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National Insecurity by David Rothkopf

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3. The Other George W. Bush

Fear makes us feel our humanity.

—BENJAMIN DISRAELI

At the end of his presidency, the image of George W. Bush held by many was of an inarticulate, bumbling man who had been duped by his vice president and secretary of defense into pursuing policies overseas and at home that were harsh, unilateral, and damaging to America’s standing in the world. However, the gap between perception and reality for the forty-­third president may have been greater than that for any president since Ronald Reagan, whose affable warmth on camera was often replaced by remoteness and a chilly demeanor behind the scenes.

In the years since, Bush’s standing has slowly rebounded. At the time of this writing, his approval-disapproval ratings ...

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