By Paul Begala - Perhaps to show he has a sense of humor, Bush has something called The Bush Institute. (Insert joke about Dubya needing to be institutionalized here.) The Institute has a new book out, and the former president is out promoting it.
The book is titled 'The Four Percent Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs.' You gotta hand it to Bush. Either he was born without the moral compass that engenders humility or he has one sick sense of humor. To start with, let the record show that George W. Bush was in fact president of the United States for eight years. And for those eight years economic growth averaged not four percent, but 2.04 percent. For Bush to attach his name to a book claiming to be a recipe for economic growth is what we Texans call chutzpah. What’s next? Charlie Sheen as spokesperson for Just Say No? Chris Christie’s fitness video? Kim Kardashian’s tips for a long and happy marriage? The mind boggles.
Where Dubya is concerned I have tried so hard to be Elvis Costello, who famously sang, “I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused.” But I just can’t get past the retching revulsion I feel about what this man and his policies did to our nation and the world. We will set aside the legacy of lost blood and treasure caused by his unwarranted invasion of Iraq for another day—perhaps when His Airheadedness decides to publish a book on national security. For now let us focus on the economy and the Bush Institute’s book.
The institute’s executive director, James K. Glassman, who also wrote the introduction, is no stranger to failed economic prophecy. In 1999 he co-authored (with current Romney adviser Kevin Hassett) a book with the unintentionally hilarious title “Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market.” They almost got it right. Instead of a rise in the stock market there was a crash. The Dow went to 6,500, and 13 years after their book was published it is around 13,000. So they were only off by 23,000 points.
In promoting the book, the former president gave an interview to the Hoover Institute—fitting, since both Presidents Hoover and Bush presided over economic policies that led to depressions. The beginning of the interview showcases Dubya at his best: he chats amiably and knowledgeably about the Texas Rangers (Lord, why didn’t you make Dubya Baseball Commissioner instead of president? He would have been a great Commissioner; he believes baseball should be played on real grass, with pitchers batting, and no interleague play. He is as right about everything baseball-oriented as he is wrong about everything presidentially oriented.)
After baseball, the former president reflects on his time in the Oval Office—the most solemn, difficult job on earth—and summarizes it thus: “Eight years was awesome. And I was famous and I was powerful.” Oh my God. For the better part of a decade, the greatest nation on earth was led by a four-year-old.
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