While touring to promote his memoir, Decision Points, George W. Bush likes to scoff at critics who suspect he cannot read, let alone write. Be that as it may, says Ryan Grim at The Huffington Post, the former president certainly "knows how to Google." The liberal-leaning website has claimed that Bush's book is a "mash-up of worn-out anecdotes from previously published memoirs written by his subordinates," drawing heavily, for instance, from books written by Bob Woodward during W.'s presidency. Clearly, says Grim, Bush is "too lazy to write his own memoir." The president's publishers have dismissed the claims as "baseless and completely ridiculous." Are they?
The Huffington Post has done its homework: Grim "seems to have plugged every quote in Decision Points into a search engine," says Alex Pareene at Salon, and the results are hard to argue with. "My favorite example is on Page 145, where Decision Points actually uses ellipses to indicate where an unattributed quote from Woodward's Bush at War was elided."
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But the evidence doesn't stack up: This is a "strange charge," says Jonathan Strong at the Daily Caller, and one "colored by [Grim's] obvious disdain of Bush." His "shaky" evidence essentially amounts to accusing the former president of "recollecting... events the same way others did" — which is odd, since Bush personally witnessed most of the incidents in question. In other cases, Bush acted as an anonymous source to many of the journalists he is accused of stealing from. Where's the problem?
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Decision Points is full of old, but not ripped-off, news: The "mundane" claim that Bush's memoir is not exactly packed with previously unreported material is largely true, says Dave Weigel at Slate. What the book does offer is "the occasional revelation about how [Bush] reacted to events that were thoroughly reported at the time." A bore? Yes. Plagiarism? No.
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