Rarely in the history of reviewing presidential biographies for major American newspapers has the nation been so well-served as it has been by The New York Times' Peter Baker in his review of Bush -- Jean Edward Smith's newly published account of George W. Bush's presidency.
The highly regarded Smith is best known for penning similar accounts of the presidencies of Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower, in which he cut across history's grain to force a fresh-eyed evaluation.
But if Bush was hoping that Smith might stand athwart history, shouting "Please clap!" on his behalf ... well, I'm afraid there's bad news. As Baker notes in one of those perfect if-you've-not-got-the-time-to-read-this-book-don't-worry-I-got-you summations:
Mr. Smith leaves no mystery where he stands on Mr. Bush’s place in history. The first sentence of his book: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.”
The last: “Whether George W. Bush was the worst president in American history will be long debated, but his decision to invade Iraq is easily the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.”
So, not exactly the Joseph Campbell hero monomyth.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.