Friday, November 19, 2010

Bushie boy's book: Huge swaths of it appear to have been plagiarized

The word on the street is that our exalted former president is a word thief. According to some enterprising journalist at Huffington Post many of the anecdotes Bush represents as personal experiences appear to have been lifted straight from the published works of other journalists. Here's a long, illustrative, quote from Ryan Grim's column
Many of Bush’s literary misdemeanors exemplify pedestrian sloth, but others are higher crimes against the craft of memoir. In one prime instance, Bush relates a poignant meeting between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a Tajik warlord on Karzai’s Inauguration Day. It’s the kind of scene that offers a glimpse of a hopeful future for the beleaguered nation. Witnessing such an exchange could color a president’s outlook, could explain perhaps Bush’s more optimistic outlook and give insight into his future decisions. Except Bush didn’t witness it. Because, as he himself writes later in the book, he wasn’t at Karzai’s inauguration.

His absence doesn’t stop Bush from relating this anecdote: “When Karzai arrived in Kabul for his inauguration on December 22 - 102 days after 9/11 - several Northern Alliance leaders and their bodyguards greeted him at an airport. As Karzai walked across the tarmac alone, a stunned Tajik warlord asked where all his men were. Karzai, responded, ‘Why, General, you are my men. All of you who are Afghans are my men.’”

That meeting would sound familiar to Ahmed Rashid, author of “The Mess in Afghanistan”, who wrote in the New York Review of Books: “At the airport to receive [Karzai] was the warlord General Mohammad Fahim, a Tajik from the Panjshir Valley …. As the two men shook hands on the tarmac, Fahim looked confused. ‘Where are your men?’ he asked. Karzai turned to him in his disarmingly gentle manner of speaking. ‘Why General,” he replied, “you are my men–all of you are Afghans and are my men.’” 

Bush’s lifting of the anecdote, while disappointing on a literary level, does raise the intriguing possibility that Bush actually read Rashid’s article. Doubtful. It was excerpted in the Googleable free intro to his NYRB story. (Still, thinking of Bush browsing the NYRB’s website almost makes it worthwhile.)

In a separate case of scene fabrication, though, Bush writes of a comment made by his rival John McCain as if it was said to him directly. “The surge gave [McCain] a chance to create distance between us, but he didn’t take it. He had been a longtime advocate of more troops in Iraq, and he supported the new strategy wholeheartedly. “I cannot guarantee success,” he said, “But I can guarantee failure if we don’t adopt this new strategy.” A dramatic and untold coming-together of longtime rivals? Well, not so much. It comes straight from a Washington Post story. McCain was talking to reporters, not to Bush.
In addition, Grim accuses our former president of stealing passages from American Soldier, by General Tommy Franks, work by Ahmed Rashid New York Review of Books, as well as from Bob Woodward and from Robert Draper’s Dead Certain.  If any of you still believed the ludicrous claims the boy-king used to make about his character and morality, I hope these revelations finally explode those misapprehensions.

PS: Will any of this be published on the RW blogs? Doubtful. Draw your own conclusions as to why they're once again reluctant to demonstrate any concern or disappointment about the latest instance of Bush misbehavior.

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