Friday, November 12, 2010

A Careless Man: What the Bush Memoir Reveals

Time Magazine

Early on in his newly released memoir, George W. Bush writes with great credibility, and a welcome absence of histrionics, about his slow-motion turn toward faith. There was no fiery epiphany. There was a growing comfort with the calming release of prayer, a gradual appreciation of the moral truths contained in the Bible. There were doubts too. "If you haven't doubted, you probably haven't thought very hard about what you believe," he writes. And that principle is very much in evidence when he makes the first major decision of his presidency, in favor of federal funding for research on existing stem-cell lines but not for raiding frozen embryos — potential lives, he believes — to harvest their cells. To reach that decision, Bush conducted a White House seminar that included talks with advocates, brilliant ones, on all sides of the issue. "The conversations fascinated me," he writes. "The more I learned, the more questions I had." Whatever you think of his policy, the process was impeccable.

I mention this not only because it reveals Bush at his best but because it was so much at variance with the rest of his presidency. [...]

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