Bovard begins his book by defining a new concept:
The Bush Betrayal details the manifestations of this freedom, and thus demonstrates both Bush’s lack of conservative values and the prospect of an ever encroaching government. Unlike similar Bush administration critiques, this book offers well-documented facts coupled with Bush’s rhetoric to support its thesis, all while avoiding emotion and conjecture. Bovard successfully “examines an array of [Bush’s] domestic and foreign actions that vivify the damage Bush is inflicting and the danger he poses both to America and the world.” Why? Bovard answers: “Americans must understand the Bush Betrayal if they are ever to rein in the government.” Overall, The Bush Betrayal is an election year requisite; a readable book that reveals the true depth of the Bush administration’s lies and follies. However, Bovard does not go so far as to suggest who is the right candidate for president. As evidenced by his similar text on Bill Clinton, Bovard criticizes politicians of all stripes and could likely pen a book titled The Kerry [K]onundrum.
The book’s greatest strength lies in the juxtapositions of Bush’s policy and rhetoric with the corresponding facts. Much like his previous book Terrorism and Tyranny, such an approach leaves the reader infuriated and sometimes laughing out loud in disgust. Each chapter sets out to debunk the commonly held view on important adminstration policies. Those chapters include analyses of many of Bush’s domestic initiatives such as “No Child Left Behind,” farm subsidies and Americorps along with thorough discussions of each Bush administration foreign policy adventure. Unfortunately, readers of The Bush Betrayal may find some of its chapters mere updates of those in Terrorism and Tyranny. Any review is nonetheless rewarding.
Exposing the Frauds
Those Americans who see Bush as the “glorious leader” making quick decisions in the face of adversity, need only start with Chapter 2:
“After Bush finally returned to the White House [after 9/11], he . . . announced that ‘immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans.’ […] A former Bush White House official commented that Bush ‘was actually not involved in making decisions on 9/11 about emergency plans until he formally signed a disaster declaration’ three days later … “.
Bovard continually implores his readers to demand government culpability, something still unseen since the attacks on 9/11:
“Americans were supposed to accept that unless the Bush administration received all the information regarding the 9/11 plot including hijackers’ identities, flight schedules and perhaps seat assignments then the government cannot possibly be considered negligent.”
Those who think they know all there is to know about the Bush administration’s numerous follies will find new instances throughout the text. The author’s trademark plethora of footnotes will assure the doubtful reader of the veracity of each fact. Another Bovard trademark is his biting wit:
“Perhaps the key to ‘Ashcroft freedom’ is that only the government has the right to break the law.”
Bovard’s easiest target takes the most beating:
“Under Ashcroft, the ‘presumption of innocence’ has been transferred from citizens to the government.”
Likewise, the book exposes the striking similarities between Bush freedom and that of America’s “enemies.” After describing the administration’s repeated use of executive privilege to stifle debate and quiet Congressional investigations, Bovard opines:
“Bush declared in April 2004: ‘A country that hides something is a country that is afraid of getting caught, and that was a part of our calculation.’ Bush was referring to Iraq and invoking Saddam’s secrecy to justify war. But Bush acts if spreading liberty abroad requires keeping Americans in the dark about the actions of their own government.”
The text’s most revealing chapter covers the campaign finance bill passed in 2002. Entitled “Protecting Democracy From Freedom,” this chapter demonstrates how the new bill stifles freedom of speech and protects politicians in particular incumbents from criticism. Bush’s recent remarks concerning the banning of 527s the majority of which criticize his administration exhibits the true nature of “taking money of out politics.” Bovard illustrates that the new legislation gives the government the ability to arbitrarily define advertisements by individuals as “negative” and thus illegal. Clearly, such a situation is a dangerous slippery slope toward a complete limitation of citizen group campaigning.
Upon reflection, each of the book’s themes and stories come as no surprise. Politicians by their very nature lie, steal and cheat. Likewise, their policies rarely coincide with the results. This is merely a fallout of the unintended consequences of all government actions. As the book implicitly suggests, Americans need to fundamentally change their concept of the role of government in their lives and the lives of foreigners. Diligent and active citizens should openly question whether a new president will change policy for the better or that new legislation will limit government stupidity. The Bush Betrayal in the hands of most citizens may help expose the illusions of government competence and politicians’ righteousness.