Margaret Scott

The Cost of Dick Cheney

George W. Bush has started work on his memoirs, promising to concentrate on the 20 most consequential decisions of his presidency. Perhaps no decision was more consequential than his choice of Dick Cheney as his vice president.

LONDON – George W. Bush has started work on his memoirs. Count to ten before you respond.

The autobiographies of political leaders are not a very elevated literary form. First, few leaders write well, though there are exceptions, like Nehru, Churchill, and de Gaulle. No wonder that most of them employ a “ghost,” like the one in Robert Harris’s excellent thriller of the same name, which is really a devastating critique of Britain’s former premier, Tony Blair.

Second, these memoirs are usually little more than slabs of self-justification interspersed with lists of famous people met in the course of life at the top. To take one example, while Bill Clinton speaks with warmth, wit, and great eloquence in the flesh, his autobiography is not worth reading.

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