One of the things I hope to model on this site is how Christians can engage with culture at large, because of this I deal with news stories from a Christian perspective and will also review certain popular books from this same perspective. This is a review of one such book.
I just finished Decision Points this weekend, the new book by George W. Bush. The book, unlike most presidential memoirs, was not so much a biography of the time Bush was in office, but rather it was his reasoning for making certain controversial and important decisions during his time in office.
I read this book with Proverbs 18:17 in mind:
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
I have heard from news sources the good and bad of George W. Bush’s presidency, but felt it important to hear his side of the story.
This book deals with issues from personnel decisions to Social Security reform to Katrina to Stem Cell Research to the two Wars. The book’s goal was to deal with the controversial issues and there is no shyness in doing that.
President Bush’s desire is to paint himself as an individual who wanted to accomplish much for the American people. His book shows himself as an individual who had certain principles that he lived and governed by and that his particular decisions were a practical outworking of the principles.
As with any book of this type certain chapters are more appealing to readers than others. For instance I enjoyed the ethical discussion of stem cell research more so than I did the personnel decisions that he made (although that chapter does remind me how important surrounding yourself with the right type of people is).
Throughout the book I was reminded that decisions on any topic can be complicated. Numerous factors go into making a decision of consequence. This once gain reminds me of the need for Christians to develop a robust worldview saturated in Scripture so that when complicated decisions come our way we have the basis to make those decisions.
The book also shows that legislation passed, and its consequences, are not always the fault of the president. In our system of government more than one branch is involved in forming legislation. This means that many times what the President views as ideal and what he actually signs into law are not the same thing. This is true with both what we deem as good and what we deem as bad legislation.
The final part of the book that I found interesting was how much stuff I had forgotten (or at least not thought about) that President Bush had done. The work of helping Africans in the fight against Malaria and AIDS was a heartwarming section. The introduction of Accountability in the process of foreign aid was a wise decision that is often times overlooked. Medicare reform to help seniors was much more revolutionary then the coverage of the issue brings to bear. His understanding of Education Reform in terms of overcoming a form of racism was enlightening. Obviously President Bush is going to be remembered and judged (by now and the future) by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the economy, but it was nice to be reminded that his presidency was more than that.
The book pictures an individual who knew that his decisions were not perfect, but who felt they were right with the evidence that was available to him. For the most part President Bush seeks to argue his decision through governing principles (one omission is the case of water boarding, where the president doesn’t spend as much time dealing with the ethical implications).
I would suggest Christians read it for no other reason than the Proverb quoted above.
Check back for part two of this series where I will analyze the leadership characteristics found in the book from a Christian perspective.