter how poor his policies made them. Uncle Joe could be trusted to run the economy - no matter how distorted the Soviet empire's economic life became. Uncle Joe glorified the power and greatness of his nation - even as he laid the course toward its destruction.
"Uncle Joe" was, of course, a pernicious illusion, designed to inspire unquestioning loyalty and trust in the omnipotent - and often omni-petulant - state. So is the image George W.Bush and his flappers eagerly promote.
While calling himself a conservative, he presides over unprecedented government expansion. While calling himself compassionate he jails millions of nonviolent Americans and indiscriminately slaughters Iraqis and Afghanis. While praising freedom, he wipes rights off the map. While touting the virtues of self-reliance, he subsidizes everything - using other people's money. While effusing about volunteerism, he expands programs to pay incompetent "volunteers" handsomely. While praising free-market economics, he uses subsidy and regulation, carrot and stick, to turn the U.S. business world toward economic fascism. To get his way, he lies about anything while proclaiming the virtues of honesty. He promotes himself as our savior from terrorism, while constantly striving to keep us terrified. He enthuses about spreading the glory of American values while subverting those values at home and sowing hatred and fear of America abroad.
It is this picture - the Benevolent Bush of his own words contrasted with the utter destruction he wreaks on both American institutions and foreign nations - that Bovard brings out most clearly.
You may have already glimpsed the frightening visage of the Bush administration. When you read The Bush Betrayal you'll stare right into its glassy, half-mad, power-craving eyes - and, with a wealth of fascinating information, be better able to oppose it.
The Bush Betrayal is available now through Amazon.com. It's scheduled to be in bookstores in August. Buy it now and be in the information vanguard.
(c) 2004 by Claire Wolfe (http://www.clairewolfe.com). You may reprint this article as long as you reproduce it in full, without changes, complete with this copyright notice.
NOTE to editors: The words "I review James Bovard's new book. It's hot" from my blog entry are not part of the review and do not need to be included in reprints.
Posted by Claire @ 12:49 PM CST