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Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush by Fred Barnes

Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush
Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush
Fred Barnes
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Leaders & Notable People
Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (September 26, 2006)
240 pages
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“You can’t worry about being vindicated, because the truth of the matter is, when you do big things, it’s going to take a while for history to really understand.” —President Bush, in an exclusive interview with Fred Barnes for Rebel-in-ChiefWith Rebel-in-Chief, veteran political reporter Fred Barnes provides the defining book on George W. Bush’s presidency, giving an insider’s view of how Bush’s unique presidential style and bold reforms are dramatically remaking the country—and, indeed, the world. In the process, Barnes shows, the president is shaking up Washington and reshaping the conservative movement.Barnes has gained extraordinary access to the Bush administration for Rebel-in-Chief, conducting rare one-on-one interviews with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and many other close presidential advisers. That access, along with Barnes’s extensive independent reporting and interviewing, produces an eye-opening look at this highly consequential—and controversial—presidency. Rebel-in-Chief reveals:• How Bush acts as an “insurgent force” in the nation’s capital—“a different kind of president” who is turning the Washington establishment on its ear• How Bush is redefining conservatism for a new era—and creating a new Republican majority• The inside story of how Bush has revolutionized American foreign policy—and how the president's crusade for democracy would have been anathema to Bush himself only five years ago• When and why Bush decided to go into Iraq, even knowing that he was putting his political future at risk• How a White House aide you've probably never heard of is shaping the Bush vision• The surprising and important ways Bush's faith affects critical presidential decisions• How Bush has outmaneuvered his political opponents and surprised members of the press who have dismissed him as an intellectual bantamweight• How Bush routinely defies conventional wisdom because of his contempt for elite opinion and halfway reforms (“small-ball,” he calls them)—and why he usually winsGeorge W. Bush billed himself as a “different kind of Republican.” He has proved to be a different kind of president, too. And Fred Barnes’s riveting behind-the-scenes account helps us understand how much this “Rebel-in-Chief ” is reshaping the world around us. Also available as a Random House AudioBook and an eBookFrom the Hardcover edition.

  • Ionzar
Maybe it's just me but I had some difficulty getting going with this book as much as I enjoy Fred Barnes on Britt Hume's show. I strongly recommend the last three chapters of the book for the fascinating analysis of national trends regarding faith, conservatives and Republicans.
  • lifestyle
An easy, but extremely insightful read into the President. Be you Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever, you will gain a fascinating insight into the 43rd President of the United States. This should be required reading for the House and Senate memberships. Perhaps they would gain a renewed insight into this President that will enable them to get on with the Country's business without personal attacks and putting their own personl needs ahead of those of the American people.
  • Gholbimand
I'm admittedly a big fan of our President, and I like Fred Barnes (because he's a fan of our President), but the book is interesting and shows the kind of person who is leading our nation...an honest man who doesn't give a flip about opinion polls.
  • Shakar
I learned alot from reading Rebel in Chief by Fred Barnes. I think Bush will go down in History or one of our finest Presidents. Not only did he bring honor to the white house he keeps his word.
  • Samowar
Fred Barnes provides an inside look at George Bush in the White House. He presents a distinctively different picture of the President than the press usually provides. Bush is shown to be more intellectual that one has been led to believe, reads more, runs his own show, and is much stronger than his words may indicate. This is an important picture of the President that his friends and enemies need to see in order to fully appreciate his Presidency.
  • Zargelynd
Fred Barnes presents the President as a man of character and does a good job of making the case that most people have the wrong perception of him.

It's a good read, quick and not too idolizing. It doesn't excuse his "big government conservative" policies. Barnes makes the case that this may not be such a bad thing in these times and that, tho the President is a conservative he's not to the far right in some ways. This is contrary to what some of his critics say. I recommend this book. Get a different view.
  • Awene
This book is nothing but campaign boilerplate.

That means it will be loved, quoted, read and re-read by the one-third or fewer of Americans who hate this country as it now exists and have faith that politicians such as George Bush can make everything right. Reading Barnes is like watching the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders when their team is on the losing side of an umpity-umpity to nothing score; beautiful to watch but meaningless in terms of results. Having lost faith in the team -- in his case the Beltway Establishment -- Bush and Barnes want to bench the team and rely on the cheerleaders.

Barnes makes it abundantly clear: Bush has contempt for everyone who disagrees with him, which includes most of the world and two-thirds of Americans. Experts are wrong if they disagree with his righteous faith; experts are wrong if they agree with him because they failed to act and left him to clean up a big mess. It's wonderful reading for all who believe these are the worst of times. Anyone who pays $1,000 or more to attend a campaign dinner where a candidate tells them "you've never had it so bad, and it's gonna get worse" will love every word of it.

The inconsistency and illogic is amazing for anyone with enough memory to compare one assertion with another just six pages later. Barnes says Bush is a leader who "courts controversy, provokes the press, and polarizes the country". Then, he explains a meeting with Michael Crichton to discuss his 2004 novel 'State of Fear' was not made public "for fear of outraging environmnentalists all the more".

It reminds me of attending campaign dinners where Ronald Reagan thrilled well-heeled donors with vivid yarns of the collapse of moral, business and religious values. It's standard campaign puffery. The difference is Reagan knew the difference between the "red meat" of a campaign speech and the reality of governing a nation on behalf of all people.

Barnes says Reagan "gathered conservatives of every ideological permutation under the umbrella of conventional conservatism". He then claims Bush "has united them again under his unique brand of conservatism".

If so, the steadily declining numbers of Americans who think Bush is doing right offers the best possible verdict on the competence and value of his politics of despair. It makes Bush the true "rebel" of the book, a man dedicated to overturning America as it exists and replacing it with a vision to please the minority who still support him -- which Barnes wisely refuses to unveil.

Perhaps Barnes wants to be a born-again Tom Paine, whose 'Common Sense' provided the intellectual reasons for revolution that included respect for others. If so, he's a failure. Paine based his appeal on a rising intellectual quest for freedom; Barnes, like Bush and Goldwater, offers a one-note absolutism that has never failed to lead a society into collapse.

But then, rebels want to overthrow the existing system. If Americans are ready to scrap their country's existing values -- and some are truly dedicated to this goal -- then this is truly a 'Common Sense' cry for a rolypoly rebellion by the ruthless rich. But for those who love America as a land of liberty, justice and opportunity for all, it indicates Bush's narrow view is a greater threat than Osama bin Laden.