Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America
In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln described the U.S. government as an institution "of the people, by the people, for the people." While this is undoubtedly true in theory, in actual practice government is something that frequently happens to people. The mission of BUSHWHACKED: Life in George W. Bush's America is to report on the very real impact of the Bush administration on the very real lives of American people. The authors, Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose, succeed in this mission with grit, wit and a Texas-sized portion of Lone Star sass.
The three years since George W. Bush ascended to the presidency bring to mind a certain curse: May you live in interesting times. Certainly this President Bush can't be blamed for everything that has transpired since he took office. But after what is possibly the most interesting election outcome in American history, things have gotten progressively more interesting. Interesting things have happened to the economy and millions of jobs. Corporate leaders have engaged in interesting business and accounting strategies. And it's a safe bet that we'd all like the lives of our military personnel around the world to be far less interesting than has been the case in the last several months.
So whether you like it or not, whether you read beyond the front page of your newspaper or not, what goes on in Washington makes your life interesting, probably in ways you'd like to avoid. In this follow-up to their 2000 effort, SHRUB: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, Ivins and Dubose delve into the lives of Americans on the receiving end of Bush administration policy. The stories of these individuals go beyond statistics to reveal the true human cost of decisions made by officials whose interpretation of the word "people" in the Lincoln quote must have Honest Abe spinning so fast in his grave as to trigger seismographic readings.
Ivins and Dubose are relentless in their gleeful hammering of George W. Bush and his administration. True, they are preaching to the liberal choir and are not likely to find any converts among political conservatives. But whether you agree with them or not is unimportant. More important is that you respect the patriotism of their mission, which places this nation's ideals, as so succinctly and beautifully stated by Mr. Lincoln, above the people who occupy the offices of government. Those people work for us, after all, and not the other way around. As their employers we have every right --- indeed, a pressing responsibility --- to expect them to do the job they were hired to do, and to hold their feet to the fire when they fail in that mission.
With BUSHWHACKED, Ivins and Dubose have provided us with an informative and entertaining reminder of that fact, an elbow in the ribs that tells us to wake up and pay attention.
Reviewed by Bob Rhubart on September 23, 2003