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Decision Points: A Monkey's Review

This week, we're going for a biography that still holds plenty of interesting commentary for our world today.

George W. Bush has kept pretty quiet since the end of his presidency; his book tour was one of the only exceptions. In comparison to his predecessors, the man has stayed out of the spotlight and for the most part refrained from getting involved in the current political landscape. Maybe eight years of the most stressful job on earth will do that to a guy.

Even if you aren't a George Bush supporter, reading his book "Decision Points" is a much-needed perspective on his presidency that he was at times unable to articulate while he sat in the Oval Office. As the title suggests, the book divides his two terms into specific events in which Bush had to weigh opposing arguments and come to a decision, which was hardly ever easy.

Of particular interest to us monkeys will be the final chapter on the financial crisis. In it, Bush talks about (among other things) the wisdom of his decision to have Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke on his team as well as the struggle to pitch the various federal interventions in the markets. Interesting facts show up throughout, including the number of times Bush had called for more regulation of Fannie and Freddie (18) as well as the number of votes by which the Republican Party opposed TARP (65 to 133).

The story is well told, and although the decisions remain controversial, a lot of his rationale boils down to this: as ridiculous as it was to make US taxpayers foot the bill for the crisis, it would be more ridiculous to let the system suffer a total collapse.

Keep in mind that September 2008 also saw the landfall of Hurricane Ike, the Russian invasion of Georgia, and the political theater of the upcoming election. "It was a hell of a way to end the presidency," he writes.

The rest of the biography follows much of the same format, from his first major decision on stem cell research to the war on terror and the Hurricane Katrina response. One thing I can definitely admire is that he steers clear of commenting at all upon the current Administration (in fact, only twice is Barack Obama mentioned; once when Bush tells the President-elect about his frustrations with the pardon system on the way to the inauguration, and second when Obama and McCain were both invited to the White House to help decide on crisis management).

If you want an interesting biography that makes it clear that the decisions that characterized George Bush's presidency were bathed in all shades of gray, put this one on your reading list, monkeys. It is compulsively readable and has even received high marks from a number of my friends who were, and still are, hardcore Democrats.

Monkey's Review 1: Barbarians At the Gate
Monkey's Review 2: The Financier
Monkey's Review 3: Decision Points
Monkey's Review 4: Debunkery
Monkey's Review 5: When Genius Failed
Monkey's Review 6: Monkey Business
Monkey's Review 7: Death Of The Banker
Monkey's Review 8: A Journey
Monkey's Review 9: Damn It Feels Good To Be A Banker
Monkey's Review 10: The Quants
Monkey's Review 11: All About Hedge Funds
Monkey's Review 12: The Unlikely Disciple
Monkey's Review 13: Adventure Capitalist
Monkey's Review 14: The Hedge Fund Book
Monkey's Review 15: Investing In Hedge Fund of Funds
Monkey's Review 16: Hilarity Ensues
Monkey's Review 17: The Prince
Monkey's Review 18: Markets Never Forget (But People Do)
Monkey's Review 19: The Money Culture

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Comments (20)

  • TheKing's picture

    I gotta be honest, I wanted to read this book. But, I just couldn't bring myself to. Why? Well, this might get some monkey shit flung at me, but it's because while he was doing his media rounds Bush claimed that the all-time low point of his Presidency was when Kanye said he didn't care about black people.

    Let's be clear. Bush said that Kanye saying he didn't care about black people was a worse point than:

    --9/11
    --The financial crisis
    --Katrina
    --4,000+ Americans dying in Iraq / Afghanistan
    --There not being WMDs in Iraq
    --Flying to Washington in the middle of the night to sign an emergency bill to fucking put Terry Schaivo back on her feeding tube (what a true small government conservative!)

    I cannot take a book about self-reflection on key decisions made in the White House seriously when his perspective is so clearly fucked up.

    And another thing. What the fuck is the deal with people's selective memory on Bush? Some people on this site act like he was some stud of a President, why? I really don't get it. The guy was a bum that spent 8 years in the White House sitting on a cucumber.

  • Ben Shalom Bernanke's picture

    You can't hate his perspective until you read this book. It really opened my eyes. I really enjoyed it, especially the chapter that focused on the events of 9/11. Good read IMO.

  • Virginia Tech 4ever's picture

    I've read the first several chapters. It's pretty good. It definitely adds context. I'm not at all a huge fan of Bush (I think he was the most liberal president since Jimmy Carter, although Obama makes Bush look like a Goldwater conservative), but I've always admired the way he's carried himself with dignity while in office.

    TheKing, yes, you're an idiot of epic proportions.

  • TheKing's picture

    I'm sorry, how am I an idiot of epic proportions?

    Am I somehow off-base for thinking that there were much lower points than having Kanye West say that Bush doesn't like black people? Fuck, he could've said "signing TARP into law." That would at least make sense given that it goes against true conservative principles.

    Get the fuck out of here with that bullshit.

  • Maverick91's picture

    Source "TheKing"?

  • In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
    down on the upside's picture

    Virginia Tech 4ever:
    I've read the first several chapters. It's pretty good. It definitely adds context. I'm not at all a huge fan of Bush (I think he was the most liberal president since Jimmy Carter, although Obama makes Bush look like a Goldwater conservative), but I've always admired the way he's carried himself with dignity while in office.

    TheKing, yes, you're an idiot of epic proportions.

    I was with you until the part about Bush carrying himself with dignity. We are talking about George W Bush? Mr. late-night punchline every week for 8 years running George W. Bush? I cant think of another president more well-known for being an absotlute duffiss. Amongst other things, choking on a pretzel, believing that fish and man can co-exist peacefully and everyones favorite, fighting with a closed door!

  • Maverick91's picture

    @theking When does your statement "Bush claimed that the all-time low point of his Presidency was when Kanye said he didn't care about black people" mean what he actually said "I resent it, it's not true, and it was one of the most disgusting moments of my presidency."

    When you use definitive statements like "all-time low" don't construe the facts. Also, you might not want to buy into the sensationalism of modern day media. Just because the title says: Bush calls Kanye West's criticism over Hurricane Katrina the lowest moment of his presidency doesn't mean the content will completely reflect that

  • Maverick91's picture

    @theking Here is the direct source to the material that Yahoo wrote about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amPgDc46MY0 (fast forward to 4:30) He did say it was an all time low, but you have to take it in context. The preceding paragraph in the book talks about attacks against Bush's character and of all the attacks on his character this was by far the most hurtful.

    ps I don't really care for Bush.

  • ibintx's picture

    Ya he said it was "ONE OF the most disgusting" not "THE worst"...and this came from Lauer asking him directly about the Kanye incident, NOT asking "what was the worst moment of your presidency"

    It's sad how much influence the media has these days. The truth is that they distort these types of things all the time (often just to create a story). I've seen it in politics, sports, anything.. It's really scary how much this crap affects our society, government and entire country.

    It should also be noted that the national media (in general) tends to be quite left-leaning (with obvious exceptions).

  • In reply to Maverick91
    TheKing's picture

    Maverick91:
    @theking Here is the direct source to the material that Yahoo wrote about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amPgDc46MY0 (fast forward to 4:30) He did say it was an all time low, but you have to take it in context.

    "He did say it was an all time low, but..."

    The context is irrelevant, it is not nearly an all-time low and is absurd to even speak of it relative to so many major events that occurred during his term in office. Fuckin' a, we're talking about some bullshit Kanye West said.

  • Maverick91's picture

    Context is irrelevant? He was talking about an attack on his character not his presidency. It was basically saying of all the things people have called you: stupid, liar, looks like a monkey, shoe lover, racist. Racist is the worst. And you really think GW knows that most "intelligent" people disregard the great Kayne West.

  • ibintx's picture

    after watching that, don't you think that the "all-time low" was a build-up of multiple things?

    as in wars+constant crticism+Katrina and then +Kanye = All-time low

    not Kanye = all-time low

    The "all-time low" came AFTER (not necessarily "only because of" the comment) because: a terrible disaster had just occurred, Bush probably thought he was doing his best to help those people, and yet a national figure calls him a racist while countless people are blaming him for a natural disaster...all while waging 2 wars, and amidst constant security threats. Now, THAT sounds like a reasonable time for an "all-time low."

    Just thinking about it, I really don't see how Kanye ALONE could be the worst moment, even if he was as selfish as people make it seem. First of all, Bush was criticized at some point, by someone, his entire presidency, on every part of his character, from his intelligence to his intentions to his decisions. Even if he was THAT self-interested, how would being called a racist by a dumb rapper be the worst thing? (honestly, given Bush's poor political/speaking skills, I could imagine him making that statement just to appease black people, but regardless..)

    All-time lows usually don't happen just because of one event. They happen from a buildup of multiple things. That's just how life works..

  • In reply to TheKing
    eokpar02's picture

    TheKing:
    I'm sorry, how am I an idiot of epic proportions?

    Am I somehow off-base for thinking that there were much lower points than having Kanye West say that Bush doesn't like black people? Fuck, he could've said "signing TARP into law." That would at least make sense given that it goes against true conservative principles.

    Get the fuck out of here with that bullshit.

    Yea, I am amazed that this grown ass man can say that the worst thing that happened during his presidency was... getting called a racist by some piece of shit rapper? Not 9/11? The man obviously is a juvenile.

    I am not cocky, I am confident, and when you tell me I am the best it is a compliment.
    -Styles P

  • gnicholas's picture

    I started to read this and even began to empathize with some of his viewpoints and sentiments...then I remembered what a godawful President he was and how much damage he did to this country.

  • RiskyBizness's picture

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  • AlexanderHamilton's picture

    Patrick Bateman would eat Eddie Morra's lunch (and probably his brains).

  • heister's picture

    Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

    Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne