Bush's memoir may be worth a read

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves visits Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Nov. 7 in Melbourne. (Evan Vucci/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves visits Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Nov. 7 in Melbourne. (Evan Vucci/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images) (Afp/getty Images)
By Al Kamen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 10:51 PM

The liberal media have been hammering away at George W. Bush's new memoir, "Decision Points." They've blasted the former president for writing about being at events - Afghan President Hamid Karzai's inauguration - when he wasn't there. They're all over him for still not getting that WMD stuff right and for saying his lawyers told him waterboarding was just fine.

But maybe it's time for a little fairness and balance here. After all, presidential memoirs aren't exercises in self-flagellation; their focus is most always self-justification. And it's kind of charming (if a little strange) that he says that one really low point of those eight years was during the Katrina days, when a rapper called him a racist.

In the book, Bush also reflects on what he sees as missed chances, such as pushing Social Security reform before tackling immigration reform. What's more, there's Bush's strong defense of the TARP, the Wall Street bailout that many angry voters bitterly blamed President Obama for in the recent elections. (Kudos for brilliant GOP campaign work there.)

He claims credit for passing the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program to save the country's - and the world's - financial system as banks went under, Wall Street panicked and a new Great Depression with massive unemployment appeared likely.

"I had to set ideology aside," Bush writes, echoing what he said at the time, in order to avert disaster. Roughly translated, this means: "I had to ignore all that campaign blather I spewed about the evils of government and regulations and the sanctity of the free market and finally get serious and nationalize the car companies."

So this book might be worth buying. Okay, maybe we're not going hardback for $35, but Borders may be giving steep discounts, or there's Kindle.

First serve

Speaking of the recent elections, don't forget to enter the Loop Who Gets It First Contest, to guess which federal agency or individual will get the honor of receiving the first subpoena from incoming House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darryl Issa.

To win, simply predict which agency or person will get the first Issa subpoena and over what issue. As a tiebreaker, guess the month and day.

Please send your entry to first subpoena@washpost.com. As always, Hill and administration officials may submit entries on background. Those coveted In the Loop T-shirts will be awarded to the first 10 entrants with the correct answer. Please include a phone contact. Deadline for entries is Dec. 15.

The globe-trotters

With the 2010 congressional races over - save for half a dozen recounts pending - attention is turning to one ongoing race that looks to be a photo finish: the contest between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and predecessor Condoleezza Rice for the most-traveled secretary in the first two years in office.

The standings so far:

Rice - 163 days on the road, 39 total trips.

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