Cracked open Decision Points by George W. Bush the other night and have been making my way through it. Unlike some books penned by certain presidents, there's not much doubt that Bush wrote the work that bears his name. There's little eloquent language or vivid imagery in his writing. It’s simple, straight-forward, with a touch of smirching smartassery. In other words, it is the voice of George W. Bush.
And it’s a voice that’s generally likeable and very approachable (again unlike certain other presidents). I’m not very far in yet, but one thing that stands out is that Bush’s goals for what he wanted to do as president were all the right things: cut taxes, limit the growth of government, reform Social Security, and emphasize personal responsibility through what he liked to call the “ownership society.” Part of that “ownership” initiative unfortunately involved helping people get into houses they couldn’t afford and we’re still cleaning that mess up. And other than the tax cuts—for which Bush definitely deserves credit—he made little headway on his other goals. He did at least have a plan for reforming Social Security, although you can question the timing and commitment he had to pushing it through. Bush’s biggest failure was to allow government to continue to grow at unsustainable rates where again we’re having to deal with the consequences today.
It’s a good time to reflect back on the unfulfilled promises of the Bush years. As we survey the current crop of Republican contenders to try to determine who should get a shot at the Oval Office in 2012 it’s important to remember that they’re all going to say the right things. The difficulty comes in figuring out who will actually deliver on them.